Heading into the final year in his contract, 2013 will hold huge significance for Oakland Raiders‘ receiver Jacoby Ford. After being drafted in 2010, Ford has only posted 44 career receptions heading into his fourth year in the NFL. Ford sat out the entire 2012 season after suffering a Lisfranc-injury, an injury he also had in 2011.
Though a shortened 2011, his brief appearance did not leave a great impression on the receiving end, posting: 19 receptions, fumbling twice, caught 57.6 percent of throws and four interceptions occurred when thrown in his direction. What was impressive was one kick-return for 101 yards, while averaging 31.0 yards per return.
Heading into his fourth season, staying healthy and proving he can contribute as more than just as a kick-returner is vital for Ford if he wants to command a decent contract. Coming out of college, Ford posted an impressive 4.28 forty-yard-dash time, the second fastest in combine history. His speed has proven to be deadly so far in his career, averaging 17.0 yards-per-catch and an often target for screen passes.
Above all his other intangibles, is his kick-return prowess. A trait that his outgoing ex-coach Hue Jackson labeled, “the best in the game.” Ford has accumulated four touchdowns overall and had 1,280 return yards in his lone full season of play in 2010.
Many pin Ford as being strictly a return-specialist with little potential on the offensive side. It seems like ancient history when the overzealous ex-coach Jackson vowed that Ford will produce big numbers saying, “Jacoby is gonna become a household name.”
As a receiver, it is very likely Ford could get buried in the depth chart during training camp. With no spots certain for most positions on the team, the WR slots should be up for grabs heading into the preseason. Currently, the Raiders have nine receivers on the roster. Players like: Denarius Moore, Rod Streater and Juron Criner standout as distinct possibilities for the top three wide-outs.
Heading into 2013, Ford is going to have to dazzle this coaching staff like he did with the Jackson regime. With Moore, Streater and Criner progressing, Ford as a slot receiver is an obvious option.
Not too long ago, Ford was emerging as a first-team receiver for Oakland — with a younger and talented crop of players around him — the odds seem against him. One thing is for sure, if healthy, he’s the return man. Four touchdowns in a limited sample size definitely says something.
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