After an impressive rookie campaign, Raiders wide receiver Jacoby Ford will have a break out year in 2011, at least that is what new Raiders head coach Hue Jackson seems to think. In an interview on the NFL Network on Wednesday, Jackson stated that he believes Ford will become a household name next season.
When Ford was picked by the Raiders in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, pundits originally thought he was nothing more than another Al Davis speedster without a whole lot of potential to become a star in the NFL.
However, after getting limited playing time time early in the season, Ford broke out in a week 9 game against Kansas City. In that game, Ford caught 6 balls for 148 yards and returned a kick off 94 yards for a touchdown. From that game on, it seemed like everytime the Raiders needed someone to make a big play, it was Ford who stepped up to the plate.
For a team with some serious depth issues at the wide receiver position, Ford was a welcome surprise. Now, with a season under his belt and the clear potential to be a game breaking wide receiver, Jackson wants to get the ball in Ford’s hands much more this upcoming season (assuming there will actually be one that is).
This, however, will be easier said than done. Getting Ford more reps will likely mean taking reps away from Davis’ beloved former first round pick, Darrius Heyward-Bey. Heyward-Bey had an atrocious rookie season and a somewhat improved sophomore campaign.
The fact of the matter is, the Raiders cannot afford to sit around and wait for Heyward-Bey to develop into a serious downfield threat when they have a guy who is ready to step into that role and produce now.
If Jackson can convince Davis to let him start Ford over Heyward-Bey, it will be very telling about how much Davis trusts Jackson, or doesn’t trust him.