Anyone who has read my last two or three articles knows I am a big fan of Chaz Schilens and I expect him to solidify the number one receiver spot for the Oakland Raiders and have a quality year in 2009. Earlier in the week I was watching NFL Total Access on NFL Network as they held a small segment about the Raiders and if the could compete in the AFC West.
Expecting to be bashed against in the media once more, I was pleasantly surprised as Jamie Dukes and Rod Woodson gave their opinions on our football team. Later in the segment they talked about seventh overall pick, Darrius Heyward Bey, and how he is supposed to be a great contributor to the Raiders and quarterback Jamarcus Russell. They voiced their opinions about the pick and Heyward-Bey's questionable hands and how Heyward-Bey would struggle. All I was thinking was "Why do they think we are going to be so dependant on DHB when we have Higgins and Schilens who showed a lot of promise at the end of the year."
Then I remembered to myself, it is because Heyward-Bey is a controversial first round pick and Schilens is a late round pick who some might not even know, let alone know what he can do. So I decided to talk about why I and a lot of my friends who are also Raiders fans like Schilens so much.
Let me get the obvious out of the way now. Schilens is the prototypical WR who fits this offense to a tee. At 6'4", 225 lbs, Schilens is going to make his presence known just by stepping on the field. With a big body like that some would think that his speed is not so hot. Well think again as Schilens runs a 4.38 and some believe he has run faster than that. That hot enough for you?
During his time as a starter he showed reliable hands catching balls not only thrown right to him, but also passes outside of his body. This will be a huge asset as Russell grows as a quality passer.
Usually, seventh round picks have a hard enough time making the football team let alone getting a chance to be a starter whether it is in the beginning or the end of the season. The most recent player I can think of who has done that for their respective team is Marques Colston of the New Orleans Saints and he has done well so far. Though not a starter until mid-season, Schilens was given playing time in the early weeks of the season, otherwise known as the end of the Kiffin era.
One of Tom Cable's first noticeable moves was benching WR Ronald Curry in favor of Schilens. Unfortunately injuries would hurt his production as a starter, but as soon as he was healthy he showed his potential as we saw in the last two weeks of 2008.
Though they are hard to find unless you visit Raiders.com often, if you ever get a chance to hear Schilens do an interview you can tell he has a very good head on his shoulders. In a NFL era of flashy wide receivers, Schilens does not give the persona of a T.O. or Chad Johnson. He speaks very clearly and you can see his humility. Though it is early in his career I expect that to be a characteristic of his for a long period of time. The Raiders have had their character issues at the WR position before, lets hope Schilens is a breath of fresh air.
Tom Cable noticed a lot of good things about his young wide-out, one of them being his run blocking. Every time I saw a big run by one of our running backs number 81 was right behind them. In Week Two against Kansas City when Mcfadden ran for a 20-yard Touchdown, Schilens was the closest and the first to congratulate his teammate. In Week 16 against the Texans as Higgins returned a punt for a score, again there was Schilens. Finally in Week 17 as Michael Bush ran for the 67-yard touchdown, it was the seventh round pick there to help along the way.
The "What If" Factor!
Im not the type to play Madden on PS3 and expect what I do on the game to show up on Sundays. But when I played with Schilens I did get to thinking. It was 28-7 in the fourth quarter as I was playing a friend of mine in the famous video game. I threw to Schilens in a curl route as he broke not one but two tackles and broke away for a 63 catch and run for a score. Then the next offensive drive I would pass the ball to number 81 five times each for first downs and a score. Making other big play with Miller and Mcfadden I would win the game 34-28.
There is no reason Schilens can't do those types of things in reality as he has the physical and mental tools to make plays for us. Im not saying he is going to be on SportsCenter every week, but expect some big plays to made.
Last but not least, his number of course. Im not saying he is going to be the next Tim Brown because I say no to drugs. But tell me what you were thinking when you saw the new 81 run in for a touchdown against the Texans. What were you thinking when you read about how Schilens was the best wide-out on the roster in OTA's.
You mean to tell me that the great Timmy B. didn't cross your mind not once?
C'mon we can all dream right?