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Raiders might wait turn at wide receiver in NFL draft

Updated April 17, 2019 - 7:39 pm

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Another wide receiver would be welcome. Sure.

The Raiders have undergone significant turnover at the position. None of their three top options to begin last season — Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson and Seth Roberts — remain with the organization. Marcell Ateman is the only returner who totaled double-digit receptions in 2018, and he had 15.

It’s entirely conceivable a rookie could be selected here next week during the NFL draft.

The debate exists in how early he’s chosen.

Last month, the Raiders made two substantial investments at wide receiver when acquiring Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams, committing to pay them a combined $25.725 million for 2019. Three other veterans were added to the position in the weeks since. Enough has been done to expect the club to turn elsewhere with its four assigned picks in the top 35.

Tight end and guard appear more likely to draw a premium pick on offense.

Perhaps in the middle to late rounds, the Raiders could find someone with the potential to be a dynamic slot option for quarterback Derek Carr. They signed Ryan Grant, Dwayne Harris and J.J. Nelson after the Brown and Williams additions. Of the three, Grant has the most slot experience and projects as the team’s No. 3 wide receiver today. Even so, he mostly has played outside during his NFL career.

Likewise, Harris predominantly is a special teamer, and Nelson is not a roster lock.

How the Raiders view the 2019 slot receiver class is unclear.

They no doubt benefited from the Senior Bowl, where they coached former Massachusetts star Andy Isabella. He flashed on occasion during the practice week but had an especially strong finish, totaling a team-high seven receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown. Isabella was named the Most Outstanding Player on the North team. At the combine, he and Ohio State’s Perris Campbell ran a 4.31-second 40-yard dash, tied for fastest among all wide receivers.

The Raiders also coached against former South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel. He boosted his draft stock at the Senior Bowl, demonstrating crisp route-running with a look befitting a second-round pick. The Raiders either would need to draft him at No. 35 overall or a later pick acquired in a draft-day trade down. They currently possess no selections from No. 36 to 105.

If the Raiders do go receiver early, Marquise Brown makes some sense.

A cousin of Antonio Brown, the former Oklahoma standout led the nation with 9.71 yards per route run from the slot in 2018, according to Pro Football Focus. He’s coming off Lisfranc surgery in January.

There’s no dismissing such a blue-chip prospect at wide receiver can make the Raiders better.

The doubt emerges when weighing their needs elsewhere.

More Raiders: Follow at reviewjournal.com/Raiders and @NFLinVegas on Twitter.

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at mgehlken@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

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