Ending a very competitive camp to finalize the Raiders 53 man roster on Saturday, there were a few surprises among those selected to play wide receiver in Las Vegas this season.
When the deadline to turn in the Raiders 53 man roster came and went today, the wide receivers who made the final cut were not much of a surprise.The Raiders said goodbye to 2019 Hard Knocks favorite Keelan Doss, and other wideouts Marcell Ateman, and De’Mornay Pierson El.
Similar to 2019, Las Vegas has a ton of new faces in the WR room with the season-opening Radiers 53 man roster looking talented if young at the position.
Unlike 2019, Gruden and Mayock are hoping the 2020 group produces much better results having invested heavily in both the draft and free agency at the position.
The coach and GM spent the 2020 off-season revamping the roster once again, infusing it playmakers – especially at the WR position. Additions include veteran Nelson Agholor, 2020 first-round draft pick Henry Ruggs III, and camp start Bryan Edwards, and returning players Hunter Renfrow and veteran Zay Jones, close a versatile group for Derek Carr and company. The combination of speed, size, and experience has Raider Nation excited about what could be in 2020.
Strengths of the group
Derek Carr had one of his best pro seasons with arguably the worst WR group in football in 2019 pointing out what was the lack of big-play potential. Although Carr and Gruden aren’t known for the deep ball, it’s nice to at least have the option. Ruggs averaged almost 19 yards a catch at Alabama, which is why the Raiders, in need of a deep, vertical threat, drafted the talented young player. The decision to keep fellow speedster, Rico Gafford, on the roster, shows the Raiders want to make the deep ball a priority. Having two sub 4.2 guys for Derek Carr to utilize, is not a bad thing for this team.
Another area of strength I see with this group is versatility. It’s not as redundant and stagnant as last year’s group. Ruggs and Edwards can line up at both spots, and they have Renfrow, Ruggs, and Agholor that can all take snaps out of the slot. This offers Gruden an opportunity to show different looks throughout a game, something he didn’t have the luxury of doing the past two seasons
Areas of Concern
One major flaw with this group is the lack of experience for those Gruden and the Raiders expect to start this season. The Raiders are throwing three young wideouts into the fire and hoping for the best. The last time the Raiders started two rookies at the position was 2009 when both Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey started and, well, the results were not good. Ruggs appears to be far and above better than either one of those guys, but it’s still risky to have so much pressure and need from kids right out of school.
Another weakness of this group is depth. With the loss of Tyrell Williams, the depth took a major hit. There is no real natural back-up to Bryan Edwards at the “X” spot. The hope is everyone stays healthy and this never becomes a major issue.
Overall, this is an improved position group. They are going to take their lumps, but the youth the Raiders 53 man roster shows at wide receiver, coupled with an experienced quarterback and offensive line, means this unit should perform far better than last season despite some of the glaring question marks.