Oakland Raiders Free Agency: Al Davis Needs to Only Consider These 3 Receivers
That is my rule but there are always exceptions.
Sidney Rice, Santonio Holmes, and Vincent Jackson are big time exceptions.
Turn the page to sort it all out.
Fred Biletnikoff, Tim Brown, and Jerry Rice were the only true number one receivers the Raiders have ever had. Biletnikoff is the only one the Raiders ever won a Super Bowl with as he was the MVP of the game itself to end the 1976 season.
Cliff Branch was a great receiver but he was still mostly a deep threat, not a guy you target on third and 6. For such occasions, the Raiders had tight ends like Dave Casper, Raymond Chester, and Todd Christensen during Branch's days.
Hue Jackson has brought the vertical attack back to Oakland and Pro Bowl tight end Zack Miller is set for third and 6 situations. The Raiders have also used running backs like Charlie Smith, Marcus Allen, and now Darren McFadden/Marcel Reese for such situations.
Otherwise, the Raiders are known for power running and throwing the ball deep off of play action. Many say the game is different and you can't play that way anymore but that isn't true.
Former Raider head coach Tom Cable had his zone blocking, west coast offense and the 2009 result was the No.31 ranking in total offense. Jackson brought his power run and vertical scheme in to fit the Raiders' power run and vertical personnel and the total offense improved to No. 10 in just one year.
My point is that you can still run the vertical offense if the personnel fits the scheme. The Raiders are but a great left tackle away but that is another article so back to the receiver position.
The Raiders have everything they need to make the vertical offense work.
First Round Deep Threat: Darrius Heyward-Bey
A lot of money has been invested in Darrius Heyward-Bey.
I do not think for one minute that he should have been picked in the first round but I do want to see it through with him. I originally wanted him to be waived or take a pay cut in attempt to keep Nnamdi Asomugha but that isn't necessary.
Heyward-Bey's contract was extremely front loaded so the Raiders have plenty of room now. Plus the financial damage was already done so Mr. Davis might as well ride it out to see what he is worth.
The money invested here alone is reason enough not to bring in a high priced fee agent.
Ready to Go: Louis Murphy
Louis Murphy is the real 2009 first round receiver the Raiders have in the fold to make plays. In 2009, Murphy showed himself to be a big time play maker in the clutch.
Despite having the worst quarterback in the NFL, Murphy had a decent rookie campaign. He ended up with 34 catches, for 531 yards, four touchdowns, and a 15.3 yards per catch average.
In 2010, Murphy was on pace for a 1,000-yard season before injuring his shoulder, making it hard for him to raise his arms to catch the ball. A couple of drops while trying to battle the injury led to Raider Nation attacking his ability to catch the ball.
Are you ready for the truth?
Murphy had 41 catches and dropped only three footballs in 2010 with the injury included. That's a drop percentage of only 6.7 percent for the for the big play wideout.
To let you know what kind of company he's in, Andre Johnson has a drop percentage of 6.5. Murphy is only known to have 4.45 40 speed but ran at the combine with an injured ankle.
He is every bit among the fastest players in the NFL as he leave defenders behind in games.
Another Deep Threat Ready to Break Out: Jacoby Ford
Jacoby Ford looked to have some number one receiver potential in 2010. He came through with so many big time catches in moments that the Raiders needed someone to make a play.
Beyond the clutch, he showed an ability to stretch the field and run after the catch in his rookie campaign. Improvement between years one and two is usually the biggest in a receiver.
Jackson seems to think so.
In an interview on NFL network, he said, "He's (Ford) going to be a household name. He only scratched the surface of what he can do." It will be interesting to see what Ford can do for the Raiders in 2011.
Jackson seems to have plans for him.
The Fast Possession Receiver
If Chaz Schilens were able to stay healthy the last couple of years, this article would not have bee written. Schilens has about as much number one receiver ability as any receiver in the NFL.
The man has exceptional hands to catch everything thrown his way and runs great routes. He's 6'4", 225 pounds, runs a 4.33 40-yard dash and can jump as high as any receiver would ever need to.
This combination has led to Schilens to be able to make any type of catch there is to make. Injury is all that has stopped him so far but I'm going out on a limb to say he will be healthy in 2011.
With no surgeries this offseason, Schilens should be good for 2011.
Tight End/ Possession Receiver: Zach Miller
Zach Miller is along the lines of great Raider tight ends like Dave Casper and Todd Christensen. He is a tight end that can be depended on for third down conversions and make big plays down the field.
Miller has been the most consistent offensive weapon the Raiders have had since 2007. He was a Pro Bowler in 2010 so there's no reason to bring in a so called number one receiver with Miller moving the chains.
The track team of receivers the Raiders have will continue to give Miller the room he needs to operate underneath.
#3 Sidney Rice
With the aforementioned receivers to go with the running game, there are only three receivers free agent receivers I would even consider.
Sidney Rice is one of them and he's number three on that list.
He is a deep threat that will simply go up and get the ball no matter how high it is and who's on him. He looked like a man playing with boys as his height, weight, speed, and jumping ability gave opposing defensive backs headaches.
He is number three because of the hip injury he ended up with that cost him a portion of 2010.
#2 Santonio Holmes
Santonio Holmes is another receiver that I would love to go to battle with.
What team wouldn't?
Yeah, he's small.
Yeah, he's fast but not a blazer.
But he has always made plays when his team needed them the most.
A team can always use a player like that!
Holmes has made plenty of clutch catches in his career but the one he made to win the Super Bowl 43 took the cake.
#1 Vincent Jackson
Vincent Jackson is a bully of a receiver!
Isn't that what Hue Jackson is trying to build in Oakland?
Well Jackson is a sub- 4.5 receiver that just so happens to be 6'5", 240 pounds, with a 40-inch vertical leap to go with it. Jackson is every bit as strong as his frame would indicate so jamming him at the line isn't going to work.
In fact, his combination of height, weight, speed, route running, ups, and hands makes him unstoppable.The media was screaming, "DARELL REVIS!" from the roof tops at the end of the 2009 season, listing all the big name receivers he shut down.
Jackson touched up Revis and his Jets with 7 catches for 111 yards.
Nnamdi Asomugha has had his problems with him too!
There are just some guys you can't stop!
Free agency hasn't even started yet so there can still be some cut that intrigue me at the receiver position. However, I can't see any team getting rid of a receiver that stacks up to the three on my list for the Raiders.
I like Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers but he is a Panther right now and will be expensive if he gets free. I like the way Terrell Owens plays but this young, impressionable team needs better leaders than that.
As much as I love Chad Ochocinco, he still belongs to the Bengals and I don't want to give anything to get him. It seems like he may have gone a little too Hollywood and isn't as interested in being the great receiver he was.
Plaxico Burress just got out of jail but the problem is he just got out of jail. It's going to take him a while to get back in the flow and the Raiders have enough projects on the roster.
That leaves me with my big three.
Any one of them is guarranteed make the Raiders better right away, especially Jackson.