I talked briefly yesterday about the Oakland Raiders‘ lack of a healthy return threat on the roster. In reality, the Raiders simply missed Jacoby Ford.
Ford is the Raiders’ version of the Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones, who we all saw make a giant impact in Sunday’s Super Bowl. Ford is a shifty receiver who is most effective in the slot and can make a big impact on special teams. In his first two seasons in the NFL, Ford ran four kicks back for scores and averaged 25.3 yards per return, three more yards than Oakland averaged in 2012. He owns the Raiders record for most kick returns in a career, four, and the most in a season, three in 2010.
At his best Ford can be an All-Pro return man, but his injury is concerning. He missed half of 2011 and all of 2012 with a foot injury and if it does not fully heal, then it could pose trouble for Oakland because the injury will affect his speed. In his rookie campaign of 2010, the Clemson product showcased his explosiveness and potential. He caught 25 passes for 470 yards and ran the ball 10 times for 155 yards. However, Ford’s best attribute that season was his more than 1200 return yards and three touchdowns.
It is clear Mike Goodson and Coye Francies are not the return men Ford is and I hope Oakland realizes that as well. The Raiders do need a second quality return man who can fill in for Ford if he were to get hurt again. If he can stay healthy, he will play a crucial role in 2013, but when he was hurt in 2012, it became obvious that the Raiders missed him.