Editor’s note: Scott Bair will provide daily content previewing the NFL Draft, including position breakdowns, news stories, mock drafts and more. Here, he analyzes draft prospects at receiver, and whether the Raiders should select one.
The Raiders were both thin and inadequate at receiver heading into last offseason. That issue was remedied in the draft and free agency, with options that strengthened this position group for a longer term. Amari Cooper seems to be a star in the making after a Pro Bowl rookie year, and Michael Crabtree experienced a career renaissance in 2015. That prompted him to sign a four-year contract extension through 2019.
Seth Roberts developed well into a solid slot man with several clutch catches. Andrew Holmes was a No. 4 receiver and also made some big plays downfield.
That group returns intact, a versatile unit hoping to expand upon the chemistry built with quarterback Derek Carr last season.
Who’s here: Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Seth Roberts, Andre Holmes, Andre Debose
Draft needs: The Raiders are in good shape at receiver, but could explore possible upgrades to Roberts or a young player to develop into a bigger contributor. There are several needs above receiver, but a later-round receiver might be an option. The Raiders only have four receivers – Andre Debose is primarily a return man – in the fray, and need some numbers during the offseason program and training camp. A talent could arise from that volume, provide depth and special teams contributions.
Good fits: If the Raiders choose a receiver with a higher pick – best player available should be a trend in this draft – Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard could be an option that fits extremely well. He’s a solid route runner with speed and dependable hands. The team likely won’t look for a receiver by the time Shepard’s off the board.
They could pick one later, and Western Michigan’s Daniel Braverman could be a terrific under-the-radar option. He’s a slot receiver in the pros, a small-school talent who competes at every practice and is a sneaky route runner and could contribute early on as a slot receiver.
Notre Dame’s Chris Brown could be a later-round steal after injury kept him from working out in the pre-draft process.