One thing that knowledgeable NFL fans and analyst could agree with regards to the Oakland Raiders, as run by the late Al Davis and that is through the draft or free agency, to expect the unexpected. I mean, this is a franchise that drafted a kicker in the first round of the draft. A kicker. No offense to Sebastian Janikowski, but no one, fan, head coach or skill-position player thinks much of kickers. Al Davis did. As a result, that 11th overall pick in the 2000 draft is still active on the Raiders roster and his is considered to have one of the strongest kicking legs in the league.
As wacky as a kicker going with first-draft pick my sounds, for Davis, it wasn’t wasn’t a one time thing. The man that embodied the phrase, “Commitment to Excellence” looked for other qualities. Davis, being a numbers guy, was known to be absolutely flabbergasted and astonished by pro prospects with impressive size and/or speed. In to fit the bill, the Raiders have brought in players such as Louis Murphy, Fabian Washington, Darren McFadden and Darrius Heyward-Bey, to varies degrees of success.
In Heyward-Bey’s case, what attracted Davis to the wide out, in large part, was do to his 4.3 second 40-time at the combined. In a game where speed kills, Heyward-Bay was expected to step into the Black Hole and slay opposing defensive backs for touchdowns.
Instead, what the Raiders got from the University of Maryland standout in the 2009 and 2010 seasons with the franchise was a combined 35 receptions for 490 yards and two touchdowns. To be the seventh pick in the first round means that Heyward-Bay was regarded highly within the organization with the assumption that he would develop into an All-Pro receiver.
Although Heyward-Bay improved by leaps and bounds from year two to three as well as the dearly departed 2012 season, the Raiders decided against retaining the services of Heyward-Bey.
With his independence from the Raiders, Heyward-Bey signed a one-year deal worth up to $3 million with the Indianapolis Colts to catch passes from Andrew Luck. If Heyward-Bey was a borderline number-one receiver for the much maligned Raiders, than for the playoff contending Colts, the speedster, is a third receiver. The five-year receiver will enter training camp penciled into the third receiver slot behind veteran play maker, Reggie Wayne and second-year wide out T.Y. Hilton. With a one year deal, Heyward-Bey has to prove himself to his new Colts teammates that his previous stellar seasons what just a case of more things to come, which along the way again reinforces the late Al Davis’s philosophy that ”you can teach a great athlete to be a football player, but you can’t each a football player to be an athlete.”