Broncos’ Ward won’t grant Crabtree and Cooper elite status

Apparently being top 15 in receiving yards and first in the league for receiving touchdowns doesn’t qualify as elite.

That’s the word from Broncos starting strong safety T.J. Ward, who told members of the Denver media that Raiders receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper are good, but not elite.

Crabtree is tied for the league lead for receiving touchdowns, and his 569 yards are 12th best. Cooper has the third most receptions of anyone in football this year, and his 228 yards after the catch are 13th best.

The 4.38 yards after the catch that Cooper has posted this season is better than A.J. Green‘s 4.13, Antonio Brown‘s 2.87, and any of the three other four receivers taken during the first round of the 2015 NFL draft.

Ward, though, says Oakland’s receiving tandem are simply two good receivers via NFL Network’s James Palmer:

“I feel like they have two good receivers. I don’t feel they have two elite receivers.”

Denver cornerback Bradley Roby wouldn’t mention the word “elite” during his availability this week, though he seemed to agree with Ward:

“They’re good receivers. There’s nothing else.”

To be fair, the term elite is subjective in nature. There are no clear prerequisites to be elite, and there is generally a history of extreme success to be considered.

Brown, though certain statistics say his season has been dwarfed by both Raiders receivers, is elite because he’s been atop many of the league’s statistical categories over a few seasons or more.

Calvin Johnson was impossible to cover with his extreme straight line speed and massive frame. These are unique individuals. Whether Cooper or Crabtree are there yet remains to be determined, at least when stacked against these names, or others likeĀ Jerry Rice, Randy Moss and Michael Irvin.

We’ll know who’s better Sunday, though, as Ward and Roby will see firsthand whether either Raiders receiver in en route to elite status.


Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Raiders football.