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The Raiders could use some help at wide receiver. They have plenty of options in this draft, including a few at No. 5 overall.
This class is incredibly deep, with talent available in the second or third round. Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie acknowledged that fact during a Thursday press conference, and said that similar grades could prompt him to wait to take a receiver. But, if one is head’s above some others, he won’t let that player pass.
“If I feel that this receiver is close to the next, yeah, I’ll be more inclined to say, OK, we can wait. We feel like these two guys are similar,” McKenzie said. “But if I feel like this guy is an impact player, I’m not going to bypass him just because there are some other good, solid receivers. When you’re comparing great to good, I’d rather have great.”
As you’d expect, McKenzie didn’t break down receiver rankings. So we’ll lean on respected NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock to separate some of these players.
[RELATED: Raiders draft outlook at wide receiver]
Clemson’s Sammy Watkins and Texas A&M’s Mike Evans are widely considered the top two receivers in the draft. While Watkins could be gone when the Raiders select No. 5 overall, there is some debate over whether Evans is worthy of such a lofty selection.
Watkins (6-foot-1, 211 pounds) and Evans (6-5, 231) have disparate talents. Watkins is a speedster with great hands, and Evans is a physical presence who can win balls in the air.
“The way I look at those two kids, it's vanilla and chocolate. They make different flavors for different reasons,” Mayock said Thursday in a conference call. “The Watkins kid is explosive. He's a great route runner, great hands, tremendous run after the catch potential. More than anything, he's a competitor. In addition to all the natural gifts he has, he has an edge about him every game he plays, and I love that.
“Mike Evans is more a product of what today's NFL environment is. Today's NFL environment, with the advent of the back shoulder throw, has opened up the game for the big wideouts, the 6-5 wideouts. Why? They basically can play outside the numbers and they don't have to run as many routes and they don't have to get in and out of breaks like the smaller ones. Any time you get a one-on-one with a defensive back with his back turned, you get a big, superior athlete, the odds favor the wide receiver."
“Mike Evans I think, along with (Florida State’s) Kelvin Benjamin, some of these other guys, are what today's NFL is all about. They're outside the number guys and red zone guys. However, I happen to think that Watkins is a better football player and that's why he's rated higher.”
Mayock believes there will be talent available in the later rounds, but there could be a rush on receivers in the first round. That’s why it might be prudent to get an elite receiver early.
“I think there's a chance six wideouts go in the first round,” Mayock said. “After Watkins and Evans, the next two are going to be wideouts people would say wouldn't go so early, Odell Beckham from LSU and Bradin Cooks from Oregon State. Beckham is an explosive kid with return skills. Gets in and out of breaks as well as any receiver in this draft. Has good size. Cooks is a smaller receiver, but maybe the most explosive of the entire group. He's tough. He also is a good route runner. I think their value is going to start somewhere in that 13, 14 area. I think they'll be gone by plus or minus 20. Then Kelvin Benjamin and (USC’s) Marqise Lee come into play after that.”
Mayock went further down to the second round, and discussed several options that could be available in the second round.
“In round two at wideout, Davante Adams from Fresno State, a guy that's really moving up a lot of boards, (Indiana’s) Cody Latimer, a big guy that ran 4.4, coming off a foot injury from Indiana. A one-year wonder from Clemson is Martavis Bryant. You want to talk about a guy with ability, almost 6'4", ran in the 4.3s, jumps out of the gym, an explosive talent. He's a one-year production guy, which I think scares people. But his physical skill set is so awe-inspiring, he's probably going to go into two.
“Allen Robinson (could be available) in the third round from Penn State. If you're looking for a speed guy, look at Paul Richardson from Colorado. He flies. One of my favorite players in the draft is Jarvis Landry from LSU, not fast but one of the toughest players in this draft. I think he's a value in the third round.”