Tyrell Williams | Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
The Raiders’ young WR group was ranked near the bottom of the NFL.
The Raiders’ offense had been on a roll in the offseason lists. Not anymore.
In this summer of NFL rankings, Pro Football Focus (PFF) ranked the wide receiver units across the NFL, and the Raiders are slotted at a lowly No. 28. That, of course, means PFF is saying there are only four lesser receiver groups in the league heading into the 2020 season. That’s pretty rough.
PFF is an analytics-based site, so their rankings are influenced by metrics. It must also be noted that its criteria put the entire unit into account, not just individuals. Various Las Vegas units and players have fared well with PFF very recently, as the site had just ranked the Raiders’ tight ends as the No. 8 best such group in the NFL.
It’s not a surprise the Raiders’ receivers are ranked low, because the corps is a work in progress. Rookie Henry Ruggs III, who will play a major role for the offense, has big promise, but he is unproven — as is third round pick, Bryan Edwards. Veterans Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow are quality players, but they need help.
Here is some of PFF’s reasoning on why the Raiders’ receivers are being ranked low:
The Raiders receivers finished with a 62.8 receiving grade last season, second-worst in the league. They had their pick of any receiver in the draft and went with the fastest option in Henry Ruggs III, who ran a 4.27 at the NFL scouting combine. That speed shows up on the field, too, as Ruggs can get behind the defense or take it to the house on screens or slants. The question is how much he’ll be fed and if he’ll be treated like a true No. 1. Even if Ruggs is an 80-to-100-target receiver who creates big plays and alters game plans, he’ll add the proper first-round value, but Las Vegas’ expectations might be even higher. Hunter Renfrow was the highest-graded receiver on the team a year ago, at 75.5 overall, as the rookie caught 49 passes for 605 yards and became a valuable weapon in the slot. Tyrell Williams was signed to stretch the field, and he produced along his career baseline with a 66.7 receiving grade while averaging 15.5 yards per reception. He is a complementary piece who will be most effective if Ruggs does draw most of the defense’s attention.
I can see how Raiders fans would be annoyed by the low ranking, but the truth is, this group is more unproven than it is lousy. If all goes to Jon Gruden’s plan, this group has a chance to be ranked much higher in 2021. And of course, all that matters is that they perform on the field, no matter where they’re ranked.