The Raiders need recipients who are heading to the 2014 season but don’t even blink by considering Khalil Mack to be fifth overall. They nailed picks, brought along an elite edge rusher that gave them four excellent seasons and then two first-round picks in trade with the Chicago Bears.
They were also sky-high in Texas A&M Mike Evans at the time, and that would be a solid alternative choice if the draft went differently. In fact, it’s hard to miss the recipients of the first round in 2014, a gold mine for positions that have gathered some truly elite talent.
Sammy Watkins was the first recipient to be ranked 4th, and while his career in Buffalo never took off, he found his way in Kansas City. Evans is next at number 7, with Odell Beckham at No. 12 and Brandin Cooks at No. 20. Kelvin Benjamin is the last recipient of the first round at No. 28, and while he has been so lately, he has nearly 2,000 in his first two seasons.
The group has proven extraordinary, with Evans, Beckham and Cooks currently ranked among the best in the league.
However, accepting recipients early is not going well. Raiders general manager Mike Mayock is a draft NFL Network analyst who excelled before taking his current job and knew that 2014 was an outlier compared to recent years.
“I think there are as many mistakes in wide receivers as there are in quarterbacks,” Mayock said in the NFL Scouting Combine, “if you look at the numbers and see the first round choice.”
Outside of the Raiders taking Amari Cooper fourth overall in 2015, most of the choice of first-round recipients is a mistake. Difficult to find the recipient No. 1 true in the group (you can see the complete list below). The only recipient of Cooper’s first round in the last five concepts to reach the Pro Bowl, even though D.J. from Carolina Moore (No. 28 overall in 2018) was really good in her first two professional seasons.
The top tier has come later, with Michael Thomas (New Orleans Saints) choosing the second round in 2016, JuJu Smith-Schuster (Pittsburgh Steelers) second round in 2017 and Cooper Kupp (Los Angeles Rams) third round that same year. Tyreek Hill is Kansas City’s fifth-round pick of 2016, through baggage that has lost its stock.
Even the most productive rookie recipient last year, Deebo Samuel (49ers), A.J. Brown (Tenessee Titans), D.K. Metcalf (Seattle Seahawks) and Terry McLaurin (Washington) came after the first round.
The point of saying all that is to say this: There is an element of buyer beware of taking recipients in the first round. Raiders understand that well. They took on Cooper and Hall of Famer Tim Brown in the first round. That’s also where they chose Darrius Heyward-Bey.
No one knows exactly what Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden will do in this draft, but the receiver is the most striking need for Raiders and the 2020 concept class has great talent and depth. It is hoped that Silver and Black will take at least one recipient in this concept, possibly with one of the two first round choices.
We broadly describe the prospects of recipients on Tuesday, with details of prospects and the choice for Raiders to take in No. 12 and 19. We discussed the possibilities at the second and third day concepts.
The recent past must not be done at the top level of this draft, with CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy seen as certain and Henry Ruggs is a very explosive talent. Justin Jefferson has hands like glue and first / second round tweeners which are grouped tight have a lot to like about them.
[[[[RELATED: Why Henry Ruggs can be what the Raiders are looking for]
We will not know for a while if this group changes like 2014 or five years since then, although the potential for production remains certain.
“The average for the last five years for wide receivers that occur in the first three rounds is 12, between 12 and 13 per year,” Mayock said. “You can easily make the argument, from a level standpoint, that they are 20-25 of the people out there this year, and that is from a level standpoint. I’m not saying 20-25 will happen. So there is depth in it, and there is quality at the top. “
However, in the end, it’s about the chosen individual and the suitable scheme and chemistry with the quarterback that will determine whether the Raiders make the right choice when taking the recipient.
Ruggs has a large and unmatched physical prize but is perhaps the biggest risk-prize choice of an elite trio. Jefferson didn’t seem to make sense to the Raiders, given his best years were in the slot and Hunter Renfrow had already been the one who posted for Silver and Black. A history of recent injuries can also be unsettling and easily avoided in classes this deep.
While we can look at recordings and see who has fared well in school, football intelligence is also important in Gruden’s offense and can help with often-difficult transition to pro from the recipient is often shown openly and told what must be done pre-shot by the college coach.
If the Raiders received the receiver in the first round as expected, could they fight the latest trends and find the top men earlier? That will be the key to shoring up positions that require players to have an instant impact from this draft.
This is a complete list of first round recipients from the past five years. This is not an inspiring group:
25: Marquise Brown, Oklahoma (Ravens)
32 N’Keal Harry, Arizona State (Patriots)
24: D.J. Moore, Maryland (Panthers)
26: Calvin Ridley, Alabama (Falcons)
5: Corey Davis, West Michigan (Titans)
7: Mike Williams, Clemson (Chargers)
9: John Ross, Washington (Bengals)
No. 15: Corey Coleman, Baylor (Browns)
21: Will Fuller, Notre Dame (Texas)
22: Josh Doctson, TCU (Washington)
23: Laquon Treadwell, Mississippi (Viking)
4: Amari Cooper, Alabama (Raiders)
7: Kevin White, West Virginia (Bear)
14: DeVante Parker, Louisville (Dolphins)
20: Nelson Agholor, USC (Eagles)
26: Breshad Perriman, Central Florida (Ravens)
29: Philip Dorsett, Miami (Colts)