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2011 Oakland Raiders: The REAL All-Speed Team

Bradley HarrisonContributor IIAugust 20, 2011

2011 Oakland Raiders: The REAL All-Speed Team

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    We all know that Al Davis loves to draft speed.  Recently, a fellow B/R writer made an "All-Speed Team" for the NFL by identifying the fastest 40 times for players at each (speed-relevant) position.  

    It made me curious: how would the actual 2011 Raiders match up against the All-Speed Team, simply in terms of speed?

    My findings surprised even me: despite a few outliers (Chris Johnson at RB, Vernon Davis at TE, Patrick Willis and MLB) the 2011 Raiders are every bit as fast as the "All-Speed Team."  This slideshow will demonstrate how.   

Wide Receiver

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    Darrius Heyward-Bey  4.30 (Combine*) ^

    Jacoby Ford 4.28 (Combine*) ^

    Chaz Schilens 4.38 (Pro Day)

    Louis Murphy   4.43 (Combine)

    Denarius Moore 4.39 (Pro day)

    Nick Miller 4.37 (Pro Day)

     

     

    Al Davis took a lot of heat for drafting DHB at No. 7 overall, heat that was deserved.  But what people tend to forget is that Heyward-Bey was projected to be a late first- to early second-round pick.  

    Just as people tend to forget that JaMarcus Russell was nearly unanimously identified across the league as the clear-cut No. 1 draft pick when the Raiders took him there.  Russell was an epic bust, and Heyward-Bey is headed in a similar direction (though not nearly as epic).  

    But Al Davis can't take all the blame: both were highly-touted prospects league-wide.  DHB just went about a round too early.  And, given the slow start to Michael Crabtree's career (the guy everyone not named Al Davis said should have been taken at No. 7) we should probably cut the old zombie a little slack.

    But this is the Raiders' receiving corps: by far, from top-to-bottom, the fastest in the league.  Certainly not the best (or anything close), but every single WR on the roster could conceivably be the fastest guy on any number of NFL teams.  

    When Louis Murphy, a track star at the University of Florida, is your slowest receiver, you know it's just a little ridiculous.

    * one of top-10 fastest 40 times in Combine history (since electronic timing in 1999)

    ^ fastest time at the Combine that year

Running Back

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    Darren McFadden 4.33 (Combine)

    Michael Bush n/a (Injured)

    Taiwan Jones 4.33 (Pro Day)

    Michael Bennett 4.13 (Pro Day)

     

    For those of you who may have forgotten: the Raiders have drafted the fastest guy from the NFL Combine in each of the last three years.  

    The cruel irony is that the previous year, while in the market for a play-making running back, Davis passed up the opportunity to "reach" for the second- to third-round RB prospect who set a Combine record that year with a blazing 4.24 40-yard dash time.  

    Granted, the guy he took, Darren McFadden, was pretty fast in his own right.  And he was the guy everyone said should have gone where he went.   

    But that other guy: the undersized small-school project with the ridiculous 40?  The Titans took the heat for that one.  They drafted him toward the end of the first round: way sooner than he was projected to go.  

    Not to mention they had used a first round pick on a RB two years before, and a second-round pick the year before.  Boy: what a stupid move!

    But then, the Chris Johnson "reach" turned out pretty well, huh?  It's too bad Al Davis didn't pull a DHB when Chris Johnson was around.  Which isn't anything against McFadden, who shows all the promise of a young stud (when healthy).  But there isn't a person on earth who would take him over Chris Johnson today.  

    Still, even without Chris Johnson, the Raiders' backfield has as much speed as any backfield not in Tennessee. 

    Even their journeyman fourth RB had, at a younger age, legendary speed.  

Fullback

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    Marcel Reece 4.42 (Pro Day)

     

    Sure: FB isn't exactly a speed-relevant position.  At least in most offenses.  But Reece, a former WR, showed last year that his speed can in fact be a weapon, even from the FB position.  

    Most of his offense came from the passing game, but with great hands and the fastest feet at FB in the league, Marcel Reece is actually a pretty dangerous weapon.

Tight End

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    Kevin Boss 4.71 (Pro Day)

    David Ausberry 4.48 (Pro Day)

    Richard Gordon 4.66 (Pro Day)

    Brandon Myers 4.78 (Pro Day)

     

    Nothing absurd here.  No Vernon Davis-esque speed.  But above-average speed across the board.  Of special note here is rookie David Ausberry, a converted WR who not only possesses great size at 6'4 230, but would have above-average speed for a receiver.  

    If he can manage to learn TE well, he'll be among the fastest in the league.

Cornerback

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    Damarcus Van Dyke 4.28 (Combine*) ^

    Stanford Routt 4.29 (Combine*) 

    Chris Johnson n/a 

    Jeremy Ware 4.37 (Pro Day) 

    Chimdi Chekwa 4.38 (Combine) 

    Walter McFadden 4.39 (Pro Day)

     

    I don't have Johnson's 40 time because I couldn't find it.  It was a while ago, and he spent a lot of time on practice squads before earning the role he currently has.  But he's not slow.  I assure you that.

    In the 2011 draft, the Raiders selected the fastest guy from the Combine for the third year in a row with Demarcus Van Dyke.  And while critics rolled their eyes at the selection, DVD has looked surprisingly good so far.  Granted: it's too early to draw conclusions.  But he's off to a great start.

    Like the receiving corps, there is no weak link in this CB chain.  Well, at least not speed-wise.  Walter McFadden is really bad in coverage.  But he'd still be the fastest corner on a lot of teams.  

     

    * one of top-10 fastest 40 times in Combine history (since electronic timing in 1999)

    ^ fastest time at the Combine that year

Safety

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    Strong Safety:

    Tyvon Branch 4.31 (Combine) [second fastest that year after only Chris Johnson’s 4.24] 

    Mike Mitchell 4.39 (Pro Day) 

    Jerome Boyd 4.50 (Pro Day)

     

    Free Safety:

    Michael Huff 4.34 (Combine) 

    Stevie Brown 4.51 (Pro Day)

     

    Man, Stevie Brown is slow!  Fortunately, the guy can play football.  But with Branch and Huff hawking balls, there's no reason for anyone to be able to throw over the top against the 2011 Raiders.  

    It'll happen, because neither guy is especially great in coverage.  But at least they'll be able to catch up with whoever blows past them.   

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