The Oakland Raiders wide receiver corps lacks a true number one option, but has strength in numbers and depth. The emergence of rookies Juron Criner and Rod Streater provide more upside to the position. This is a group the Raiders can build around in the future.
Denarius Moore was expected to take a huge step forward in 2012 by becoming the team's go-to receiver. Although he showed flashes like scoring touchdowns in three straight games and scoring six times in nine games, his consistency was problematic. He ended the year catching 51 passes for 741 yards and seven touchdowns, but he was targeted 115 times. Moore missed significant offseason and training camp time with a bothersome hamstring, so the Raiders hope a healthy Moore can live up to high expectations and become their primary target next season and in the future.
In 2011, Darrius Heyward-Bey had his best season as a professional after a disappointing start to his career. However, the former first round draft choice regressed in 2012 making just 41 receptions to bring the bust label back into conversation. Heyward-Bey is scheduled to make over 7.7 million next season in Oakland. He will have to take a large pay cut to be in the team's future plans. If he is willing to restructure, the Raiders may consider bringing him back at the discount, but the play of Criner and Streater make him expendable.
Jacoby Ford missed all of the 2012 season after a Lisfranc foot injury. It is the same injury Darren McFadden suffered in 2011 and was able to come back without limitations. Ford relies on speed so it will be interesting to see how he is affected by the rehabbed foot. Ford still needs work to become a consistent, effective receiver, but stars as a return man. He already has four kickoff return touchdowns in his two year career.
The Raiders front office and coaching staff found a diamond in the rough when they identified and signed undrafted free agent Rod Streater out of Temple University. Streater displayed solid hands and terrific route running in his first NFL season. The 6-3, 200 pound receiver caught 39 balls for 584 yards and three touchdowns including a seven reception 100 yard game against the Denver Broncos. Streater did make a few rookie mistakes as he learns in the league, but his production outweighed his negative plays. If he continues to impress in the offseason workouts, he could be in for a breakout 2013 campaign.
Fellow rookie Juror Criner did not see much playing time in the Raiders first half of the season. However, as the weeks progressed, Criner earned more faith from the coaching staff and began to make an impact. Criner caught 14 of his 16 receptions in a five game stretch at the end of the season as well as his first career touchdown. At 6-4, 220 pounds, the Raiders like to use Criner as a red zone option. It was hit and miss, but if Criner can work on using his physical gifts to out muscle smaller cornerbacks, he has the ability to be a dangerous target.Tags: Darrius Heyward Bey, Denarius, Football, Jacoby Ford, Juron Criner, Moore, NFL, Oakland, Oakland Raiders, Rod Streater
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