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Who Should Be The Raiders’ WR3?

  • Justin Melo
  • June 24, 2022
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With Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow in place, the battle for the Las Vegas Raiders’ third receiver spot has become a storyline worth monitoring as we head toward training camp. That role was initially expected to belong to Bryan Edwards, but Raiders General Manager Dave Ziegler traded Edwards away to the Atlanta Falcons. Free-agent signing Demarcus Robinson seemed to represent a viable candidate, but recent reports have indicated Robinson has fallen behind the pack after stringing together some less-than-desirable performances throughout organized team activities (OTAs). With Mack Hollins and Keelan Cole also in the fold and ahead of Robinson in the pecking order, I’m ultimately backing Cole to win the job.

Cole certainly offers the most pedigree and proven production of the three players in contention. With three seasons of 70-plus targets under his belt, Cole is less than two years removed from a 55-catch campaign as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020. Cole didn’t enjoy a particularly fruitful season with the New York Jets in 2021, but the Raiders represent a much-needed change of scenery for an undrafted free agent that once burst onto the scene by totaling 748 receiving yards while averaging 17.8 yards per reception despite entering the league as an unknown commodity.

Cole represents the safe and logical choice, but it’s worth noting Hollins does provide the Raiders with an intriguing alternative option. Hollins was a forgotten man in Miami’s 2021 offense, but his potential is best noticed by recognizing that four of his 14 receptions resulted in touchdowns last season. 

This choice ultimately depends on what McDaniels hopes to get out of this role. Cole is the more nuanced route-runner and reliable receiver with sure-fire hands. Hollins offers a blend of dynamic vertical speed and game-changing ability that could better complement Adams and Renfrow while stretching the field and providing the Raiders’ top pass-catching options—including tight end Darren Waller—with more space to operate underneath the coverage. If the Raiders feel like gambling, Hollins could make a more notable impact on their offense.

Hollins and Cole both signed one-year contracts with the Raiders this offseason. Despite Cole greatly outproducing Hollins to date (187 career receptions for Cole versus just 56 for Hollins), it’s worth noting Hollins’ contract is worth slightly more than Cole’s ($2 million for Hollins versus Cole’s $1.278 million). It suggests Hollins’ league-wide reputation is currently in better standing than Cole’s is. Hollins is also an excellent special teams player who will almost certainly take up a starring role for the Raiders in those departments

It’s important to note that superstar wide receiver Adams will ultimately dominate the Raiders’ passing-game targets this coming season. Adams was acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Green Bay Packers as Ziegler parted with 2022 first-and-second-round picks in order to acquire Adams before awarding him with a five-year, $141.25 million extension. Vegas’ offense will center around Adams. 

Behind Adams, Renfrow and Waller will serve as the No. 2 and 3 passing-game options. Renfrow recently signed a lucrative extension to remain in Vegas, and Waller is one of the game’s premier pass-catching tight ends. Knowing that Adams, Renfrow, and Waller will make Vegas’ offense tick makes this positional battle slightly less important, even though the winner is ultimately expected to play a bunch of snaps on the boundary opposite Adams, given that Renfrow is a slot-only player.

With a productive Derek Carr at the helm for the foreseeable future, via a recent lucrative extension, and three high-level pass-catching options at his disposal, the Raiders’ offense ultimately matches up against the league’s elite on paper. It’s up to new head coach Josh McDaniels to appropriately utilize all the weapons at his disposal. Despite a reputation that was publicly damaged by leaving the Indianapolis Colts at the altar, McDaniels possesses an impressive track record as an offensive-minded leader that should manage to maximize Vegas’ offensive talent. 

Cole or Hollins will see the field with regular consistency, and the winner could benefit from a lack of attention from opposing secondaries who will be forced to place their defensive resources elsewhere. This positional skirmish is certainly worth following with intrigue throughout training camp.

Written By

Justin Melo