In this day and age of the NFL, elite athleticism can be the difference between floating around in the free agency pool and landing a roster spot. With the Oakland Raiders, undrafted rookie wide receiver Sam McGuffie is hoping for the latter.
After falling through the cracks of the 2013 NFL Draft, McGuffie is hoping to win over the Raiders coaching staff. The former Rice standout has shined through OTAs and minicamp, but faces long odds to carve a niche for himself amidst a Raiders’ receiver corps flooded with young, potential-laden pass-catchers.
Before playing with the Owls, McGuffie was a do-it-all athlete for the Rich Rodriguez-led Michigan Wolverines, using his phenomenal athleticism to make plays all over the field. After the head coach departed, though, McGuffie jumped ship as well, transferring to Rice to be closer to home.
McGuffie spent his first two seasons at Rice playing running back before switching to wide receiver prior to his senior season. During 2012, he hauled in 54 passes for 603 yards and five touchdowns. Although the production didn’t blow scouts away, the unquestionable athleticism still remains an intriguing aspect of his overall package.
Squarely on the roster bubble, McGuffie is slated to battle with fellow undrafted rookie Conner Vernon and 2013 seventh-rounder Brice Butler for the No. 6 receiver gig. All three have been impressive throughout early offseason action, but the Raiders simply don’t have the luxury of holding on to so many receivers.
At this point, it’s unlikely that McGuffie will be able to sneak away with a spot on the Raiders’ 53-man roster. Even with his exceptional athleticism and straight-line speed, he doesn’t offer enough polish in the pass-catching department to leapfrog some of the more experienced receivers on the depth chart. There’s a good chance, though, that the Raiders could stash him on the practice squad and let him develop for a season or two.
Either way, it’s another example of how great the Raiders are at finding hidden gems at wide receiver. McGuffie fell through the cracks, and GM Reggie McKenzie was waiting with open arms to catch him.
How do the Raiders find all of these sleeper receivers? If only they could find that type of talent at more than one position…