“What Does the Signing of Michael Crabtree Do To the Oakland Raiders Draft”
Michael Crabtree was signed by the Raiders for a one year 3 million dollar deal with various incentives. It makes for an interesting turn in the direction that the Raiders may go.
When the Raiders started the free agency period, these were their top 4 needs:
- A fast #1 Wide Receiver
- 1-2 pass rushers to fix the 31st ranked pass rush
- Run Stopping DL
- Run Stopping MLB
So far in free agency the Raiders have solved the #3 and #4 problem by shoring up their run defense. A fast #1 WR and the 1-2 pass rushers; which were their biggest needs; are still an issue. That’s a lot to fix in one draft. Let’s look at the puzzle further to look into what is happening and what may happen.
First the Pro’s; Why Crabtree Makes Sense
I have to be honest; I LOVE this guy. He’s a great talent who hasn’t had his best games yet. How the Raiders picked DHB over him is still a head scratcher. (oh those fast 40 times at the NFL combines that Al Davis loved so much). I fought with Raider fans for 3 years who told me give DHB time.
Crabtree and the 49ers passing game were limited due to their quarterback situation and their philosophy which was a power running, grind them out offense. He also played last year after a horrendous Achilles heel injury and many think he’s finally healthy. I still think it’s a good signing but it is a worry.
I’m sure the Raiders see him as a starting WR at a great price. They also see in him as a player that makes key plays when they are needed as was seen in the 49ers Super Bowl run. He’s also tough; many felt he wasn’t healthy all year last year but he insisted on playing the entire season. A physical WR that will make a difference.
The Cons: Why Crabtree Doesn’t Make Sense
With Today’s medical advances, coming back from a severe knee injury is doable. Coming back from a severe achilles heel injury as a wide receiver is rough. Some have said few regain their speed and agility so Crabtree’s true health remains to be seen until he gets on the field.
Detractors will also point out to his terrible year last year with 10 drops; some pretty bad ones. It was obvious his head wasn’t in the game at times. He also was the rumored leak to Deion Sanders talking about the dissension with Jim Harbaugh as coach, which he vehemently denied. The local media often complained it’s obvious he’s checked out.
Others will talk about his bad attitude, but I laugh at that. Jerry Rice was a diva personified at San Francisco. Rice told the press Steve Young’s passes were hard to catch and he would never be Joe Montana. He also went off in the press because he needed more passes thrown to him; even though he led the league in catches.
Terrell Owens played brilliantly while injured in the Super Bowl on the way to throwing his quarterback under the bus. Dez Bryant’s temper tantrums on the sidelines and off the field dramas are all but forgotten now that he’s one of the best in the NFL. NFL Wide Receivers are the blond headed cheerleaders that you saw in the movie Bring It On.
What Does This Do To The Draft:
First of all, no, the Raiders are not going to trade down. Name all the time’s that they have done that. (crickets) Every year we go through this.
Also, if the Raiders brass said that they hate ice cream, I’d bet a million dollars that they’d be having hot fudge sundaes at Hooters that night. DON’T BELIEVE WHAT TEAMS SAY! Name all of the football teams that are going to run to the press and announce their plans and tell people all that they are thinking. The only ones that lie more than NFL teams are politicians!
If USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams is there, I think the Raiders pick him because their pass rush was atrocious last year but the Raiders have made some crazy choices in the past so nothing is for sure. Amari Cooper is the best WR in the draft IMHO; his amazing numbers at Bama were impressive.
Devin Smith the WR out of Ohio St. will be there in the second round (The Patriots are supposedly into him so he may go late first round) and he’s a stud. A bigger clone of ex Panther great Steve Smith, this guy had his biggest games against the best competition. Tough as nails, brash and he has track speed. He has that rare talent of not losing speed when he cuts. If you look at old clips, Cliff Branch had that rare talent too. Even if you get Crabtree and he pans out, you still need a speedy WR to stretch the field.
What the Raiders May Not Be Telling the Fans:
I said it in a previous article; I think the Raiders may have a two year plan but there was NO WAY that they were going to make that public because of all the years of losing.
If they choose a wide receiver #1 this year in the draft, I get it. Next years draft has at least 6 really good pass rushers, and possibly up to 9. They are young and are on the verge of really getting good. I can see the Raiders filling in holes this year, and going for broke in the draft and free agency next year to finalize their pass rush.
Can you imagine the outrage on social media if the Reggie McKenzie came out and said we are looking for a 2 year plan to get good? If you thought people were wild now. In reality though I think they realize they need another good draft and signings to get the team that they envisioned.
For fans that pick playoffs and Super Bowl for the Raiders every year, they may FINALLY be right, but it may take a year. I think a .500 season is realistic but thinking you can fix a terrible pass rush with a second or third round draft pick is naive at best. I think the Raiders had many holes to fill and they’ve done a good job at filling most of them. I think they are a year away from really filling them in the way that they want to and being a playoff contender. Until you do it on the field and win, talk is cheap.
People also need to keep in mind that rookie wide receivers usually struggle some in their first year. It takes time for them to evolve, even in today’s pass happy world where defenses can’t touch them.
In today’s NFL especially, if you don’t have a pass rush, you can’t win. No way will you get to the next level if you can’t rush the quarterback and stop the run. The run defense looks fixed but the pass rush still needs to be addressed. Fans may need to have a little more patience for the Raiders to become a playoff team again though. We’ll know for sure after the post draft signings what the team looks like. It should be fun to watch.
Even with many fans worrying about him, I think Crabtree will be a valuable piece that could have long term success, but the pass rush still needs to be fixed.