Projected Starters: Chaz Schilens*, Louis Murphy, Jacoby Ford
There is no doubt that Chaz Schilens is the best of the bunch when it comes to Raider receivers. His size, speed, route running, hands and aggressive nature make him the best weapon in the passing game not named Zach Miller. Of course, the big ‘if’ with Schilens is if he can stay healthy. A foot injury that was supposed to be healed over a year ago is still a lingering issue. None the less, we’re all still waiting for him to have a breakout year. Perhaps this lockout is the best thing for Chaz to finally get right physically. Only time will tell.
Murphy was a surprise in 2009 and was a disappointment in 2010. There is no doubt the former Gator has all the tools necessary to be a quality #2 or 3 receiver in the NFL. The biggest question with Murphy relates to his focus. At times he’s a playmaker who can do it all from explosive receptions to bruising blocks. Then at other times he’s incapable of making the most basic of catches and can allow his emotions to get the best of him. Recent Viagra arrest aside, Murphy is the kind of guy you need to win a Super Bowl. The problem is you just don’t know which Louis you’re getting on any given Sunday.
Last season Jacoby Ford was must see TV. Every time he touched the rock you knew something special might happen. As a returner, Ford was one of the best weapons in all of football. As a receiver he proved he can be just as dynamic as in special teams. All that remains now is for Hue Jackson to continue to figure ways to get Ford involved. Most saw him as yet another Al Davis special on draft day but the fact is the kid can ball.
Starting Receiving Core Stock Rating: C+
The DHB Dilemma
Ok, so we’ve got to address the Terrapin in the room. Since the second his name was called on draft day, Darrius Heyward-Bey has been labeled as a bust. Problem is he’s done little in two full seasons to prove otherwise. Last season he notched the first 100-yard game of his career and then did next to nothing the rest of the season. We’ll cut DHB some slack because being a rookie with JaMarcus Russell as your QB is just plain unfair – though Louis Murphy seemed to do just fine. We’ll also give Hey-Bey the benefit of the doubt because he has been forced into a role he’s not yet ready for. But that is where the excuses end. The rest is on Heyward-Bey. He’s got the right mentality. He’s got the work ethic. He’s got the support of the organization. All that remains is for DHB to make Al look like a genius. So far his Bay Area counterpart, Michael Crabtree, has lapped him in production given some very similar circumstances with regards to his NFL baptism. Simply put, the time is now or never for Heyward-Bey.
DHB Stock Rating: D
Potential Draft Picks: Edmond Gates, Abilene Christian; Denarius Moore, Tennessee
It doesn’t seem likely that the Raiders will draft another receiver. If so it would be the fourth they’ve drafted in the last three years. However, whenever someone posts a 4.3 in the 40, the radar starts going wild in the East Bay. Gates ran a 4.37 at the combine and though raw could be a special teams contributor while learning to play the receiver position in the NFL.
Moore is another speed guy but is much more polished than Gates. He played for several different quarterbacks and coaches during his time at Tennessee yet was still productive. If the Raiders are in the market for another receiver, Moore will most likely be available in the fourth or fifth round. He would also be a project as Moore is still rough in certain areas but that certainly didn’t stop Al from grabbing DHB as early as he did.
Silver and Black Stock Rating for the Receiving Core: C-
I hate to continue to jump on the guy but DHB brings this stock down. Yes, he is a good blocker and does so many of the little things very well. The problem is when you draft a receiver in the top 10 you don’t expect a guy to be primarily a decoy who doubles as a good run blocker. DHB needs to start producing NOW. Waiting on Schilens to get healthy or for Murphy to get consistent is made all the more frustrating by waiting on DHB to get right. Ford showed he could be the big play receiver this offense needs. IF Schiles is healthy then I’m afraid the time is officially running out on Heyward-Bey. I’d love to see DHB succeed but even Al will become impatient if he doesn’t see results soon.