After the Raiders signed Jordy Nelson, people wondered what an older, presumably slower wideout could offer. In all honesty, Crabtree is younger than Nelson and provided Derek Carr with a red zone threat. Yet, an underreported aspect of Nelson remains is his mentoring of Amari Cooper. How will the veteran receiver assist the former first-round draft pick? To answer, FPC Raiders writers Aspuria, Simmons, Zaragoza, Berry, and Camarillo sit and break it down.
Bring your lunch pail to work type ethic and simply “catching the damn ball” attitude. Nelson is not one with a flair for the dramatic, he is catching the ball, back to huddle and do it again. See rock, catch rock. Nelson does it consistently. Is high time Coop to do the same.
Jordy Nelson has won an NFL championship and never considered a character issue guy. While many of Crabtree’s detractors ultimately were wrong, it is clear that his level of engagement can be determined by factors that he can control. Having said that I do not think Crabtree was ever lacking in the leadership department, but rather not the best person to even be that kind of leader. He is not a “rah-rah” person and neither is Jordy. He is a precise route runner who is quicker than fast, with great hands, and QB friendly.
However, Crabtree has never broken through on the biggest stage and Nelson has. That is the difference in terms of being able to set aside your pride, and Crabtree catch blame for it. It is just the difference between being able to put aside whatever is bothering you and just work, or allowing little things accumulate. Just one word re: Crabtree, the state of each of the two Bay Area franchises when he left was very poor, but in my opinion, he was neither a primary contributing factor nor even an underlying catalyst for the dysfunction. In short, he has often been made a scapegoat for ships that were already sinking.
Professionalism. For the three years, Crabtree caught passes from Carr, the former Texas Tech star performed well on the field. However, you never heard his teammates discuss his ability to help the receivers grow during his time in Oakland. What you did see was his antics and temperament with division rivals (Talib) during games. This is where a player like Nelson helps a team. Nelson can provide that leadership role for his teammates. He did it with Randall Cobb and just recently, with Davante Adams. Teaching them how to do things right, not only on the field, but also off the field. This should only make Cooper better and help him bounce back in 2018.
Jordy can show Amari how to function as a true number one receiver and beat elite coverages. Nelson had more 10-touchdown seasons than Crabtree, who had none. He can help him understand how to beat elite coverage. That is Amari’s big inconsistency.
Jordy Nelson can teach Cooper more about playing the inside and outside receiver positions than Crabtree could. In Green Bay, Nelson played multiple receiver positions. The Packers moved him across formations to create mismatches. I would expect the Raiders to do that with Cooper more this year. That will allow Cooper to use his route running, acceleration, and high football IQ versus linebackers and in the middle of the field more. Nelson can teach him about this.
Moreover, Nelson is known for his ability to adjust his routes when the QB is scrambling or the pocket breaks down. Expect Cooper to pick more about improvising and playing off Carr since Nelson is in town.