When the Las Vegas Raiders signed running back Kenyan Drake, speculation rose that Drake’s intended use could grow into: a utility back with an emphasis on pass-catching. Now that Drake has reported the Raiders’ intention to utilize him as a wide receiver, we can see that the speculations were, for once, correct.
Drake clearly has the speed and pass-catching ability to survive as a short-distance receiver with the ability to leave defenders. Now, similar to the defensive line room, the wide receiver room begins to get a bit crowded. Las Vegas already has Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards as promising up-and-comers, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller as Raider “veterans”, and John Brown who hopes to make a name for himself in a new city.
Similar to last season, Edwards will most likely struggle to see the field. But, other than Edwards, there is not a vast amount of certainty surrounding the Raiders receivers. Ruggs has yet to establish himself as a consistent receiver, Renfrow has settled into his “Third and Renfrow” niche, and Waller, listed as a tight end, has acted as the Raiders WR1.
As of now, the Raiders have a handful of names at receiver. Other than Waller, none of the Raiders receivers have truly made a name for themselves. Sure, they will have flashes and stretches of success, but may not enjoy a long-term role. While Ruggs possesses rare athleticism that only come around every few years, one might expect a solid answer on his future. Yet, with his current usage, his future doesn’t seem secure.
Initially, I had not believed the speculation that Drake would be used as a utility player and primarily saw him as a Yang to Josh Jacobs’ Yin, which sounded incredible. After the news, I was left with a bad feeling in my stomach. Not that Drake would not work out, but that Jon Gruden may get too cute.
Normally, one might get excited at the idea of Gruden… well, being Gruden. Yet, there has not been one moment through his second tenure with the team that anyone can point at and say “There’s where a unique Gruden peculiarity has worked.” From questionable draft choices to the drafting, signing, and trading of Lynn Bowden, the idiosyncrasies tend to turn stomachs instead of turning heads.