Oakland Raiders: Early Stat Projections for the Wide Receivers
The group of wide receivers in Oakland is both exciting and frustrating.
Speedy receivers Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore have not been able to stay on the field long enough for the Raiders to discover an identity in the air, but provide hope for a special passing game in 2012.
Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp is installing an entirely new offense, and the receivers will have to adjust to changing roles. Darrius Heyward-Bey is now a veteran receiver and will be expected to fill that role for the younger players.
Hype tends to grip fans at this time of year, and these stat projections will either confirm that hype or temper some of the expectations headed into training camp.
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Murphy isn't a lock to make the roster, but his experience wins out for the purposes of projecting stats for 2012.
Murphy has actually been fairly consistent producer throughout his career. He has averaged 2.1, 2.9 and 1.4 receptions per game and about 15 yards per reception during his time in the league.
It's opportunities that have dictated Murphy's stat totals. Those opportunities dried up last season, largely due to the breakout year by Darrius Heyward-Bey and emergence of Denarius Moore.
A healthy Murphy with ample opportunity could see stats well upwards of this projection, but don't count on him getting that opportunity.
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One of two rookies that have shined during offseason workouts, Criner has shown his ability to get open in traffic and to fight for the ball at the highest point. He has good size, strength and hands, which should force the coaching staff to figure out how to get him on the field.
Criner was highly productive in college and had nearly 7 receptions per game over the last two years with 2200 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns.
It's tough to translate college production in the pros, but he should be the complement the other receivers need and his skills will be helpful to the Raiders in the red zone.
Criner could also find himself as the slot receiver if Ford has any healthy issues.
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Streater's best chance at playing time will be if Denarius Moore continues to have injury problems. The Raiders would prefer to keep Ford in the slot, and if Streater keeps performing he'll have the opportunity as the injury replacement for Moore.
Streater is similar to the Raiders' rookie sensation from last season, and it wouldn't be a stretch to suggest Streater's rookie production might be similar to Moore's on a per game basis.
It isn't likely that Streater will be given the same amount of opportunities as Moore was, but he still has the makings of a productive backup to start.
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Ford might be the most difficult receiver to project in 2012. He had a promising rookie season followed by an injury-plagued 2011.
The former Clemson receiver managed to grab 19 passes in just eight games in 2011. His average yards per catch was down, but that's to be expected for a player that can bust a long one at any time.
Expect Ford's production to roar back and for him to be heavily involved in the offense. An improvement on his receptions is likely, but his average yards per catch should come down a little because of the west coast offense.
It might not be the breakout everyone is expecting, but Ford will also be a weapon in the return game and 650 yards is respectable.
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Expectations are sky-high for Moore in 2012. After a stellar but injury-shortened rookie year, he is expected to be the top receiving option for the Raiders.
Moore, while good in 2011, tended to disappear in games and go long stretches without catching a pass.
He ended up catching almost three passes per game once he established himself as the starter opposite Darrius Heyward-Bey.
The projections take into account that Moore may not be healthy for the entire season, but over 1000 yards and 10 touchdowns is not out of the question if he does stay healthy for 16 games.
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Darrius Heyward-Bey finally emerged from the shadows to lead the Raiders in receptions and yardage in 2011. His hard work and dedication to getting better as a receiver showed and he enters 2012 as the starting split end.
Despite a breakout 2011 campaign, Heyward-Bey is likely to see some regression in 2012. The Raiders have more weapons at receiver and Greg Knapp likes to run. There just wont be as many opportunities for him in 2011.
His chemistry with Carson Palmer should keep him towards the top in targets, and he has a chance to hold off Moore as the Raiders' top receiving option depending on injuries.