The Las Vegas Raiders gave their wide receiver corps a makeover this past offseason. After all the changes they made, it’s uncertain if Rico Gafford will make the team’s roster.
There were many things that went wrong for the Raiders wide receiver corps in 2019. Antonio Brown went berserk before the season started. Tyrell Williams was hampered by plantar fasciitis all season long. Without a true number one wide receiver, tight end Darren Waller saw heavy coverage his way. Hence, it wasn’t surprising to see the Silver and Black revamp the position.
The Raiders drafted Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards. Because those additions weren’t enough, they also signed former first-round pick Nelson Agholor. Williams seems to be fully healthy and Hunter Renfrow finished the 2019 season strong. With so many new faces, the team will have to release make some tough choices at the position. They will have to release some players that were with the team in previous seasons. Among those who are in danger of visiting the turk is Gafford.
Where does that leave Gafford?
Rico Gafford is all about speed even if still needs to work on his craft as a wide receiver. He’s so fast, the Madden video game franchise recently acknowledged it. Even if his route running needs work, he’s the sixth fastest player in the NFL, at least according to the electronic entertainment behemoth.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 17, 2020
As plenty of wide receivers might atest, speed isn’t everything, but the fact the Raiders have kept Gafford speaks volumes. They saw potential in him and switched to wide-out after originally playing cornerback. Gafford himself knows he needs to become a more well-rounded player and not just someone the team calls in specific plays.
In a recent conversation with Tashan Reed of The Athletic, Gafford talked about the upcoming season and his current standing with the team. He knows his chances to prove his worth will be limited. Nevertheless, he’s ready to compete for a roster spot.
Showing the team I’m worth being here and being on the 53-man roster and I can go out there and make plays. And be a guy, not just somebody that goes in for a few plays a game or sits on the back burner.
Gafford is also aware of those that think he’s a one trick pony. He’s putting in the work and looks forward to having a breakout season.
Not only that, I just want to silence the critics and become better at wide receiver and show the work that I’ve put in and be able to take off and make a name for myself this year.
The odds aren’t in Gafford’s favor, but he’s working tirelessly to show the Raiders he’s worth keeping. There are many receivers that already have a guaranteed roster spot. The Wyoming product isn’t one of them.
Rico Gafford believes in himself and likes his chances
Even though Gafford played defense in his first year with the Raiders, he thinks his sole season playing receiver has given him plenty of insight into how to play the position. Also, this will be his third training camp, which he thinks will give him a leg up.
I have a lot more confidence and experience now, I know the ins and outs of the offense. I know everything I need to know as far as going into training camp. Now it’s time for me to get on the field and get out there with those new guys that they’ve added to the team and show them that I can play as well. I can get out here and do the same thing or do things better.
We don’t know yet how many wide receivers the Raiders will carry in 2020. Nevertheless, the top spots are already taken so that will likely leave Gafford competing for one of the few openings. His chances to stay are slim, but he will take them nonetheless.
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Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Jornal