The Oakland Raiders seem like they have been looking for a No. 1 receiver for almost as long as they have been looking for a quarterback. Since Rich Gannon, the Raiders have cycled through several signal-callers. They’ve also been searching for a receiver who demands double-teams since Tim Brown. And as the 2014 campaign is about to get underway with training camp, the Raiders find themselves still searching for that go-to receiver.
Their last 1,000-yard receiver was Randy Moss, who finished the 2005 season with 1,005 yards. That’s pretty pathetic in a league that encourages passing more than ever before. Since the Moss days (which ended with a thud), there’s been a lot of hope for guys like Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore, but after impressive rookie campaigns, neither player has risen to that level. But there is still one player that gives Raiders fans hope that he could be the guy they have been looking for.
Rod Streater, who came to the Raiders as an undrafted free agent, has quietly established himself as the team’s best wideout. Most people around the league do not know who Streater is or how good he can be, but those who watch the team closely are very excited about him. He has good size (6′ 3″, 195) to go along with 4.4 speed. He runs good routes and has hands are dependable. The biggest detriment to his improvement so far has been the team’s ever-present lack of continuity at quarterback.
Streater put up 888 yards on 60 catches last season, while playing with the worst quarterback group in the league. Yet despite playing with two quarterbacks with two completely different styles, Streater put up very impressive numbers for a second-year player, undrafted or otherwise — especially when one considers that he had only 19 catches in his senior year of college. If he continues to improve in this manner, the Raiders may see their search for an established top target come to an end.
The guy who’ll start across from Streater will be former Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Jones. Signed as a free agent this past offseason, Jones was one of the bigger surprises of free agency. There weren’t many rumors about him coming to Oakland and at the time he was signed was a top available free agent receivers. Jones was never a No. 1 receiver in Green Bay, where he played with one of the best quarterbacks in the league and a much deeper group of receivers, but he led the league in touchdown receptions in 2012 with 14.
Behind the starters, Greg Jenkins, Brice Butler, Greg Little, Juron Criner, Andre Holmes and Moore will compete for roster spots and playing time. Holmes and Moore are pretty much locks to make the team, but their positioning on the depth chart is completely up in the air. They will be going head-to-head to earn playing time and if things continue down the path we’ve seen, Holmes could come out on the better side of that competition.
The Raiders are most likely going to carry five wide receivers. If they go with six, the most likely to earn roster spots are Greg Little and Greg Jenkins. Little represents a guy with physical attributes that cannot be taught, though his hands and decreased production since his rookie year are causes for concern. Jenkins brings value on special teams, seeing time as a punt and kickoff returner last season. While he’s also shown some serious potential at wide receiver, he’s still a ways off from being a reliable option.
The Raiders’ receiving depth is better than it has been in a while. But until someone finally posts the kind of production that’s comparable to other N0. 1 receiving options around the league, it will remain one of their weaker position groups.
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