"Poetic justice" were the first words that came to mind today as I watched Darrius Heyward-Bey break a tackle in the second quarter and sprint for the end zone for a 34 yard touchdown in the Oakland Raiders' win over the Houston Texans.
When Al Davis drafted Darrius Heyward-Bey with the number seven pick of the 2009 draft, people were shocked. It was expected that the Raiders would choose a wide receiver with their first round pick, but when both Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin fell to the Raiders at the seventh pick, no one expected to hear Heyward-Bey's name called.
In his rookie season, Heyward-Bey had immense struggles trying to adjust to the NFL game, finishing the season with only 9 catches for 124 yards. He showed some improvement in his second year, but was still incredibly far away from living up to the expectations of the number seven pick in the draft.
This season, Heyward-Bey has started to show signs of finally emerging into a good receiver. He has not had anywhere near the number of dropped passes as he had in previous seasons at this point. In addition, Heyward-Bey had back to back impressive games against two good teams.
In their loss to the New England Patriots, Heyward-Bey led the Raiders receiving corps with four catches for 115 yards. Then, this week Heyward-Bey stepped up to the plate once again, making big plays on the day after the man who had so much faith in him passed away. Heyward-Bey finished the game against the Texans with 7 catches for 99 yards and a touchdown that came at a very important time.
Heyward-Bey still has not lived up to the number seven pick that was used on him, but he continues to show improvement. It will be fun to see if he can continue to excel this year in memory of the man who drafted him, Al Davis.