Raiders take Heyward-Bey -- UPDATE

The Raiders drafted a wide receiver with their first-round pick after all but it wasn't the player many people expected. What does Tom Cable think of Darrius Heyward-Bey's selection? What does SBI's Michael Wagaman think of the pick? Find out in his latest draft update.

Al Davis has a history of pulling off surprises and the Raiders owner did just that with Oakland's first-round pick. Darrius Heyward-Bey, who steadily rose up the draft boards after his impressive workout at the Scouting Combine, becomes the latest project after being selected by the Raiders with the seventh overall pick.

"He's the one guy who's made everyone better around him," Oakland coach Tom Cable said. "We needed, as has been mentioned and written by all of you, we needed the ability to throw the ball over people's head and JaMarcus has obviously shown he can outthrow most everything. This is a guy now who can go run that down and catch it. As I mentioned, he's going to make Zach Miller better, and Johnnie Lee and Chaz Schilens and Darren MvFadden and Bush and ultimately he's going to help JaMarcus be the kind of quarterback we're trying to get him to be."

The draft was already shaking out as somewhat of a surprise, with big tackles Eugene Monroe and Andre Smith still available when Oakland went on the clock. Defensive tackle B.J. Raji was also still out there, as were wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin, both of whom were ranked higher than Heyward-Bey on just about every mock draft.

But the Raiders were impressed enough with Heyward-Bey's workout to believe he can be the No. 1 target for quarterback JaMarcus Russell.

"When you really break him down and look at him for what it was, his opportunities and attempts, he's off the chart, far far greater than the others," Cable said. "I think the one great comparison that I did that really showed this was the right guy for me, if I put him in that same system, he might have been over 50 touchdowns. He's that talented."

Cable said the Raiders didn't entertain any idea of trading down in the first round, even though Heyward-Bey likely would have still been available. If anything, the Raiders were willing to trade up to get the player Cable says can be the dominant receiver Russell needs.

"His workout was phenomenal, just phenomenal," Cable said. "He caught everything at the front end of it, did a great job of being able to react and adjust his body to some tough catches and really kind of sold you on it.You started to see some of those things that scouts mentioned earlier, that he could do those awkward things."

Here's Heyward-Bey's numbers in college: Started 12 games in 2008 and caught 42 passes for 609 yards and five touchdowns. As a junior, he caught 51 passes for 786 yards and three touchdowns.

He can also return kickoffs, which the Raiders will try to take advantage of.

The Raiders will likely turn their attention to the offensive and defensive lines with their second-and third-round picks.

Wagaman's analysis: I expected the Raiders to go after a wide receiver but taking Heyward-Bey was really a shock. He was the third-rated WR on most draft boards and was seen as a guy who could last until the second round. What stunned me was the way the draft was going ahead of them. No one expected Monroe, Smith, Raji, Crabtree and Maclin to still be there when the Raiders picked. Either one of the five would have been a better move than Heyward-Bey, who didn't have the consistency with his catching that you want from a No. 1 guy. The guy can fly, there's no arguing that, but if he can't catch the ball then all that speed in the world does nothing. Remember James Jett? It's too early to slap that label on him yet but I thought the Raiders could have done more with the pick. We'll see.

Discuss this story and more in the Legends Lodge.

SB Report Top Stories