AFC West: Darrius Hewyard-Bey

As expected, Oakland Raiders receiver Jacoby Ford did not practice Saturday night and has been ruled out for Monday night’s home game against San Diego. Ford hasn’t practiced for several weeks with a foot injury.

Starting receiver Denarius Moore, however, has practiced all week. Barring a setback, he should be able to play. Rookie receiver Juron Criner is also dealing with a leg injury.

Oakland may have to rely on starter Darrius Heyward-Bey, undrafted rookie Rod Streater -- who was reportedly working with the starters Saturday -- and newly signed Derek Hagan.

It could be difficult, especially with an inexperienced group at tight end. But if Moore can shake off the rust of not playing during the preseason, Oakland could get by in the passing game.

Meanwhile, San Diego defensive tackle Antonio Garay is listed as questionable with an ankle injury. He practiced on a limited basis all week. As expected left tackle Jared Gaither (back) and running back Ryan Mathews (shoulder) are out. Mathews may play next week against Tennessee. There is no real timetable for Gaither’s return, but the team is still hoping he can play this season.

In other AFC West news, the Chiefs re-signed seventh-round pick Junior Hemingway to the practice squad and cut offensive lineman Rich Ranglin on Saturday. Last week, the Chiefs made the exact opposite move.

Raiders stocked with top-10 picks

October, 21, 2011
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The Raiders have added to an impressive collection in the past nine days.

What do linebacker Aaron Curry and quarterback Carson Palmer have in common, other than being recent trade acquisitions by Oakland? They were both top-10 draft picks.

The Raiders now have eight players on their 53-man roster who were top-10 picks. According to Elias Sports Bureau, it is the second most in the league. The 49ers have nine. Kansas City is tied for the fourth most with four.

Palmer was the No. 1 overall pick by Cincinnati in 2003. Curry was the No. 4 pick by Seattle in 2009.

They join linebacker Rolando McClain (No. 9, 2010), receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (No. 7, 20009), running back Darren McFadden (No. 4, 2008), safety Michael Huff (No. 7, 2006), defensive tackle John Henderson (No. 9, 2002 by Jacksonville) and Richard Seymour (No. 6, 2001 by New England).

Oakland saw quarterback JaMarcus Russell (No. 1, 2007) and guard Robert Gallery (No. 2, 2004) leave the team in the past year.

It is clear, though; the Raiders are turning their fortunes around with a roster built on top collegiate talent.
The Denarius Moore Show continues in Oakland.

The fifth-round pick from Tennessee has been the story of training camp. Even more encouraging, he was a standout in Oakland’s preseason opener against Arizona. He had three catches and did some nice work on kick and punt returns.

He has been constantly special and the Oakland Tribune has gone as far to write that Moore is often the best player on Oakland’s practice field. That’s saying quite a bit considering there are some pretty darned good football players donning the Silver and Black. The newspaper also said if Moore isn’t starting against Denver on Sept. 12 on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” Oakland coach Hue Jackson will have some “explaining to do.”

With receivers Jacoby Ford (broken hand) and Chaz Schilens (knee) hurt and Darrius Heyward-Bey still trying to find his groove, Moore will likely be given the chance to continue right away in the regular season if his strong play continues.

I’m excited to see more of him. This type of in-camp hype is rarely generated by a late-round pick.

One player to watch

December, 9, 2010
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One player from each AFC West team to watch in Week 14:

Denver, Champ Bailey, cornerback: At the age of 32, Bailey showed he is still an elite player in Week 13. He shut down Kansas City receiver Dwayne Bowe. Bowe entered the game as the hottest player in the NFL, regardless of position. Bowe had 32 catches and seven touchdowns in the three previous games. He didn’t have a catch against Bailey. Bailey is going to be a free agent after the season and he just showed the league he is still worth a ton of money.

Kansas City, Tony Moeaki, tight end: The third-round pick has been terrific. Moeaki has 36 catches for 438 yards and three touchdowns. Moeaki has surpassed the rookie production of former Kansas City superstar tight end Tony Gonzalez. He had 33 catches for 368 yards and two touchdowns in 1997. I’m not saying Moeaki is going to have the legendary impact that Gonzalez had in Kansas City, but he sure has started his Chiefs’ career the right way.

Oakland, Darrius Heyward-Bey, receiver: Heyward-Bey’s production has been non-existent. He hasn’t had a catch since he caught five passes against Seattle on Oct. 31. The No. 7 overall pick of the 2009 draft is just not ready to be a consistent NFL player. With rookie Jacoby Ford looking great and Chaz Schilens regaining his health, Heyward-Bey may be ready to take a back seat if he doesn’t start producing soon.

San Diego, Ryan Mathews, running back: It will be interesting to see how many opportunities Mathews gets to run the ball Sunday against the Chiefs. He didn’t have a carry in a loss to Oakland despite being healthy for the first time in a month. Yes, San Diego only ran the ball eight times because it fell behind quickly. But if Mathews doesn’t get many carries this week, it’s clear the Chargers just don’t trust the No. 12 overall pick yet. In addition to durability issues, Mathews had fumbling problems and has been inconsistent in pass protection.

Nnamdi Asomugha is inactive again

November, 21, 2010
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Oakland star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha will be inactive Sunday at Pittsburgh for the second straight game. He suffered an ankle injury three weeks ago. Asomugha was practicing lightly all week in preparation for the Pittsburgh game, but it was announced Friday that he’d be a game-time decision.

Also out for the 5-4 Raiders, who are tied for first place with Kansas City (Oakland currently owns the tiebreakers) is receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. He suffered a hamstring injury during a bye-week practice. That means rookie Jacoby Ford will get another start. He played for the injured Louis Murphy (who is back this week) against Kansas City and Ford had six catches for 148 yards, including two huge catches at the end of regulation and in overtime to setup Oakland’s win.

Ford, who also had a return for a touchdown against the Chiefs, could make a serious push for the permanent starting job if he has a big game against the Steelers. Heyward-Bey has been very inconsistent.

Meanwhile, Kansas City inactivated rookie receiver/returner/running back Dexter McCluster for the fourth straight game Sunday against Arizona. He has an ankle injury.

AFC West High Energy Player of Week

November, 2, 2010
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NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 8:

This one was tough. We had all kinds of candidates in what was a good week for the AFC West (outside of Denver).

[+] EnlargeCampbell
Cary Edmondson/US PresswireJason Campbell needed just 15 completions to throw for 310 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday.
There was Jamaal Charles and his 177 rushing yards. There was Darrius Heyward-Bey, who had 105 receiving yards and showed signs he can help the Raiders. There was Philip Rivers, who threw for 305 yards despite playing without his top four wide receivers.

But we have to go with Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell. Campbell gets the nod because of the ramifications of it all. Campbell led the Raiders to 500-plus yards of offense for the second straight week. It was the first time Oakland has ever done that.

That’s pretty good for a backup quarterback. The question is, will Campbell remain the backup? Oakland coach Tom Cable says yes. Cable said Bruce Gradkowski will be the starter once he returns from a shoulder injury that has kept him out of the past three-plus games. Gradkowski is improving, but he may need one more week to rest, especially with a bye coming after the Raiders’ pivotal home game against the Chiefs on Sunday.

I’m wondering if Campbell doesn’t deserve the full-time gig. After all, he was brought into Oakland to be the starter in the first place. Yes, he struggled early. But he clearly has it rolling now.

Now that he is performing well, it might be smart to let him to continue to develop in the offense. The reason Gradkowski was given the starting gig in Week 3 was because he had the hot hand. Now Campbell has the hot hand. Do you want to mess with that?

Look, I love Gradkowski’s energy as much as anyone, but do you fix what’s not broken? This may be an interesting situation to follow, especially if Campbell leads Oakland to a big win over the Chiefs and puts the Raiders on the doorstep of first place in the AFC West.
Jason CampbellWesley Hitt/Getty ImagesJason Campbell was sacked four times as the offensive line failed to protect their new quarterback.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It was a familiar scene for the Oakland Raiders, and that's a problem.

In one end of a sullen locker room sat the Raiders’ quarterback and his receivers. They didn’t say much. They were beleaguered after a completely ineffective performance in a 38-13 thrashing at the hands of the Tennessee Titans, who were by far, the superior, most prepared and most efficient team on the field Sunday.

Jason Campbell may be in and JaMarcus Russell may be out at quarterback, but the ineffectiveness that saddled and defined the Raiders last season still hovers over the team like an unforgiving and unrelenting stench.

“When I woke up this morning I didn’t think this is how the day would go,” Raiders tight end Zach Miller said.

The Raiders thought they had moved beyond this type of performance.

They thought they had turned the corner from being one of worst organizations in the league and had become a legitimate playoff contender. That is one of the reasons why the Raiders pranced around in T-shirts predicting they’d win the AFC West this year.

However, as they fly across the country Sunday night, the Raiders must realize that true NFL turnarounds occur on the playing field, not in the draft room or on the training-camp practice field.

It was only one game, but the 2010 Oakland Raiders look more like the 2003-09 Raiders, who lost 11 or more games for a record seven straight seasons, than the team Oakland thought it already had become.

After Week 1 of the NFL season, we cannot talk about the addition of a new, effective quarterback or a shiny new draft class that changed the defense. All we can talk about is that the Raiders are now 29-84 since advancing to the Super Bowl in the 2002 season. For now, the misery in Oakland continues.

The complete beating shocked the Raiders and their coaching staff.

Oakland was convinced this season would be different, and maybe it still will be. But there is now a serious dose of doubt that was not present during the offseason.

[+] EnlargeRaiders
Kirby Lee/US PresswireThe defense couldn't stop the Titans as Tennessee put up 24 straight points in the first half.
The Raiders hired the respected Hue Jackson as their offensive coordinator. They traded for Campbell and cut Russell. They had a solid, smart draft. They performed, for the most part, solidly in the preseason.

All systems were go. Until kickoff. Then, the Raiders reverted back to being the same old Raiders.

Oakland’s Yamon Figurs fumbled the opening kickoff and the Raiders barely recovered the ball. But it was a sign of things to come. Oakland was sloppy and was outplayed on both sides of f the ball.

The Raiders never truly seemed to be in the game even though they took a 3-0 lead after a Vince Young turnover in Titans’ territory.

Oakland, who compiled some garbage-time yardage after trailing 31-6 after three quarters, had 136 yards of offense in the first half. Tennessee sacked Campbell four times in the first half and batted down three of his passes. He never had time to set up the deep pass and many of his 22 completions came on check-downs. Their longest pass play was for 27 yards and no other went for more than 16 yards.

They were 0-for-7 on third-down conversions in the first half. Starting receivers Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey combined for five catches for 39 yards. Heyward-Bey, the 2009 first-round pick whom Oakland has high expectations for this season, had one catch for 11 yards.

Campbell finished 22 of 37 for 180 yards. He looked hesitant and didn’t appear to completely trust his line, which was anchored by rookie center Jared Veldheer, a converted tackle. Campbell fumbled twice, losing one deep in Oakland territory. His one interception was nearly brought back for a touchdown.

Campbell wasn’t Russell. But he wasn’t Jim Plunkett circa 1980, either. Oakland owner Al Davis compared Campbell’s arrival to Plunkett’s arrival -- which sparked a title in the 1980 season. Jackson is supposed to revive an offense that scored only 17 touchdowns last season. Yet, the Raiders, who were penalized 10 times for 77 yards, didn’t score their lone touchdown Sunday until 9:58 remained in a blowout.

“We’re not proud of how we played today,” Campbell said. “I thought they were more detailed today than we were … it’s deflating.”

Defensively, the Raiders gave up too many big plays. While Oakland did a decent job of stopping rushing king Chris Johnson at times, he ended up with 142 yards in 27 carries. He had a 76-yard touchdown run and the Titans also had a 56-yard passing play for a score.

To his credit, Oakland coach Tom Cable -- who will once again be the subject of hot-seat talk if this type of play continues -- was clearly perturbed. Cable has earned a reputation for being an eternal optimist in his tenure as Oakland’s coach. Cable, who is now 9-20 as the Raiders’ head coach, didn’t paint a rosy picture Sunday.

“I’m very disappointed in this one game,” Cable said. “We were very hesitant in all three phases early in the game, and never seemed to get out of it.”

Again, it’s only one game, but it’s painfully obvious to Oakland that it is not out of the abyss yet.

Reviewing the Raiders vs. 49ers

August, 29, 2010
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Random thoughts from Oakland’s 28-24 home loss to San Francisco on Saturday night:
  • The Raiders had some injury scares. Quarterback Jason Campbell suffered a stinger after being sacked and running back Michael Bush broke his left thumb. Campbell is expected to be OK to play in the season opener at Tennessee on Sept. 12. Bush is going to see a hand specialist; still the team is hopeful he should be able to play against the Titans.
  • Campbell’s injury looked like it could be a lot worse when it happened. It is another reminder that Oakland’s troubled offensive line needs to improve or Campbell is going to get hammered often.
  • Before he was injured, Campbell played well, leading the Raiders to a touchdown on the opening drive of the game. Campbell was 6-of-8 for 93 yards. It was his second straight solid outing.
  • Bruce Gradkowski may have solidified his role as the No. 2 quarterback over Kyle Boller, who did not play. There is just something about Gradkowski. He is a sparkplug. He came in for Campbell and took the starting offense on his back as he did last year when he spelled JaMarcus Russell. Gradkowski was 14-of-22 for 202 yards with two touchdown passes, including a beautiful a 74-yard touchdown pass to Louis Murphy. Second-year receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey looked solid, catching three passes for 46 yards.
  • Defensively, Oakland wasn’t as strong as it was in its first two games. The run defense continued to be an issue. San Francisco had 165 yards rushing on 33 carries. Frank Gore had a 49-yard run against the defense, which was playing without Richard Seymour. Last week, Chicago’s Matt Forte had an 89-yard run. Tackling has been Oakland’s biggest problem the past few seasons.
  • Oakland has to shore up the run before it meets 2009 rushing champion Chris Johnson on opening day. The Raiders didn’t have a sack against the 49ers after registering 12 sacks in the first two games.
  • There were some bright spots on defense and rookie middle linebacker Rolando McClain and safety Michael Huff both made several plays.
Some early AFC West notes to digest:

The San Francisco Chronicle suggests backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski’s spot on the 53-man roster could be in jeopardy. I’d be surprised. Gradkowski is beloved by his coaches and teammates. I just don’t believe he would lose a spot on this team because of an injury. He was too valuable last season when he played.

Meanwhile, in the same article, the Darrius Heyward-Bey “fatigue” issue is being addressed. A lot has been made of this issue this week. Heyward-Bey missed four days of practice because his coach, Tom Cable, said his legs are tired after a long offseason and training camp. It’s a tad strange because every player in the league works hard. I’m going to withhold judgment on this one. But if it continues, it could be an issue. The Raiders are counting on Heyward-Bey whether he’s tired or not.

The rumors persist that the Detroit Lions will make a play for Kansas City holdout safety Jarrad Page. I can’t imagine why the Chiefs would object to a trade if the price is decent. The Chiefs simply don’t care about Page’s holdout. They are moving forward at safety without him.

Meanwhile, Kansas City owner Clark Hunt is in favor of the league adopting an 18-game schedule. Why wouldn’t he? All owners want it. More games, more money.

The San Diego Union-Tribune has an interesting story on how the defensive backs in San Diego feel better without Antonio Cromartie. I often heard Cromartie was a troublesome influence in the Chargers’ secondary room. Combine his inconsistency and his off-field demeanor and it’s easy to see why the Chargers feel better about Cromartie being a New York Jet.

The Broncos are reportedly close to signing the little brother of standout linebacker D.J. Williams.

AFC West hot seat

November, 16, 2009
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We’re putting Oakland rookie receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey on the hot seat.
Heyward-Bey

Heyward-Bey


It’s this simple: The guy has to improve. He has started nine NFL games. Not only is Heyward-Bey, taken with the No. 7 overall pick, is not helping Oakland win, but he is starting to cost Oakland games.

Heyward-Bey had two major drops Sunday. The first was at the Kansas City 2-yard line on a perfect pass from JaMarcus Russell before he was benched. The second was in the final moments of the game that turned into an interception and a 16-10 Kansas City win.

Heyward-Bey drops have been well documented. The Raiders have to stick with the speedy receiver. But he has to pay back the team by finding a way to keep his hands on the ball.

Raiders news and notes

August, 19, 2009
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

While covering the Chiefs' camp, I have kept up to date to what has been happening in Oakland.

According to an NFL source, Oakland receiver Chaz Schilens was set to have surgery on his broken foot Wednesday. He broke the foot in practice Tuesday. Schilens, the Raiders' No. 1 receiver, is expected to be out 6-8 weeks.

However, these types of injuries can often linger. The Raiders will miss Schilens no matter how long he will be out. He was having an excellent training camp.

Meanwhile, top pick Darius Heyward-Bey will be asked to step it up with Schilens out. Heyward-Bey's hands have become an issue again. He dropped at least five passes in the two practice days against San Francisco.

The Oakland Tribune reports that the Raiders' offense struggled mightily against the 49ers' defense on Wednesday. Oakland quarterback JaMarcus Russell was intercepted three times. San Francisco cornerback Dre' Bly said it was "total domination."

What does this mean? Not much. The Raiders' offense and Russell had a bad day. No big deal if improvements are made. But this did make Saturday's preseason game between the two teams more interesting.

Rookie safety Mike Mitchell's hamstring injury could potentially endanger his chances of playing in the regular season opener.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Here is a fairly entertaining clip of the recent Upper Deck NFL rookie touchdown dance contest.

The contest was won by Denver top pick, running back Knowshon Moreno. The Georgia product lumber jacked is way to the title. I'm sure we'll see Moreno, the No. 12 overall pick, display his dance at some time during his rookie season.

Other AFC West rookies, Darrius Heyward-Bey of Oakland and Tyson Jackson of Kansas City, also appear in the clip.

 
  Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
  Rookie Darrius Heyward-Bey practiced with the Raiders for the first time Friday.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Oakland's Darrius Heyward-Bey and JaMarcus Russell -- two people whose NFL futures are directly tied to one another --- met for the first time Thursday night.

The two took the field Friday and Russell, the third-year quarterback, threw passes for the first time to Heyward-Bey, the team's surprise first-round pick who must fight criticism that he was inconsistent in college.

"He's a cool guy," Russell said of his first impression of the speedy Heyward-Bey. "He's going to open a lot of eyes."

Russell better hope so.

This is a critical season for Russell. He must make strides in his second full season as a starter. Russell must become more consistent, efficient and a better field general, but also needs better production from his receivers. Oakland's leading wide receiver, Johnnie Lee Higgins, had 22 catches last season.

That's where Heyward-Bey, who was working with the starting unit Friday, comes in. Heyward-Bey became a national draft day story when he was chosen three spots ahead of top receiver prospect Michael Crabtree, who went three slots later to Bay Area rival San Francisco.

The book on Heyward-Bey is he may need some seasoning before he can be considered a top-flight NFL receiver. Oakland selected him with the No. 7 pick, about 15 spots higher than many expected.

There is no questioning Heyward-Bey's potential. He has off-the-charts speed and size. He has a chance to be very good. The big question in Oakland is if Heyward-Bey can develop quickly.

"We'll see if its year one or year two," Heyward-Bey said. "The thing is if I can stay healthy. If I stay healthy, I will produce."

The Raiders had to be happy with the first day with Heyward-Bey wearing the silver and black.

Not only was his blazing speed on display, but so were his hands. Russell said Heyward-Bey was "sure-handed."

  Praise for Heyward-Bey
  NFL.com Video
  Find out how Raiders rookie WR Darrius Heyward-Bey was able to impress QB JaMarcus Russell during minicamp.

His hands were a concern for teams leading up to the draft, but he showed proper technique and hauled in several tough throws Friday morning.

Oakland coach Tom Cable's joy over Heyward-Bey was on full display after the morning session Friday. Cable almost had an I-told-you-so attitude regarding his new player, who he calls a "brilliant young man." Cable said Heyward-Bey will "keep proving" his reputation for having poor hands "isn't true."

"He's going to be a really fine player," said Cable, who admitted he tiring of having to justify the selection.

Heyward-Bey said he understands the criticism but is undeterred. He said he is determined to show that Oakland made a "great pick."

Heyward-Bey said he feels no extra pressure from being picked higher than Crabtree. He knows there will be weekly comparisons between the two, beginning when the Raiders and 49ers meet in the preseason.

"We're not like Kobe and LeBron yet, comparing our stats," Heyward-Bey said with a chuckle. "All I'm worried about is learning this playbook and making this team."

Heyward-Bey said he learned a lesson during the morning session Friday while being covered by Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.

Asomugha said Heyward-Bey's eyes led him to the ball and allowed him to break up the pass. The cornerback said he plans to talk to Heyward-Bey about the nuances of not letting a cornerback know the ball is coming his way.

"I knew I wasn't in college anymore," Heyward-Bey said of the play.

Neither is Russell, who had an uneven first practice. Cable said Russell's play Friday ranged from "OK to very good."

Earlier this offseason, Cable said he wants to see Russell take more of a leadership role. Friday, Cable reiterated it. He said that Russell is making strides as a leader, but he "isn't there yet."

Russell needs to make big strides this season and Heyward-Bey was drafted to help him get better. There is no doubt they are in this together.

"We have to keep working," Heyward-Bey said. "We have to make a connection."

Update: Heyward-Bey lived up to his reputation for having bad hands on Saturday. He dropped three straight passes. Clearly, he does have improvements to make in that area.

Sound off responses

April, 30, 2009
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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.

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