The Oakland Raiders were predicted by many talking heads to select a wide receiver with pick number seven of the 2009 NFL Draft, but few predicted it would be Darrius Heyward-Bey from Maryland.
Many of the mock drafts had the Raiders selecting two-time Biletnikoff Award winner Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech or Missouri speedster Jeremy Maclin. Heyward-Bey was thought of as the third or fourth best receiver on the board.
For the Silver and Black, speed is all that matters when it comes to drafting new players, and Heyward-Bey has plenty of that. At the combine, Heyward-Bey recorded the fastest forty-yard dash for receivers, turning in a time of 4.3 seconds.
…the only guy who came out of the true pro-style system, everyone else was in the spread system, so his learning curve is much, much shorter than those other guys, and then you’ve got that size and speed, and his ability to go get it.
– Cable on Heyward-Bey
The knock on Heyward-Bey is that he can’t catch the ball, a requirement for any NFL wideout. Raiders head coach Tom Cable obviously doesn’t believe that. “This is the guy we wanted the whole time,” Cable started his round one press conference. “Like I’ve said about a month ago there’s one guy in the draft that I think makes our entire team better, he makes Zach Miller better, he makes JaMarcus Russell better, he makes Darren McFadden better, Justin Fargas, Michael Bush, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Chaz Schilens, on and on and on.”
The Raiders signed Javon Walker prior to the 2008 season, and then went on to draft two receivers in the 2008 NFL Draft: Chaz Schillens and Arman Shields. In the 2007 NFL Draft, the Raiders also selected Johnnie Lee Higgins in the third round. With Heyward-Bey, Oakland will start the season with four wide receivers with less than three years of experience.
“I think the thing that jumps out at you is,” said Cable, “that this is the one guy in the combine that at the 30-yard mark, actually changed gears, and there was a whole other warp speed, if you will.”
Fans can check out his speed on YouTube by watching his highlight video.