With the Oakland Raiders training camp rapidly approaching; one of the most interesting positions will be wide receiver. The Raiders have a very young, unproven corps they are relying on. The competition will extend throughout the position, but today we will focus on the competition for the top three wide receiver spots.
Denarius Moore is the most talented receiver on the Raiders roster. They are hoping he develops into the number one option. Since his rookie season, he has shown flashes of that ability, but lacks the consistency to raise his game every week. Last year he led the team in targets with 115, but only made 51 receptions. If he wants to take the next step, Moore will have to take his focus to the next level. He missed a good portion of training camp last season with a lingering hamstring injury and it cost him during the season. He is healthy this year and will need to take advantage of training camp to set himself up for success in 2013.
Behind Moore, the Raiders will look at a few possibilities. Undrafted second year man Rod Streater made a meteoric rise last offseason to make the final roster and get on the field. Despite some rookie growing pains, Streater open eyes with his attention to detail and all around solid performance. He ended the season with 39 catches for 584 yards and three touchdowns. He is in competition at training camp with Juron Criner and Jacoby Ford for the number two receiver spot. Streater looks like the early leader.
Criner came out last offseason to rave reviews from coaches and teammates. At 6-3, 220 pounds Criner has great size and strength for the position. He still needs help running crisper routes and getting separation from defenders. With his size, the Raiders tried to take advantage of Criner in the red zone but had little success. However as he grows as a receiver, Criner can be a legitimate red zone target. Even in his limited playing time last season, he showed the ability to create difference making plays.
Ford returns after missing the entire 2012 season with a Lisfranc foot injury. His game is built around his speed and there is no reason to believe he won't be back to 100 percent this season. Running back Darren McFadden suffered the same injury and did not lose any explosiveness. Despite entering his fourth season, Ford is still inexperienced. He has missed 24 of 32 games the last two seasons. He was showing signs of development at wide receiver before being done for the year. He has yet to translate his top notch return skills to wide receiver. He has 44 catches in the season and a half he has been healthy.
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