Secondary Test: Raiders DB Will Face Elite Receivers In 2017

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Raiders Safety Reggie Nelson
Dec 24, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders free safety Reggie Nelson (27) during a NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Colts 33-25. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Raiders Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and Defensive Backs coach Rod Woodson will have their hands full this upcoming season in pass defense. As a matter of fact, jobs depend on it. The additions of Gareon Conley and Obi Melifonwu via the draft add depth and talent to a group that already consist of Sean Smith, David Amerson, and Reggie Nelson. Let’s take a look at the top five receiving groups the Raiders will face this season.

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Chiefs: Tyreek Hill, Chris Conley, Travis Kelce

The young studs, Hill and Conley will try and build from 2016’s strong showing. Hill owns the special ability to score whenever he touches the ball. Kelce exploded last year to his first All-Pro selection, with over 1,100 yards receiving and 85 catches.

Giants: Odell Beckham Jr, Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram

Eli Manning leads one of the scariest units at his disposal this season. One of the league’s top wide receivers, Beckham continues to terrorize opposing defenders and add to his resume. Shepard had a nice rookie season with 65 catches, 683 yards, and 8 TD’s.  In addition, 2017 first round pick Engram and 2015 Pro Bowler Marshall join the fold, and matchup problems all over the field exist.

Patriots: Julian Edelman, Brandon Cooks, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski

Where to begin? First, Edelman and Cooks provide enough talent to make this list by themselves. Yet, add a healthy Rob Gronkowski, and 2016 AFC Championship game hero Chris Hogan. In addition, the array of running backs that can catch the ball out of the backfield, and you have the best group of pass catchers in the league.  This could will test the Raiders early and often.

Eagles: Alshon Jeffery, Jordan Mathews, Torrey Smith, Zach Ertz

Philadelphia signed Jeffery and Smith this past offense to pair with Matthews and Ertz. When Jeffery is healthy, he’s one of the league’s most physical wide receivers. Matthews must rebound from a subpar season last year.  Without a doubt the potential exists for him to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark in 2014. Also, don’t forget about Ertz.  In 2016, the pass catching tight end netted his second consecutive 800 yard effort.

Cowboys: Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, Jason Witten

Canton awaits Witten upon his retirement.  With Bryant catching Prescott passes, his yards per reception increased. Not to mention, Beasley had a career year with 75 catches and over 830 yards last season. The Cowboys are still a run first team, but have the playmakers at the receiving position to stretch defenses.

Honorable Mention:

Chargers: Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Mike Williams, Travis Benjamin, Hunter Henry, Antonio Gates

Redskins: Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder, Brian Quick, Jordan Reed

Titans: Rishard Matthews, Eric Decker, Corey Davis, Delanie Walker

Twitter: @ZaragozaAnthony

 

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