Raiders’ Long, Tall Durham Could be a Red-Zone Threat

Former Lions receiver, at 6-foot-6, would make a nice target for Oakland quarterback Derek Carr, but making the roster will be a battle

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For a few – Michael Crabtree, Amari Cooper, Rod Streater – making the Raiders’ wide receiver corps in 2015 isn’t in doubt.

Those three give the Raiders a solid foundation going into training camp that opens in late July.

But following the top trio comes a thundering herd of prospects that includes Andre Holmes, Brice Butler, Kenbrell Thompkins and the likes of Trindon Holliday (also a fine returner), Josh Harper, Austin Willis, Milton Williams and Seth Roberts. It's expected that only six will be on the roster for opening day.

Also, there is Kris Durham.

Durham is an intriguing possibility. At 6-foot-6, the former standout from Georgia  has played parts of four seasons in the NFL since 2011, when he was a fourth-round pick of Seattle. He’s played in 27 games with 16 starts, with 13 of those coming in 2013 with the Detroit Lions. That season – playing with former Georgia teammate and quarterback Matthew Stafford -- he had 38 catches for 490 yards and two touchdowns. He had a handful of strong games that year, including an October victory over Cleveland in which he was targeted 13 times and had eight catches for 83 yards. 

When the Lions signed wide receiver Golden Tate the next season, however, Durham wound up being a late training camp cut, just before Game 1 of the 2014 season. He signed with Tennessee, played four games in 2014 and caught six passes for 54 yards.

Because Durham has a height advantage over defensive backs, it’s possible that the new Raiders coaching staff may take a liking to Durham as a situational receiver in short-yardage and red zone situations.

“One of the questions for the Raiders coaching staff is how specialized each player … is going to be,” wrote Jerry Knaak recently on the Raiders website, in assessing the candidates for making the roster. “Durham could push for a specialized red zone threat-type role.”

With the Lions, Durham became Stafford’s No. 2 option in 2013 behind Calvin Johnson after starter Nate Burleson was injured.

In training camp in 2013, Burleson noted that Durham was a playmaker, particularly in red-zone situations. Like the tall Johnson, who routinely goes over smaller DBs to make catches, Durham also was using his height.

“Kris Durham, the white Calvin Johnson? Oh my gosh,” Burleson told MLive.com. “I’m going to say this: All he does is catch touchdowns.”

Durham said at the time he likes to use his frame to his advantage.

“I’ve tried to go up, be stronger, attack and just don’t back down, continue to fight for every little inch,” Durham told Justin Rogers of MLive.com. “I think it’s part of that and part is my concentration. I’m getting more comfortable in the offense and understanding what I should be able to do and use my size.”

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