With the 2012 NFL draft just around the corner, it brings back memories of the Oakland Raiders' 2011 season and the players who were drafted by the team last year. 2011 was an historical year for many reasons, most significantly the passing of the Raiders' iconic owner, Al Davis.
There were quite a few bumps along the road in addition to the sad news of Davis' death. Quarterback Jason Campbell suffered a broken collarbone and was never able to return to the field, and running back Darren McFadden experienced a season ending foot injury.
There were also more than a few bright moments, and Denarius Moore was a part of many of those better memories. Moore was signed as a 5th round pick and was said to be a "great sleeper" in the 2011 draft class.
Moore was said to have a lot of potential despite his poor start with the University of Tennessee, which may have been why the Raiders got lucky when they were able to take him as a fifth round pick. Moore commented, "It was a little shaky at the beginning and caught on at the end. That's where I show my talent.''
The wide receiver also remarked, "The way I look at it is, if they doubt me they doubt me, and if I surprise them I surprise them. I am just going to come in here and do what I am supposed to do and reach my goals. One way or another I'm confident I'm going to get there."
And get there he did, in a big way. From the moment he stepped onto the field at training camp he was impressive. The Raiders former head coach Hue Jackson said, "The young man can make some plays, can't he? Oh my gosh, is he something? He's fun to watch. Every day there's something. A ball goes up, he comes down with it and makes a play. He's a tremendous talent. The game is not too big for him. There's no fear in the young man."
By the end of the season there was no doubt that Moore had lived up to, and probably exceeded all expectations. He was nominated three times for the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week. In just week two of the season he was given the honor after a 25-yard rush in the game against the Buffalo Bills and ended the game with a total of 146 yards that included an incredible catch in a 50 yard touchdown pass.
In November, Moore received the recognition again after he somehow managed to hold on to a long pass by quarterback Carson Palmer. The 46-yard catch was just one of five and two touchdowns in their victory over the San Diego Chargers.
The third time Moore was honored for his efforts last year was third time in the all-important game against the Kansas City Chiefs. On Christmas Eve he caught four passes for 94 yards and scored a touchdown, and was a big part of the reason the Raiders defeated the Chiefs that day.
It makes me wonder how many fans have purchased a Moore jersey as he worked his way into our hearts? There is no doubt in my mind that Moore was the best steal of 2011, and I look forward to finding out which rookie will be the best bargain of 2012.
K.C. Dermody grew up in the Bay Area of California, and has been an Oakland Raiders fan for her entire life. She has continued her loyalty to the team through its many ups and downs over the decades, and has been privileged to meet several of her favorite players, including famed quarterback, Jim Plunkett. Follow her on Twitter @kcdermody or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kcdermodywriter.
More from this contributor:
- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- Oakland Raiders
- Denarius Moore