Raiders Are Thankful They Didn't Pass on Michael Crabtree Again
Elias Trejo – Oct 29, 2015
The Oakland Raiders were on the clock and the pick was obvious. After drafting JaMarcus Russell in 2007 and Darren McFadden in 2008 the Raiders needed to add a wide receiver. The best wide receiver prospect, MIchael Crabtree, was still on the board and things couldn't have fallen more perfectly for the Raiders. Crabtree was a Red Raider in college and he was about to become an Oakland Raider in the NFL. However, Al Davis shocked the world by drafting a different wide receiver.
The Raiders drafted Darrius Heyward-Bey, the 6'1" 210 pound wide receiver that ran the fastest 40 time in the NFL Combine that year. Those that knew Davis weren't surprised as he loved height, weight and speed, but how could he pass on the clear No. 1 receiver in the draft? Crabtree laughed it off but as a competitor you know he wanted to be the first wide receiver drafted. He still ended up in the Bay Area as the 49ers took him with the 10th pick, but falling three spots cost him $6.5 million in guaranteed money.
Crabtree played six seasons in San Francisco, but never really had the same type of success that he had in college. It wasn't all his fault as he had Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick as his quarterbacks. Smith isn't a wide receiver friendly quarterback and Kaepernick is Kaepernick so it's not like he was playing with a guy like say, Derek Carr?
Crabtree signed a deal with the Raiders this offseason bringing him to the place where he should have been drafted and so far this season it has been one of the best free agent acquisitions of the year. He's on pace to have 88 receptions this season which would be a career high. He's on pace for 150 targets this year which would be a career high, and his production should only get better as more teams try to stop rookie sensation Amari Cooper.
The Raiders are a passing first team in 2015. While they're establishing the run and averaging over 4 yards per carry, the Raiders are better and more explosive in the passing game. Crabtree may have the best year of his career in 2015 and he could be a big reason the Raiders are playing important games late into December and maybe after. Crabtree is thriving in his current role, but you wouldn't know about it because nobody is talking about it.
The young players are making the headlines for the Raiders as Amari Cooper, Derek Carr and Khalil Mack are being talked about as some of the best young players in their respective positions. Meanwhile, Crabtree is only 28 years old and has plenty of football left to play which is why Reggie McKenzie needs to secure him to a long term deal while Crabtree is still in his prime. The Raiders have given away many free agent "Prove It" deals and not many have been able to stay and prove anything but Crabtree is one of the few who have.
His rapport with Carr on and off the field is important and so is the rapport he has with his teammates. There were a lot of things being said about Crabtree that didn't shine a good light on him. However, this was a new start for him and he's proving that many of his prior criticisms were not all true.
Crabtree is tied with Cooper for the team lead in receptions and he's the most targeted player on the team. The Raiders are undefeated when Crabtree is targeted over five times and when he scores a touchdown. There are many reasons this year's Raiders team can be special and Crabtree's season will be a big part of it. Crabtree is finally home in Oakland and he has a quarterback capable of getting him the ball often.
2009 may have not been the right time for a Crabtree and Raiders marriage, but from 2015 and beyond this looks like the making of something special.
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