The good news is that the new $25 million dollar man will have a top guy to throw to in Amari Cooper; Michael Crabtree is staying with the Silver and Black is an even better second read. However and with the emphasis on passing and the “trickiness” of the Raiders’ backfield in 2017, Derek Carr will need a dependable “#3” to solidify a dangerous offense. The question is who will that be?
While the Raiders currently have nine receivers on their roster, the focus will be on the best those candidates who will make it through the preseason and on the 53-man roster.
It took Minnesota no time to use him effectively, and once the Vikings removed the focus from Patterson being a wide receiver and turned him into a luxury speedster, their offense became so much more dangerous in Oakland; that speed will create another deep threat.
As a receiver (52/453/2 in ‘16), Patterson uses his long strides to both separate from corners to make easier opportunities for outside shoulder throws and to open up space in the backfield for on-screen passes. Good at looking in the ball (most of the time) when it’s in his hands, you blink and he’s gone. Safeties can come in and help to make tackles, but they will be lucky if they only give up a 30-yard gain.
The downside is that you don’t want to lock in that speed at receiver. Put Patterson in the backfield, and he will be a tall, somewhat lanky running back who can break open a play (31/333/4 in his career at RB). Use him as a returner, and he can scan the field on his feet and create open lanes to score touchdowns (134/4075/5 in his career on KR). Patterson can augment multiple deficiencies throughout the course of a season, but the Raiders have to be careful to pick and choose which ones.
Roberts learned how to run some good routes while weaving through the coverages and giving himself chances to catch the ball. As a bonus, he uses his long reach to create a much larger target area for either Carr or whoever else may be under center. Add in his field awareness and presence to make catches count, and Roberts becomes a receiver who loves to help his quarterback when under any pressure. If there’s any downside, it’s the fact that Roberts absorbs one too many hits when he crosses the field and absorbs double coverage; that and he gets a little too lateral with his cuts sometimes instead of running up the field.
To put it simply, Holton is a smaller, quicker version of Patterson. Also involved on kick returns, Holton can make some circus catches against defenders if given the opportunity. The only downside is that he’s a little too much of an unknown. Yes, Holton can make the big plays, but there is a little bit of a temper (as shown in his ejection for fighting).
Moreover, he didn’t play football at all in high school, so his development is a little behind the others. However, the one advantage to all of this is he’s just in his second year, so there’s opportunity to grow. Putting him as the #3 wouldn’t be the best idea just yet.
While Patterson would be the ideal, Jack Del Rio and Todd Downing want to create more options. That means Seth Roberts becomes the main #3 receiver while Patterson earns himself a pretty large package of trick plays and special formations to utilize all of his talents. However, Patterson will see time as a #4 to involve himself in the offense when he’s not returning kicks in 2017.