In 2009, the two Bay Area teams took a pair of receivers three spots apart in the top 10 of the draft. The Raiders, as they often did under the late Al Davis, opted for the faster player at No. 7 in Darrius Heyward-Bey. The 49ers took Michael Crabtree.
While both had disappointing starts to their careers, Crabtree has emerged into one of the best receivers in the league. Heyward-Bey steadily improved before regressing in 2012.
The Raiders have now chosen to move on, and Heyward-Bey has decided to continue his career in Indianapolis.
“At the end, I just had to follow my heart and I just felt comfortable there,” Heyward-Bey told reporters during an introductory conference call. “I just felt comfortable. I mean my whole life I’ve followed my heart on decisions and I’ve made tough decisions in my life before. So in this case I kind of did the same thing. I took the information in front of me when it came to the Colts and other things and in the end my heart told me to take it.”
Heyward-Bey explained that the decision came down to the Colts and the Lions. We’d heard the Jets were interested, but that Heyward-Bey wasn’t.
Moving forward, Heyward-Bey can still become a highly-productive player on a special team. “Well if you just look at the roster, you have Andrew Luck, in my opinion the best young quarterback out there,” Heyward-Bey said. “You’ve got a veteran in Reggie Wayne. You have a former teammate in mine in Samson [Satele] at the center. They had some young guys make some plays out there so just being a part of something like that, I think it can be great.”
The continuity that comes from having Luck at quarterback could held Heyward-Bey reach his potential. “You know that this guy is going to be your quarterback,” Heyward-Bey said. “There’s no question about that. In Oakland, there were times when we weren’t sure going into a week and we had to adjust on the fly. Knowing that Andrew is going to be back there feels good.”
Based on the fact that Heyward-Bey had, as he rattled it off during the call, three coaches, four offensive coordinators, and seven starting quarterbacks, any player would benefit from having a more settled situation.