Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

January 6, 2009
Youth movement worked at WR

If the Raiders are going to spend a lot of money in free agency, wide receiver shouldn't be the top priority.

The Raiders spent big on Javon Walker last year. Veterans Drew Carter and Ashley Lelie were also added. Lelie signed after Carter was lost for the season because of a knee injury.

But circumstance forced the Raiders to turn to its young receivers.

And guess what? Some of the young guys can play.

The Raiders have been looking for wide receivers for some time. And if not for injuries to Walker, Carter, and Lelie we might not have ever found out Johnnie Lee Higgins and Chaz Schilens have the potential to be contributors.

Higgins was essentially labeled not smart enough to play as a rookie in 2007. He spent a large part his second season not in the regular rotation until injures gave him an opportunity to prove he was more than punt returner.

Higgins was the only wide receiver with more at least 20 catches (22) and led the group with 366 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

Schilens was dogged by an ankle injury but showed promise in catching 15 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns in his rookie season.

This duo gives the Raiders something to work with. How the team surrounds their two young receivers will be key.

Walker is still under contract and Carter has expressed a desire to return in 2009. Ronald Curry expects to be released which would be the best for him and the team since he was being phased out before suffering a toe injury. Lelie hasn't shut the door on returning.

The Raiders need to find out if 2008 fourth-round draft choice Arman Shields (he spent the season on injured reserve) can contribute.

Todd Watkins and Jonathan Holland are also developing players that made their impact primarily on special teams in 2008.

This isn't to say if an elite receiver is available that the Raiders shouldn't be interested. Or if Michael Crabtree is there for the taking in the NFL Draft, the Raiders need to seriously consider picking him.

But if the Raiders don't dump millions on the best receiver on the market, or address the offensive line early in the draft, they'll be fine.

--Jason Jones


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About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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