Oakland Raiders wide receiver Denarius Moore in Raiders training camp (photo by Levi Damien)
Happy Cinco De Mayo, everyone. It is only appropriate we talk about wide receivers before I head out to widely receive many festive beverages and Mexican cuisine. The wide receiving corps for the Raiders is a deep one but an incomplete one (so to speak). This team hasn't had a big, jump ball, end zone threat for a while and they are hoping someone will jump up and secure that role in camp.
This group hasn't changed much from last season. Returning are Darrius Heyward-Bey, Louis Murphy, Jacoby Ford, and Denarius Moore. Eddie McGee takes another shot at making the team this year after they signed him as an undrafted free agent last year and placed him on the practice squad last season. Departing are Chaz Schilens and TJ Houshmandzadeh.
Schilens has been project in Oakland for the past few seasons but never panned out. The talented receiver was injured most of his short career and the team finally cut ties with him. Houshmandzadeh was signed last season and replaced a more productive Derek Hagan. But "Whos-your-mama" is not the receiver he once was his career may be coming to a close.
Entering the wide receiver fold are several rookies. The team took Juron Criner out of Arizona with their round five pick and following the draft signed undrafted free agents Thomas Mayo, Rod Streater, and Brandon Carswell.
Here is what the receiver depth charts look like heading into mini camp:
1. Denarius Moore- This rookie phenom showed quickly that he is the best receiver on this team. He has the speed and hands to be a threat to take it the distance on any play.
2. Darrius Heyward-Bey- Had nearly 1000 yards receiving last season. But despite those numbers, he still has a lot of work to do to prove he can be a long term starting wide receiver. He knows this and his work ethic bears this out. I expect, as usual, the first thing we see upon entering the practice field is DHB working on hands drills.
3. Jacoby Ford- One of the fastest players in the NFL in shorts, he could be THE fastest in pads. He also is a vicious ball hawk. This combination make for a fantastic slot receiver.
4. Louis Murphy- Has had some trouble with concentration drops but he has showed enough abilities to warrant a rotational receiver in three and four receiver sets. He is a proven possession receiver with a competitive nature like few others.
5. Eddie McGee- He has all the qualities to be the replacement for the departed Chaz Schilens. Or rather the Chaz Schilens the Raiders always hoped they would have and couldn't get on the field. McGee is a 6-4 former quarterback who came in at 210 but has been packing on muscle. I expect good things from him in camp.
6. Juron Criner- The Raiders round five compensatory pick. He has shown in his college days to have great concentration, body control and leaping ability. He will need it with his 4.68 40 yard dash because he won't be breaking away from any NFL corners.
7. Duke Calhoun- Was waived/injured by the Giants last season and signed as a free agent with the Raiders a week before the draft. He made the Giants squad in 2010 as an undrafted free agent out of Memphis, proving he has the talent to do it. I'm sure not going to count him out in Oakland.
8. *Thomas Mayo- A solid pickup in undrafted free agency who could easily have been taken in the mid/late rounds of the draft. He has great potential as a developmental prospect.
9. *Rod Streater- Speedy (4.5 40-yard dash), 6-2, hands catcher. Always worth taking a shot on that combo. Is a long shot in a deep group but practice squad is a definite possibility.
10. *Brandon Carswell- Very little production at USC. A camp body at this point.
*The Raiders have not yet officially announced their undrafted free agent signings.