Just for fun before we get started:
Former Tech Wide Receiver D.J. Coles takes his talents to the West Coast to join up with one of the toughest, meanest and formerly-feared franchises in the NFL: The Oakland Raiders. A big receiver at 6'3" tall, 225 pounds, to go along with 10" hands and 33-1/4" arms, D.J. has all of the measurables necessary to be a successful inside receiver who can excel in the possession game. The same questions that followed him while he was in Blacksburg follow him now to Alameda, CA. Is that right knee fully healed? Will he play up to his physical strengths? Can he adapt to more complex NFL playbook than the simple route tree at VT?
His social media moment to shine didn't necessarily endear him to the rabid Oakland faithful or provide any enthusiasm for the opportunity...just saying.
Raiders!!!!- DJ Coles (@Dcoles18) May 10, 2014
We can hope he's physically able to bring it. Yet making just eight starts in 13 games, and being in on just 331 plays at receiver (including two special teams plays) he will have to find a way to provide additional value to make the 53-man roster. On special teams, where many former VT players shine, DJ only entered the game for two plays in 2013 in large part to the bum knee. His career totals of 64 receptions for 894 yards and nine TDs, six this season alone, was one season's production for his main WR competition, Noel Grigsby from San Jose State.
With one of the better drafts, considering they graded out at an A, many pundits reporting theirs as the second best draft next to Johnny Cleveland, the Raiders took eight players with their picks and focused on shoring up the porous defense that ranked 21st in the NFL last year. By comparison, the 21st ranked offense won't benefit from drafting Derek Carr either to provide an immediate impact as the Raiders begin reconstruction - again. However, GM, Reggie McKenzie and Coach Dennis Allens' focus has to be on the NOW or they won't be around for tomorrow. Where will DJ fit and how can he separate himself from the other UFA's?
This biggest challenge DJ faces is not WRs Mike Davis (Texas) or Noel Grigsby, but the other 7 UFA's that are fighting for one of the final 53 roster spots, and it's likely only one WR will survive the Turk. Davis, a diminutive receiver at 6' 197lbs shows similar on-the-field behaviors to DJ in taking plays off here-and-there especially if they're not involved in the pattern. He, too, is coming off an injury (a stress fracture) and a lackluster pro day. Grigsby, in contrast, follows DJ's history with surgery this past season after playing in the first two games. His size puts him in the slot as an over-the-middle threat, and the question will be can he return to his 2012 form with a 1,000+ yard season and over 3,000 career yards for the Spartans.
If DJ works harder than the other UFAs, and demonstrates a desire to excel and contribute, then his chances are very good come July's camp. If he shows the usual lackadaisical effort he exhibited in getting off press coverage, then chances are he'll be taking advantage of that human development degree pretty soon.
Best of luck to DJ in navigating the dysfunction that permeates that organization.