Derek Carr has shown that when healthy, he's a top-tier quarterback in the NFL, and today, we're going to take a look at the guys he's going to be throwing the ball to in 2018.
The wide receivers, much like the rest of the Oakland Raiders roster, have gone through a sizable overhaul, but one thing is for sure headed into the start of Training Camp 2018; there isn't a lack of talent in the position group.
While Amari Cooper is back, there are a ton of new faces you need to know, so let's take a look at the Silver and Black's wideouts.
Marcell Ateman (rookie)
Saeed Blacknall (rookie)
Overview: Amari Cooper is back for a fourth season in Silver and Black, but the same can't be said for two of his running mates from 2017.
Michael Crabtree is now a member of the Baltimore Ravens – that Week 12 game is going to be fun – and after a trade that resulted in the team moving up a round in this year's NFL Draft, Cordarrelle Patterson now plays his football for the New England Patriots.
While that duo is now out, Pro Bowl wide receiver Jordy Nelson is now in, as is Martavis Bryant, and a handful of other talented players.
Head Coach Jon Gruden and General Manager Reggie McKenzie didn't just rebuild the position group through trades and free agency, they also used their final pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on Marcell Ateman, and then signed Saeed Blacknall as an undrafted free agent.
Competition is the constant theme of training camp, but with 12 wide receivers currently on the roster, Edgar Bennett's group might be one of the most intriguing on the team.
Buckle up, this will be a fun, few weeks.
Battle to Watch:
Eddie Paskal: So, who's going to be the fourth receiver on the roster?
First things first; if you're trying to figure out the bottom of your wide receiver group in training camp, you're probably in a pretty good spot, and that's precisely where the Raiders find themselves currently.
Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, and Martavis Bryant sure seem to have a pretty good hold on the top three wide receiver spots, which means that essentially nine guys are vying for the one or two remaining spots on the roster.
Seth Roberts has history with the team, and has some big-time touchdowns under his belt, so he's a guy to keep an eye on, as is Ryan Switzer who came over in the trade for defensive lineman Jihad Ward.
Gruden and Co. obviously saw something they liked in Marcell Ateman, but with this many talented guys in one position group, anything is bound to happen.
I have a feeling that whoever makes their hay on special teams, and can impress Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia will have a good shot at making the 53-man roster.
Kyle Martin: I agree with Eddie on this one, the starting spots are locked up for the most part by Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, and Martavis Bryant, but the fourth spot is up for grabs. Seth Roberts has proven to be a reliable target for Derek Carr the last few seasons, racking up 1,332 receiving yards, 113 receptions, and 11 touchdowns. It should also be noted that the Raiders have never lost a game when Roberts scores — crazy, right?
With so much talent in the wide receivers room now, Roberts will be forced to compete with guys like Isaac Whitney, Ryan Switzer, and Marcell Ateman. Like many of the other position battles we've discussed, this is one that could go until the start of the regular season.
Storyline to Follow:
EP: How does Amari Cooper bounce back after a bit of a rough go in 2017?
Listen, "Coop" delivered back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons his first two years in the league, and even though things didn't quite go his way last year, I have the utmost confidence in saying that he's in the upper echelon of wide receivers in the NFL.
Just because he doesn't run his mouth, don't get it twisted, No. 89 is as explosive as they come, and I'm really excited to see how he handles his first season with Jon Gruden and Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson.
Yes, Cooper's numbers were down last year, as were most of the team's offensive numbers across the board, but I'm fired up to see how he bounces back in 2018.
KM: This is one position group that I think took a noticeable step forward in the offseason. Cooper has already established himself as a stud, and can break open any game at a moment's notice, but the additions of Nelson and Bryant will create a lot of problems for opposing defenses.
One thing Gruden shared this offseason that I found interesting is that the trio of receivers are studying the routes of each position (X, Y, and Z), which you might expect them to do anyway; however, with this group, the idea of rotating them at each spot will create multiple dimensions to the offense.
As camp progresses, we'll see bits and pieces of how they're incorporated in Gruden's scheme, and I think they'll do a lot of damage.
Keep an Eye on…
EP: Ryan Switzer.
This is a guy that I've been waiting to see put on the pads since the Silver and Black traded for him in April.
While Switzer doesn't have a ton of experience just yet, he did play in all 16 games during his rookie season, and there's no question that this dude can run.
Switzer returned 53 kicks total last year, and in addition to his work as a receiver, I expect to see him getting a chance to do that once again in 2018.
The former North Carolina Tar Heel can do a bit of everything, and I can't wait to see how he looks once the entire squad gets to Napa.
KM: Marcell Ateman.
After watching some of Ateman's tape from his days at Oklahoma State, it's clear he has plenty of talent. Between his athleticism and physical attributes, Ateman has the requisite skills to be a productive wide receiver in the NFL. At 6'4", 215 pounds, the former Cowboy can fight for contested passes, and the speed to complement his size.
He finished his senior season with 1,156 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns, and while I think he can be a valuable asset, he needs to prove he can make an impact on special teams too.
Reviewing the Oakland Raiders wide receivers going into 2018 Training Camp.