Saturday, April 25, 2009

As usual, Raiders think fast in NFL draft and grab speedy receiver Heyward-Bey

You’ve got to hand it to Raiders boss Al Davis. He’s nothing if not consistent. He had his choice of wide receivers with the No. 7 overall pick in the NFL draft, and he took the fastest one, Maryland’s Darrius Heyward-Bey.

Most draftniks had Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree and Missouri’s Jeremy Maclin rated ahead of Heyward-Bey. But when did Davis ever accept the consensus view? Try never.

The way Davis values speed, you’d think he owned a NASCAR team. It’s all about the vertical game in Al’s world. As one of the talking heads on the NFL Network said, Davis is a height-weight-speed guy. In other words, his draft motto might as well be, “In the NFL Combine We Trust.”

Heyward-Bey wasn’t just the fastest wide receiver at the combine. He was the fastest player at any position, clocking a 4.3 for 40 yards. Combine that speed with his great size -- 6-foot-2, 210-pound -- and you have a perfect Raiders pick.

Some have questioned Heyward-Bey’s hands. Some have called him a boom-bust pick, a player who could become a superstar or could break your heart while he breaks the bank.

That’s perfect Al Davis, a man who’s never been afraid to take a risk or go against the tide.

Fortunately for the Raiders, Davis didn’t go too much against tide. The Raiders desperately needed a wide receiver, a go-to guy for quarterback JaMarcus Russell, and Davis grabbed one.

Time will tell if he got the right pass catcher.

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