Now that the dust is settling from the rebuilding in 07-08 and the restocking of the off-season I want to take a look at just exactly how upgraded each of our positions are and I chose to start with Wide Receiver.
Last season there was no real number one receiver. Sure there were Jerry Porter, the wannabe number one, or actually the fake/pretend/never was number one, and the converted quarterback and often injured Ronald Curry. Things got so bad that Most of us were seeing Tim Dwight, a career slot receiver, as the number one option until he got hurt.
When the season ended Lane Kiffin pulled Ronald Curry aside and told him about his plans for him going forward. Just exactly what those plans were, nobody knows because the only thing that has not leaked in this organization over the last five years is information. What we do know is that Curry is still here and the fake poseur Porter is gone.
Jerry Porter bolted as soon as he could by joining, my favorite to win the AFC this season, the Jacksonville Jaguars. One would think that this is exactly where Porter would thrive. I mean, after all, he is the next Jerry Rice, Tim Brown or Randy Moss...In His Own Mind. But, alas, Troy Williamson has already passed him up and he may find himself as the third receiver by the time the season starts. I wonder how that will sit with the self proclaimed "Numero Uno".
So, here the team sat, with only Ronald Curry and a bunch of guys with cases of the dropsies (Higgins and McFoy) under contract the Raiders went out and signed two players that INSTANTLY made the team stronger than they were in 2007-08.
They signed the second best receiver available, THAT GUY, Randy Moss was the best, Javon Walker.
On his way out of Denver , his coach, The Rat Himself, proclaimed that Walkerwould need microfracture surgery within a few years. That was seen by me as a way to cover his butt when Javon lights up Denver twice a year. He can always say that Javon was hurt and that his staff informed him that signing him long term would be a mistake. That was such a RAT move.
Now, Javon is here and he refers to the Broncos as THAT team. I LOVE IT!!!
I don't expect the offense to be pass driven this year, on the contrary I see it being more like the Chargers offense in Phillip Rivers' rookie season. I see it as a run first and pass second offense that controls the clock while the defense focuses on forcing turnovers, so all I expect from Javon is 8 TDs and maybe 1,000 yards.
If Russell shows that he can complete 65% of his passes early on, like Kiffin wants, and throw downfield with accuracy, we may see Javon have a break-out season in the second half. But there is NO doubt in my mind that Javon is a better choice as a number one than anyone we've had since THAT guy left before last season.
Also added to the mix is the speedy slot receiver from Carolina, Drew Carter.
Drew Carter replaces Tim Dwight and he has already developed the best chemistry with Russell of anybody on the team. The 13 teams on the Raiders calender had better be on notice because If J-Russ and Carter are on the same page, then they will be going "Up-Top-Jones" at least three times a game. We all know how Mr. Davis loves football's version of the home run and Russell to Carter could be the Raider's version of the Bash Brothers.
Carter, Walker and Curry are the favorites for the three top positions but the team also brought in three more receivers that are sure to provide depth and may even challenge any one of those three for a position and don't forget about Johnnie Lee Higgins who will be returning punts this year.
I have yet to see any of the youngsters with my own eyes, so I really can't say much about them.
I have seen Johnnie Lee and I know that he is a home run threat with a serious case of the drops. His frame and speed make him a great target, especially against some of the smaller nickel and dime backs in the League, but he has to hold onto the ball better.
I do know that Kiffin is very high on the undrafted Todd Wadkins out of BYU and that Chaz Schillens and Armon Shields have some serious speed and that Shields is dedicated to getting healthy and competing for a starting spot, but, we will have to wait until training camp and the first pre-season game against the Niners on the 8th of August to see just how good these players are.
For now, I'd say that last year's recievers performed at a D grade and that this year's squad is looking like a solid B/B+ at this point and that is huge for a QB like JaMarcus Russell who will have NOW multiple options on every passing play.
Other Wide Outs Not Talked about because at this point I don't think they'll make the squad: Johnnie Holland, Morant, McFoy, Will Buchanon.