Editor’s note: Insider Scott Bair will be providing position-by-position breakdowns each day leading up to Raiders training camp, which opens on July 31.
Who they have: Brice Butler, Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Kris Dunham, Josh Harper, Trindon Holliday, Andre Holmes, Seth Roberts, Rod Streater, Kenbrell Thompkins, Milton Williams III, Austin Willis
Who they lost: James Jones, Denarius Moore, Vincent Brown
Looking back: The Raiders receivers were a real weakness last season. Rod Streater was lost for the year early on, Denarius Moore underwhelmed yet again and a deep threat wasn’t well established. A lack of separation hindered quarterback Derek Carr’s ability to run a down-field offense. James Jones was a reliable outlet but averaged less than 10 yards per reception. Andre Holmes led the team with 663 receiving yards, a low total for a top target.
Overall outlook: The Raiders needed to upgrade at receiver last offseason and failed to do so. They didn’t make that same mistake in 2015. General manager Reggie McKenzie drafted Amari Cooper at No. 4 overall and signed veteran Michael Crabtree in free agency. Streater is healthy and explosive after last year’s foot issues and will challenge for significant playing time.
Holmes, Kenbrell Thompkins and Brice Butler will fight for a role and a roster spot, which is far deeper at receiver than recent seasons. That’s an encouraging step for the Raiders offense, which wants to be more explosive through the air.
Camp competition: The receiver position as added to the top of the depth chart, meaning that locks to make last year’s squad will fight for snaps this time around. Cooper is a lock in the No. 1 spot. Crabtree enters camp as the No. 2, though Streater has the talent and drive to fight for that spot. He’ll be the No. 3 at the very least.
Thompkins had an excellent offseason and will duke it out with Holmes for the No. 4 spot. Brice Butler is in the mix as well, though he needs to show greater consistency in his third season. Josh Harper seems to have the best shot among undrafted free agents, who must beat out a veteran to make the team.
Bottom line: The Raiders have upgraded at this position, though they’ll cross fingers hoping Cooper adapts quickly to the pro grame and Crabtree rebounds after a disappointing 2014 season. Both men and Streater have route-running savvy and reliable hands, which should help Carr tremendously in 2015. The Raiders have weapons to fear, with enough depth to move Cooper around without losing prowess away from him.
It seems likely Holmes, Thompkins and Butler make the team. Holliday could be a wild card and steal a receiver spot despite the fact he’d be a return man. Harper might get stashed on the practice squad in preparation for 2016.