Should Raiders GM Mike Mayock be leery of drafting a WR in first round?

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Is Mike Mayock sandbagging, trying to cool the market for wide receivers in the 2020 NFL draft? Or is the Las Vegas Raiders' general manager legitimately spooked by the thought of using a first-round pick on a receiver, even if it is a glaring need for a team that has, yes, two first-round picks?

Yes. To both questions. Probably.

Because while the likes of Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb, Alabama's Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III and Baylor's Denzel Mims dominated the receiver conversation at the scouting combine, Mayock was still playing it cool.

"I'm a buyer-beware guy [on] first-round wideouts," Mayock said on NFL Live. "If you do the homework, if you do the studies, if you look at the numbers, it's very sobering. And I think there's some reasons why first-round wideouts come in and don't have great production.

"And without getting into all of it, it's just a huge adjustment, OK? So, you've got to decide, whether or not any of those guys that are, quote, first-round guys can come in and play Year 1. And the way I look at it, we're at [picks Nos.] 12 and 19; we're not a very good football team. We won seven friggin' football games, OK? So, at the end of the day, I just want to get better."

Fair enough. But how does Mayock's theory on not-so-productive-as-rookies first-round wideouts jibe with actual, factual numbers?

ESPN Stats & Information looked at the past 10 drafts and found that of 30 total receivers taken in the first round, only five had 1,000-yard receiving rookie campaigns -- Odell Beckham Jr., Amari Cooper (hey, he sounds familiar), A.J. Green, Mike Evans and Kelvin Benjamin.

Eleven such receivers had at least 750 receiving yards, while 13 had at least 50 catches and three had at least 70 receptions in Beckham, Benjamin and Cooper (there's that name again).

Only three -- Beckham, Evans and Calvin Ridley -- had double-digit receiving touchdowns, with 11 such receivers having five or more receiving scores.

Surely a top-heavy receiver group loaded with depth is appealing to the Raiders, no?

"Yeah, it's very impressive," Raiders coach Jon Gruden said of the WR class last week. "We brought several in back-to-back-to-back the other day just to compare them. They're some real playmakers, big guys, quick, thick, fast-twitch guys. There is a variety of receivers and there are some guys that can return the football as well.

"So, yes, it's a strong part of this draft. I think it's as strong a wide receiver class as there's been in a while."

And again, it's a major need for the Raiders, who never truly recovered from the Antonio Brown meltdown in training camp and granting his release request the weekend before the season opener.

"We felt we added one of the best receivers in the league a year ago and he had frozen feet, and then we thought we had the best free-agent receiver and he had fried feet from plantar fasciitis," Gruden said of Brown, who showed up to camp with frostbite on his feet after a cryotherapy mishap, and Tyrell Williams, who started hot with TD catches in each of his first five games before being slowed by injury.

"So, the feet were a problem for us last year. So, we would like to add a great receiver certainly, but we still threw for a lot of yards."

Indeed, quarterback Derek Carr had career bests in passing yards (4,054) and completion percentage (70.4%) but the Raiders' wideouts, as a group, left much to be desired.

Consider: The 145 catches by the Raiders' WRs in 2019 ranked 30th among all NFL WR groups, their 1,858 receiving yards was 29th, their 12 receiving TDs was tied for 23rd and their 86 first downs 31st. Also, their 6.0% drop rate, their nine catches on throws of 20-plus air yards and nine catches on tight-throw windows (1 yard or less of separation) were the worst such marks in the NFL.

Lamb? Jeudy? Ruggs, who might remind Gruden of the explosive James Jett? They all address a real and specific need.

Surely, one of them will be available at No. 12.

What about later? The Raiders have those two first-round selections but don't pick again until the third round, where they have three picks, Nos. 80, 81 and 91 overall. They also have picks in the fourth, fifth and seventh rounds, resulting in eight overall selections.

A receiver later, then? Well, those first-year figures are even more bleak, speaking to Mayock's concern.

Of the combined 84 receivers drafted in the second and third rounds from 2010 through 2019, just three had 1,000-yard receiving seasons as rookies (Michael Thomas, A.J. Brown and Keenan Allen), with none having double-digit receiving TD seasons.

The 222 receivers drafted in Rounds 4-7 and coming into the league undrafted in that same time frame contributed zero 1,000-yard receiving seasons as rookies and one double-digit TD rookie season (Mike Williams).

"What's the mental acuity?" Mayock wondered aloud for reporters in Indianapolis.

"It's really kind of identifying which kids we think, in seven rounds of a draft, will be able to step in. And I'm most nervous about, if you're going to draft a wideout anywhere, can we get first-year production out of that guy? Because if you look at the numbers, it's not real good."

And neither were the Raiders receivers' numbers last season.