It’s such a relief that the Las Vegas Raiders have specific needs this season. This time last year, the team required help all over the place, but now, they really only need reinforcements at certain spots. Without getting into the never-ending hurricane of controversy surrounding the quarterback position, they need help at wide receiver, defensive tackle, linebacker, and in the secondary.
Fortunately, the Raiders have two first round selections, plenty of cap space, and general manager Mike Mayock at their disposal. Today, we’re going to talk about why I think they should use the first of their two picks on Alabama’s wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.
Jerry Jeudy makes sense
Name: Jerry Jeudy
Position: Wide Receiver
Weight: 193 Pounds
40 Time: 4.45
Vertical Leap: 35.0
Collegiate Accolades: 2018 Biletnikoff Award Winner, All-American, Two-Time First-Team All-SEC.
First thing’s first, Jeudy is the best wide receiver in this draft. It’s a deep class, but no other prospect has this blend of size, speed, and skill. He “only” ran a 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds after he claimed he would break the 4.3 mark, but make no mistake, he can run. He averaged over 17 yards per catch during his time with the Tide, and was a deep threat during his first three seasons. It wasn’t until his senior campaign when he really flourished, proving he could line up just about anywhere, do just about anything, and still be dangerous.
Jeudy is faster than CeeDee Lamb, more refined than Laviska Shenault, and when he and Henry Ruggs III were on the same team, he was atop the depth chart by himself. There are those that look at this year’s deep wide receiver class and say it doesn’t make sense to grab one early in the process. You could address another need first, and there would still be good talent in later rounds. I disagree, because as good as this batch is, Jeudy is that much better than the rest of his peers. You can’t pass up on an elite talent just because there’s an adequate one later. The Raiders need a featured receiver, and Jeudy has everything it takes to be a number one in the next level.
Position of Need
And make no mistake, Las Vegas needs wide receiver help. In 2019, Tyrell Williams was hindered by plantar fasciitis, and barely exceeded the production he had with the Chargers as their third receiver the year before. Outside of Hunter Renfrow, no other receiver really stood out. The Raiders didn’t get 200 receiving yards out of Antonio Brown, Zay Jones, Keelan Doss, Marcell Ateman, J.J. Nelson, Ryan Grant, Trevor Davis, or Rico Gafford in the season.
In fact, the Raiders got more receiving yardage from their running backs, Josh Jacobs, DeAndre Washington, Jalen Richard, and Alec Ingold (825 yards), than they did from every receiver not named Williams or Renfrow combined (602 yards). Whether it’s through free agency or the draft, they need to address this skill group if they’re hoping to compete in Las Vegas. Some will attribute the ball distribution to the quarterback or the offense, but we won’t know for sure until the team explores all available options.
While Mayock has insisted the organization needs speed on offense, he’s also pointed out just how dangerous it is to draft a wide receiver early. And he’s got a point, the man himself stated that “only three of the 17 receivers picked in the first round the last five seasons had better numbers than [Hunter] Renfrow, who missed three games.” There are many reasons why this position in particular doesn’t pan out. They can’t handle the increase in competition, they aren’t used properly, or rather, they were gimmicked in as college players, Mayock has a very real point.
However… why make that point at all? If the general manager were still employed by NFL Network, it would be one thing, but he’s not. He oversees a football team that has two of the first 19 picks in the upcoming draft. What does he gain by shutting down the idea of drafting a position, one that his team needs, in the first round? Perhaps because he’s planning on doing exactly that, and he’s putting up a smokescreen. Maybe he hopes that teams will heed his advice, passing on receivers, or at the very least, won’t jump ahead of them to grab an elite prospect.
How He Fits
For many, this might be an uncomfortable take, but Jeudy can fit in this offense for many of the same reasons that Amari Cooper should’ve. He’s got the deep speed to make plays downfield, but he’s also dangerous enough after the catch to expend short plays into big ones. He’s a big play target, but he’s different enough from Williams that they would still have versatility and variety on offense.
The Raiders could line Jeudy up all over the offense and he’d make an immediate impact. I think he’s got the highest floor in this draft without necessarily having a low ceiling. He’s been the best receiver in college football for long enough that I think teams are starting to over-scout him or take him for granted. I like CeeDee Lamb as well, and it’s hard to hate Ruggs’ speed, but I think Jerry Jeudy is the most dangerous safe bet that a team could make.
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