Oakland trying to get back to the top with blazing speed

By JayMcrey  |   Tuesday, July 21, 2009  |  Comments( 13 )

Oakland Raiders
Got something to say?

Log In above and share your thoughts on this topic with other fans!

While many of Oakland's young receivers are virtual unknowns outside the Raider Nation, expect them to gain national attention in the years to come. It's no secret that Al Davis covets the vertical passing game above all else, and make no mistake about it, it will be a big part of Oakland's offense for years to come. With a top 10 running game, a vastly improved offensive line, a QB whose arm strength is off the charts, and an emerging superstar at TE, this young group should develop into something very special, very quickly.

There's only one notable veteran presence in the group, and after a turbulent career filled with controversy, and hampered by injuries, this could be the year that 30 year old Javon Walker finally breaks through. After a disappointing 2008 season where he missed 8 games as a result of a recurring knee injury, expect him to emerge as the #1 receiver this year. After off season knee surgery that he called a "tune up" he says he feels faster and lighter on his feet. One can only hope that he regains his pro bowl form from 2004 and 2006. Its certainly not out of the realm of possibility considering that his 2005 campaign ended abruptly in the first game when he went down with a torn knee ligament after catching just 4 passes for 27 yds. If the former 20th overall pick can recapture only a fraction of his old form, and 4.38 speed he will give Russell a clear cut #1 receiver.
Johnnie Lee Higgins led the WR's last year with 22 rec for 366 yds and 4 tds..... Ok, now that we've all had a good laugh, don't let those numbers fool you. 12 of his 22 receptions came in the last 3 games, and also three of his touchdowns. Week 17 vs. Tampa Bay he had 6 receptions for 52 yds and a touchdown. He should be much improved this season, and expect to see him in the #2 spot, and on punt returns. He's a dynamic return man with 4.27 speed. He also had 3tds as a punt returner last year. A mark that tied him with Reggie Bush for the NFL lead.
The reason we didn't take Michael Crabtree with the 7th overall pick, (other than the fact we have linemen who could out run him) as I see it is Chaz Schilens. At 6'4" 225lbs he will present a big target over the middle for JeMarcus Russell. With 4.38 speed he'll be hard to miss streaking down the side line as well. He started six games last year due to injuries, and was fairly productive in those games. 15 rec 226 yds 15.1ypc and a touchdown in each of the last two games. Not to shabby. Fantasy players could do worse than to pick up Schilens with a late round pick.
Todd Watkins is another potential sleeper. The former 7th rd pick who came over from Arizona was once called by Sports Illustrated "the best deep threat in the nation". While playing for BYU He set Mountain West Conference records for yards per game (94.7), and yards per catch (20). At 6'2" 190 with 4.27 speed he makes another intriguing target for Russell.
Oakland was berated by the media for taking Darius Heyward Bey with the 7th overall pick in this years draft, but I honestly didn't hate the pick when they made it, and I don't hate it now even though his progress has been hampered by a bum hamstring. He's been a class act in dismissing the media's criticism, and brings tremendous upside to the Raiders organization. He posted the fastest time at this years combine with a Scorching 4.30. It's also been rumored he's turned in times as low as 4.25 in the past as well. With that kind of speed coupled with his prototypical size (6'2" 210lbs), and the fact that he played in a run first pro style offense at the Univesity of Maryland there is no reason to believe he won't be successful at the NFL level. He's also a good down field blocker as he showed often in support of Maryland's run game.
The other wide receiver we took in the draft was Louis Murphy, an absolute steal in round 4. At 6'2" 200 and a respectable 4.43 (also rumored to have been sub 4.3 at Florida), he's also got a big future in the NFL. Renowned by his coaches as team player with a tireless work ethic, he was often overshadowed at Florida by Percy Harvin, and Tim Tebow. He had 77 receptions for 1,245 yds with 13 tds while at Florida, once catching a pass in 27 straight games. He's already made a big impression on the Raider's coaching staff despite having surgery after the 2008 season.
Our list is rounded out by a handful of young talented guys who will be fighting for a roster spot behind the group listed above. Arman Shields at 6'1" 195 posted the second fastest time at the combine and was drafted in the fourth round in 2008. Will Franklin at 6'0"- 210lbs runs a 4.37, and came over from K.C. in the off season. Shawn Bayes 5' 10" 180 another tremendously fast reciever could spell JLH in the return game. Nick Miller an undrafted free agent could also contribute on special teams. Last but not least Samie Parker, a former track star from Oregon University who was drafted in the 4th round by the Chiefs in 04, and landed with Oakland back on May 12 after sitting out he 08 season after being released by the Broncos, Panthers, And Seahawks, let's hope he's got something to prove.
The 2009 season should be a developing year for the receiving game, but look for it to develop quickly as most opposing defenses will be stacking the line of scrimmage to stop the run. Don't blink though, with all that speed, you could miss a lot.
Got something to say?

Log In above and share your thoughts on this topic with other fans! (13)

Article Tools Share!   |  RSS  |  Bleacher Report About Bleacher Report