The Raiders are going to be dangerous on offense next year.
Listen, I know people said the same thing about the offense last year, but this is the dawn of a different era for the Silver and Black; the team is turning a new leaf, which is something recently-acquired wide receiver Martavis Bryant knows a thing or two about.
The former Clemson Tiger was selected in the fourth round (No. 118 overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft, which featured the likes of Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack and quarterback Derek Carr. Bryant wasn’t the only talented wide out to be drafted that year, as Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Davante Adams, and Allen Robinson were all taken ahead of him.
During his press conference Friday, McKenzie reflected on the 2014 NFL Draft, and recalled evaluating Bryant during the Combine several years ago.
A look at WR Martavis Bryant's first day at Raiders HQ.
“No question, no question,” he said when asked if Bryant’s talent caught his eye. “Absolutely, he was… when you get a guy this size, the way he ran, he was going to be a threat.”
Bryant ended up as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and in his rookie season he totaled 549 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns over the span of 10 games. In his sophomore season, Bryant followed up an impressive rookie campaign with 765 receiving yards, and six touchdowns. Unfortunately, he was suspended for the entirety of the 2016 season, but returned in 2017 to register 603 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
He experienced some highs and lows in Pittsburgh – he’d be the first to tell you that – but the 6’4” freak athlete showed that he can be a dynamic playmaker when he’s on the field. It’s for just that reason General Manager Reggie McKenzie and Head Coach Jon Gruden traded for the 26 year old during the 2018 NFL Draft, sending a third-rounder (acquired via trade from the Arizona Cardinals) in exchange for Bryant.
The Raiders wide receiving corps will be loaded in 2018, with Jordy Nelson, Amari Cooper, and now Bryant in the mix. The addition of Bryant is something Gruden couldn’t help but smile about during the former Steelers press conference Friday.
“We’ve been looking for a size receiver, a big receiver,” Gruden said “He’s big, he’s 6’4. We’re looking for a fast receiver and he’s fast, he runs sub 4.4. So he has size, he has speed. I’ve seen the Steelers practice in my previous position. The man knows how to practice. The guy knows how to prepare. He’s been through a lot in his life and he’s got something to prove and I think we’re catching him at the right time.”
As mentioned previously, Bryant’s time in Pittsburgh didn’t go the way many planned, but he looks back on his time there positively. Experiencing a change of scenery has given him a new outlook on life, and he’s anxious to get to work in Gruden’s scheme.
“It’s a clean slate and a fresh start for me,” Bryant said. “I’ve got a lot to prove. I don’t want to be just a one-dimensional player. I have a lot to work on, all aspects of my game. I’m going to do that, just to prove to myself that I can be great.”
Friday morning, Bryant arrived at Oakland Airport and was greeted by a handful of cheerful fans, eager to see him put on the Silver and Black. When he runs out of the tunnel at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Week 1, it won’t just be the start of a new season, but the fresh start Bryant’s been searching for.