For­mer draft ‘bust’ has carved out a ca­reer

The Mercury News - - Sports - Jerry McDon­ald Colum­nist

ALAMEDA >> Some $38 mil­lion and change later, can we agree Dar­rius Hey­ward-Bey is not a bust?

It’s an over-used term in the draft process, and in­cor­rectly ap­plied when it comes to one of the most con­tro­ver­sial draft picks in the ten­ure of late Raiders owner Al Davis. Hey­ward-Bey is a re­serve re­ceiver and spe­cial teams player for the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers, who visit the Coli­seum on Sun­day.

Hey­ward-Bey never be­came the game-break­ing wide re­ceiver Davis en­vi­sioned. In­stead, he came to un­der­stand his lim­i­ta­tions, max­i­miz­ing both his ca­reer and in­come.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate what he brings, but it’s in­ter­est­ing, he’s a foot­ball player first and a wide re­ceiver se­cond,” Steel­ers coach Mike Tom­lin said this week. “A lot of the con­tri­bu­tions he’s had over the course of his ca­reer has been in the area of spe­cial teams, and it has been a sig­nif­i­cant one.”

Lead­ing up to the 2009 NFL draft, one of the Raiders’ many needs was wide re­ceiver. Dur­ing a pro day at Cal, I talked with Scot McCloughan, the 49ers’ gen­eral man­ager at the time, about the top prospects.

The top re­ceivers were Michael Crab­tree of Texas Tech, Jeremy Ma­clin of Mis­souri and Percy Harvin of Flor­ida. McCloughan knows the Raiders or­ga­ni­za­tion well. His late fa­ther was an All-AFL cor­ner­back with the Raiders and then a long-time scout. His brother David still scouts for the Raiders.

McCloughan told me to keep an eye on Hey­ward-Bey, who was an hon­or­able men­tion Al­lAt­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence pick

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