Raiders: Rico Gafford could add an element of speed to the offense

Raiders (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Raiders (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Oakland Raiders recently promoted Rico Gafford from their practice squad and the athletic receiver could add an element of speed to the team’s offense.

The Oakland Raiders offense has an obvious problem and it’s unclear if the team has the personnel on the roster to fix it. However, the recent promotion of Rico Gafford could help alleviate their concerns.

The Raiders were dealt a serious blow when it was announced that standout rookie wide receiver Hunter Renfrow would miss a number of weeks after suffering a broken rib and a punctured lung in the team’s 34-3 blowout loss to the New York Jets.

Renfrow was one of the many pleasant surprises this season from the Raiders 2019 draft class and had developed into one of Derek Carr‘s most reliable targets on offense. The Clemson product was second on the team with 36 receptions and third in receiving yards with 396.

Now, the Raiders will be tasked with replacing his production.

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It will be up to some of the more lesser-known receivers on the roster as the Raiders look to adequately replace their talented rookie. Players like Keelan Doss, Trevor Davis, and Marcell Ateman will be given increased playing time as a result.

However, the one wild card in this scenario could be a player who was just promoted from the team’s practice squad.

In response to Renfrow’s injury, the Raiders opted to sign the aforementioned Gafford to give the team more receiver depth. But Gafford isn’t exactly your typical wide receiver.

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In fact, up until last season, he wasn’t even a wide receiver at all.

Gafford shined at Wyoming as a cornerback but decided to make the transition to receiver in the pros after scouts caught glimpse of his blazing speed. The 23-year-old was clocked with an unofficial 40-yard dash time of as fast as 4.19 at his Wyoming Pro Day.

For context sake, the fastest 40-yard dash time ever recorded at the NFL Combine was John Ross‘ 4.22. Unfortunately, Gafford wasn’t invited to the combine so he wasn’t given a fair chance to break that record.

Nonetheless, the Raiders were clearly aware of his speed when they signed him to their practice squad last year just days after the Tennessee Titans released him as a part of their final roster cuts.

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And after spending the majority of the season on the practice squad, Gafford was promoted late last season. He would appear in one game playing just nine total snaps — all on special teams.

But his potential to make an impact on offense is apparent.

The Raiders’ offense currently lacks the speed and explosiveness that many of today’s NFL offenses have. There are few big-play threats on the unit and none with the same kind of field-stretching speed that Gafford possesses.

We saw glimpses of his potential in the preseason where he hauled in nine catches for 114 yards and a touchdown, but still failed to make the 53-man roster. But now, he’s being given his opportunity.

While the Raiders will likely use him primarily on special teams to start, it would be wise to see if they could scheme up some plays to get him involved on offense. He’s obviously very raw as a receiver, but designing plays to get the ball in his hands would be smart.

With that type of speed, all he needs is possession and a little bit of space.

Gafford isn’t just some run-of-the-mill practice squad promotion. He’s an exciting playmaker with game-changing speed that could add an extra element to a sometimes stagnant offense.

The Raiders enter Week 13 as the ultimate underdogs against the Chiefs. dark. Next

And that’s definitely more promising than most practice squad promotions tend to be.