Raiders

Raiders' Tyrell Williams continues No. 1 receiver quest vs. former team

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AP

Raiders' Tyrell Williams continues No. 1 receiver quest vs. former team

ALAMEDA -- Tyrell Williams’ first Raiders season hasn’t gone smooth. A nasty bout of plantar fasciitis took the wide receiver out of two games and off-track in his quest to prove he’s a bona fide No. 1 option.

Williams has five touchdowns in six games played and is averaging a solid 15.4 yards per catch, but he also had a few costly drops in a Week 8 loss to the Houston Texans that affected the outcome.

“It hasn’t gone exactly how I wanted, especially with everything with my feet,” Williams said Tuesday. “I have started feeling a lot better and I’m ready to take off and play like I know I can play.”

Williams opened the season showing just how good he can be. He had six receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown in a Week 1 win over the Denver Broncos. He was draped in coverage after that, while the receiver corps was depleted while in transition. The touchdowns still came but the big yards didn’t, and then his feet acted up and slowed him down a while.

At long last, Williams is getting back to full health.

"I feel really good," Williams said. "It’s mostly about getting healthy and feeling like myself. I know I can make every play, so I wanted to get back to feeling 100 percent. I feel like getting there now. I have a ton of confidence and I feel like, over the rest of the season, I’m going to show what I can do."

He is hitting 100 percent in time for Thursday night showdown with the Los Angeles Chargers, who employed him his first four seasons.

Williams is a chill dude, but even he admits extra adrenaline comes with playing his friends and former teammates.

“I stay pretty even-keeled, but I’m going to have a little more juice this week,” Williams said. “… It’s going to be a lot of fun. I know a lot of guys on the team still. I’m excited to play them. I went against those guys for four years, so it’s going to weird going against them on a game day. It’ll be cool, though. I’m excited about it.”

Williams was excited about the opportunity to prove he’s a No. 1 receiver. He held that title in 2016 with the Chargers, his only 1,000-yard season. The Chargers have tons of receiving talent with Keenan Allen at the top, but the Bolts still believe Williams has the tools required to be a top guy.

“It’s his work ethic, his football IQ,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “You know he can line up all the way across the ball at receiver. You know he can read coverages. He can get open. He developed into a good route runner. He developed into catching the high point of the ball down the field. You know you see him doing that more and his size. He’s a physical presence. He’s a tall receiver with speed.”

[RELATED: Gruden wants Raiders to be adept at playing 'left-handed']

Antonio Brown was going to be Oakland's head honcho until he went nuclear, leaving Williams as the Silver and Black's top target. 

“[That title] is something I’ve wanted, something I’ve always worked for,” Williams said. “Being with the Chargers, we had a lot of good receivers. I think that helped to see how those guys did it. My second year, I kind of had that opportunity and I feel like I was able to do well. Getting here, I’ve been fighting through injury and now I’m ready to get back to how I was playing at the start of the season.”

Why Raiders should add running back to help Josh Jacobs, Jalen Richard

Why Raiders should add running back to help Josh Jacobs, Jalen Richard

Josh Jacobs is a feature back in every sense. The Raiders star rusher can do most everything well and is capable of playing all three downs. He can carry a significant workload, as he did during an exemplary 2019 campaign where he finished second in AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year voting, and frankly should have won.

He had 242 carries for 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns in 13 games, proving to be a tough and elusive runner who gains significant yards after contact.

Jalen Richard’s an excellent complement as a third-down back who can pass protect well and is an excellent receiver out of the backfield.

While those two can cover every offensive scenario, the Raiders should still work to add another running back.

That was clear at the end of last year when Jacobs was shut down with a shoulder injury he played through for weeks. DeAndre Washington filled in as the primary ball carrier and fared well but was allowed to hit the open market, where he remains today.

The Raiders could and should look to upgrade that position and not just by finding a backup. They need someone with a different style, maybe a big and bruising back to accent what the Raiders do offensively.

They tried to do that last season, when they worked out every veteran running back under the sun but didn’t sign anyone until Rod Smith came aboard late.

The sixth-year journeyman re-signed with the Raiders on a low-cost contract.

The NFL draft will have quality options available later in the draft, where the Raiders have three third-round picks and one each in the fourth and fifth.

It might take a third-round pick to land Boston College’s A.J. Dillion, a 247-pound bruiser who can run downhill and pick up short yardage by moving the pile. Draft analysts say he’s good at reading blocks and following his assignment, something important in Jon Gruden’s offense.

Vanderbilt’s Ke'Shawn Vaughn is an option who might be available later. He isn’t quite as big but has the toughness required to get hard yards and could absorb some blows to keep Jacobs healthy and fresh.

This isn’t a full-on draft breakdown, so we won’t go down the list of every scheme fit available for selection. There aren’t many free agent dollars left, so it’s hard to see another runner coming in.

The Raiders can survive with the depth chart they’ve got, especially with fullback Alec Ingold able to carry the ball effectively when called upon. But the NFL is trending toward two back benefits, even when there’s an obvious alpha like Jacobs.

Gruden has historically preferred feeding multiple backs, as he did in his previous Raiders stint with Tyrone Wheatley and Napoleon Kauffman, and later with Wheatley and Charlie Garner.

[RELATED: Raiders reportedly meet virtually with Herbert]

Gruden has also ridden one back pretty hard, as he did with Cadillac Williams while with Tampa Bay.

The Raiders are more than capable of rolling with the crew they have but could use to make the backfield a little better before the 2020 season begins by filling a relatively low-ranking need.

NFL rumors: Raiders meeting with Oregon QB Justin Herbert before draft

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USATSI

NFL rumors: Raiders meeting with Oregon QB Justin Herbert before draft

The Raiders are meeting with former Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert on an official top-30 visit. Well, the term “visit” might be a stretch considering nobody is allowed inside NFL facilities due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pre-draft meetings still are happening, but those face-to-face interactions now are done over FaceTime or Zoom or Skype or whatever video conferencing platform you prefer.

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Herbert will be meeting with the Raiders in this way, as the Silver and Black try to refine their options in the NFL draft.

Each team gets 30 meetings during the pre-draft process, though they’re often used on players from lower rounds or with character questions they need to examine further.

This meeting is sure to raise some eyebrows considering Herbert’s position and eventual draft status, but this should be viewed as an exploratory exercise of the Raiders doing due diligence.

[RELATED: How Raiders' NFL free-agency signings could impact returning players]

Herbert should be taken in the NFL draft’s top 10, well before the Raiders draft at Nos. 12 and 19. The Raiders have the capital to trade up in the draft if they choose, but it would be costly to move up high enough to get beyond the quarterback starved Miami Dolphins at No. 5 and the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 6.

They also have a quality quarterback room with Derek Carr as the starter and Marcus Mariota as the backup. There are far more pressing needs at receiver, cornerback and safety and maybe defensive line that could use talent available in the first round.

It’s possible the Raiders draft a quarterback later in the draft, but it seems unlikely in the first round.

Let’s also recall that the Raiders met with top quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins before last year’s draft and didn’t take either guy.

While the Raiders don’t have an immediate need at quarterback, general manager Mike Mayock always says the team will consider upgrades at every position. Head coach Jon Gruden loves meeting with quarterbacks and learning how they think.

Herbert is ranked high among the NFL draft’s best options at quarterback, typically third behind Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. He has ideal size for a quarterback at 6-foot-6 and 236 pounds, with great arm strength and field vision. He can throw on the move and is confident throwing the ball downfield and making smart decisions going with shorter and intermediate options.

NBC Sports Bay Area’s latest mock draft has Herbert going No. 5 to the Dolphins.

NFL Network also reported that Herbert has a video conference scheduled with the Bolts.