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Gruden Recruits Cliff Branch to Help Find WR’s at the Combine

The Raiders current roster has needs at a multitude of positions to upgrade. One position that has a huge hole to fill is Wide Receiver. Head coach Jon Gruden reached out to former Raider to help him in the scouting and evaluating process at the combine. Cliff Branch will be attending the combine alongside Jon Guden and Mike Mayock to help bring in a game changing wide receiver to give Derek Carr some firepower on offense.

Cliff Branch is one of the best deep threat wide receivers the Raider have had within the franchise. Branch was a Raider from 1972-1985, playing in Oakland and Los Angeles. He was a four-time pro bowler and selected as a first-team all-pro three times. Branch finished his 14-year career with 8,685-yards and 67 touchdowns.

The Raiders were without a deep threat wide receiver after they dealt Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys. Gruden will likely look to bring in an emerging wide receiver through the draft to improve his offense.

Wide Receivers to keep an eye on:

N’Keal Harry (Arizona State)- Harry is a big body wide out, who constantly won the 50/50 battle during his time at Arizona State. He’s a talented route runner who happens to be an athletic freak. His physical strength is a tool that separates him from the rest, as he uses his body to generate space from defenders. He has terrific “run after the catch” skills, where he can extend plays following his lead blockers. Harry also returned punts for the Sun Devils, showing off his break away speed. In his 2018 season he caught nine touchdowns on 73 receptions for 1,088-yards. Harry’s 6’4″ 213 pound frame should translate well into being a red zone target in the NFL.

Marquise Brown (Oklahoma)- Hollywood Brown brings an electrifying first step quickness, who has start/stop ability. Brown dominated the Big 12 conference, running right past defenders with his dashing vertical speed. Brown fits the prototype of a slot receiver at the next level, as he is just 5’10” 168 pounds. In his 2018 season at the University of Oklahoma Brown caught 10 touchdowns on 75 receptions for 1,318-yards. Brown is a shifty receiver, who is difficult to tackle in open space but, his slight frame may be something to question how he can sustain tackles from NFL defenders.

D.K Metcalf (Ole Miss)- Metcalf is another enormous figure in this years class of wide receivers.  He has real explosive speed to go along with smooth route running ability to get open. It’s his rare combination of size, speed and route running skills that consistently showed up against his opponents. Metcalf’s season came to an early exit when he suffered a season-ending neck injury. He finished his 2018 season with just seven games played, catching 26 passes for five touchdowns and 569-yards. Metcalf is a physical prodigy, who has alarming strength which allows him to fight through tough routes.

Deebo Samuel (South Carolina)-  Samuel was a standout in Mobile, Alabama during the week of the Senior Bowl. His route running is his best attribute and is one of the best in this years draft class. Samuel isn’t overpowering but he isn’t afraid to use his body against any corner. Samuel will likely be a slot receiver in the NFL, as he’s just 6’0″ 210 pounds. In Samuel’s senior season he caught 62 balls for 882-yards and 11 touchdowns. He also returned kicks for a season total of 570 yards and one touchdown over 23 attempts.

 

(Photo by CBS Sports)

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