The Oakland Raiders are known for drafting players with size, strength, speed and play maker ability.
Then there was JaMarcus Russell.
While some of these drafting strategies have failed for quite some time, the silver and black is hoping for big plays during the 2011-2012 season.
Here are my top 5 play-makers for the Raiders in the upcoming 2011-2012 season.
Taiwan Jones has play-maker potential written all over him.
Selected in the fourth round out of Eastern Washington, Jones will be featured as a scat back and be seen on punt returns.
Taiwan had a great night in his first preseason game against the New Orleans Saints. He had electric moves with fantastic cuts and had an explosive 22-yard touchdown run. He led Oakland's rushing attack with 81 yards on 13 attempts. I look to Jones to have a great rookie year and be a key play-maker in Oakland's success this year in complementing feature back Darren McFadden.
Denarius Moore can be the breakout player for the Oakland Raiders during the 2011-2012. He has speed which always fits into the Raiders system. He is very good at going up for the ball and being aggressive in the air. During training camp, the coaches and fans watched in amazement as he tore up the defense on a consistent basis. I look for Moore to be key on third down plays especially with Ford and Heyward Bey stretching the field vertically. Moore can be a weapon on both offense and special teams. Look for Moore to have a great rookie campaign.
I know Janikowski isn't the fastest, athletic or in-shape player on the Raiders but we can all agree that he is a weapon! Sea-bass is one of the biggest play makers for the Raiders. This guy has a leg and everyone knows it. Janikowski is one of two players in NFL history with 2 made field goals of 59 yards or greater (Morten Anderson is the other kicker). Janikowski also has over 1,000 career points for Oakland as well. Not only can Janikowski make 60 yard field goals, he is a monster on kickoffs. Take into consideration the new kickoff rules, Janikowski will be kicking from the 35 yard line which adds 5 more yards on his already deep kickoffs. Oakland will benefit greatly from his leg and will be looking forward to making opponents take a kneel and start from the 20 yard line. Oakland has a secret weapon in Janikowski and he is one of their best play makers in the past decade.
Tyvon Branch is emerging as one of the hardest hitting safeties in the game. Built with size, speed and hitting power, Branch is looking to lead this Oakland defense to be one of the toughest defenses in the NFL. Branch accumulated 81 solo tackles, 104 total tackles, 23 assists, 4 sacks, 1 interception and 1 fumble. I see Branch having a monster year and being one of the biggest play makers for the Raiders this year.
Jacoby Ford is the biggest play maker on this Oakland roster. In his rookie year, he made an impact on both the offensive side of the ball and special teams. Ford has world class speed and is one of the most elusive players in the game. On special teams, Ford 53 returns for 1,280 yards. He averaged 24.2 yards per kickoff return and had 3 kick returns for touchdowns. On offense, Ford had some huge grabs which led to a few of Oakland's wins. Ford had 25 receptions for 470 yards and averaged 18.8 yards per catch! He also had 2 receiving touchdowns with a long of 52 yards. Ford is electric when he is on the field and I see him as the biggest play maker the Raiders have.
Run DMC- Darren is the best offensive weapon the Raiders have. he has the perfect mix of strength and speed.
DHB- Darrius Heyward- Bey has been quite since emerging onto the scene since 2009. I think this will be the year where Bey finally reaches his first round potential and helps Jason Campbell out in the passing game.
Denarius Moore- Moore is a sleeper that most Raider fans will love to see play. He goes up for any catch and fights for those extra yards. I look to Moore as an emerging stud in the future!