Big things are expected of the Raiders' passing game in 2016.
Coming off his big second season, quarterback Derek Carr is considered a rising NFL star, an he’ll have a good group of receivers to throw to in 2016 and a better offensive line to protect him.
Recently, Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio talked about how the passing attack seems to be improving, based on offseason workouts, and how the chemistry between Carr and wide receivers such as Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree is “awesome to see.”
The Raiders just missed having those wideouts each having 1,000-yard seasons. Cooper, in his rookie season, had 72 catches for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns. Crabtree had 85 receptions for 922 yards and nine TDs.
As the Raiders head toward the start of training camp later this month, that dynamic duo of pass catchers is one of the reasons Oakland has been designated by many NFL analysts as a rising team in the AFC West, and a possible playoff team.
Yet in a ranking by the football analytics website Pro Football Focus this week, the Raiders receivers group was ranked just 18th in the NFL.
PFF pointed out Cooper’s strong rookie year, but also noted his drop rate of 20 percent was the worst of any wide receiver in the league in 2015.
“Drops weren’t an issue for him at Alabama, so he needs to get that under control if he is to develop into the top-tier NFL receiver he is likely capable of becoming,” wrote PFF’s Gordon McGuinness.
Yet taken as a whole, the Raiders receiving corps could be much better than middle-of-the-pack in 2016. Recently, in fact, former NFL scout and current NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks said the Cooper-Crabtree duo could be “prolific.”
After his initial season, Cooper could take a big step forward. The veteran Crabtree is sure-handed and productive. Backup wideouts Seth Roberts and Andre Holmes made some big plays in 2015, with Roberts especially becoming a trusted target of Carr. Also, the tight end duo of Clive Walford and Mychal Rivera gives the team a pair of dependable targets, with Walford potentially a star. Running backs Latavius Murray (who had 41 catches in 2015) and rookie DeAndre Washington of Texas Tech (who had 124 catches in college) should give Carr even more opportunities to keep the offense moving.
If the Raiders receiving group stays healthy in 2016, it seems likley it could be one of the best in the NFL – especially if Carr has more time to throw.