Editor’s note: Insider Scott Bair will highlight one training camp position battle each week of the preseason as the Raiders depth chart and starting lineup begin to take shape.
Brice Butler (6-foot-3, 210 pounds, 3rd season, San Diego State) vs. Andre Holmes (6-foot-4, 210 pounds, 4th season, Hillsdale College) vs. Seth Roberts (6-foot-2, 195 pounds, 1st season, West Alabama) vs. Kenbrell Thompkins (6-foot-1, 195 pounds, Cincinnati)
Where we’re at: The Raiders have a deeper, more diverse receiving corps that is far more talented than a year ago. That will lead to some tough decisions when rosters get cut.
There are three receivers set on this roster. Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Rod Streater should be the team’s top receivers.
A cluster of four receivers are fighting for two, three roster spots max, with less than two weeks to state a case for continued employment.
It’s virtually certain the Raiders won’t carry more than six receivers. It’s possible return man Trindon Holliday could take up a sixth receiver spot. It’s possible the Raiders stick with five receivers to use a roster spot on another position.
Holmes was a perceived lock heading into this training camp, but he never stood out or took first-team reps. Now he’s out for the preseason with a fractured hand without a chance to make more of a positive impression. Will his history with the team – Holmes had a team-best 693 receiving yards – help secure a roster spot?
Thompkins took a healthy sum of first-team reps in the slot during training camp. He’s had 31 passing snaps in two games, with three catches for 20 yards to show for it.
Roberts spent last year on the practice squad, but worked his way into first-team reps in practice and Saturday’s exhibition at Minnesota. He has made big plays and has shown an ability to be productive.
Butler has found a way to stay relevant with big-play ability and dominant preseasons. Butler is a glider with good hands, and has seen increased reps with better teams. That’s a sign the Raiders are interested in seeing him perform.
The edge: I selected Holmes and Thompkins in my first projected 53-man roster, with Holliday taking up a sixth receiver spot. The Raiders kept five receivers last season, and could do so again. Butler and Roberts are very much in this race, and could end up working their way on to the regular-season roster. It will be interesting to see how the most competitive position group shakes out over the coming days.