Evaluating the roster: WRs and TEs

With less than a week left before the Raiders open training camp, Silver and Black Illustrated's Michael Wagaman breaks down Oakland's roster player by player, position by position. This is the second of a four-part series and takes a look at the wide receivers and tight ends.

* Not a depth chart. Players listed in alphabetical order only. Jersey number in parentheses.

WR

(83) Will Buchanon, 6-3, 190, USC: Third-year pro who has spent most of his time on the practice squads in Oakland and Kansas City, Buchanon is reunited with his position coach in college, Lane Kiffin, but is no lock to make the roster. While at times he has shown some ability, the former Trojan standout has not been consistent enough to last long on an NFL roster. That will probably be the case again this year.

(18) Drew Carter, 6-3, 200, Ohio State: Free agent acquisition with good size and a solid work ethic; his work with quarterback JaMarcus Russell in the offseason should pay big dividends for both. A solid No. 2 last year behind Steve Smith in Carolina, Carter could easily be the team's top receiver depending on the health of Javon Walker and Ronald Curry but he's better in a support role.

(89) Ronald Curry, 6-2, 210, North Carolina: Injuries have robbed Curry of some of his speed and he's coming off offseason foot surgery but when he's healthy he's got some of the best hands in the business and is a challenge to defend. The Raiders may try to take it easy with him in training camp in order to avoid a setback while rushing him back.

(15) Johnnie Lee Higgins, 5-11, 185, UTEP: Speedster showed a lot of promise during the preseason a year ago but struggled to carry that success into the regular season. Higgins has great quickness which allows him to get open but he's got to become more consistent with his hands. He's probably a lock because of his special teams ability but the Raiders want more out of him on offense.

(10) Jonathan Holland, 6-1, 195, Louisiana Tech: Seventh-round draft pick a year ago who spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve after getting hurt shortly after being drafted. Holland needs to have an outstanding camp to make it onto the roster but his best bet is on the practice squad.

(13) Drisan James, 5-11, 185, Boise State: Late addition to the practice squad in 2007, James didn't play at all last season and has his hands full trying to break into this rotation. He can return kicks so he's got a chance on special teams.

(14) Chris McFoy, 6-1, 200, USC: Signed with Oakland late in 2007 season and played in three games, making one catch. Another former Trojan with ties to Kiffin, McFoy has decent size but like most of the other young receivers, needs to be more consistent in every phase.

(81) Marcel Reece, 6-3, 240, Washington: Earned an invitation to camp after showing some promise in offseason workouts. Had a decent senior season with the Huskies with 39 receptions, though his production tailed off at the end of the year. If he doesn't pan out at receiver, there's always the chance Oakland may move him to tight end.

(82) Chaz Schilens, 6-4, 225, San Diego State: Oakland's seventh-round pick came made some fairly nice catches during mini-camps and has great size. He especially took to James Lofton's coaching, which can only help him. Not necessarily a sleeper but definitely worth keeping an eye on during the preseason.

(84) Arman Shields, 6-1, 195, Richmond: An injury in the offseason served as a setback for the fourth-round pick so he'll have to make up for the lost time in training camp. Shields has a legitimate shot at making the roster because the team is short on depth at the position and he's got good hands and shows no fear going over the middle.

(17) Javon Walker, 6-3, 215, Florida State: Slated to be Oakland's No. 1 receiver after signing with the team in the offseason, Walker's situation became uncertain after he was attacked and beaten during a visit to Las Vegas. The official word is that Walker will be ready when camp opens but even if he is, there's the question of how much contact he'll be allowed to take.

(19) Todd Watkins, 6-2, 190, BYU: A strong showing in the mini-camps earned Watkins an invitation to camp; now he's got to prove he's worth it. Showed he has very good hands but many of his athletic catches were made in non-contact drills. Still, if he can come close to what he did in the offseason Watkins stands a reasonable shot of making the team.



TE

(85) John Madsen, 6-5, 240, Utah: Former college wide receiver has made a good transition to a new position and heads into camp as Oakland's No. 2 tight end behind Zach Miller. Madsen has caught only 19 passes in two seasons but averages better than 13 yards a catch and has scored twice. A lack of bulk tends to hurt him in blocking but he's got solid hands and is reliable enough when the ball comes his way.

(80) Zach Miller, 6-5, 255, Arizona State: Coming off a terrific season in which he led all NFL rookie tight ends with 44 catches, 444 yards and three touchdowns, Miller should blossom even more now that there's some stability at the quarterback position. Miller has great hands and does a good job finding creases to work in, and while his blocking needs work, he's probably the best all-around tight end the Raiders have had in quite some time.

(86) Tony Stewart, 6-5, 260, Penn State: Veteran journeyman didn't have much of an impact in 2007, spending most of his time on special teams and didn't make a single catch on offense. It'll take a huge training camp and preseason to get him a roster spot this year.

(45) Darrell Strong, 6-5, 265, Pittsburgh: Undrafted free agent is a nice combination of size and speed and he also can throw an option pass, as he did twice in college. Needs too make a quick impression because the field is crowded but he's a darkhorse worth watching.

(43) Chris Wagner, 6-6, 255, South Dakota State: Another undrafted free agent, Wagner steadily improved during his college career and showed enough in the offseason to earn a trip to training camp. A definite longshot.

(87) Fred Wakefield, 6-7, 295, Illinois: Had a great training camp in 2007 despite it being only his second year playing tight end, but an injury landed him on injured reserve and cost him the entire season. Now that he's healthy look for the eighth-year veteran to make a strong bid to take the No. 3 spot, if not push Madsen for No. 2.

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