While watching these last few days of the free agency frenzy, I was thinking about when our Oakland Raiders will get active. While watching player after player, I was wondering, who are the Raiders going to have as their #1 wide receiver for 2009?
We are currently in the free agency period to be followed by the draft, will the answer come from there, or will it be via a trade, or is the answer already on the current roster? First, let's look at what the Raiders have on their current roster:
- Johnnie Lee Higgins
- Jonathan Holland
- P.K. Sam
- Chaz Schilens
- Arman Shields
- Javon Walker
- Todd Watkins
From that list, only Walker has had experience being a true #1 wideout and at this point we don't even know if he will be with the team past March 5th when his roster bonus comes due. If the Raiders and Walker do not work out a restructuring of their deal he could be gone by next week. Even if the Raiders decide to keep Walker, there are always the concerns with his attitude, motivation and health. He possesses the skill, speed and certainly the salary to be a #1 WR, but can he really be counted on?
Then we have JLH. Though Higgins progressed nicely in 2008 leading the team with 22 receptions for 366 yards and 4 TD's, he seems best suited for the slot. Here's what the scouts think:
He has adequate height with limited bulk and strength. He does not break many tackles or show much strength to the ball in a crowd. He needs a lot of work on his route-running skills because he tends to round his breaks off too much and does not do a very good job of setting defenders up. He looks tentative in his play and needs to work on his release to avoid the press as well as his ability to avoid being re-routed after he gets off the line. He has the tools to improve with work, but he needs to come into camp with an attitude that shows he is confident in his skills.
Chaz Schilens: I love that we got Chaz in the 7th round last year and he came from a small program and came to the NFL and adapted well in his rookie year. Schilens with great measurables at 6-4, 225 lbs and 4.4 speed caught 15 passes for 226 yds and 2 TD's. Schilens and JaMarcus Russell seem to be developing a nice chemistry, but it could be too much to assume that Schilens could be the #1 for 2009.
The rest of the current roster are not candidates for the #1 WR position anfd the two unsigned FA's, Ashley Lelie and Drew Carter, both have issues that would keep them out of the consideration of being the #1 should they even be re-signed in the first place.
Trades: through free agency or trades the choices are not easy because of cost and compensation. Trading for Boldin would cost more in draft choices then the Raiders, in rebuilding mode should be willing to give up. Others would be Terrell Owens, Plaxico Burress or Chad Johnson, #1 capable by skill set, but way too much of a headache to be worth it for a team trying to change its culture.
Free agency: there are some choices that could work and should be considered.
- Laverneous Coles
- Marvin Harrison
- Nate Washington
- Drew Bennett
- Amani Toomer
- Devery Henderson
From the above list only Coles and Harrison are true #1's with Nate Washington having the potential, while any of the others would be nice pick -ups for depth. In Al's mind maybe Harrison would be kind of a Jerry Rice type acquisition, but he has baggage and would be pricey. Coles I like if the price and terms are right but he probably will go to the Dolphins. Nate Washington is still learning the nuances of the game, but has all the skills and potential to become a #1.
From the draft in the order of current scouts top 10 rankings:
- Michael Crabtree
- Jeremy Maclin
- Percey Harvin
- Hakeem Nicks
- Darius Heyward-Bey
- Kenny Britt
- Brian Robiskie
- Juaquin Iglesias
- Derrick Williams
- Brandon Tate
The first 5 on that list are first round talents and could no doubt eventually become their teams #1 wide receivers. While the last five might someday have that potential. Only Crabtree has that "sure thing" tag associated with him, but is he ready to become #1 in his rookie year?
Conclusion: I believe that the Raiders have to draft Crabtree if he is there based soley on his incredible talent. But he may not be ready for #1 in 2009, so the Raiders will have to address their needs through free agency. I hope that they can get Coles or at least Nate Washington because I fear going into 2009 with Javon Walker as the #1.
Alright Nation, what are your thoughts. Who will the Raiders put on the field in 2009 as their #1 wide receiver?