Oakland Raiders: Derek Carr Has Two New Weapons


The NFL Draft is now complete and the Oakland Raiders have selected two prime offensive prospects in wide receiver Amari Cooper, from the University of Alabama, and tight end Clive Walford, from the University of Miami.

Cooper was the Raiders’ first round selection with the fourth overall pick, and Walford was selected in the third round as the 68th overall pick.

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Once again, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie has made two good splashes in the first few rounds of the draft. Last year, McKenzie landed linebacker Khalil Mack in the first round, and quarterback Derek Carr in the second round. Now this year, he landed even more young talent in Cooper and Walford.

The additions of Cooper and Walford will only allow Carr to grow as a passer, and give him more reliable options down field. These picks for the Raiders, also add depth to a team that desperately needs depth in terms of receivers and tight ends. Between, Michael Crabtree, Rod Streater, Mychal Rivera, James Jones and Brice Butler. Having depth at the wide receiver and tight end positions will give Carr some options, and allow him to feel less pressured to dump the ball off to running back Latavius Murray and fullback Marcel Reece.

Now, lets break down the two newest players for the Raiders, starting with Walford.

In college, Walford was a third-team All-American, and second-team All-ACC in his senior year. In his four years with the Miami Hurricanes, Walford accumulated 121 receptions for 1,753 yards and 14 touchdowns. His senior year, was his best year, as he hauled in 44 receptions,  for 676 yards and seven touchdowns.

Nov 15, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes tight end Clive Walford (46) eludes Florida State Seminoles linebacker Terrance Smith (24) for a touchdown during the second quarter at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Clearly, Walford knows how to catch the ball, run routes and score.

However, the best part about Walford, is that not only can he catch the ball, he is also highly regarded in terms of blocking as well. In particular, Walford has had much success in blocking linebackers and assisting with the run game. Which will essential to the Raiders, since the Oakland offensive line hasn’t been particularly great in pass blocking or in the run game in recent years.

And on the other side of the coin is Cooper, who the whole country sees as a potential franchise player. Cooper burst on to the scene over the last three seasons with the Alabama Crimson Tide, grabbing 104 receptions, for 1.736 yards and 15 touchdowns in his first two years. Despite injuries, in his sophomore year, Cooper was still able to haul in 45 receptions for 736 yards.

Last season, Cooper won the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to the nation’s best receiver. Cooper also received first-team All-American honors, and was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year. On the field, Cooper lead the NCAA in receptions with 124, was second in yards (1,727) and touchdowns (16).

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In Cooper’s freshman year, he broke Atlanta Falcons’ receiver Julio Jones‘ single season record for receptions (59) and receiving yards (1000) as a freshman. He also broke the school record for receiving touchdowns with 11 as well. Of those 59 receptions, 29 of them were for 15 yards or more. This effort earned Cooper Freshman All-American honors, and he was also selected to the SEC All-Freshman team that year as well.

All in all, the Raiders struck gold with Walford and Cooper. Both are explosive on routes and know how to catch the ball with ease. Although, they are young and will have growing pains, much like the rest of the team, they both have the potential to be stars on this team.

However, if the offensive line cannot protect Carr properly, if he’s forced to rush his throws, or winds up getting sacked, then Cooper and Walford will obviously, not be as effective. If the Raiders, can develop their offensive line, and perhaps pick up an undrafted free agent or two who can help protect Carr, as well as help open up the run game, then the Raiders could be in for a good season.

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