The Raiders of the past two years have rolled out a wide receiver corps featuring two former top-10 picks flanked by a cast of undrafted free agents.
With a third first-round pick added to that room in free agent Cordarrelle Patterson (No. 29 overall in 2013) — joining Amari Cooper (No. 4 pick in 2015) and Michael Crabtree (No. 10 pick of the 49ers in 2009) — the odds are against them aiming for a pass catcher anywhere in at least the first five rounds of the draft. Their needs are simply greater elsewhere.
If Patterson ends up being used mostly just as a returner, there’s room to upgrade from Seth Roberts, the team’s No. 3 wide receiver who disappeared in the second half of the year. And anytime you can find another weapon for quarterback Derek Carr, you go ahead and do it if the right value is there.
The Top Five
1. Mike Williams, Clemson (6-4, 218) — Caught 98 passes for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns for the national champions, erasing concern of a neck injury that ended his 2015 season early. Excels on back shoulder fades, a favorite NFL route. Can win 50-50 balls and produce with physicality although not a straight-line burner.
2. John Ross, Washington (5-11, 188) — Ross’ 4.22 40-yard dash was the talk of the combine and so fast he could be overdrafted. (You can bet Al Davis would’ve been all over him). But keep in mind Ross wasn’t all speed with no production, catching 81 passes for 1,150 yards and a Pac-12 best 17 touchdowns. Still a developing receiver, with only one full year at position after switching from cornerback.
3. Corey Davis, Western Michigan (6-3, 209) — Seeks to join Randy Moss (Marshall) as the only Mid-American Conference receivers to be drafted in the first round. Set an FBS career receiving record (5,285 yards) and had 52 touchdowns in 50 games. Concerns include dominating with physicality against inferior competition and too many dropped passes.
4. Curtis Samuel, Ohio State (5-11, 196) — Hybrid runner/receiver at Ohio State could translate to a slot receiver at the next level. Similar in some respects to Christian McCaffrey although less likely to be a running back. Had 74 catches for 865 yards as a junior and rushed for 771 yards. Has shown ability to catch ball in a crowd.
5. Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington (6-2, 204) — Couldn’t catch the eye of any FBS programs out of high school, but his dominance of the Big Sky Conference has him as a second-day NFL pick. Even though he missed some playing time, Kupp had 117 catches for 1,700 yards. Played in spread scheme, but innate ability to get open is expected to translate.
Keep an eye on: Chad Hansen, Cal (6-2, 202) — Idaho State transfer blossomed at Cal, catching 92 passes for 1,249 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior despite missing two games due to injury. Finished fourth in the nation with 23 receptions of 20 yards or more. A natural at tracking the ball and making adjustments, making it look easy.
Others: Chris Godwin, Penn State (6-1, 209), ArDarius Stewart, Alabama (5-11, 204), Zay Jones, East Carolina (6-2, 201), Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech (5-11, 199), JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC (6-1, 215).
Depth chart: Amari Cooper (6-1, 211), Michael Crabtree (6-1, 214), Cordarrelle Patterson (6-2, 220), Seth Roberts (6-2, 195), Johnny Holton (6-0, 190), Jaydon Mickens (5-11, 170), K.J. Brent (6-4, 190).
Last five drafted: Amari Cooper (first round, Alabama, 2015), Brice Butler (seventh round, San Diego State, 2013), Juron Criner (fifth round, Arizona, 2012), Denarius Moore (fifth round, Tennessee, 2011), Jacoby Ford (fourth round, Clemson, 2010).