For as long as the Raiders continue to grace an NFL football field, legends will continue to live on. From Biletnikoff and Branch to Tim Brown, wideouts hold a special place in team lore. Yet, amongst these icons, other players showed the potential to walk a successful path. Over the last fifteen years, wide receivers enjoyed various levels of success. Which fell under the radar? FPC Raiders writers Pete Camarillo, Ray Aspuria and Kenneth Berry sit in to discuss this question.
Tough question. Louis Murphy’s release seemed premature, as he continued to make a name for himself. Zach Miller also should’ve stayed longer. Does Marcel Reece count? He should’ve got more receiver looks. Rod Streater was good considering he had more Raiders catches and yards than Moss, until Streater was hurt and became a little over rated. I also believed in the idea of Jacoby Ford for so long. Denarius Moore falls somewhere between those Ford and Streat in terms of hope, ability and production. People forget how good he was. Otherwise, everyone is still waiting on Andre Holmes, Doug Gabriel and Chaz Schilens breakout year (cough overrated). Crabtree probably rates perfectly in terms of his legacy. Ronald Curry was a sleeper and Derrius Heyward-Bey really wasn’t as bad as people said. Their ratings feel appropriate.
That leaves me with two people. Jerry Porter, the third receiver on that Super Bowl team, or Amari Cooper, the top-five pick we traded in the third year for a pick in the late 20s (SMH). Porter is and was underrated based on stats alone. However, he never really showed he could serve as the alpha, No.1 we wanted him to be in real life and Madden. Some people will say the same about Cooper, except the sample size is much smaller. Still, Cooper was literally the Raiders No. 1 option for less than half a season in what should’ve been his breakout year. Oakland moved on. Thus, I’ll go with Cooper because that is probably the one I think gets disrespected the most despite his production.
Michael Crabtree. Like another former San Francisco 49ers castoff, Crab came in unheralded and played extremely well and was productive. Like Jerry Rice before him, Crabtree arrived as an afterthought — a receiver whose best years in the past. Labeled a malcontent, Crabtreeperformed well, displaying near-instant chemistry with Derek Carr, so much so, I questioned if Carr looked for anyone other than No. 15 when he dropped back to pass. From 2015-18, Crabtree put up 2,543 yards, 25 touchdowns on 232 catches in 46 games. Whatever happened to scuttle Crabtree’s continued presence on the Raiders roster is a shame. Perhaps Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams can establish that kind of production in Oakland and Las Vegas.
Randy Moss. He may have not wanted to be in Oakland but he was the first alpha receiver on the Raiders since Tim Brown. Moss tallied 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns in his first season as a Raider. His 16.8 yards per catch were the fourth highest total in his career. This season happened two years before he had 23 receiving touchdowns with the New England Patriots. That season, Moss averaged 15.2 yards a catch. Moss displayed a dominance that single-handedly ignited a fan base. His presence gave receivers Jerry Porter and Ronald Curry room to be better role players and helped Lamont Jordan, who had his only 1,000 yard season in 2005, also Moss’ first season as a Raider.
Moss helped many eat on those Raiders’ teams eat, despite dealing with Kerry Collins at quarterback. Venturing from Pro Bowl quarterback Daunte Culpepper to the precursor of Blake Bortles in Kerry Collins should frustrate any receiver. Moss presented the fanbase with hope. In all honesty, Amari Cooper’s success was measured against what Moss did. For better or worse, not since Tim Brown or Jerry Rice has a player uplifted an offense so quickly. Porter never had a 1,000 yard season with the Raiders and didn’t want to give up 84 to a man who caught 13 touchdowns before the Minnesota Vikings traded him. Will Antonio have the same effect or go the way of Javon Walker?