One of the major problems facing the Raiders this year is going to be the lack of professional experience at wide receiver. Perhaps their most gifted wide out, Chaz Schilens, has been injured far too often to obtain any decent playing experience. Last season, Louis Murphy started off with a bang and was on a fast pace to become their first 1,000 yard receiver in eons, yet he succumbed to a separated shoulder and was plagued by the injury for much of the season. Jacoby Ford emerged as a playmaker in the second half of the season and everybody on the planet expects him to be the man this year. And Darrius Heyward-Bey, well… he’s just DHB.
The question is, is there a legit number one receiver on this team?
I was reading an article earlier today and part of it was entitled, “Opponent’s take on the Raiders.” I don’t know exactly what that means, if it was written by a player who played against them or a sports writer for another team or what. It doesn’t matter, but in this piece this random person said, “The Raiders are a wide receiver or two away from having a potent offense. The ones they have are complementary players, at best.”
At first, I couldn’t decide if I agreed with that sentiment or not. Then, I decided that they have good talent at the position – the type of talent that has the capacity to be more than complementary. And even if I’m wrong and they don’t have that talent already, who are they going to bring in at this point? The only players on the free agency market are complementary players. There is no number one receiver amongst the 500 or so free agents this year.
Somebody has to step up and the time to do that is right now. So I made a list. I went 1-8 on the Raiders' wide receivers deciding who is most likely to become a true receiving threat in the coming years. After all, it will only take one or two of them to make the offense potent according to the anonymous opponent.
8. Johnnie Lee Higgins
There was a time when Higgins was on the verge of being special. He has Eric Weddle to thank for ending that part of his career with a vicious hit on opening night in 2009. Perhaps Higgins is capable of becoming the player that we once thought he would be, but at this point I think it is a stretch for him to even make the roster. He has fallen out of favor faster than melting ice cream on a hot summer day.
7. David Ausberry
The first thing the Raiders need to decide about this rookie is if he is a small tight end or a really big wide receiver. Ausberry is going to have to play big-time if he even wants to make the roster, let alone as a wide receiver. My best guess for this big man upon first impression is practice squad.
6. Denarius Moore
I’m not going to lie, the NFL draft was the first time I’ve heard of this guy. I’ve never watched a game that he played and haven’t done much research on him. Come to think of it, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him catch a pass. But the thing that I do like about him is that he went through three different head coaches during his time at Tennessee. That means he should fit right in at Oakland.
5. Darrius Heyward-Bey
Is there anybody in the NFL who wants to improve more than DHB? I think not! This guy has the drive and he is good at taking the guy covering him out of the play, whether it’s by blocking in the ground game or running a pass route. What he is not good at is catching the balls that do get thrown at him in games. Only 41 percent if the passes thrown at him were catches last year. He needs to get that number up at least 30 percentage points before fans lose faith in him for good.
4. Nick Miller
Here’s a guy who I truly admire and it would be a shame if he did not make the final 53-man roster this year. Miller’s been working with Super Bowl wide receivers Greg Jennings and Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona for most of this offseason. Miller hasn’t had much time on the field in his first two seasons, one of which was lost to injury, but when he gets a ball thrown to him, he catches like 100 percent of those. Depending on his preseason performance, he could very well move up my list.
3. Chaz Schilens
Schilens’ knock has always been that he is extraordinarily injury prone. And that history goes all the way back to his college days. There’s no doubt that he is unbelievably gifted, but if he can’t get on the field then what is the point of having all that talent? Schilens is actually my favorite to become the team’s most reliable pass catcher, but he has to get some artificial limbs or something first. Honestly, I’m just waiting to find out what it’s going to be this time that keeps him off the field in 2011.
2. Jacoby Ford
Everybody is talking about Jacoby Ford being the breakout player for the Raiders this year. The only problem I have with this notion is that he already broke out – last year. I don’t think it was a fluke either. Ford is a ball magician™ which means that when he touches the ball, magic happens. But if he is going to become a number one wide out then the Raiders are going to have to find another explosive return man. Plus, Ford still has to work on his precision in route running.
1. Louis Murphy
Murphy has a lot to prove after attending college with the likes of Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin. That’s why he is number one on my list, because of the undeniable chip on his shoulder. Both of those guys were first round draft choices while Murphy had to wait until round four. And although Murphy was a playmaker, he was considered to be a less than worthy talent to them at Florida. Murphy is off to a hot start in his rookie and sophomore seasons and I think there is an outside chance that he could end up with a better pro career than both of his former Gator teammates.
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yea like many, i have been crying for a vet wr too, but we need a OL or two first. the player that excites me the most for next year is dmac, cause a vet wr or a better line makes him all the more dangerous! i think santana moss is the best option out there being we have campbell and saunders running the offense, sidney rice will cost too much as well as santonio holmes! dhb definitely needs to pick his numbers up. he will probably start cause even though he doesn't catch enough balls and make an impact in the passing game, he is a heck of a run blocker and blocks all the way to the end of plays, and will finish a block and run 100 miles an hour downfield to find somebody else to block! i think also campbell can help his confidence by throwing a couple of more times to him as well, not 2 or 3 catchable balls a half and 4 or 5 crappy balls a half when he's under extreme pressure. thats why i think we need ol more cause it could give campbell more time and also dhb more time to get open. he also needs to work on his route running as well, and a vet like moss (santana) could be a big help to this young man. unfortunately for bey, besides campbell, i think the his future here depends on this season! we'll see if the young man can stand up to the pressure. nonetheless, GO RAIDERS!!!!
@massillonraider Also, JC is a guy who needs confidence in his WR before he throws their way regularily - let's hope his passing camps has helped the chemistry going into the second season together! QB play and WR play needs to step up for us to be contenders, they know this, and they will work hard at it! And as you say; GO RAIDERS!
Denarious Moore will be a productive receiver for the Raiders. I have watched a lot of tape on him, and he can definitely catch the ball. I do not see the red flags in Moore like I saw with DHB. This guy can flat out play, and if given a fair chance to compete, will not disappoint.
Louis Murphey, right now, is our legitimate number 1 receiver. I could only imagine how scary good our wide receiving would have been if the Raiders had drafted Percy Harvin over DHB. Harvin and Murphey were amazing in college, and as good as Harvin has been for Minnesota, if he had been on the Raiders, WE WOULD BE LOOKING AT A DYNAMIC DUO in Harvin and Murphey. I still can't believe Al Davis passed on Harvin for DHB. It boggles my mind. There is absolutely no justification for that horrendous pick.
Free agency will be very important for the Raiders, especially concerning wide receiver, and my hope is that the new collective bargaining agreement will bring unrestricted free agency to players after (4) years of service. If that happens, there is a receiver on the Chargers that Raider Nation is very familiar with, Vincent Jackson, who might enter into the Raider plans. He is Fast, dynamic, and a true playmaking stud with one of the most reliable hands in the game.... Jesus, if Jackson was on the Raiders, our offense would be absolutely unstoppable!!!!!
The most attractive thing about Moore is that he has great hands, and that he is able to adjust to errant throws! Playing through different coaches and three QBs has limited his potential, leaving him to fly under the radar a little bit - he is a steal, and he will be able to contribute his rookie year! Only knock on him as i see it is that his acceleration is mediocre, which could make it difficult for him to seperate in bump and run coverage! He rounds his routes as well, which allows him to keep his speed - but remember how much Ford improved his routes and the speed coming out of cuts? Same will happen to Morre no doubt, he is a hard worker!
I like Murphy, he has swagger and potential, but imo he has a long way to go before he is a legitimate #1 WR! He still needs to focus as he drops too many passes, but he could very well bounce back with a very good season now that he isn't playing through nagging injuries!
Percy would be a beast though, but it is what it is, Percy fell due to 'character concerns' as i remember it, but as he has shown, he is a hard worker and a very good WR, would have fit well in Silver and Black as a differencemaker!
VJ is a beast, and it would mean the world if he bolted from the Dolts! .. Especially if he came to us, but he was franchised, and hasn't it been mentioned that all Franchise players will remain franchised? I hope i'm wrong, but i think that it is only the RFAs and UFAs that are in doubt right now, not the Franchised..?
Moore had a very good season last year playing for a team that had QB problems. 42 catches for almost 1000 yards, that's a YAC of 21 yards per-catch. Moore had two game last year with over 200 yards per-game and scored in both games. Moore caught a touch down pass in every 7 catches last year. That's big numbers for 42 catches, he scored 9 times.
@Philip Fitch Let's hope he gets to 42 in Oakland!
@ba_armstrong @Philip Fitch 42 would be very solid from a 5th rd pick, but his average will certainly drop, especially as he is no longer the fastest deep threat on the team, it will be interesting to see how they intend to use him - probably medium to long crossing patterns and fly routes mostly.. But he will not get 20 YPC in the NFL!
@Philip Fitch There is no doubt that Moore was a good value pick! I saw him mocked in the high 3rd, and many thought he would fit the bill in the third or fourth.. He is a possession type WR which is a great thing for us - especially if the Chazmanian devil can stay healthy, as we then would have two consistant chain movers on the team.. I really like the pick, and i think he will surprise many fans and analysts..
The key, as you also write, is that he had three QBs and changing coaching teams, which has surely effected his performance negatively - with some consistency he has the upside to really improve and become a great WR for us! He is a really solid pick, and he will add something that we have lacked for a couple of years now - the hands and ability to adjust to errant throws! It will be interesting to see how fast he catches on, but my bet is that he will be a solid contributer in the second half of the year!
An interesting player to follow!
@Harder2000 @ba_armstrong The key here is Moore had 42 catches and a 1000 yards in a very problem QB system at Tennessee. Just think if he played with a good QB in a good system. If Moore had another 20 catches for an additional 500 yards what you would think of him then? he would have been a first round pick. Some experts had Moore going as early as the second round. Why Moore dropped into the 5th round is beyond me? but I'm sure glad he did. Raiders beat writer Jerry McDonald, who is very critical when evaluating Raider players, siad Moore might turn out to be the Raiders best draft pick and be their best possession WR. Moore had some trouble at Tennessee off the field, but I don't know how much it hurt his draft status.
Let me give my take of who Denarius Moore is as a wideout. First, I was unaware as to who he was when the Raiders picked him but, I did research. It turns out that the kid can be compared very closely to Louis Murphy. He's got good size and speed, good enough to stretch the field a little. Now, if the Raiders starting four at this position is Moore, Murphy, Ford and Miller, think how that would look in an inverted quad formation. With the bigger receivers in the slot and Miller and Ford in one on one match ups in the flats. Oooooh wheeee! There wouldn't be a receiver on the field that wouldn't demand the respect of opposing safeties. So, where ever the safties rotate there would be a star of a wideout on the opposite side in a one on one situation. I'm usually very cautious when analyzing my Raiders but, if Moore can develop quickly in the abbreviated offseason/preseason training period, the Raiders might be racking up points and doing it EASILY.
You can't have a Number one WR until you have a number one QB. This year will tell if Campbell can step up with a less than stellar line. This is the first year that Chaz ended the year with no injury and is our best if healthy. Murphy and Jacoby will be the guys to watch. Higgins is gone with and with Taiwon Jones added to the roster who can run punts back with blazing speed will I believe cause Nick Miller will to likewise exit left!
This is the way the top 3 was supposed to be last year with a healthy Schilens. If Shilens is healthy I see it going down the same way.
1 Schilens starter
2 DHB starter
6 N Miller
Higgins gets the axe and Ausberry to the practise squad. DHB will start just because AL wants it that way and wants a return on his investement. AL figures the only way that will happen is let him play.
I had a horrible dream last night. Jason Campbell throwing interceptions left and right, getting pounded into the ground regularly, and The Raiders losing too often.... No Lie!!! Scared the crap out of me!!!
I suspect it will be the same as last season.
Heyward Bey 2
Al likes size and speed outside. He wants Campbell flinging balls up for them to compete with. If you're flinging balls up to a guy who's 5'7, you're just going to get picked off.
A lot of Ford's big plays came from the slot. On end arounds, returns, and screens.
You can't have the guy on the pitch, EVERY PLAY, and expect him to still be impactful on returns, end arounds and things like that.
Oakland will use Ford like Chicago use Hester. He'll get plenty of time, but you got to remember, a lot of his big plays come on returns, and end arounds - he needs to be kept fresh
You're in dream world if you think Heyward-Bey is going to be FIFTH receiver!
Why would Al Davis keep paying the guy league leading money, when he has no intention of basically ever playing him. He'd cut him now, if that was his intention.
I've said this a million and one times. Oakland just didn't complete pass plays last season. Period.
Jason Campbell was completing something like 10-11 passes a game!? Guys like Manning are completing 30+. Even Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford are completing at least 20.
There isn't a receiver on the roster who made many plays last season, other than Ford. Zach Miller had the worst season of his career, Murphy was average, Schillens was injured, Nick Miller did absolutely nothing even when he was on the field.
Oaklands problems aren't DHB. In games where Campbell was completing league averages, the guy was catching 4-5 balls a game.
Oaklands problems were that Jason Campbell averaged about 150 yards, 10 completions and 1 touchdown a game....................And that wasn't people dropping them. It was him missing them, and getting sacked.
Sorry, as long as your QB is only passing for 2500 yards a season, you can't expect anyone to get 1'000 yards. They'd have to catch 40% of everything he completed!
Oakland's problems with passing last season were QB and offensive line. They improved when the season went on, but they only functioned at a top level for 5-6 games tops.
When Jason Campbell, is passing for 3500 yards, and 25 touchdowns, you can start complaining that DHB isn't making plays and getting the yards
You can't hit him too hard, when he's played consistently, where the Quarterback hasn't been able to make plays to anyone!?
@ChristopherMooney I didn't say he'd be the fifth on the depth chart. I mean he's the fifth in likelihood of becoming a number one guy for the Raiders
Good article, although i would consider both Santonio Holmes and especially Sidney Rice to be # 1 WR's.. Of those only Rice would be a possible addition, but seeing as Big Al seems satisfied with the young players currently under contract, it seems that we will not sign a big time FA WR..
Best hope to get an addition to the squad probably consists of fast Jones or Santana as described in a previous article here..
I think the WR squad has great potential, but this is really the year for them to step up big time! DHB and Murphy are heading into their 3rd year, a year where WR's are supposed to 'get it', and while DHB has shown no recieving skills so far, Murphy has not shown to be a #1 either - he drops a lot of good passes and seems to fall out at times, and he has miles to go if he wants to be considered a legit #1. The Chazmanian devil has the tools, but if he is injured throughout the season once again, he would probably not be back next year!
Ford is a good and explosive player, but he is not a possession type reciever, we need the other three big targets to become that, to at least a reasonable degree, before the passing O will have a chance to be what we need it to be!
Personally i would love to see a WR like Rice on the team, as he imo would be the 'missing link' that would make this a great squad! A big, possession type WR with great hands and solid route running skills - we need that!
... I know we won't get that, which is yet another reason for FA signings to the Oline, as the pass blocking needs to be able to keep JC standing long enough to get the WRs involved, and for the D to respect the pass and not put 8 or 9 in the box to smother the run!
@Harder2000 I honestly do not think we have a #1 WR in the Raiders. We have a lot of young guys who potentially could become the legitimate #1 but whoever it is, needs to step it up.
I 100% agree with you on Rice. He is a superb player and definitely a #1 WR available on free agency.
However, with the serious lack of preseason training and not being able to gain knowledge of the playbook I only see one viable option and that is Santana Moss. He had very good chemistry with Campbell while he was still at the skins. He has also worked with Saunders. These 2 factors will help in the transition. He also finished last season with 1,115 yds and 6 TD's. This to me is #1 wide receiver stats..
@ukraider78 I think you're right - Santana makes the most sense as he is a veteran with reliable hands who JC and the coaches know, and i think he would be a fine pick up as well! He is a short term stop gap who can contribute on the field and mentor the core as well! It would give us a year or two to figure out who of the young WRs developes to legit starter WRs..
The potential is there in the young ones we have, but they need to step it up in the coming season to become legit starters! - like Mooney said, the play of JC plays into this as well, he needs to get on point and throw at the WRs in order for them to step up! Let's hope it meshes together in the right way!