M.B.: the Extraterrestrial value

The Raiders leading pass catcher for 2018

During the 2018 draft, the Oakland Raiders traded their third round pick for wide receiver Martavis Bryant of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team brought him in to play on the outside, a role the Raiders desperately needed filled. After the preseason, the team thought it was best to cut the troubled receiver. However, following a week 1 loss to the Rams, he was officially signed to the team on a one year deal. Bryant is no stranger to how the business works: after spending an entire year on the suspension list Bryant was poised to take over the deep threat role and to ultimately be the heir to Antonio Brown. The Steelers had other ideas. After all the rumors swirling around this offseason about a potential year-long suspension again. The Raiders finally accepted the risk - of a potential -  when they resigned Bryant.The team played him in week 2 against the Broncos.

Bryant is entering his fifth season as a pro and needs to turn it around sooner than later. Jon Gruden, who believes Bryant is a high talent made a move to bring him to the Black Hole. Bryant is a top tier speed receiver clocking a4.4 forty-yard dash to match with his top tier height 6’5”. he is a dangerous outside the numbers guy, which is the main reason Bryant was brought in. 

The Raiders depth chart lists Bryant as their sixth receiver. This is merely due to the fact that he was just signed by the team early this week. No players is safe on the depth chart besides Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson at the top. He has proven his ability to climb in Pittsburgh, out producing receivers like Sammie Coates and Markus Wheaton - similar tiered players to LAfell and Harris. Prior to being cut, Bryant was on record stating he appreciates the coaching Gruden has given him. The “tough love” from the coaching staff was used as motivation and when he was cut he stayed in Oakland. Bryant said, “ So I don’t get distracted or overly frustrated with myself and end up doing something stupid.” His sole focus is to get on the field. When he does, he will lead the Raiders in receptions. 

While with the Steelers in 2017, he posted 50 receptions for 603 yards and 3 touchdowns. For comparison, Cooper in 2017 posted 48 receptions for 680 yards and 7 touchdowns. Just off his suspension in 2016, Bryant produced comparable numbers to the current number one target for Derek Carr. After a crushing loss to the Rams in week 1, the Raiders lacked in more departments than one. However, the deep ball and targeting wide receivers is what truly stunted the Raiders chance at any comeback following a third quarter score by the Rams. Team leaders in receptions tied at nine from tight end Jared Cook and running back Jalen Richard. Adding an elite speed threat to couple with good route runners in Cooper and Nelson will space out defenders and to create an outlet for Carr to make plays. Last year Crabtree played a vital role in the redzone as a big target but went to Baltimore in the offseason. 

In week 2 With Bryant, he saw four targets converting them into a 4-30-0 stat line. His first game  since he was wearing a Steelers jersey didn’t reveal his full potential in an offense he is unfamiliar with. Moving forward he will add to his snap counts, only managing to play 25 snaps (38%). There is a lingering issue however. The rumored suspension that surfaced in the preseason has reared its ugly head again. Reports that Bryant will appeal have come out, while the process is ongoing the league has allowed him to play. Any suspension will be his "third strike" and surely close his NFL career for good.

The Raiders can add a big target but they also add a much faster option compared to Crabtree. Furthermore, Bryant allows Cooper to play in the slot, where he has been significantly better over his career.  In a pass-first offense, Bryant has all the tools and a new found opportunity to remind the NFL just who the Alien is.