The Las Vegas Raiders invested heavily in the cornerback position this past offseason. Will it be enough to keep up with their AFC West rival, the Denver Broncos, and their wide receiver corps?
Going into the 2020 season, the Raiders have a young secondary that still has a lot of unknown factors. Johnathan Abram is a hard hitter and is a brash young man. However, we’re yet to see if he’s a liability in passing situations. Trayvon Mullen was a revelation in the Raiders defense but he alone can’t cover everyone. Other than an aging Prince Amukamara, the rest of the Raiders cornerbacks are all inexperienced.
Believe it to not, the Broncos have quietly assembled an up and coming wide receiver corps that figures to give Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther fits.
The Broncos Pro Bowler
Arguably the most dangerous offensive weapon in the Broncos passing game is wide receiver, Courtland Sutton. In 2019, Sutton had a Pro Bowl campaign, notching 72 receptions, 1,112 receiving yards, and six touchdowns. Even more impressive, Sutton totaled 352 yards after the catch while breaking 12 tackles on receptions. Chad Jensen of Sports Illustrated highlighted Sutton’s importance in 2019 but also what he means for the future.
“Sutton was the one ray of sunshine for the Broncos in 2019 at wide receiver. Despite a QB carousel that forced him to catch passes from three different guys, Sutton found a way to thrive and at times, helped carry the offensive load for the Broncos. Heading into his third year, the Pro Bowler has only just begun to scratch the surface of his potential.”
The Upcoming Rookie the Raiders Will Be Facing
To complement a rising star in Sutton, the Broncos drafted KJ Hamler and Jerry Jeudy. The latter is likely more concerning for the Silver and Black. Jeudy was one of the “big three” wide receivers that were available in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Raiders walked away with one of the other vaunted prospects, Henry Ruggs III. Jensen talked about what Jeudy will bring to the table as the team’s second receiving option.
“Jeudy was the Broncos first-round pick this year and while it’s easy for fans to think of him as the team’s WR2, he has just as good of a chance as emerging as the top guy in 2020 as Sutton. Jeudy is a supreme route runner who brings a surprising explosiveness to the table with the ball in his hands. It might take him a little time to settle in as a pro but considering how prolific he was at Alabama and the level of competition he faced in the SEC, the learning curve won’t be near as steep as it would be for most rookies.”
It’s funny to think the Raiders could’ve easily gone with Jeudy this past April but chose Ruggs’ speed over Jeudy’s route-running. It’ll be interesting to see if this decision comes back to haunt Raiders brass in the coming years.
As with any of the Broncos wide receivers, their development will hinge on quarterback Drew Lock’s health and how he plays next year. “In order to fully un-Lock Sutton’s potential, the young signal-caller in Denver will have to stay healthy and cash in on the expectations surrounding him internally and externally. Sutton, though, is a star in the making.” On a side note, in Lock’s only game so far against the Raiders, he threw for only a pedestrian 177 yards and one touchdown pass. We’ll have to wait and see if Lock can take advantage of these weapons against a young Raiders secondary.
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*Top Photo: Rick Scuteri/Associated Press