Jon Gruden’s Raiders spent the offseason importing a wave of new receiving threats for Derek Carr, signing Jordy Nelson and trading for Martavis Bryant and Ryan Switzer during the draft.
On the high side of the potential bell curve, combining Nelson’s red-zone acumen and Bryant’s field-stretching ability to Amari Cooper’s do-everything skillset could provide Oakland the foundation of a stellar receiving corps.
“We’ve got a competitive situation here at wide receiver,” Gruden said, via NBC Bay Area. “So I like that.”
The wild card for the Raiders is Bryant, who owns the talent to be a top-flight receiver, but has been inconsistent on the field, and had issues off it. It’s telling that the Pittsburgh Steelers jettisoned him at the first sign of solid compensation.
If Bryant is motivated heading into the final year of his contract, Gruden see’s the freaky athlete as a potential difference maker.
“Let me tell you, he brings a different dynamic,” the coach said.” He’s 6-foot-4 and he plays it. He’s 4.4- (second 40-yard dash) fast and he plays it. We just have to get him wired into the offense and Jordy Nelson’s experience and versatility has really been impressive that it’s allowed us to do some things in just a few days that is pretty cool. We like our receivers, and we think Martavis will make you think twice about doing some things.”
The combination of Cooper, Nelson, and Bryant looks good on paper, if each lives up to his potential. If Cooper bounces back from a disappointing season, if Nelson finds young legs now that he’s back with a Pro Bowl QB, and if Bryant lives up to his natural ability, the Raiders would boast a corps that complements each other and could win at every level. Like most of Oakland’s composition in Gruden’s first spring, however, that’s a ton of ifs to overcome as we sit in mid-May.