Many factors will determine how the 2020 NFL season goes for the Las Vegas Raiders. Chief among them could be the play of their recently revamped wide receiver corps.
Last year, the team’s wide receiver group was billed as one of the most dangerous in the NFL. At the time, the Raiders had Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams on the roster. In addition, Hunter Renfrow joined the team via draft. Before things even got started though, the bottom fell out with Brown’s fiasco and Williams’ injury. What followed was a positional carousel; even though Renfrow showed promise as the team’s future slot receiver. Williams still finds himself a Raider despite being derailed by plantar fasciitis, his knack for the endzone is probably why.
The few bright spots were not enough for the Silver and Black, unfortunately. In fact, Pro Football Focus gave the wide receiver corps a 62.8 grade for 2019. Quarterback Derek Carr still managed to have a statistically solid season with that cast, but more was needed. Williams and Renfrow are back, along with Zay Jones, to retool the unit both immediately and long-term, general manager Mike Mayock went to work in April.
Fresh Blood For The Raiders
The Raiders added Henry Ruggs III, Bryan Edwards, and Lynn Bowden Jr. to their offensive attack. Bowden, who’s been dubbed the “Joker” will see snaps all over the field, a true Swiss army knife. However, it’s Ruggs and Edwards that’ll be key moving forward strictly at wide receiver. Steve Palazzolo of PFF recently highlighted Ruggs and what he means for the Raiders right out of the gate.
“They had their pick of any receiver in the draft and went with the fastest option in Henry Ruggs III, who ran a 4.27 at the scouting combine. That speed shows up on the field, too, as Ruggs can get behind the defense or take it to the house on screens or slants. The question is how much he’ll be fed and if he’ll be treated like a true No. 1.”
It Was The Speed…
It’s no secret Ruggs’ speed captivated Raider Nation, the potential for what it could for the Raiders offense was too much to pass up. As Palazzolo points out, the question still remains how much the Raiders will be using Ruggs from down to down. Considering what’s happened this offseason with the altered programs due to the pandemic, maybe we should temper expectations. As Palazzolo points out, “Even if Ruggs is an 80-to-100-target receiver who creates big plays and alters gameplans, he’ll add the proper first-round value, but Las Vegas’ expectations might be even higher.”
You can have all the talent in the world but can the Raiders coaching staff maximize this current batch of wide receivers? Both Carr and head coach Jon Gruden now have options with Ruggs, Edwards, and Renfrow. Putting together and executing a consistent game plan will determine if this group can help the Raiders win more than seven games.
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*Top Photo: Doug McShooler/AP Photo