A look at the Raiders position by position - we continue with the wide receivers.
Wide receiver just might end up being the most intriguing position battle of Oakland Raiders Training Camp 2015. Throughout last season until now, this has been the most talked about position on the Raiders roster.
I don't think the final whistle had blown on the 2014 season yet and draft experts and analysts had the Raiders taking a wide receiver with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Alabama's Amari Cooper was the odds-on favorite out of the gate but West Virginia's Kevin White quickly shot up many draft boards. The Raiders pounced on Cooper and he has drawn rave reviews from the media, coaches and teammates alike.
After the initial hype and excitement of the start of free agency, after everything calmed down a bit, the Raiders signed veteran free agent Michael Crabtree, who had spent the first several years of his career across the Bay with the San Francisco 49ers.
Cooper and Crabtree are now part of a mix that includes returning veterans Rod Streater, Brice Butler and Andre Holmes. Denarius Moore departed for Cincinnati via free agency, which opens up a spot.
Let's take a look at the wide receivers competing for five, possibly six roster spots:
Amari Cooper | 6'1" | 211 | Alabama | 1st round
Future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson says Cooper reminds him of former Colts great Marvin Harrison – high praise. "He has that 'it' factor," Woodson said. "He reminds me a little bit of Marvin Harrison. He was the best receiver I played against in the NFL." Cooper is an excellent route runner and was extremely productive in college. Historically first round wide receivers have not fared well in their rookie seasons, with the last year or two bucking the trend.
Bottom Line: With his status as a Top 5 pick, Cooper is going to be counted on to contribute, and contribute mightily, right away. He will be looked to as a home run threat and a chain mover.
Michael Crabtree | 6'1" | 214 | Texas Tech | 7th Season
Crabtree brings his 347-catch, multiple-playoff appearance resumé to Oakland. He may have lost a step after tearing an Achilles a couple of years ago, but he is a good route runner and catches the ball naturally. He has an innate ability to adjust to the ball in flight. He seems to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder.
Bottom Line: Cooper and Crabtree could very well be the opening-day starters for QB Derek Carr.
Rod Streater | 6'3" | 200 | Temple | 4th Season
Streater is returning from a season-ending foot injury. After joining the Raiders as an undrafted free agent, Streater has been a pleasant surprise. He has deceptive top end speed and adjusts to the ball well in flight. In 2013, he caught 60 passes for 888 yards and 4 TDs. It took him a little bit to shake the rust off this offseason, but by the end of the offseason program, Streater was looking like himself again. Streater has a bit of an advantage having worked with Carr last season. In fact, Streater caught Carr's first career touchdown pass.
Bottom Line: Streater could certainly insert himself into the starting mix here. He carries himself as if he is a wizened veteran. His work ethic is enviable.
Andre Holmes | 6'4" | 210 | Hillsdale | 4th Season
Holmes has increased his playing time and production exponentially each year in the NFL. Holmes caught 47 passes for 693 yards and 4 TDs a year ago. He is extremely "long" and has the ability to sky for the ball. This long-strider is difficult to catch in the open field. Unfortunately, he has the tendency to drop an easy one every now and again.
Bottom Line: Holmes will have to compete in camp but his size and length are hard to ignore. Consistency is key for him.
Brice Butler | 6'3" | 210 | San Diego State | 3rd season
Butler, who was a limited participant in much of the offseason program due to an injury, has shown flashes of brilliance, but has been inconsistent. He played in 15 games last season and caught 21 passes for 280 yards and 2 TDs.
Bottom Line: Butler is in the swing spot of this group. He is going to have to fight for his spot with some younger, scrappy players coming up behind him.
Kenbrell Thompkins | 6'1" | 195 | Cincinnati | 3rd season
The former New England Patriot joined the Raiders last season and played well in spots. He saw action in 12 games with 6 starts and caught 15 passes for 209 yards. He had an excellent offseason program catching almost everything thrown in his general direction.
Bottom Line: This is where the decisions start to get sticky at this position. Who is the most consistent, who is able to get separation, who catches every ball?
Trindon Holliday | 5'5" | 166 | LSU | 6th season
The diminutive Holliday is an explosive return man. Seventh round draft pick Andre Debose was supposed to be in the mix for the kick return job but a season-ending Achilles injury created the need to sign Holliday. Not used as a weapon in the passing game much during his career, Holliday has primarily returned kicks.
Bottom Line: Unless he wins the kick return jobs outright, keeping Holliday may be a luxury at this position.
Josh Harper | 6'1" | 185 | Fresno State | UDFA
The Raiders signed Derek Carr's former college teammate shortly after the 2015 NFL Draft. Harper finished his college career ranked second in school history with 228 receptions and sixth with 2,938 receiving yards. His 29 career TD catches rank second. He posted 1,000-yard receiving seasons as both a junior and senior, becoming just the third player in Fresno State history and the third player in Mountain West Conference history to notch back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns.
Bottom Line: Streater made the team as a UDFA, why not Harper? One of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history who nobody talks about is former Denver Broncos WR Rod Smith, and he was an undrafted free agent.
Kris Durham | 6'6" | 216 | Georgia | 5th season
One of the Raiders free agent moves this offseason that has kind of flown under the radar is bringing in Kris Durham, who was recently with the Tennessee Titans. He's played in 27 games and caught 55 passes for 699 yards and 3 TDs. He is long and looks more like a tight end when running downfield. He is the tallest receiver on the roster.
Bottom Line: One of the questions for the Raiders coaching staff is how specialized each player in this group is going to be. Durham could push for a specialized red zone threat-type role.
Seth Roberts | 6'2" | 196 | West Alabama | 2nd season
One of the surprises of training camp last year, Roberts spent the 2014 season on the Raiders practice squad. He hauled in 52 receptions for 1,169 yards and 13 TDs in two years at West Alabama.
Bottom Line: Roberts is really going to have to fight for a spot now with the upgrade in talent at this position.
Austin Willis | 5'9" | 176 | Emporia State | UDFA
Willis saw action during the Raiders offseason program at the kick and punt return spots. He totaled 127 receptions for 2,002 yards and 18 TDs in four seasons at Emporia State.
Bottom Line: Willis was offered a contract after attending the Raiders rookie mini-camp on a try-out basis. Another small school player who is going to have to show something special to make the team.
Milton Williams | 6'2" | 218 | Delaware State | UDFA
Williams was cut once by the Raiders and brought back. He has good size, and he totaled 126 career receptions for 1,612 yards and 11 TDs during his college career.
Bottom Line: The fact the Raiders cut him once doesn't bode well. He was called back immediately after Jeremy Gallon was waived. Yet another small school player who will have to scratch and claw and show something special to make the squad.
The Raiders made a concerted effort to upgrade the talent at the wide receiver position. If you are of the mind that every spot on the 53-man roster is up for grabs, the fight for the five or six wide receiver spots on the 2015 Raiders just might be the most entertaining of Training Camp.