Darrius Heyward-Bey: Time for the Oakland Raiders WR to Have a Breakout Year

Jerome FosterContributor IIIJune 30, 2011

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 3: Wide Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey #85 of the Oakland Raiders is dragged down by linebacker Xavier Adibi #52 of the Houston Texans during an NFL football game October 3, 2010 at The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W, Henderson/Getty Images

It would be an understatement to say that Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey hasn't lived up to the expectations of the seventh overall pick in the 2009 draft.

Heyward-Bey has only caught 35 passes for 490 yards and two touchdowns in his two NFL seasons.

Those numbers are especially terrible when you compare them to the career numbers of the five wide receivers taken in the first round after DHB.

Michael Crabtree (10th overall): 103 catches, 1,336 yards, and eight touchdowns.

Jeremy Maclin (19th overall): 126 catches, 1,737 yards, and 14 touchdowns.

Percy Harvin (22nd overall): 131 catches, 1,658 yards, and 11 touchdowns.

Hakeem Nicks (29th overall): 126 catches, 1,842 yards, and 17 touchdowns.

Kenny Britt: (30th overall): 84 catches, 1,476 yards, and 12 touchdowns.

DHB's numbers even pale in comparison to his teammate, Louis Murphy, who was taken in the third round of that 2009 draft: 75 catches, 1,130 yards, and six touchdowns.

SAN DIEGO - DECEMBER 05:  Darrius Heyward-Bey #85 of the Oakland Raiders is pursued by Larry English #52 of the San Diego Chargers in the second quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on December 5, 2010 in San Diego, California. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 28
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Heyward-Bey's lack of success isn't entirely his fault.

The offensive line has been bad in pass protection. In DHB's two seasons, the Raiders ranked third-worst (49 in 2009) and sixth-worst (44 in 2010) in sacks allowed.

The poor play of the offensive contributed to the poor quarterback play. Oakland ranked in the bottom-third of the league in passing yards per game and quarterback rating.

It would be hard for any receiver to thrive in that kind of situation.

But DHB certainly has to play better.

Last season, rookie wide receiver Jacoby Ford (25 catches, 470 yards and two touchdowns) pretty much matched Heyward-Bey's career stats in one season. Ford was drafted in the fourth round.

If Murphy and Ford can produce those numbers, then DHB should be able to also. Especially when you consider he made $21.5 million last season (more than All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha) and is scheduled to make another $7 million this season.

The time for Heyward-Bey to step up is now. His job depends on it.

Murphy and Ford are improving. Chaz Schilens is good if he can stay healthy. The Raiders drafted former Tennessee wide reciever Denarius Moore and people are excited about his potential. You can't forget about tight end Zach Miller and running back Darren McFadden as receiving options.

Time is running out for Heyward-Bey. If he doesn't improve this season, he will find himself cut from the Raider Nation.