As part of our continuing series on Red Raider pros, this week we look into the Oakland Raiders organization, which features three former Texas Tech players on its roster. We talked with Levi Damien of SB Nation’s Silver and Black Pride about the respective futures of these former Red Raider standouts.
Zach Mason: As Derek Carr continues to improve, how do you expect Michael Crabtree to perform next year?
Levi Damien: I would expect another season like last year for Crabtree. That being around 90 catches for 1000 yards, 8-10 touchdowns. Carr will progress, but with that he will distribute the ball more to some of his new weapons.
ZM: Does DeAndre Washington have a chance at more playing time, or does the arrival of Marshawn Lynch mean more time on the pine?
LD: Washington came on strong late last season, but the issue for him has more to do with Jalen Richard than it does Lynch. The top running back spot belonged to Latavius Murray last season and Lynch replaces him. Richard gets the ball in part because he is a talented runner, and in part because he also does good work as a punt returner. That's why Washington was inactive for a couple games last season. For various reasons -- usually injuries -- the team has to make tough decisions as to who is activated and who isn't. The third running back who isn't also a value on special teams ends up being that guy. But, as I said, Washington played well late in the season which proved he is worthy of continued load sharing duties with Richard.
ZM: What do Raider fans like or dislike about Crabtree?
LD: They like ability to make tough catches in tight coverage. They don't like his tendency to drop easy catches. They also don't care for his penchant for trash talking and taunting that draws penalty flags.
ZM: What about DE Branden Jackson? How does he fit into the Oakland defense?
LD: He hung around last year after an impressive training camp, spending most of the season on the practice squad. Overall, the team is lacking at the interior defensive end spot, so Jackson will have the opportunity to earn a spot as depth. His primary competition for a roster spot will be 7th round rookie, Treyvon Hester. As of minicamp he was working behind Hester.
ZM: How many more years do you think Crabtree has left in him?
LD: Hard to say at this point. His contract runs through 2019 at which point he'll be 33 at the start of the 2020 season. That's about the point where most receivers go downhill fast. He does, however, keep himself in very good shape and is fiercely competitive, so who knows if he could play another couple years after that. Or whether those seasons would be for the Raiders who will be moving to Las Vegas that season which would mean Crabtree would have to leave the Bay Area for the first time in his pro career.
ZM: What's the consensus on Washington? Is he a guy coaches are excited about for the future, or just a career backup?
LD: The consensus is Jalen Richard is the better back, but Washington is still valuable in a rotation to keep both speedy change-of-pace backs fresh.