Marcell Ateman doesn’t have an easy route to the Raiders roster. The seventh-round draft pick out of Oklahoma State can look at the depth chart and see Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant, Ryan Switzer, Seth Roberts and Johnny Holton, and know that his work will be cut out for him to make the Oakland team for 2018.
But Ateman is a 6-foot-5, 216-pound target who was extremely productive in college, and he’s worked on his speed – considered his weakness coming into the draft – to make him better as he begins his time with the Raiders.
Ateman has a big vertical leap (34 inches at the NFL combine) that, combined with his height and ability to use his body against defensive backs, makes him a good short-range and red-zone receiver. In 2017 at Oklahoma State he caught 59 passes for 1,156 yards and eight touchdowns. Wrote NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein, in his pre-draft scouting report: “His frame and ball skills give him instant credibility as a jump-ball threat in the red zone while he continues to hone his skill set. Ateman should be an early backup with a chance to climb the ladder on the depth chart.”
After last season, Ateman knew he needed to get quicker, so he worked with former Olympic 200-meter sprinter Michael Johnson and cut his 40-yard dash time.
Ateman says he has other strengths that make him a good receiver.
“I feel like I’m a great route runner,” he told SB Nation in April. “I’m always improving. I’m not saying I’m perfect, but for my size, I do get in and out of my breaks well. And that’s just because I take pride in working on my craft.”