The Oakland Raiders passing game finished near the bottom of the NFL in 2013, but their wide receiving corps made a big leap. It went from one of the unknowns in 2013 to an absolute strength of the team. Now, the unit will have to make the next step and they have the ability to do so, especially if they can add another playmaker this offseason.
One of the major reasons for the Raiders wide receiver development was the emergence of Rod Streater and Andre Holmes. Streater finished 112 yards away from becoming the organization's first 1,000 yards receiver since Randy Moss. His hard work paid off on the field as he became a more complete wideout. His route running continues to be his greatest strength and has combined that with the ability to use his body to locate the ball at its highest point. Streater led the team in receptions, yards, and first down catches. He finished the season with 60 grabs for 888 yards and four touchdowns. He still has areas to improve, but his rise from a rookie to a second year player gives the Raiders lots to like going forward.
Along with Streater, Andre Holmes made an impression in 2013 after being suspended for the first four games of the season. It was apparent the Raiders saw something in Holmes because they hung onto him despite the missed games and began to work him into the line-up the last seven games. In those seven games, he caught 25 passes for 431 yards and a touchdown. His coming out party was against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving where he made seven receptions for 136 yards and a score. Holmes is a big bodied receiver at 6'4", 210 pounds and like Streater, is able to use that body to shield defenders. If he can continue his progression, Holmes has a chance to be an impact player for the silver and black.
Holmes and Streater both made huge strides in 2013, but Denarius Moore is still the Raiders most productive receiver. He deals with some inconsistent stretches of play, but improved on that in 2013. From weeks three to 11, Moore caught 32 passes for 526 yards and four touchdowns. A shoulder injury cost him three games and hurt his momentum. Because of his impressive speed, Moore is the perfect complement to Streater and Holmes. All three and under contract for 2014 which will give the Raiders at least another year of development from all three.
The only wide receiver the Raiders could lose in 2014 is Jacoby Ford and Raiders fans will be happy to see him go. Ford has dealt with injuries which have hurt his speed and effectiveness. With Ford likely gone, Oakland can find another wide receiver in the 2014 NFL Draft or via free agency to boost the corps even further. If the Raiders can find a speedy playmaker to combine with Streater, Holmes, Moore and rookie Brice Butler, they have a position of strength for 2014 and beyond.
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