Is Ashley Lelie the New James Jett?

J.C. AyvaziSenior Analyst ISeptember 3, 2008

Perceiving a weakness at the WR position, the Oakland Raiders have retrieved former Bronco and 49er Ashley Lelie from the waiver wire, where he was on his way to oblivion. The reasoning for this is murky at best. 

Hawai'i was a team I followed while Lelie was in school, given that they would be on Fox Sports with a 10 PM West Coast kickoff back then. They were an entertaining nightcap to a football-filled day.

The offense of June Jones, triggered by Timmy Chang, was like watching a Madden game played by kids who had taken a vow not to run the ball. 

Lelie was the top receiver Hawai'i had produced, with 3,341 career receiving yards and 32 touchdowns when he left after his junior year to become the first Hawai'i player drafted in the first round, 19th overall by the Denver Broncos.

A bright NFL career seemed to be on the horizon.

Coach Shanahan could not be blamed for feeling kind of like a donkey after Lelie produced 72 receptions and four touchdowns in his first two seasons. Those are numbers that are not horrible, but they are also nowhere near the production that Denver's rodent-countenanced coach was expecting. Nor were they what the front office was paying for.

Lelie's third season produced 54 receptions, 1,084 yards, and seven TDs, making the Broncos' staff feel that even better things were on the horizon.

That was not to be, as his fourth season saw his production dip to 42—770—1.

He was shipped off to Atlanta, where he was supposed to provide a deep threat for Michael Vick. An oft-injured Lelie posted only a 28—430—1 stat line. Last season, Lelie mostly sat in San Francisco, somehow finding the time to grab 10 balls for 115 yards and zero TDs.

So now, this is the receiver who is going to give JaMarcus Russell a deep option? It is well known that Al Davis loves the deep ball and has spent the last couple of decades looking for another Cliff Branch. 

The trouble is, everyone he brings in who is fast cannot hold onto the ball in any consistent manner, and those who can catch it do not rank among the fleetest in the league, thus making him a worthy successor to James Jett's dubious place in Raider lore.    

It appears Mr. Davis has continued his streak with this acquisition. Even worse, this particular trip to the second, err third, no fourth—FOURTH-hand store may hinder the development of Todd Watkins and Chaz Schilens. 

Both have shown promise in camp and the exhibition games. They could become what the Raiders need at wideout, but they need to be on the field for the team to find out.