There’s little Raiders access during these days. Phase II of the offseason program is conducted in private, with only team-approved pictures and videos emerging from on-field work.
Fans get little snippets, like this one Tyrell Williams released Friday night.
Head coach Jon Gruden provides the color commentary here, as he did on a previous career path.
“That is awesome,” Gruden says. “That is a thing of beauty.”
Williams and quarterback Derek Carr connect on a well-timed deep shot, perfectly thrown, that Williams caught in stride streaking down the sideline. The route wasn’t run against competition, with offense vs. defense prohibited during this part of the offseason.
Hype videos put out by Antonio Brown’s camp are hard to miss, designed to show great chemistry between him and Carr and offer a peek at his insatiable work ethic.
These snapshots, run under optimal conditions and without resistance, offer zero guarantee of explosive offense in 2019.
The guys in the receiving corps give the Raiders a great chance. Question marks can be found along the offensive line – who’s gonna replace Kelechi Osemele? Can Kolton Miller find consistent health and performance? Will Trent Brown live up to the fat contract? – and at running back – Can Josh Jacobs perform in the NFL, with a heavy workload? Will the depth chart offer enough support – but the receivers assembled this offseason are as stable as they come.
Brown is a bonafide superstar, with six straight seasons of at least 101 receptions, 1,284 and eight touchdowns. Those numbers you just read were the worst of his run, during which he has missed a total of three games with injury.
Williams has averaged 16.3 yards per reception over three-plus seasons. He is a deep threat who exceeded 1,000 yards as a primary option and roughly 700 on 42 catches in two seasons as a secondary receiver like he will be working with Brown. And Williams is always available, playing every game over the last three seasons.
Ryan Grant is a quality third option who works well from the slot, though Hunter Renfrow could push him for snaps right away, and J.J. Nelson’s speed could come into play at some point. Keelan Doss is also an X-factor in the group, a respected prospect who went through the NFL draft unselected.
That crew represents a complete positional overhaul with 2018 options Jordy Nelson, Brandon LaFell, Martavis Bryant, Seth Roberts and Amari Cooper no longer on the roster. Marcell Ateman’s the only returner to make a significant contribution in last year’s passing game, and he’ll have to battle for a roster spot.
As important as any of the numbers found above – steady hands.
The Raiders have had trouble hanging on to catchable passes with Cooper, Roberts and Michael Crabtree as primary targets.
Brown, Williams and Grant only had seven drops between them last year, and Brown only had one. He caught 104 of 105 catchable targets, an astonishing stat in its own right.
Having him on the roster, with Williams, Grant and Co., suggests the receivers will be a rare sure thing on a roster still looking for stability at most spots.