With the 2020 NFL Draft less than a month away, the Las Vegas Raiders are putting the finishing touches on their draft board. Here at the Raider Ramble, it is no different. Over the next few days, final rankings of every position group in the will be released, with wide receivers third on the list.
Here are the previous entries on the list:
The Raiders Current WR Situation
The Raiders didn’t have a true number one wide receiver in 2019. The position group experienced a major blow due to the Antonio Brown fallout, and became dependent upon a hobbled Tyrell Williams and a fifth-round rookie Hunter Renfrow, who proved to be the most consistent and effective wideout on the team.
Hunter Renfrow: 4th highest-graded rookie WR in 2019pic.twitter.com/tUw5w2u62A
— PFF (@PFF) March 13, 2020
Aside from Renfrow and Williams, the remaining receivers did not have significant production. Zay Jones was acquired midway through the season from a trade with the Bills, but a lack of chemistry between him and quarterback Derek Carr was evident.
Love Derek Carr attacking the Jags defensive seams. He hasn’t seemed to be on the same page with Zay Jones this season though. He’s under contract next year, hopefully they spend some time together in the offseason, they could be a good combo. #RaiderNation pic.twitter.com/fyKRJCPXuf
— Chris Reed (@ChrisReed_NFL) December 15, 2019
Marcell Ateman, Nelson Agholor, Keelan Doss, and Rico Gafford are also on the roster, but each present their fair share of inconsistency. Reluctantly, the Silver and Black have the opportunity to pluck talent from a prospective draft class loaded with receiver talent. However, not all wideouts are necessarily a fit for head coach Jon Gruden’s offense. Raiders general manager Mike Mayock spoke on the what they expect from rookie receivers.
Mayock has also stated this offseason that drafting a receiver in the first round, especially higher, is potentially perilous.
“It’s a deep wide receiver draft. Now, you have to be careful, especially the higher you go. Do yourself a favor and go look at (the history of the draft) and look at first-round wide receivers over the last 10 years. It’s sobering. And I think there’s some reasons why college wide receivers can struggle coming into the NFL. So I think you have to be careful. Everybody thinks if you draft a wide receiver in the first round it’s immediate production. It doesn’t necessarily mean that. Take a look at the numbers. So I think you have to be aware of what you’re facing and I think you have to be smart with what you’re doing.”
From 2010 to 2019, only five first-round receivers have managed to become All-Pro.
- Odell Beckham Jr.
- Dez Bryant
- Mike Evans
- DeAndre Hopkins
- Julio Jones
That generates a paltry 15% chance of drafting an elite receiver in the first round since 2010. While the need at the position is high, the Raiders front office will more than likely remain open to the possibility of pursuing a few targets in the later rounds should Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb be selected before the twelfth pick.
The Top 15 WR Prospects
The 2020 receiver class is so chock full of talent that it would be an injustice to limit this list to just 10. The Raiders have a high need for one and maybe two if Williams continue to battle with his plantar fasciitis.
Jerry Jeudy, Alabama Crimson Tide
The choice of Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy over CeeDee Lamb is minimal due to his sophisticated route running from the X,Y, and Z receiver positions.
‘Why Jerry Jeudy’
After a successful collegiate career at Alabama, there is anticipation that Jeudy will become an immediate primary option on an NFL offense.
What are the qualities he possesses that can lead to that type of role?
— AngeloFF (@angelo_fantasy) March 21, 2020
Simply put, Jeudy was built for a west coast offense with his route running and his ability to produce after the catch. He is the most polished receiver in this draft class, and playing against top tier SEC in a pro style offense at Alabama gives him a slight edge over the next receiver on the list. For more on Jeudy, this article provides additional information.
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb comes in a close second on this list, but not by much. Lamb averaged an incredible 21.4 yards after the catch in 2019 (third in NCAA). He is a physical specimen that can dominate at will.
Watch all 15 of CeeDee Lamb's touchdowns in his final season at Oklahoma.
He's good. pic.twitter.com/4cwhmHaLVp
— James Simpson (@JS_Football) April 2, 2020
Should the Raiders select him over Jeudy, there should be no complaints from anyone in Raider Nation.
Henry Ruggs III, Alabama Crimson Tide
Third on the list and third of his lineage is Jeudy’s partner in crime, Ruggs III. Speed is the name of his game, but he plays bigger than his sub 6’0″ 190 lb. frame.
Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (@__RUGGS) is insanely fast. He has really good hands, only dropping one pass all season long and can climb the ladder to make catches. He’s a consensus first rounder at this point. pic.twitter.com/0XK24khtPd
— Jared Barsness NFL (@JaredBarsNFL) April 3, 2020
For the Raiders, the fit isn’t ideal due to the conservativeness of their passing offense and Ruggs’ struggle to defeat press coverage at the line of scrimmage. Quarterback Derek Carr’s quick release and hesitancy to extend plays, combined with Henry’s inconsistency to win at the line of scrimmage, would make it difficult for the team to justify the selection at 12 overall. He has a skill set that would likely reap more success in an offense that is more willing to push the ball downfield. Jeudy, Lamb, Ruggs III round out the receivers that the team would target at 12. However, the later rounds will offer three prospects that could also have an immediate impact should the team decide to wait.
K.J. Hamler, Penn St. Nittany Lions
If the Silver and Black are seeking speed at the wide receiver position, Penn State’s K.J. Hamler, who has proven to be a deep threat, should be their choice. Below is what he managed to do against one of the top programs in the country.
93 Yards McSorley to K J Hamler pic.twitter.com/1TwFr0mgnR
— Bob Pompeani (@KDPomp) September 30, 2018
Speed kills, and Hamler is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses regardless of the coverage.
Really nice route here by K.J. Hamler. His ability to snap in and out of breaks is special, gets this corner completely turned around. pic.twitter.com/wojXVCu0Eg
— Derrick (@derrick_daKidD) March 15, 2020
His route running is also impeccable and would be quite the addition if the team manages to acquire a second round draft selection in a trade.
Michael Pittman Jr, USC Trojans
Pittman Jr. makes the most of his 6’4″ 220-pound frame and could easily yield the production of a first round receiver.
Michael Pittman Jr.
6’4” 223 lbs. 4.52 40 yard dash
Not the fastest guy, but uses his size to create separation and high point the ball. pic.twitter.com/lU7DybwebW
— Kyle Smith (@Kyle_Smith1087) March 29, 2020
He may not win with speed, but in terms of creating separation outside the numbers, he is a force to be reckoned with.
Tyler Johnson, Minnesota Golden Gophers
Johnson is an interesting player as he has not garnered bountiful attention throughout the draft. He may not be the most incredible athlete on the field, but he fulfills the role of a receiver that knows how to win the football at the point of attack.
MINNESOTA UP 21-10!!!
TYLER JOHNSON ARE YOU SERIOUS!!?!?!? pic.twitter.com/O125S1e2u2
— Abdul Memon (@abdulamemon) November 9, 2019
At 6’2″ 205 pounds, Johnson manages to play bigger than his frame outside the numbers.
.@GopherFootball's Tyler Johnson is just special.
The last Minnesota guy to Moss like that was Randy himself: pic.twitter.com/pVlbQIY2Xf
— Minnesota on BTN (@MinnesotaOnBTN) November 3, 2018
The Raiders have multiple avenues to address the receiver position in the top 100 with five draft selections, it is now a matter of them deciding who fits best in their complex offensive scheme.
The Raiders receiving corps struggled in 2019, but the convenience of the 2020 NFL draft should provide the assistance needed. The top 15 receivers in this draft class offer a variety of skill sets. Nonetheless, not all are ideal for Las Vegas. Mayock has stated that there is plenty of fool’s gold within the first round of the draft regarding receivers in year’s past. With two first round selections and five total picks in the top 100, the Silver and Black have the means to become bigger, faster and stronger at the skill position on offense.
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