The Raiders significantly upgraded their wide receiver corps this past offseason. They have a playmaker in Antonio Brown. Tyrell Williams can stretch the field in a blink of an eye. Hunter Renfrow will be a dependable slot and then, there’s former Arizona wideout J.J. Nelson.
In any other year, Nelson would have been a surefire starter for Oakland had the team not traded for Brown and signed Williams, but get them they did and now, the former Cardinals wide receiver will likely have to compete for playing time.
Nelson wasn’t a premier receiver in Arizona, but he’s definitely better than Marcell Ateman and at this point of his career, he possesses more upside than Jordy Nelson (who recently retired) did last year. In any other team on any given Sunday, he could be the second or third option in their aerial attack. Now, he will have to fight for a roster spot.
Back in Cardinals uniform, Nelson caught 81 passes for 1,439 yards over a four-year stretch, nothing to game plan for. On the other hand, his 17.8 yards per reception could open any offense if he were to perform on a constant basis and if offensive coordinator Greg Olson uses him correctly.
Making his rise on the depth chart more difficult is the fact Williams is the proven and polished version of what Oakland expects from Nelson and that’s without taking the former Los Angeles receiver’s salary into account, which makes Williams a must-start player. Unless either Brown or the former Chargers receiver has an injury for an extended period of time, Nelson doesn’t figure to partake in the Raiders starting offense.
Moreover, former Clemson wide receiver Hunter Renfrow is expected to take over the slot and undrafted free agent Keelan Does will be in the race for a roster spot, so the chances for Nelson to be an impact player are slim.
It was mentioned earlier in this article that the former Cardinals wide receiver has the the tools to be a steady contributor; he will need to be precisely that in order to stick in Oakland.
Nelson might not be in an optimal situation, but he will have to make chicken salad with what he has in hopes of extending his NFL career.
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