Print and Go Back ESPN.com: AFC West [Print without images]

Thursday, April 30, 2009
Sound off responses

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

I asked the residents of the Raider Nation for their thoughts and did they ever respond. This question was: Are you happy the Raiders took Darrius Heyward-Bey over Michael Crabtree in the draft?

Emotions were mixed. There are many loyal Raiders fans who are willing to give Heyward-Bey, a speedy receiver from Maryland, the benefit of the doubt. Still, there are plenty of fans who are beside themselves that Oakland didn't take Crabtree, a complete receiver from Texas Tech, with the No. 7 pick.

Below are some of your responses. Thanks to everyone for playing along:

Matt from fresno, ca: Bill, I sat in shock like everyone else when the raiders picked darrius heyward-bey over michael crabtree. Realistically, what do you think the odds are that heyward-bey becomes a better nfl receiver than crabtree? I still just can not wrap my brain around this pick.

Aaron from Santa Barabra: Initially, DHB over Crabtree was pretty disappointing, but the more I think about it the more I like the pick. Crabtree is starting to sound like the next T.O. rather than Jerry Rice, saying "fashion" is his number one concern at his introductory press conference. DHB is coming from a pro-style offense, rather than a gimmicky spread offense. Undoubtedly the pick is boom or bust, but its nice to think about how good Heyward-Bey could be if everything works out. Everybody thought of Heyward-Bey as a first-round talent, and the Raiders just took the receiver they liked the best.

Steve from Silver Spring: Dumb,Dumb,Dumb! Thing one for receivers, which we see from Rice and Holt and Johnson, is rout running and soft hands. Two problems with Bey re Crabtree, route running and catches. Bad Move! Every receiver on the Raiduhs is faster than every receiver on the 9ers and they still got open more than ours.

Raiderfan: I am extremely happy with the Heyward-Bey pick. Jamarcus does not need a person who can catch screen passes in a spread offense, but somebody who can go long in a pro offense. Heyward-Bey was constantly double-teamed in college--something opposing defenses cannot afford to do if they play the Raiders (with McFadden, Bush, and Miller commanding attention). The long ball is back in Oakland.

Dean: At first I was disppointd but the more i have thought about it I like this move. DHB is a high character wideout with tremendous upside. Crabtree is slow off the line and has reached his potential already.

Brad from Chicago: Crabtree may indeed be a more finished product than Heyward-Bey. The pick is a puzzling one - the Raiders already have a speedy vertical threat in Johnnie Lee Higgins. They also already possess a solid option in the slot in Chaz Schilens. What JaMarcus Russell lacks is a true #1 option - a possession receiver that could help him convert those all-too-frequent third-and-long situations, as well as score touchdowns in the redzone which was a major problem for the Raiders last season. Crabtree seemed to suit these needs perfectly. Still, as far as boom-or-bust potential, Crabtree and Heyward-Bey are about equal. Heyward-Bey comes from a pro-style offense, not a spread offense like Crabtree. Still, his inconsistent hands are a concern. In the end, the Raiders have to make JaMarcus Russell's development a priority. I don't like to use the word "bust" after his first year as a starter, but if the Raiders don't want him to be one, they need to provide him the tools he needs to improve THIS SEASON. Crabtree has the skills to make an immediate impact on offense, even though whether he actually will or not remains to be seen. Heyward-Bey is still a question mark. He can certainly develop into a successful player, but the chances of that happening this season are slim.

Aaron Sullivan from L.A:.I would have been upset with either pick. When your two biggest needs are stopping the run and protecting the QB, then why do you go after a WR? When Monroe and Raji are there at the 7th pick YOU DON"T GO AFTER A 4TH ROUND WR!!!!! So to answer the question either WR would have been a bad pick. I don't care who your WR is if your QB is on his back and your defense can't get off the field your never going to get him the ball.

Nick from Santa Rosa: Love your offseason stuff Bill, keep up the great inside news! To be honest, I am pretty upset about the #7 pick this year. Albeit once I learned a bit about Heyward-Bey I felt much better. Crabtree was the best rated WR in the draft, therefor, logically the best pick. But the raiders drafted the player they thought would fit better into their system, good for them. I'll trust that the raiders scouting and coaching team are smarter than I am (probably the case). We can only wait and see if they made a good choice, which is strangely the case for every player ever drafted. I remember when Mike Williams was rated above Braylen Edwards. You have to give Mr Davis credit, he has shown brilliance on some of his previous draft choices. One thing I love about this years draft choices, every player seems to have great character and a great work ethic. A great way to start rebuilding a team.

Matt from NY: Its not that I don't agree with the pick. Ok yes I do. I would have rather have had Crabtree. What I don't like about the pick is where we took him. Everyone says hes a late first round pick. So what im pissed about is why not trade down and acquire some more picks and then pick DHB or take Monroe and trade back into the first round to get DHB. You get the LT we need and the WR Al wanted. Just not smart on Al's part.

San Jose, Ca: Heyden-Bey was a really good pick for the Raiders. They now have a downfield threat and the fastest threat since Bo Jackson played. It will open up the mid-range passing to the other receivers. I see no reason why this guy won't be as much of a weapon on this team as Crabtree is on the niners without a quarterback. Good pick, Raiders!

EXCILE1982: If you look at DHB, he was a victim of poor talent around him. You compare his stats to Crabtree's (% = % of team's production) it looks like this: % of receptions - Crabtree 22% to DHB - 19% % of receiving yards - Crabtree 22.7% to DHB 22.7% % of receiving tds - Crabtree 41.9% to 33.3% YPC - Crabtree 12.2% to DHB 14.5% Total % of Offensive Yardage - Crabtree 13.5% to DHB 18.2% Crabtree should be a good player, but benefited greatly from a highly potent offense. The last two statistics in particular show DHB is a better play-maker (YPC and % contribution to offense). The receiving percentages are comparable. For as much as everyone has bad-mouthed the Raiders, the stats don't lie. DHB was as important to his team as Crabtree, if not more due to the lack of talent around him. This lack of talent accounts for his lack of production, but expect more with a guy who can actually throw him the ball and competent receivers across from him to deter double teams. this coupled with the fact that Heyward-Bey is a team player who played in a pro-style offense and is the best run blocker of the three high profile draft receivers make it a great pick and makes it look like Oakland did their homework a little more than the so called "experts". then just throw in the speed factor...Al might not be s
o crazy after all Bill.

T.J. from Cleveland: Honestly I thought the pick was horrible, but I don't feel as though picking Crabtree would have been any better. I'm not a believer in either of the two. Crabtree and his 4 college routes and bubble screen showed me nothing that translate to NFL success and neither did his inflated height and rather normal hand size. How many great defenses were there in the Big 12? Heyward-Bey, what did he do at Maryland??? Average qb or not he wasn't all that impressive and didn't have any huge games and never stepped up in big moments. No wr was worth a top ten pick in this draft, period. The best bet was Hakeem Nicks and he lasted to the 29th pick. He's the most pro ready, has huge hands, and ran every route any nfl coach may ask him to run in UNC's pro style offense. Not to mention he torched the same ACC competition that Bey seemed to be rather normal against. Nicks did this with a back up qb for the majority of league games. This is an example of why the Giants have been good the last few years why the Raiders and Niners haven't been very good poor scouting.

DJ Smith from Mountain View, CA: Yes I agree with the Raiders drafting the speedy Heyward-Bey. Just because he's the fastest receiver/player in the draft doesn't mean he can't catch or run routes. So give the kid a chance before you bash him and call him a bust! Speed kills in the NFL, and speed can be the difference between scoring field goals (Crabtree) and scoring TD's (Heyward-Bey). Crabtree is going to have a hard time seperating from professional DB's in the NFL because his lack of speed while DHB will do just fine seperating. In the NFL speed is essential when you're playing wide receiver! You'll see what I am talking about when Crabtree gets caught from behind by a linebacker and DHB smokes DB's. Watch and holla!!

Joe: Concerning the Raiders choice of Heyward-Bey over Crabtree is like going to a fancy restaurant and asking for a filet mignon and settling for a hamburger. How dumb is Al Davis going to look when Crabtree is still playing 10 years from now?

Mike from Bay Area: As a Charger fan, I love the fact that the Raiders took Heyward-Bay. Crabtree would have been more scary. Sure Heyward-Bay can spread a defense, but he's inconsistent. Once defenses know that he's a non-factor. How effective do you think the Raiders passing game will be? Compared if they drafted Crabtree?

Mikey from San Diego: Hey Bill, I am happy that the Raiders picked Heyward-Bey over Crabtree for a couple of reasons. 1, I'm a Chargers fan. 2, Now Crabtree actually has a chance to have a great career. Instead of wasting away in Oakland.

HiHoSilva: Heyward-Bey vs Crabtree?? To be honest I was pulling for Crabtree! After a lot of thought I can see why we picked him and I now love this pick. YOU CAN'T TEACH SPEED! In 2006 vs Miami he was a BEAST! 2 str8 catches one 64 for TD and the next 96yds for TD. His hands are improving and this kid is good at the bubble screen and reverses! I now love this pick. I am very excited for this coming year, GO RAIDERS! Also love the Mitchell pick..

Felipe Amaral from Rio de Janeiro: I don't think it is actually a question. Crabtree is better, no doubt about it. Al Davis just passed a 2 time Fred Biletnikoff award winner in favor of the fastest wideout on the Combine. Way to go Mr. Al "Reach&Overpay" Davis. This was a horrible pick. Not to mention BJ Raji and Eugene Monroe were there. Al Davis had 3 chances to hit a homerun but incredibly missed all 3. Unbelievable.

Joey from Ashland: I'm still wondering what Al Davis was thinking the day of the draft. When I heard the name of the player taken by the Raiders wasn't Crabtree or Maclin i was stunned. Shortly after that I just had to turn off the TV and walk away. This is probably the worst draft I have ever saw from the Raiders.

Chuck from Canton, Ohio: As a Raiders fan, I couldn't be more unhappy about this draft. Passing on Crabtree was just about the dumbest thing Al Davis has ever done. Heyward-Bey has all of the physical tools to be a top NFL receiver, but Crabtree is much further along at this point. I can see Heyward-Bey playing in one or two pro bowls, which is good, but Crabtree is a potential HOF talent. All 9 teams that passed on him will be kicking themselves in the asses for the next 12 or so years, but the Raiders will be kicking themselves the hardest. Maybe Al knows something the rest of the world doesn't. Maybe Heyward-Bey becomes a perennial pro bowler and Crabtree becomes a huge bust or the next loud mouthed distraction. But I really doubt it. At this point, not drafting Crabtree looks like a huge mistake. One of the biggest mistakes Al has ever made.