With the Las Vegas Raiders looking to bounce back in 2020, they’ll have their hands full with the AFC West. In particular, there are three elite wide receivers that will give them fits.
The Raiders made it a point to address their wide receiver corps this past offseason via the draft and free agency. As of right now though, the Silver and Black are playing catch up to the rest of their division counterparts. In the Raiders defense though, they were completely scrapped by head coach Jon Gruden upon his return and have been rebuilding since. They do have 1,000+plus receiving yard tight end in Darren Waller, but that won’t be enough.
As far as the Raiders secondary, they too will be tested in 2020 after the unit was completely revamped. Returning you have a young standout in Trayvon Mullen and Isaiah Johnson who’s healthy and has potential. Then, Raiders brass drafted Damon Arnette and Amik Robertson, both of whom we expect to compete for snaps. Arnette might even end up starting out of the gate in 2020. Along with veteran Prince Amukamara, these cornerbacks will have to contend with some serious opposing talent.
Pro Football Focus recently ranked the top 25 wide receivers in the NFL right now. Besides the Raiders not having any entries on the list, the AFC West had three featured on the list.
Who Are The Three That the Raiders Will Have To Worry About?
Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
No surprise here, the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs feature one of the best pass-catchers in the NFL. Ranked at number four by PFF, the Raiders are all too familiar with speedster, Hill.
“Since coming into the league in 2016, Hill has earned the highest receiving grade on 20-plus yard targets and has recorded 1,964 deep yards (over 300 more than anyone else). He has caught 17 deep receiving touchdowns in which he had at least a step of separation…”
The two-time All-Pro played only once against the Raiders in 2019, catching five passes for 55 yards. 2018 was a different story, as Hill torched the Raiders with six receptions for 114 receiving yards and a touchdown in their two meetings. Averaging both 14.6 yards per reception and 79 yards for the longest reception career-wise, Hill will continue to be a thorn in 2020.
Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers
The 2017 AP Comeback Player of the Year, Allen has been the best receiver for the Chargers since 2017. His three straight Pro Bowl nods prove that, and to top it off, he’s scored 18 touchdowns in that span. Allen’s route-running is crisp and he’s considered one of the best along with creating separation as PFF pointed out.
“Allen has generated open separation (more than a couple of steps) against single coverage on 48 targets since 2017 â€” five more than any other receiver in the league. His receiving grade took a bit of a dip in 2019 after back-to-back years in the top five, but it was still good enough to rank 11th in the NFL.”
Against the Raiders in 2019, Allen notched 13 receptions and totaled 142 receiving yards, though he was kept out of the endzone. Allen’s skill set will prove to be quite the test for the Raiders’ young cornerbacks in 2020.
Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos
The soon-to-be third-year wide receiver for the Broncos, Sutton, will be a threat in his own right in 2020. Despite getting off to a slow start to his career, Sutton emerged last year as a weapon for the Broncos. With an impressive physique at six-foot-four and weighing in at 216 pounds, Sutton uses both his speed and strength to his advantage.
“After a fairly poor rookie campaign in 2018 that saw him earn a 63.8 PFF grade that ranked 72nd among 100 qualifying wide receivers, Sutton improved that mark to 83.1 (11th) in Year 2. He’s strong at the catch point and isn’t an easy receiver to bring down, as he broke 16 tackles on 72 catches in 2019.”
The Broncos also added Jerry Jeudy during this past April to complement Sutton. In other words, the Raider secondary will have their hands full with these Broncos receivers assuming quarterback Drew Lock further develops in 2020.
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*Top Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports