Speed Kills: The Story of the Oakland Raiders

Rob FetterContributor IApril 26, 2009

ALAMEDA, CA - SEPTEMBER 30:  Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis speaks during a press conference to announce the firing of head coach Lane Kiffin of the Oakland Raiders at thier training facility on Septemer 30, 2008 in Alameda, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)


In football they say that speed kills, and right now it’s speed that is killing the Oakland Raiders. Unfortunately for the franchise Al Davis seems to be too slow to realize that everyone in the NFL is fast and some things are more important than how fast someone can run the 40.

The Raiders have been known for surprising people with their first-round picks, but this year they have outdone even themselves. By picking Darrius Heyward-Bey with Michael Crabtree still sitting on he board, they have continued to showoff why they are such a mess, and continue to erase what was a great tradition and at one point the most winning team in all of sports.

I will be honest, that this season I watched one Maryland game, so I am not a Darrius Heyward-Bey expert, but from the one game that I did watch, I didn’t walk away with any notable memories of a spectacular player at Maryland.

After watching all I could find of him on YouTube, I recognize what everyone else already seemed to know, he’s fast. He seems to be a guy that can make big plays, and looks as if he can develop into a tremendous second receiver in the NFL. However, to me I don’t look at him and see a clear No. 1 receiver as the world could see in Michael Crabtree.

There are so many problems with the pick that I don’t even know where to begin. To start with, if he’s that high on your board, just trade down and pick him up later at a cheaper price. Don’t even worry about getting fair value for moving down, just trade down for a third rounder so you won’t have to pay him as much.

Last year the Raiders offense was anemic, struggling to find their way into the endzone. It seemed as if the only time the Raiders were able to punch the ball into the endzone was on big game breaking plays.

This could be where you look and say well, DHB is a perfect fit, since he can deliver some of those game breaking plays with his speed, but the problem is that the Raiders already had him in Johnny-Lee Higgins.

A flash of a wide receiver who can also help in the return game, so now what the Raiders have are two great speed receivers with no one to be that dependable go to guy at wide receiver.  

Last season Jonny-Lee Higgins was the Raiders leading receiver with 22 catches, which is about what it seems you can expect from DHB. Looking at the stats, Heyward-Bey was a guy that had some big games, with 11 catches against Wake Forrest, but averaged under four catches per game including two games with zero catches, and no multiple touchdown gmes.

On the flipside the Raiders had the opportunity to grab that clear go to receiver in Michael Crabtree who averaged over eight catches and two touchdowns per game.

Crabtree could have been that receiver that helped turn the tide on the lack of scoring for the Raiders as with his size and speed could have turned some of those redzone fieldgoals into touchdowns, especially considering that last season he only had two games without touchdown catches.

Crabtree could have been a difference maker for the Raiders offense, but instead they got more of the same, more speed. If Al Davis was working on building a college team, or a track team he’d probably do pretty well, but as for the NFL some things are more important than speed, and those are the things that you need to win football games, and that’s what the Raiders lack.