Like the rest of the Oakland Raiders team, the wide receiver corps had an up and down year. The "up" was Darrius Heyward-Bey blossoming into a true threat and a formidable player, where once he had been considered a total flop and the ultimate epitome of Al Davis' failed draft strategy. Also, rookie Denarius Moore vastly outperformed his fourth-round pick status and became an extremely dangerous weapon in the Raider passing game. The "down" was the collective wide receiving unit showing flashes of greatness just before they got injured and carried off the field on a stretcher, Ben-Hur chariot race style.
Injuries hit the Raiders hard everywhere, most notably the secondary, but the wide receivers also suffered a tremendous amount of lost playing time. Jacoby Ford missed eight games to injury, Louis Murphy missed seven, Moore missed three and even Heyward-Bey missed two. In fact, the only Raider "receiver" to play all 16 games was Michael Bush, who finished with a little over 400 receiving yards.
Early on in the season, Jason Campbell's lack of deep accuracy cost the Raider wideouts their biggest asset- their elite downfield speed. You'd be hard pressed to find a group of receivers faster than Oakland's. Very few corners are able to keep up with one of them, let alone an entire secondary hanging with Ford, Heyward-Bey and Moore on a single play. With Carson Palmer at quarterback, the Raider passing game really began to show the talents of the receivers. With his stats extrapolated over a full season, Palmer would have thrown for over 4,000 yards and we may be talking about the Raiders WR group as one of the best in the AFC, if not the entire league.
So really this is the same story as all the other offensive positions. The Raiders had a tough year, but things are looking up and should be better next season. Considering their awful luck with injuries this season, I feel the Raider receivers did about as well as may be expected of them.
2011 Grade: B+