Roberts dialed-in to slot WR role whether you like it or not.
As superstitions go, Seth Roberts is a big part of a smirk-worthy, yet hard-to-ignore ritual. Get this: The Oakland Raiders are 9-0 in games where Roberts hauls in a touchdown pass. Word?
It’s stunningly true. The ninth of those victories came in a wild 35-32 home win over the visiting Carolina Panthers. Coincidentally, that game marked the final time Roberts found the end zone in 2016.
As mythical as the streak has become, it endured during a trying season for Roberts. His total catches increased to 38 from 32 the 2015 season. But his yardage total (397 from 480) and average per catch (10.4 from 15.0) dipped. His touchdown total was alike at five. Drops plagued the third-year man out of West Alabama.
There are two sides of this coin, really.
First, Roberts (26 years old) blossomed into the Raiders’ slot receiver after being a throw-away undrafted free agent out of an Alabama institution not known for its football program (New England corner Malcolm Butler and Kansas City wide receiver Tyreek Hill are the other two notable former West Alabama Tigers). An unheralded prospect earning a prominent role, that’s a feel-good story, no?
Then, there’s the flip side. Roberts is the slot receiver for an explosive offense. The drops and inconsistency are absolute duds for the Raiders’ firepower. So unfortunately for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, a mediocre Roberts is unacceptable.
Thus far at Raiders camp in Napa, Roberts is eyes forward. The struggles of yesteryear are in the rearview mirror. Roberts has snagged passes left and right which is good. Transition those to the regular season and the results will be beautiful.
Don’t expect anyone to push him for the slot role, however legitimate the argument might be. The sexy pick is Cordarrelle Patterson, but the burner’s routes remain unrefined, and his speed is best suited for the outside role. The wideout that could take snaps from Roberts is Amari Cooper, who has proven lethal in the slot when given the opportunity.
An area of Roberts’ game that is unquestioned is his blocking ability. The wide receiver flings his body around and provides a nuisance to defenses. The block he threw to spring Cooper for the eventual game-winning TD in Mexico against the Houston Texans chief among them.