The former Richmond Spider, Armand Shields, a personal favorite, garnered some attention earlier at this years combine, posting good numbers and impressing the Oakland Raiders enough to make them select him in the fourth round (125th overall).
Oakland pulled the trigger, despite Shields missing preliminary work with the Raiders this offseason due to nagging lower-body injuries, including three straight weeks with a sore knee and then again with a hamstring.
Not a surprise considering his time away from football.
Although Shields missed all but one game his senior year after tearing a knee ligament, he signed a contract today, officially making him a Raider.
With what seems like a lot of depth at the position (especially compared to last year), why would the Raiders waste time and money on a guy who would seem to have so many durability issues?
Granted, he’ll likely be a project and a contributor on special teams, but Shields has serious potential to be an invaluable "move the chains" type of guy.
Like Ronald Curry.
A little TOO much like Ronald Curry for some.
Both players have a history of injuries, and though Shields is strong, has decent speed, can run great routes, and has excellent hands, he doesn’t have Curry’s burst and isn’t very explosive.
He’s not likely to run away from faster DBs, isn’t a great leaper, and he needs to learn to fight for the ball more.
So again, why bother?
Shields may never be the "X" man, but his production at Richmond showed that he has the potential to be a solid contributor at the NFL level.
In 2005, Shields was part of an explosive Spider offense that racked up nearly 5,000 yds, averaged 381.3 yds a game, and scored 349 points.
Including five 100+-yard games, Shields hauled in an impressive 62 grabs for 842 yds and four TDs to finish the year.
In '06, he started 10 games, but missed the finale with an injury.
Despite this, he ranked 29th in the country with an average of 5.4 catches per contest, including eight passes per game in the last 3 in which he participated.
Then came the knee injury during game one of his senior year.
It seemed the one teammates called "Spiderman" would fall off teams' radars completely.
But then came the combine.
Shields showed he was in good enough shape for the event in a big way, posting in the top 10 of all seven categories for receivers.
With serious skills already, and the potential to add muscle with new strength coach Brad Roll (like Curry has this offseason), Shields seems a gamble worth taking.
Shields fits the mold for not only at wideout this year, but for most of the Raiders team in '08.
Boom or bust.
If he stays healthy and isn’t forced into heavy rotation right away, I see not only boom, but "KA-BOOM"!
Shields has the potential to help out if the Raiders' run-game stalls on third downs and, more importantly, in the red zone.
There's a lot of work to do before anointing Shields super-hero status, but he has the potential to become a valuable cog. But, like most of Oakland's receiving corps, only if he can stay healthy.