Antonio Brown is headed for Oakland, and he’s been able to land a new contract. Now what? Is that offense good enough for him to put up top-5 receiving numbers?
Derek Carr might not be the long-term answer at quarterback. To me, it seems like he’s wired to get the ball out of his hands – he seems more interested in avoiding hits and sacks, rather than hanging onto the ball for an extra partial second, allowing potential big plays to develop.
My sense is that Carr will never be one of the game’s top-15 quarterbacks. If Kyler Murray were to be sitting there at No. 4, I think the Raiders would pick him, and Carr would be gone.
But Murray won’t last until No. 4. Carr will be the starter, responsible for getting the ball to Brown.
Carr has been underwhelming recently, with just 41 touchdowns in 31 games the last two years. But he looked more serviceable in the previous two seasons (60 TDs in 31 games).
Amari Cooper played his first six games with Oakland last year, and I was troubled by how ineffective he was. He caught only 22 passes for 280 yards and 1 TD. He caught 18 passes for 244 yards and a touchdown in games against Denver and Cleveland, but just 4 passes for 36 yards in his other four games (sidelined with a concussion early in the London game).
Cooper also was underwhelming in 2017, catching only 48 passes for 680 yards and 7 TDs in 14 games. Cooper isn’t in Brown’s league, of course, but he had a bunch of big games with the Cowboys last year. If we wind the clock back to 2016, Carr did a decent job getting the ball to Cooper. He caught 83 passes for 1,153 yards that year, albeit with just 5 TDs.
The Raiders have Jon Gruden running the whole thing, and I’m not sure what to make of him. Gruden used to be the Sean McVay of this league, putting up top-10 passing games everywhere he went (even when working with modest talent). But it’s been over 15 years since his last top-10 passing game. His last five offenses have all finished with fewer than 20 TD passes – 17, 14, 18 and 18 TDs with the Bucs, and 19 TDs last year.
Oakland didn’t have a viable fantasy receiver last year. Gruden’s previous 13 teams had 1,000-yard receivers, and all but two of those guys caught more than 75 passes.
It’s early. I’m still mulling. But in a general sense, if I were walking into a draft today, I would start thinking about Brown about a half dozen receivers into a draft. I can think of a handful of receivers I would definitely select before him: Michael Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams.
|GRUDEN'S LEADING WIDE RECEIVERS|
|1995||Calvin Williams, Phil.||63||768||12.2||2|
|1996||Irving Fryar, Phil.||88||1,195||13.6||11|
|1997||Irving Fryar, Phil.||86||1,316||15.3||6|
|1998||Tim Brown, Oak.||81||1,012||12.5||9|
|1999||Tim Brown, Oak.||90||1,344||14.9||6|
|2000||Tim Brown, Oak.||76||1,128||14.8||11|
|2001||Tim Brown, Oak.||91||1,165||12.8||10|
|2002||Keyshawn Johnson, T.B.||76||1,088||14.3||5|
|2003||Keenan McCardell, T.B.||84||1,174||14.0||9|
|2004||Michael Clayton, T.B.||80||1,193||14.9||7|
|2005||Joey Galloway, T.B.||83||1,287||15.5||10|
|2006||Joey Galloway, T.B.||62||1,057||17.0||7|
|2007||Joey Galloway, T.B.||57||1,014||17.8||6|
|2008||Antonio Bryant, T.B.||83||1,248||15.0||7|
|2018||Jordy Nelson, Oak.||63||739||11.7||3|