Editor's note: Raiders insider Scott Bair will preview positions of need for the Silver and Black and which members of the 2015 free agent class would fit well in Oakland. Teams are free to negotiate with free agents starting Saturday and sign players on March 10. The first installment in this series focuses on wide receivers.
When new Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio discusses the development of Derek Carr, he always mentions a desire to improve the talent around his young quarterback.
There wasn’t much at the skill positions last year, when Carr ran the league’s least productive offense. That’s especially true at wide receiver. The Raiders struggled to create separation and secure receptions, which hindered production and formed a glaring need heading into the offseason.
The Raiders needed receiving talent before 2014 as well, but only added James Jones to a young mix that included Rod Streater and Andre Holmes. Streater got hurt early, and Jones proved to be a complementary piece.
The Raiders plan to add several quality receivers, likely in the draft and free agency. There’s a good crop of young veteran wideouts in this free agent class, though many of them won’t come cheap. The Raiders have money to spend, and could devote a large chunk to a top wideout.
Here’s a select list of receivers the Raiders could add.
James Jones: 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, 8 accrued seasons, San Jose State
Stats: 73 receptions, 666 yards, 6 touchdowns
Rod Streater: 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, 3 accrued seasons, Temple
Stats: 9 receptions, 84 yards, 1 touchdown
Andre Holmes: 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, 3 accrued seasons, Hillsdale College
Stats: 47 reception, 693 yards, 4 touchdowns
Big ticket items
Randall Cobb: 5-foot-10, 192 pounds, 4 accrued seasons, Kentucky
Stats: 91 receptions, 1,287 yards (14.1 avg.), 12 touchdowns
A good fit?: Cobb is a top-flight receiver entering the prime of his career, with the tools and consistency of a No. 1 receiver. The Packers certainly hope to keep him, but money might get extreme on the open market? The Raiders are in desperate need of a top wideout, and Cobb is the best of the bunch at age 24.
Torrey Smith: 6-foot, 205 pounds, 4 accrued seasons, Maryland
Stats: 49 receptions, 767 yards (15.7 avg), 11 touchdowns
A good fit?: Smith is a burner, with speed the Raiders haven’t had on the outside in some time. He averaged 16.9 yards per catch over a four-year career, and can stretch a defense and attract attention that makes room for others. A viable second option if the Raiders don’t get Cobb, but might not be that true No. 1 receiver. Could be excellent if paired with one from the draft.
Jeremy Maclin: 6-foot, 198 pounds, 6 accrued seasons, Missouri
Stats: 85 receptions, 1,318 yards (15.5 avg), 10 touchdowns
A good fit?: Maclin is a another big-play threat, one who can do damage after the catch. While his 2014 numbers may inflate because of Chip Kelly’s offense in Philadelphia, the Raiders could be an option if he doesn’t stay put because Bill Musgrave is importing Eagles elements into the Raiders attack.
Others: Michael Crabtree, Cecil Shorts
Kenny Britt: 6-foot-3, 223 pounds, 6 accrued seasons, Rutgers
Stats: 48 receptions, 748 yards (15.6 avg), 3 touchdowns
A good fit?: Britt has been maddeningly inconsistent during his NFL career, but fared well in St. Louis despite quarterback issues and is just 26 years old. He has the time and talent required to figure things out. With the right coaching and the right system. He could become a more consistent player.
Others: Hakeem Nicks
Overall: The Raiders need upgrades at the receiver spot, and should use some of their money to acquire talent at the top of this free agent class. That shouldn’t stop them from adding talent through the draft as well. If they’re set on adding value, they should simply retain Streater – it’s assumed they will – and Holmes. Both players are restricted free agents of some quality that could play well behind top wideouts.