The Oakland Raiders have recently had a habit of finding quality wide receiver talent from unexpected sources.
Whether it’s via late-round picks or undrafted free agency, the Oakland brass have a knack for finding hidden gems. It was Denarius Moore in 2011 and Rod Streater in 2012. That role could fall to Brice Butler, a seventh-round pick out of San Diego State, in 2013.
The latest in a long line of promising young Raiders receivers, Butler has quickly gotten the attention of the Oakland coaching staff. Throughout rookie minicamp, the former Aztec displayed a phenomenal skill set, hauling in passes over numerous defenders and showing the field-stretching abilities that landed him in the end zone early and often.
However, you wouldn’t have guessed he would shine with the Raiders after looking at his college production. Throughout three years at USC, Butler was a non-factor for the Trojans offense, amassing only 41 receptions, 554 receiving yards and three touchdowns while serving in a reserve role.
Butler took his talents to San Diego State in 2012, but still struggled to make the type of impact that was expected of him coming out of high school. His 24 catches, 347 receiving yards and four touchdowns, along with the unrealized potential, are what made him a seventh-round pick.
The biggest question is whether or not Butler can continue to excel once the shoulder pads are strapped on. Throughout rookie minicamp and OTAs, he was often battling against average competition while playing in shorts and a t-shirt. Training camp will be the perfect opportunity for Butler to prove that he still has the talent to be a productive receiver and his lackluster collegiate career was a fluke.
Once training camp gets under way, Butler will face competition from Streater, Jacoby Ford, Josh Cribbs, Juron Criner and Conner Vernon as they all look to carve out a role in the Raiders’ passing game alongside Moore. Although it’s hard to see Butler earning a starting job in his rookie season, it’s not ridiculous to think he could move up the depth chart enough to land a spot on the 53-man roster.
As much of a longshot as it might seem, Butler has the upside to develop into an impact player for the Raiders. Before he becomes a factor, though, he needs to prove during training camp that going full speed in the NFL won’t be an issue.