Why the Raiders Don't Need Michael Crabtree
That is basically what the Raiders' offseason seems like when discussing the draft. Last year it was McFadden this, McFadden that: “He’s gonna be great,” “He could really help the Oakland offense,” were a few of the things said.
This season? More of the same: “Michael Crabtree is the next Larry Fitzgerald,” “Michael Crabtree can help the Raiders' offense.”
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Quick question, though: If McFadden was supposed to help the offense so much, why didn’t he? Why, then, should we expect Crabtree to deliver?
Taking wide receivers is a very risky thing to do, especially in the first round.
Have a discussion with people you know, and they’ll throw some nice names out, like Braylon Edwards, Reggie Wayne, and Jerry Rice to name a few. But I would bet they haven’t heard of names like Kevin Dyson, Yatil Green, and Reidel Anthony.
They all have something in common, though: They were all first round picks in the NFL draft at the wide receiver position.
If you look at the leaders of this past season in receptions, yards, and touchdowns, you’ll see that about half of the top 10 consists of first round draft picks and the other half the opposite. You’ll even find some undrafted names like Lance Moore and Wes Welker.
I think we should get a recent history lesson, though. Let’s review the first round wide receivers taken in this decade and see the percentage of those who are deemed successful compared to those who are not:
Format: Where They Were Drafted in the First Round/Player’s Name
4—Peter Warrick; 8—Plaxico Burress; 10—Travis Taylor; 21—Sylvester Morris; 29—Jay Soward
The only good first round wide receiver in 2000 was Plaxico.
He was one out of five (20 percent); that was successful.
8—David Terrell; 9—Koren Robinson (good but not ninth-overall good, not even close), 15—Rod Gardner; 16—Santana Moss; 25—Freddie Mitchell; 30—Reggie Wayne
Two players worthy of where they were drafted out of six: 33.3 percent. Not very successful.
13—Donte Stallworth; 19—Ashlie Lelie; 20—Javon Walker
While these guys have had some decent years, can you say they’ve all been worth being picked in the first round? No better than Deion Branch, Antwaan Randle-El, or Antonio Bryant, all picked later in the draft. Zero for three for zero percent.
2—Charles Rogers; 3—Andre Johnson; 17—Bryant Johnson
Yet another case of 33.3 percent success of the wide receivers.
3—Larry Fitzgerald; 7—Roy Williams; 9—Reggie Williams; 13—Lee Evans; 15—Michael Clayton; 29—Michael Jenkins; 31—Rashaun Woods
I remember this draft well because it was loaded with wide receiver talent. Although the verdict is out on some, Fitzy, Evans, and Jenkins were worth where they were picked.
Some of you were probably caught off guard with my omission of Roy Williams, but if you look, he really has had only one good year. Arguably, of course. So three for seven for this year (43 percent).
3—Braylon Edwards; 7—Troy Williamson; 10—Mike Williams; 21—Matt Jones; 22—Mark Clayton; 27—Roddie White
Here we have two for six, so another 33.3 percent success rate.
Wide receivers take time to develop, so I will refrain from doing anything past 2005, due to unfairly judging these players before they’ve had an opportunity for success.
As you can see, we did not have one year where the good wide receivers were above 50 percent of the total drafted. Would you consider it risky to draft a wide receiver in the first round? I would say so.
With this in mind, let’s take a quick look at Crabtree, a wide receiver many believe the Raiders will pick come April 25: He put up fantastic numbers in two years at Texas Tech, he has great hands...
Oops, I’m starting to run out of good things to say about him. So let’s try the opposite:
He has only two years of experience (yes, I mentioned it before). He played in the Big 12, but while the Big 12 is a formidable conference, it's not known for its defensive prowess. Combine that with Crabtree being slow off the line of scrimmage and his 4.5 in the 40-meter...well, it's not a very good thing.
Thirdly, he can't get separation from the opposition, which will be much harder to do in the NFL.
Lastly, Crabtree came from a system. Sure, you don’t need a system to help you catch the ball, but when you’re asked to run limited routes and you have a lot of open field due to things being spread out, your chances of success are greater.
The Raiders run nothing that resembles a spread offense.
As you can see, the negatives outweigh the positives. I could be wrong, of course, but I like my chances. So why draft him?
Sure, the Raiders need a little help at wide receiver, but they have a young Schillens, who is showing he could be a late-round diamond (yes, seventh round), and Higgins, who has shown he can also produce (maybe not Pro Bowl talent, but produce nonetheless).
Javon Walker is there as well; he's a No. 1 guy (if he can stay healthy). They also have one of the most promising pass-catching tight ends in the league in Zach Miller.
So what’s the need for a guy who has "bust" written all over him?
If wide receiver was the only position the Raiders needed to fill, I could easily see them taking Crabtree. But this team needs many things, and wide receiver isn't one of them. And since the defense can’t ever get off the field, the offense is obsolete anyway.
Drafting Crabtree is the type of thing that hinders the Raiders' chance of success year in, year out. Al Davis has done a good job this offseason by not spending absurd amounts of money, restructuring older contracts, and addressing needs.
We can only hope he changes his drafting ways as well come April.
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