With the news coming out that Darrius Heyward-Bey is to visit the Steelers Wednesday, it would be prudent to take a glance over the former 1st round picks career thus far just to get an idea of what the Steelers would be acquiring if indeed the two sides strike a deal tomorrow or sometime thereafter.
Quick note: I'm not typing Darrius Heyward-Bey every time I need to use his name so we shall abbreviate it to DHB -which by the way sounds like either a nice cocktail or some sort of criminal offense- for the sake of my sanity.
DHB was drafted 7th overall in the 2009 NFL draft by the late, great Al Davis and needless to say it will not go down as one of his greatest draft choices. At the time DHB was widely considered a huge reach at 7, and receivers like Michael Crabtree and Jeremey Maclin were expected to go before him.
DHB was selected so high because at 6 ft 2 inches he greatly impressed in the 40 yard dash running an official time of 4.3 seconds, and we all know how much Al Davis liked speed. To be fair, a guy Heyward-Bey's size does not typically run that fast, so if we're looking for anything DHB brings to the table, speed and more speed would be it. Sadly at this moment in time that's just about all he brings.
Also, fun fact, as Neal Coolong pointed out DHB was selected in the same draft as the Steelers brand new free safety acquisition Mike Mitchell, who was another significant reach in the second round for the Raiders in the 2009 Draft. This has the makings of at the very least a lovely training camp reunion for the pair of athletically gifted chaps. Just imagine the rating spike that episode of Hard Knocks will get.
DHB played in 11 games his rookie season recording 9 receptions for 124 yards and one touchdown. His best season came in 2011 when he played in 15 games, amassing 975 yards and 4 touchdowns. For his career (5 seasons) he has 2,380 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.
To put it politely, DHB has been a massive, steaming pile of draft bust. It's not entirely his fault, he probably didn't expect to be picked so high, and he has played in some pretty
truly awful uninspiring Raiders teams, but the fact of the matter is he hasn't been very good.
A miscellaneous detail whilst I'm at it, DHB was rendered unconscious by a hit from former Steelers safety Ryan Mundy in 2012. Thankfully Mundy no longer plays for the Steelers , cause his presence would really ruin Mitchell and DHB's camp reunion, and anger a fair few HBO execs.
Following a lackluster 2012 season in which he managed a paltry 600 yards or so, DHB was released by the Raiders, whereupon he signed with the Indinappolis Colts on a one year deal.
This was seen as a good opportunity for DHB to resurrect a fledgling career, after all he was going to play for a play-off team and one of the best up and coming quarterbacks in the league. However he wound up finishing the season with 29 receptions and 309 yards, and at times lost his job in the lineup to an undrafted free agent in Da'Rick Rodger.
The fact the Colts chose not to re-sign him on what would be an extremely team friendly contract suggests a lot. And if anyone is interested in Pro Football Focus grades, DHB's for 2013 were bad! By mid November he had a -9.6 rating on passing plays.
So, we are now up to date on the saga of DHB. A receiver who appears to have difficulty in almost every facet of his job except running fast in a straight line. He has struggled mightily with drops, concentration, getting open and just about all the things associated with playing the receiver position in the NFL.
He can run fast, that is true, but he has never established himself as a deep threat to any real extent over the course of his career, so whilst in theory he may prove an asset in stretching the field, it certainly won't be on a Mike Wallace type scale.
In addition, to the best of my knowledge and research, I can't find any evidence that DHB has ever contributed anything as a returner on kicks or punts, so we can probably cross that out.
However, check out this article from the Colts SB nation site "Stamped Blue". it describes DHB's contributions as a special teams gunner ,as well as including praise about his character. The need for improved special teams play was discussed just this Sunday on BTSC, so perhaps DHB can channel his best Robert Golden and contribute there in addition to receiving.
If DHB is signed, it will be purely as a camp body with no guarantee of making the team. That's not a bad thing, competition always breeds success, if not for Heyward-Bey then it will help push the Steelers young receiving corp.
If he is signed expectations should be tempered in the extreme,he is merely a project we can hope magically puts it altogether and utilizes his natural athletic gifts. However, he does offer a boatload of potential, and that's never hurt anyone in training camp.