OK, I know that under the Raider is a bad pun, but bear with me here. Here on TFDS, I will be intermittently profiling under the radar players who I expect to do big things in 2009 based on what I have seen in minicamp and organized team activities.
Chaz Schilens is an obvious choice to start this series, since he has been getting strong press from many outlets. I can’t disagree with any of the good press that he has been getting. As I am watching the practices I just jot down the numbers in my notebook, (way too early to memorize them all) and the number 81 appeared very frequently as someone making great plays.
For all of the negative press the Raiders receiving corps received in 09, the one thing that was almost universally missed is that both Chaz Schilens and Johnnie Lee Higgins found their stride late in the season. The overall statistics were a reflection of the revolving door at receiver throughout the season.
Schilens, who was a seventh round pick in 2008 that ultimately worked his way into the starting lineup, is easy to overlook. However, he was a key contributor to the Raiders season ending winning streak.
The Raiders added two receivers in April’s draft in Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy. Heyward-Bey missed much of of the offseason practices nursing a hamstring injury suffered in the mandatory minicamp. Murphy has seen more action, and has looked like he will be a steal as a fourth round pick. However, Schilens is a competitor and is not going to give up his starting slot without a fight.
From the minicamps and OTAs, Schilens has been by far the most productive receiver. He has been all over the field and catching everything thrown in his area. He doesn’t have the speed of say Heyward-Bey or Higgins, but he is a big target who is quite athletic. He will fit well in to the role of possession receiver that Ronald Curry couldn’t quite hold on to. He is looking like he will be the guy who will give JaMarcus Russell a reliable target other than Zach Miller when he has to throw the ball on third down.
Schilens may never be a household name, but he is a hard worker who is going to flourish with the Raiders.
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