I like all the receivers on the Oakland Raiders, but there still seems to be something keeping them from being an elite group of pass catchers. The first thing that went wrong was Mike Williams. Kiffin put that situation to bed weeks ago, but the lack of an inside presence has killed the Raiders starting receivers (Jerry Porter & Ronald Curry). Williams dropped many passes, and though his replacement (Tim Dwight) has done well, Dwight doesn’t have the muscle to run the inside routs that the
240 225 255lbs Williams is able to run.
Zach Miller was considered to have the best hands out of any of the tight-ends in the last draft, and had his best showing last Sunday against the Denver Broncos, making a couple of receptions that only a few TE’s could catch. He dropped to the Raiders in the second round because of his bench and 40 time. Miller was only able to bench-press 225lbs a little over a dozen times (20 reps is the least a TE should have), and ran a meager 4.87 second 40 yard dash. Greg Olsen (drafted by the Chicago Bears in the first round) was looked to be only a hair above Miller going into the NFL Combine, but while Miller posted his scores, Olsen ran a 4.5 40, and put up 225lbs over 23 times. These numbers separated Olsen from Miller, and frankly made Miller’s draft stock drop, even though analysts knew that Miller was going to post the scores he did. But those numbers have come back to haunt Miller more than I ever thought. Miller has struggled against the men he’s been ordered to block, and to get off the line (due to both his speed and the fact that opponents can push around the weaker Miller), but when he’s had time to get into his route, he’s been able to catch pretty much anything thrown his way. Miller is going to need to get stronger, because the speed will never come, but if he can move the guy in front of him out of the way, then his routes will develop quicker; not to mention the fact that more strength will only improve his run and pass blocking.
When it comes to Porter and Curry I’ve got to call a mulligan. Between the poor play from the quarterback position (for the exception of the last three weeks), and the lack of an inside presence (I feel like I’m talking about the GS Warriors with all this inside presence talk, but I’ll get to them later), both Porter and Curry have been unable to show us Raiders fans all the super star play we’re used to seeing from them. So a message to all Raider fans, analysts, and reporters: remember the amazing catches these two men have made, and remember that they’ve stuck with us, and we’ve stuck with them through bad coaches, injuries, and suspensions. Their positions aren’t a major part of the Raiders offense right now, but will be the more that Dwight gets more used to the playbook, and next year when the Raiders address the third receiver position as big as a starter. You see for this USC/West Coast passing game to work, there has to be a good third receiver (rookie wide-out Steve Smith thrived enough at USC to go in the first round of the last draft, and he’d usually setup as the third option, inside). I still believe Porter and Curry deserve the starting roles Kiffin’s given them, and if signing Mike Williams is the only glaring mistake in Head Coach Lane Kiffin’s first season, great, but doubting any form of Curry and Porter’s commitment or skill will only stray people from the bigger issues on the Raiders.