Remember way back when Al Davis took Darrius Heyward-Bey with the 7th overall pick in ’09 draft and the collective football world laughed? Remember in that same draft when the Raiders grabbed Louis Murphy in the 4th round and the same collective football world thought the Raiders found a diamond in the rough?
Since then the tide has turned for both players. DHB enjoyed a breakout year in 2011 while Murphy has suddenly found himself in a bitter battle for his job.
How has Murphy fallen so far so fast, you ask? It’s simple.
The Raiders keep finding talent at the receiver position from the most unlikely places.
When Al Davis drafted Jacoby Ford in the 4th round of the 2010 draft the same tired jokes were dusted off as Ford just so happened be the fastest man at the scouting combine. Flash forward to a record setting rookie season and those jokes no longer had a punch line.
Then 2011 rolls around and again the Raiders grab another receiver this time it’s a speedster out of Tennessee named Denarius Moore. As he was picked in the 5th round there weren’t many jokes to be made since Moore was such an after thought that nobody considered him to worthy of draft day humor. As we know it took Moore all of one practice to announce himself as an NFL playmaker. For good measure he put together an eye-opening rookie season just to prove he wasn’t a hero of the practice field only.
We might not even be into training camp yet but it’s looking like the Raiders might have found two more diamonds in the rough at receiver.
Rookies Juron Criner and Rod Streater are getting high praise during the OTA phase of their careers.
Criner is another 5th round find that, like Denarius Moore, impressed from the moment he stepped onto the practice field. To be fair it is hard to call Criner a true gem. He was certainly ignored on draft day but was a standout performer in the PAC-12 that at one point was being talked up as a potential early round talent. None the less as the 168th overall selection Criner’s draft status will forever label him as a sleeper.
Now Streater on the other hand is the long shot of all longshots. He wasn’t even drafted coming out of Temple yet is already getting first team reps with the Oakland offense. Obviously it is far too early to read too much into Streater’s first team status. A lot of that has to do with early injuries to guys like Moore but that still doesn’t do justice to the coaches putting a UFA in with the first squad. Time will tell if the New Jersey product is going to be another great find but for now it’s great story to follow.
Unless you’re Louis Murphy, the original diamond in the rough of the Raiders receiver revival. Murphy is probably sickened by the sight of Streater and wants nothing to do with his story. It’s this simple. If Streater makes the 53-man then Murphy won’t.
Strange how things can change over time. Most every receiver we just discussed was overlooked, ignored and written off in some way yet here they all are fighting to prove which one was the bigger steal. Funny thing is after it’s all said and done Heyward-Bey could end up wearing the crown as the biggest steal of all. He might have been the first receiver taken in the draft but based on what was said and written DHB might as well have been the worst receiver of the ’09 draft class.