With Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Seth Roberts and Andre Holmes, the Raiders seem loaded at wide receiver. It’s one position that doesn’t cry out for more bodies this offseason.
But judging by the way Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio was speaking to the media Wednesday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Oakland may be paying more attention to wide receivers’ workouts this week than might be expected because the team would like to give quarterback Derek Carr as many weapons as possible.
According to Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group, Del Rio on Wednesday told reporters that a year ago he predicted Carr’s ability to throw the deep ball would improve in 2015 because of a better cast of wideouts that would get deep. That came true, with Carr’s average-yards-per-pass attempt jumping from 5.5 as a rookie to 7.0 in 2015.
Cooper, Crabtree and Roberts were three reasons for the jump.
“I sat up here last year and said he could throw the deep ball well,” said Del Rio. “That’s something we saw on tape. But he just didn’t have the guys who could go get it. … We saw him hit a higher percentage of deep balls and throw more of them last year.”
The Raiders aren’t likely to spend a high pick on a wide receiver this time around, but could use a mid-round or low-round choice to add to the receiving stable, especially for a fast, field-stretching type of pass catcher who could continue to give Carr more deep opportunities.
Some possibilities in that category include Corey Coleman of Baylor, Jalin Marshall of Ohio State and Geronimo Allison of Illinois.
Allison is intriguing in that he’s not only very fast (4.49 40-yard dash time) but 6-foot-3. He’s projected to be a third- to fifth-round pick. He had strong outings in the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl where he consistently outran defensive backs and showed soft hands and an ability to outjump cornerbacks.
Another element in the development of Carr’s deep-throwing game in 2016 will be the continued improvement of tight end Clive Walford – who began to be a solid option late in the year – and an investment in the offensive line. The Raiders pass blocking was solid for the first two thirds of the season, but faltered late, allowing much more pressure on Carr and stunting the team’s passing attack.