Wide Receivers Analysis
By Dave Te Thomas
Cream Of The Crop | Best Of The Rest | Most Underrated | Most Overrated
First Day Possibilities | Super Sleeper | Second Day Possibilities
Much like Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, when trying to evaluate the talent level at the wide receiver position, like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get. Just look at the confusion going around the league since the end of the season. Talk to most back then and the scouts were touting Florida's tandem of Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell as the head of the class. Then, after a less than eye opening performance at the Combines, some teams started backing off on these two. Hawaii's Ashley Lelie then took over the top spot, based on reported clockings of 4.3 in private workouts, but a hamstring injury prevented him from repeating that fantastic time while in Indianapolis.
Speed lovers will find an abundance to choose from, as Andre Davis, Javon Walker, Cliff Russell and Tim Carter all turned in world-class timings in the 40. Kelly Campbell also impressed with his foot speed, but some question his work ethic, which will cause a few teams to shy away from him. Josh Reed is another speed merchant who has possibly the best hands of any receiver, outside of Antonio Bryant.
Size does matter, at least in the new age of pro football, making the combination of size and speed enticing to the pros when they talk about Walker, Brian Poli-Dixon, Ron Johnson, Robert English and Terry Charles. Size will also be an issue when teams agonize over the benefits of diminutive receivers with blazing speed, such as Aaron Lockett and Deion Branch.
One very interesting prospect that continues to grab attention is quarterback, turned halfback, turned split end Antwaan Randle-El, whose performance in bowl games and Combines have all but assured him a first day draft selection. Small college stars like Ryan Tolhurst and Devin Lewis have shown enough in post-season action to warrant a serious look when the second day of the draft opens.
Some who have seen their stock drop in recent months are Marquise Walker, whose touted speed has yet to emerge, Jackson State's tandem of Lawrence Story and T.C. Taylor, who proved to be slower than anticipated. Poor 40-yard times will also seeing a player that was previously rising, Kendall Newson end up waiting well into the draft before he can expect to hear his number called. Even though he redeemed himself in bowl games, Kahlil Hill's 4.65 timing is sure to see his stock slip as the draft approaches.
MAKING THE GRADE…A…There is always an abundance of talent at this position, bringing to mind that old saying, they are a dime a dozen. Look for Donte Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney, Josh Reed, Ashley Lelie, Antonio Bryant and possibly Javon Walker and Andre Davis to all hear their name called in the first round.
Cream Of The Crop
Positives: Big downfield target who is very quick getting through the crease…Physical blocker who excels at keeping his feet inbounds going up for the sideline passes…Runs sharp pass routes and has shifty movements to avoid contact…Does a nice job stopping and coming back for the ball…Shows great concentration and a confident demeanor hauling down the high pass in traffic…Has the body control tio twist and adjust for the ball in traffic…Has an explosive burst in and out of his cuts to set up the defenders and has no wasted motions in his stride…Catches with his arms extended, excelling in the over-the-shoulder grabs…Will face up as a blocker vs. the blitz and is effective cut blocking at the second level…Makes good field decisions and knows when to come back when the quarterback is flushed out of the pocket…Tough runner after the catch, using his body well to shield and elude on fade routes.
Negatives: Has a very lean frame and may not be able to withstand punishment at the next level due to a lack of bulk…Needs to use his hands better to get a push off the line, as the bigger defensive backs have had success jamming him at the line…While elusive, he does not have that explosion or sustained speed needed to turn on the after-burners after the catch.
Hawaii's career leader in receiving yards with 3341, Ashley is the only receiver in school history to catch for more than 3000 yards…Owns the top two all-time best receiving performances in school history with 285 vs. Air Force and 262 vs. Brigham Young (2001)… Is the first UH receiver to catch for over 1000 yards in two separate seasons (1110 in 2000 and 1713 in 2001)…Owns the school record for most touchdown catches in a career (32)…Owns the school record for most receiving yards in a season (1713 in 2001)…Started 30 consecutive games and caught at least one pass in 31 straight…Tied for fifth on the school's all-time scoring list with 192 points…Holds the school record for most touch-downs in a season with 19…Ranks third in career all-purpose yardage with 3341 yards… Broke eight school records including: Season Receptions (84), Career Receptions (194), Season Receptions Per Game (7.0), Yards in a Game (285), Yards in a Season (1,713), Yards in a Career (3,341), Season Yards Per Game (142.8), and Average Gain Per Play in a Game (35.2).
REMINDS YOU OF… Randy Moss, Minnesota Vikings. The same suddenness in his moves, the long reach to combat defensive backs and the knack for making the big play. Only, he does not come with the same off-field baggage that Moss has shown.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Wouldn't the Chargers love to have Lelie to join the explosive offensive attack they are developing? With Drew Brees expected to take over at quarterback, LaDainion Tomlinson firmly entrenched as the franchise back, Lelie will be a huge upgrade over departed Jeff Graham opposite Curtis Conway in the receiving corps.
Best Of The Rest
Positives: Excellent in-traffic runner with very quick feet and a blazing upfield burst after the catch…Very effective blocker who is known for making the tough catch with defenders on him…Gets superb separation on his cuts…Has great stutter-step moves and the ability to change directions in traffic instantly…Excels at keeping his balance down the sidelines and has a knack for making the leaping catches inside the "red zone"…Turns his hips quickly to make the initial defender miss…Uses his arms well to break tackles.
Negatives: Needs to maintain better eye contact on the ball, as he tends to lose track of the pigskin at times (does not always come back for the off-target passes)…Has to use his hands more forcefully to escape press coverage…Needs structure, as he has tends to have concentration problems when not involved in the play.
Exciting deep threat who was rejected by the NCAA in his attempt to return to school for the 2002 season, after first applying for the NFL Draft…Became a full-time starter as a junior, but missed several games after fracturing his wrist in the season opener…Caught 99 passes for 1747 yards (17.6 avg) and 13 touchdowns during his career…His 19 catches rank 14th and his 1747 yards rank ninth on the school's career-record list.
REMINDS YOU OF… Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis Colts. Certainly not the route runner that Harrison is, but he has that explosive drive off the line and superb deep acceleration to keep defensive backs off his heels.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Depending on Lelie's later workout, Stallworth left scouts completely sold on him. He ran in the high 4.1s during his workout, but still, he needs patience while learning how to refine his route running, which is very suspect at the time.
Positives: Solidly built pass catcher with long legs…Very physical with defensive backs, using his hands well to push off to create space…Does a nice job of positioning his body to go up and haul down the pass in traffic…Shows excellent concentration, exploding in his cuts and executing fluid stutterstep moves in his routes…Longstrider with explosive acceleration in the open…Has great body control and the ability to make the acrobatic catches…Stays low in and out of his cuts, displaying the separation quickness to consistently go deep…Has superb acceleration and attacks defenders after the catch… Extends and adjusts well going for the ball in traffic…Has the power to drive defenders off when breaking back for the ball…Gets into his routes fluidly, using his quick feet to make sudden moves after the catch.
Negatives: Has had some recent off-field issues that makes one question his maturity (went overboard in manhandling a teenager who was stealing property)…Has toughness going over the middle, but rarely faces up to the defender when blocking…Needs to drop his hips quicker when running patterns…Has great hands, but will double catch at times…Fiesty runner after the catch, but is more of a straight-line type, not showing the shake needed to consistently elude…Has a pair of the smallest hands in college football (7 ½-inches).
A redshirt sophomore who established himself as one of the nation's premier offensive performers in the country, he holds the NCAA Division IA record for touchdown receptions in a season by a freshman with 14 in 2000 as well as most receiving yards in a season (1,184) by a freshman…The Sporting News National Freshman of the Year for 2000, he surpassed his freshman totals with another banner campaign in 2001…Became the first freshman wide receiver to be named first-team All-SEC and also the first UF freshman wide receiver to gain All-America honors…Started 19 of the 23 games he played in, hauling in 138 passes for 2375 yards (17.2 avg) and 27 touchdowns…His 138 catches rank seventh on the school's career-record list while his 27 scores rank fourth in Gator annals and sixth in Southeastern Conference history…Only Carlos Alvarez (2563, 1969-71) has gained more yards receiving at Florida…Only player to register consecutive 1000-yard seasons receiving in school history…His fourteen 100-yard games broke the previous UF career-record of 13 set by Alvarez.
REMINDS YOU OF… John Stallworth, ex-Steeler. This kid has big play potential in abundance and is still growing in both stature and playing ability.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Certain first rounder, yet some teams walked away unimpressed with his clocking in a recent workout. Just go back and look at the film on this kid before you make your final judgement.
Positives: Tall, long-limbed athlete with the ability to add more bulk to his frame with no dropoff in quickness…Shows lean muscle definement…Has the strength and initial explosion to bust through the jam…Runs tight upfield routes and does an excellent job of finding the sideline and adjusting to keep his feet inbounds…Quick to come back for the poorly thrown pass…Natural hands catcher who extends and plucks the ball with ease… His height gives him great advantage combating defenders for the ball in traffic…Has a smooth stride to get to the long ball…Very flexible adjusting to the ball in flight…Strong runner after the catch…Does a nice job of securing the ball before turning upfield…Has the power to break through tackles and is very effective using that strength upfield as a cut blocker.
Negatives: Fast, but lacks that second gear to consistently escape on deep routes…Not that aggressive as a blocker, making passive attempts to seal off…Needs to develop a nastier nature, as he tends to back down from the physical battles…Seems to hesitate, taking time to regain his speed after making the catch…More effective in deep routes as he is not as quick to get into his short routes like the little receivers do…May need time to digest the playbook (see Wonderlic score)…Bit of a long strider who lacks nifty moves, but has the speed to make defenders miss…. Has had concentration problems, resulting in drops of easy passes.
Saw considerable playing time at several wide receiver positions as a senior, thanks to a rash of injuries the Seminoles had on offense…Junior college transfer who proved to be a very capable deep threat in 2001…In two seasons with the Seminoles, he hauled in 65 passes for 1257 yards (19.3 avg) and ten touchdowns.
REMINDS YOU OF… Koren Robinson, Seattle Seahawks. Much like Robinson, if he can maintain focus, this kid will be a superstar.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Still not the greatest route runner you will find, so he will probably slip to the second round. Much like Miami's Chris Chambers, also slipped due to his less than crisp patterns, he is a quick learner who will soon make a few general managers regret they did not select him earlier.
Positives: Has an athletic physique with a tight waist and hips…Gets a quick burst off the snap and uses his hands well to challenge the defensive backs in press coverage…Has very effective swim moves to release off the line, using his quick stuttersteps to shake off the cornerbacks to get to the second level…Shows good field awareness in deep coverage, making proper body adjustments to come back for the ball…Excels at keeping his feet inbounds near the sidelines… Has that sudden burst that commands respect and knows how to set the defender up with his head fakes and change-of-direction agility…Big target who is very effective on crossing routes…Shows aggression competing for the ball and makes fluid adjustments going for the off-target passes…Able to run, jump and extend for the ball with ease…Lowers his head and secures the ball firmly before heading upfield…Will position and get in the way of the defender as a blocker.
Negatives: As the rock group, the Kinks sing, it's his attitude (poor, immature, pampered) that is a huge drawback…Has had off-field problems, resulting in a suspension in 1999 by the NCAA… Needs to show better movement working in tight coverage…Gets very sloppy running his routes, at times…Will gather and round his cuts…Works by his own set of rules…Relies too much on his exceptional speed, taking soft angle cuts and improper hip sink and swerve…Does not have natural hands, preferring to cradle the ball or catch with his body…Despite his quickness, is rarely used on over-the-top routes…Needs to develop better shake moves in order to gain yardage after the catch…Position blocker, but prefers not to get too physical in this area…While well-liked by teammates, his work ethic leaves a lot to be desired and he looks like a high maintenance type, much like his father (J.D.) and brother (Shelby) were…Hands (8 ¼-inches) are smaller than ideal.
Versatile athlete with explosive acceleration…Three-year starter at split end, who also excelled as a return specialist…Named the nation's best special teams performer in his final season… Caught at least one pass in 35 consecutive games…Ranks second on the school's career-record list with 152 receptions, topped only by Kevin Kasper (157, 1997-2000)…His 1892 yards receiving rank sixth and his 15 touchdown grabs rank fifth in Iowa annals…Returned 58 kickoffs for a school career-record 1509 yards (26.0 avg), including two scores and gained 556 yards with a pair of touchdowns on 45 punt returns (12.4 avg)…Finished his career with 3963 all-purpose yards and 19 touchdowns.
REMINDS YOU OF… Jerry Porter, Oakland Raiders. A world of talent who can simply control a game, if he wants to. Will look sensational one week and then, you'd need to put his face on a milk carton (missing) the next week.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Based on his poor performance at the Combines, his idea of working out at a country club did not seem too wise. Still, you have to see what he can do between the white lines in some games. Yet, he will frustrate the hell out of you as he never strings back-to-back performances together as you'd expect from his talent level.
First Day Possibilities
Positives: Outstanding route runner who punishes defenders that get in his way after the catch…Short strider with crisp moves off the line…Has excellent concentration and the ability to make acrobatic grabs…Superb leaper who likes to leave his feet…Can separate across the field and knows how to vary his speeds through routes…Very smooth reaching and snatching the ball away from the framework…Works the sidelines well and will come across the middle with toughness…Very sharp on crossing patterns and intermediate routes…Makes proper body adjustments going for the ball and has that sudden burst to arm break tackles and head upfield… Plants and drives sharply, showing no hesitation as he explodes down the sidelines…Keeps his feet inbounds and is very shifty elude defenders in the slot…Face-up blocker who will fire low to cut and will get his hands into the defender's chest with aggression…Gains instant advantage with his explosive initial burst…Combative type who times his leaps to haul the ball in at the highest point.
Negatives: More quick than fast…Vertical stretching of the defense is not in the cards here…Lack of height poses some problems vs. the taller defensive backs, but compensates with his leaping ability…Has shorter than ideal arms (29 ¾-inches).
One of the most decorated players in school history…Has virtually re-written the LSU and SEC record books for receiving…The 2001 Biletnikoff Award winner and consensus All-American has proven to be the best deep threat in the game…Despite starting only 15 of 31 games he played in, Josh hauled in 167 passes for 3001 yards (18.0 avg) and 17 touch- downs, becoming the first player in conference history to gain over 3000 yards receiving in a career…Set a total of twelve school and conference records…Set a school record with 18 100-yard performances during his career…Joined Tennessee's Joey Kent (1995-96) as the only players in Southeastern Conference history to gain over 1000 yards receiving in consecutive seasons.
REMINDS YOU OF… Rod Smith, Denver Broncos. This kid can cut on a dime and has the strength of a power halfback, resulting in him getting huge chunks of yardage after the catch.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Give me the tough guys, the fearless attitude types, the ones that dish out more punishment than they take and I will show you an All-Pro receiver. For my money, he has more upside potential than any receiver in this draft. Still, he's not a speed burner and still needs to smooth out a few rough spots before he can be considered an elite receiver, but he's oh-so-close.
Positives: Athletic & smooth runner who is very skilled at making the over-the-shoulder grabs… Does a very nice job of changing speeds in his routes…Gets good separation on his cuts…Works well over the middle & has the loose hips to explode past defenders after the catch…Superb underneath target who can come to a stop instantly…Very tough to jam due to his size…Can freeze defenders with his openfield moves after the catch…Shows sharp definition in his routes… Has great acceleration off the line and knows how to get physical with the defenders to secure the ball in traffic.
Negatives: Lacks lower body strength to maintain position as a blocker…Little hesitant going over the middle, showing adequate concentration combatting for the ball in a crowd…Seems to lose track of the ball in flight when attempting to make the over-the-shoulder grabs…Makes good adjustments to the ball, but will tend to body catch rather than extend and snatch…Grasping a complicated playbook could be a problem (see low Wonderlic score).
A redshirt junior, he joined Jabar Gaffney in forming the most explosive receiving tandem in college football…Starting 24 of the 33 games he played in, he hauled in 141 passes (sixth-best in school history) for 2088 yards (14.8 avg) and 18 touchdowns…His 2088 yards rank ninth in Gators annals…Had at least one touchdown catch in ten straight games, the second-longest streak in Florida history…Gained over 100 yards receiving eight times, tied for third on the school's career-record list.
REMINDS YOU OF… Ike Hilliard, New York Giants. One thing about Gator receivers, when it comes to crispness in their routes, they are textbook perfect.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Teammate Jabar Gaffney has better talent, but Caldwell just seems to apply himself more. That tireless work ethic will get him a starting job quicker than most receivers in this class.
Positives: Has superb overall muscle tone, with limber legs and long arms…Has an array of moves off the snap, using his hands well to get a strong push off the defenders to prevent the jam…Deep threat who has a smooth, effortless, gliding style running with the ball…Excellent leaper who uses his size to shield defenders from the ball…Crisp in his routes, showing the balance and agility to easily slip through the zone…Holds the ball securely after the catch and will extend aggressively in traffic to get to the ball… Explosive out of his cuts, showing good concentration…Very loose in his movements, making quick stops and starts while displaying nimble stutterstep moves…Looks effortless making the over-the-shoulder grabs, extending his hands away from the framework while doing an excellent job of keeping track of the ball in flight…Fluid route runner in the intermediate area, showing great body control to vary his speed in order to get behind the safeties… Shifts gears in an instant and knows how to use his body to shield defenders…Has that explosive second gear to elude in the open and the vision awareness to know when to come back when the quarterback is pressured…Uses his frame and strong hands well to get a push off the line.
Negatives: Needs to show better concentration and consistency, as he is known to take plays off…Long strider with a sharp initial burst, but does not have the sustained speed to elude upfield…Faces up to the defensive backs cut blocking in the open, but is not as aggressive when asked to stay behind and pick up the blitz…Will let the ball absorb into his body, at times…Good kid, but has had a few minor off-field problems (investigated before the 2001 season after receiving a stolen airline ticket to attend a charity event.)… Has matured, but had problems working in a team environment earlier in his career (has had several "discussions" with the coaches in regards to practices and the game plan).
Regards as one of the game's most electrifying receivers, able to change the outcome of a contest with his big-play ability…An emotional leader who is not afraid to confront team-mates for a lack of effort, he is able to stretch the defense with his deceptive speed and has also developed into a very effective punt returner…Started 29 of 33 games he's appeared in…Finished his career with 173 receptions for 3061 yards (17.7 avg) and 30 touchdowns…Only Latef Grim (178, 1998-2000) had more catches in a career for Pitt… His 3061 yards broke the previous school career-record of 3003 yards by Dietrich Jells (1991-95)…His 30 touchdowns broke Pittsburgh's old all-time record of 24, first set by Dwight Collins (1980-83) and matched by Jells…Added 388 yards on 44 punt returns (8.8 avg).
REMINDS YOU OF… Chris Carter, ex-Viking. Like Carter, he spends a lot of time with Snow White's evil step-mother (mirror, mirror on the wall), but one thing about Bryant, he may not be the most popular, but he gives everything he has to winning.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Like Carter, Randy Moss and Jerry Rice, the talented receiver will probably go lower than his talent indicates, but like that trio, he will soon prove others wrong about him. He still needs to mature off the field, as some of his decisions there are scaring away a few teams.
Positives: Has a solid frame with lean muscle development…Has sudden moves to get upfield…Pushes the defensive backs off the line with his quickness…Has a sharp change of direction and the speed moves to put the defenders on their heels…Possesses the deep acceleration to close the cushion and the burst to easily get behind the defender…Shows good ball concentration and the toughness to make the catch in a crowd…Displays the body control to adjust smoothly for the high tosses…Works to get into position and stalk as a cut blocker…Gone in an instant once he hits the crease…Sits well on curl routes and always seems to get the inside position going deep…Outstanding returner who has the explosive burst to gain yardage after securing the ball…Knows how to surprise the defender with his second burst of speed…Has the ability to drive off the coverage and come back for the short ball.
Negatives: For all of his quickness, he needs to gather himself before his explosion takes place…His hands are his worst enemy (constantly body catches), as he is known to bobble the ball and fights to make the clean catch…Needs to show better awareness on the field, as he does not recognize the sticks and struggles to keep his feet inbounds working near the sidelines… Needs to show better cutting ability on his outside routes (rounds his cuts).
Three-year starter at flanker who also excelled on the school's track team, serving as the anchor on the 4x100-meter relay squad in addition to performing in the 200-meter dash…Has garned honors for his performance both on the football field and in the classroom…Recently received an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship from the National Football Foundation…The three-time Academic All-Big East Conference choice ranks third on the school's career-record list with 1986 yards receiving and 103 catches…Only Antonio Freeman (22, 1991-94) had more touchdown catches for the Hokies than his 18…Holds the school's all-time records with 872 yards and a 15.8-yard average on punt returns (55)…His four punt returns for touchdowns tied a Tech record first set by Frank Loria (1965-67)… Added 218 yards on 10 kickoff returns (21.8 avg) and 121 yards with four scores on 11 carries (11.0 avg).
REMINDS YOU OF… Kevin Kasper, Denver Broncos. Like Kasper, he will make a name for himself as a retum man first. Like Kasper, his speed is his greatest asset.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… This is one of the more electrifying receivers you will find, but he does not have the pass catching ability of the others to rank with the elite here. His potential will keep him in the draft's first day, but he needs repetitions as a receiver and someone to give him confidence that he can catch.
Positives: Well-built athlete with average speed, but compensates with excellent quickness and body control…Very smooth route runner who uses his size well to get off the press…Has suddenness in his movements after the catch and will not hesitate to get physical with the defenders…Excels on slants and option routes, as he stays square and comes back immediately for the ball…Can make plays anywhere on the field, showing superb concentration and the ability to catch in a crowd…Makes natural adjustments coming off the line and can get vertical to haul in the high tosses…Displays great natural hand-catching ability (gets proper placement and catches away from the body)…Despite not possessing top speed, he can elude with his juke moves… Effective chop blocker who has the power to sustain…Makes sharp cuts on his routes, showing precision in and out of the break point…Holds on to the ball firmly upon contact…Gets upfield with nifty moves, showing toughness and vision when running after the catch…Very effective at delivering a forceful hand punch to power through the jam and get back into his routes.
Negatives: Has a limited burst to separate from the defender…Gathers some through his patterns…Struggles to run away from defenders, relying on moves rather than a burst… Not much of a deep threat, appearing more suited for intermediate routes (not a home run hitter).
The Bo Schembechler Most Valuable Player Award winner in 2001 had a banner career for the Wolverines, despite starting only 19 of 49 games he played in…Set a school career-record with at least one reception in 36 straight games…Ranks seventh on the all-time record chart with 17 touchdown catches…Holds the Wolverines' career-records with 176 receptions, topping the previous marks of 161 catches by Anthony Carter (1979-82)…His 2269 yards receiving is topped only by Carter (3076), Amani Toomer (2657, 1992-95) and David Terrell (2317, 1998-2000) in school annals.
REMINDS YOU OF… David Terrell, Chicago Bears. Like his old teammate, Walker has big play potential, but needs to show better concentration going for the ball. More of a possession type than a deep threat.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Teams are starting to push him more to the suspect, rather than the prospect category. He's not the fastest receiver out there and drops too many balls to be considered early round material. Yet, someone will take him on the draft's first day.
Positives: Lean, well-built with a muscular physique, long arms and legs and only 5.51% body fat…Shows very good deep acceleration…Runs precise deep routes and creates separation instantly after the catch…Looks the ball in and maintains concentration working through traffic… Makes proper adjustments on the ball and has the hip snap needed to come back quickly for the off-target passes…Has excellent jumping ability… Runs posts, slants and streaks with impressive efficiency…Shows no hesitation when coming inside for the pass…True deep threat with the body control to slide into the ball… Charges hard off the snap to close the cushion and escape the jam…Shows a good tilt in his release and plays at a good pad level…Gets a smooth and easy upfield push to quickly get behind the defensive backs.
Negatives: Has a good burst off the line, but seems to gather himself before getting into gear, making him late into his routes…Needs to work on his transition through patterns, as he tends to round his cuts…Lacks route variety, working generally in slants and hitches…Lets the ball absorb into his body too much rather than reaching and extending for it…needs to vary his speeds, as he will overrun the ball at times on deep routes…Has poor blocking technique, as he is slow to break down and stalk…Not the most disciplined route runner you will find…Has good run-after-catch ability, but needs to show more effort and aggression, as he prefers to tip-toe around defenders rather than arm break tackles… His short route running needs refinement, as he does not show smoothness on curls and transitions…Quarterback problems in recent years prevented him from developing fully as a deep threat.
The fastest player to ever perform for the Utes, boasting a 4.27 timing in the 40-yard dash…As strong as he is fast, he started the last three years at flanker, catching 124 passes for 1862 yards (15.0 avg) and ten touchdowns…His 124 receptions and 1862 yards rank sixth on the school's career-record lists.
REMINDS YOU OF… R. Jay Soward, Jacksonville Jaguars. These two are cut from the same mold in the speed department and the way thet has that sudden deep acceleration. Luckily, Russell is a model citizen, unlike Soward.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Superman was not as fast as Russell. It is his speed that will get him drafted early, as his numbers on the field simply do not match up to this lofty draft status.
Positives: Has a quick release off the line, running sharp, clean pass patterns to put the defensive back up on his heels…Has good field awareness, quickly anticipating the coverage… Gets good separation after the catch, showing a quick stride to elude upfield…Makes proper body adjustments towards the ball and catches with his hands extended…Has the body control and flexibility to stretch out for the pass…Stalk-type blocker who is effective cutting…Has game-breaking speed and absorbs the hit well…Productive return specialist who sets up quickly under the ball…Runs crisp routes, making proper body adjustments on the deep ball and is very sharp breaking out of his cuts.
Negatives: Has thin lower body development…May have a depth perception problem, as he struggles to locate on deep routes…Lacks the size and power to escape the jam vs. the larger defensive backs…Needs to show better concentration, as he tends to try and head upfield before properly securing the ball…Could be character questions (arrested, but not charged with possession of a controlled substance in the spring of 2001 after a car he was driving in (not his) was searched by police)…More of a vertical receiver, not showing a willingness to go over the middle…Gets lazy in his routes if he knows the ball is not coming to him.
Three-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference receiver (first player in school history to accomplish that feat) who is Tech's career leader in catches (198), receiving yards (2907) and touchdown receptions (24), topping Harvey Middleton's old records of 165 receptions for 2291 yards (1994-97) and 14 scores by Dez White (1997-99), Buck Martin (1950-51) and Gary Lee (1983-86)…His 198 catches rank third, his 2907 yards rank seventh and his 24 scores rank eighth in ACC annals…Added 152 yards and three scores on 13 carries (11.7 avg) and 1415 yards on 59 kickoff returns (24.0 avg) in 41 games for the Yellow Jackets… Ranks third on the school's all-time record list with 4474 all-purpose yards, surpassed only by Jerry Mays (4743, 1985-89) and Robert Lavette (5393, 1981-84).
REMINDS YOU OF… Eddie Kennison, Kansas City Chiefs. This is a classic example of my opening statement (Forrest Gump, box of chocolates, never know what you are going to get), as Campbell will make that sensational sideline catch, take a few plays off and seems to keep his distance when asked to go over the middle, much like the timid Kennison.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… This kid is no angel, but then, who is. On talent and return ability, he's a first day pick, but one suspects he could still be around during the draft's second day.
Positives: Rare athlete with electrifying moves and a heart bigger than most…College quarterback, but has the short area quickness and sudden burst to excel as a slot receiver at the next level (see Senior Bowl)…Very aware of the action on the field, showing good pick-&-slide ability…Dangerous runner when given space to the perimeter…Can break tackles in an instant with his leg strike and body torque…Hits the seam with force and shows solid cutback ability… Knows how to dip, swerve and drop his weight to make tacklers miss in the open…Shows good hip snap as he accelerates through the rush lanes and runs with the ball well-secured…Can drop and run out of his breakpoint and shows good hand/eye coordination catching the ball in traffic… Scrappy blocker who knows how to cut and shows aggression facing up to the blitz…Does not have the track speed you'd like, but is smart enough to quickly find the crease and fluid enough to spot the cut back lane…Shows good pick and slide agility running with the ball…Good hands catcher who can drop and accelerate coming out of his cuts…Has the hand/eye coordination to adjust well to the ball in flight…Has outstanding mental toughness.
Negatives: Too small and frail to be a quarterback at the next level…Tends to float his deep passes and lacks the pinpoint accuracy going long…Has to learn to run at a lower pad level in order to prevent defenders from tagging him on the first hit…More suited for an inside slot receiver's position, as he does not have the explosion or sustained speed to elude in the open… His size is a concern as a receiver, as his small-boned frame is very lean in the lower region and this could pose problems for him getting a push off the line to escape the jam, but his marginal inside running ability may prevent him from being used as a halfback (best on the perimeter, as he needs space to run).
With his senior season in the books, Antwaan Randle El has solidly, and spectacularly, established himself as one of the top performers in college football history…Finished his career as the most statistically productive dual-threat quarterback to ever compete on the college gridiron… Called a "human-highlight" film, as he consistently displays extra-ordinary running abilities and a very strong arm…Said former Penn State cornerback Bhawoh Jue about attempting to tackle the elusive signal caller, "Have you ever chased a rabbit?"…Finished his career as the most productive dual-threat quarterback in college football history…In 44 games, he passed for 7489 yards and 42 touchdowns on 528 of 1060 attempts (49.8%) and rushed for 3895 yards and 44 scores on 857 carries (4.5 avg)… In doing so, he is the only player in NCAA Division I-A history to reach 6000 yards passing and 3000 yards rushing and also the only player to pass for 40 touchdowns and score 40 touchdowns…Also caught seven passes for 90 yards (12.9 avg) and a touchdown, punted 17 times for 569 yards (33.5 avg) and returned 16 punts for 149 yards (9.3 avg)…Gained 11,384 yards with 86 touchdowns on 1917 plays, averaging 258.73 yards per game in total offense.
REMINDS YOU OF… Hines Ward, Pittsburgh Steelers. This guy will do everything and anything you ask of him. He's an exceptional athlete with that desire coaches love.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… If he was a few inches taller and a four-year performer at wide receiver, he would have been the first receiver in this draft. Those teams going bargain hunting better be advised - he won't be around too long on draft day.
Second Day Possibilities
Positives: Physical receiver with the strength and leg drive to power through the holdup in press coverage…Has good short area quickness and burst, showing effectiveness on control routes, fades and quick slants…Has good field awareness, knowing when to anticipate the hit and does a nice job of keeping his feet inbounds…Adjusts quickly to come back for the ball when the quarter-back is flushed out of the pocket…Uses his size and strength to screen off defenders on underneath routes…Willingly combats defensive backs for the ball…Has the excellent body control needed to make the off-target circus grabs and can easily adjust to haul the pass in over his shoulders…Plays at a low pad level, using his strong legs to defeat the initial tackle to turn upfield after the catch… Superb cut blocker who is always looking for a defender to hit and works hard to sustain his blocks.
Negatives: Needs to be more vocal…Lacks the sudden moves getting off the line, powering his way into his routes rather than exploding…Not that polished of a route runner, generally rounding his cuts…Compensates for a lack of ideal speed by getting physical with the defenders in order to get to the ball…While he is capable of catching with hands extended, he tends to body catch too much…Has to initiate double moves on his run in order to break free…Has problems with the faster defensive backs, who can crowd him at the line and then mirror his moves.
The team's got-to receiver, the Biletnikoff Award nominee holds the school's record with at least one reception in every game he played in for the Gophers, 46 consecutive contests…A strong, physical tackle-breaker, he finished his career as the school's all-time record holder with 198 receptions for 3039 yards (15.3 avg) and 31 touchdowns, topping the previous marks of 171 catches for 2640 yards and 17 scores by Tutu Atwell (1994-97).
Positives: Has a solid muscular build with long arms and broad shoulders…Fine athlete who also ran track for the Tigers…Has good body control, showing sudden moves coming off the snap…Effective route runner out of the backfield…Has great acceleration as a return man… Works the sidelines well, keeping balance as he extends for the pass…Sinks his hips and separates quickly once he finds the seam…Known for his leaping ability, he utilizes those skills effectively combating for the ball…Has the pull-away speed needed to elude after the catch… Catches the ball cleanly with hands extended…Can track and locate the ball on deep routes… Very creative after the catch, showing the hip snap and wiggle to make the initial tackler miss… Very precise cutting in the open…Battles downfield as a blocker, delivering a solid jolt… Dangerous when lining up in the backfield, creating mismatches for linebackers with his speed.
Negatives: Despite his track speed, he lacks flexibility in his moves…Likes to trap the ball, letting it absorb into his body…Has problems changing directions and will tend to lose his concentration when not involved in the play…Has more pick-up speed than a quick initial burst…Had a "high maintainance" personality earlier in his career, but has matured over the years.
Two-sport star who was originally a prep quarterback that was converted to cornerback upon arriving at Auburn…Shifted to the offensive side as a sophomore…Has a great future as a return specialist, having gained 956 yards on 40 kickoff returns (23.9 avg) with a touchdown during his career…His 23.9-yard average ranks fourth on the school's career-record list while his 956 yards placed him fifth on the Tigers' all-time chart…Caught 57 passes for 842 yards (14.8 avg) and four touchdowns while starting 15 of 29 games… Added 173 yards on 24 carries (7.2 avg).
Positives: Flashes good foot quickness and acceleration off the snap…Has the body control to make sharp cuts in his routes…Very alert of the sidelines, maintaining balance and adjusting in coverage…Creates separation from the defender with his burst, showing the vision to keep track of the ball in flight…Has the variety of moves needed to uncover and the speed to get open in the short area…Fearless in traffic, asserting himself to combat and reach for the ball at its highest point…Secures the ball immediately and rarely puts the ball on ground when taking on contact… Willing to extend and fight for the off-target passes…Has the foot agility and hip swerve to gain acceleration after the catch… Postion and pester-type of blocker with the strength an effort to sustain…Has the change of direction mobility to make defenders miss…Has the body control to make acrobatic catches at tough angles…While not a tackle-breaker he has the vision and quickness needed to avoid.
Negatives: Struggles at times to elude defenders in tight coverage (defenders maintain contact on him with their hands)…Has very small hands and lacks flexibility in his digits to prevent from dropping the easy passes…While tough in traffic, he loses his concentration at times when hearing the defender zoning in on him…Does not always finish his routes with speed…Very lean in the legs and has skinny calves, preventing him from getting good leg drive…Tends to round his routes a bit, taking wasted steps…Better vertically than horizontally…While he has natural hands, he prefers to body catch too much.
Versatile athlete who has proven to be a dangerous threat whether catching, running or returning the football…A key weapon in MSU's offensive playbook, Herb started the last two seasons for the Spartans….Finished with 115 receptions for 1640 yards (14.3 avg) and seven touchdowns…His 115 catches rank ninth and his 1640 yards 12th on the school's career-record list…Returned 76 kickoffs for 1770 yards (23.3 avg) and a pair of scores… Only Derrick Mason (2575, 1993-96) gained more yards on kickoff returns in MSU annals.
Positives: Has a compact, well-developed body…Possesses exceptional plant and cut agility with good lateral speed…Has that effortless, natural release to defeat the press… Can reinforce coverage with his foot speed…Sinks his hips and comes off his plants in an instant to freeze defenders…Separates from the secondary after the catch and shows great focus maintaining contact on the ball in flight…Makes natural adjustments to the ball on returns…Has soft hands, catching the ball outside the framework…Has the knack for sticking and driving through his patterns to find the seam in the zone…His juking and jittery moves after the catch allows him to turn on the after-burners upfield…His initial burst generally will stretch the defense…Gives good effort sustaining his blocks in the open.
Negatives: More of a deceptive runner than one with true explosiveness…Tends to "hear footsteps" going for the ball in traffic and would prefer to not combat for the ball…His lack of bulk gets him pushed around a bit on underneath routes…While he shows good effort as a blocker, he needs to finish off his hits rather than supply only glancing blows…Relies on moves, rather that linear speed to escape the defenders.
Versatile performer who has excelled as a receiver, runner, passer and returner…Shows a strong arm for the option pass and is very patient waiting for blocks to develop in the return game… Moved into the starting lineup late in his freshman year…Holds the school's career-record with 152 receptions, shattering the previous mark of 132 catches by David Bailey (1969-71)…His 1859 yards receiving are topped only by Ozzie Newsome's 2070 (1974-77)…Ranks third in school annals with 40 kickoff returns for 917 yards (22.9 avg) and fourth with 3449 all-purpose yards…Had six touchdown catches and also gained 242 yards with a score on 32 carries (7.6 avg) and 431 yards with two touchdowns on 43 punt returns (10.0 avg) in 44 games.
Positives: Gets good initial movement off the snap…Makes sharp cuts to gain advantage in the short area…Has the running instincts and hip swerve to make the initial tackler miss…Shows good functional strength to run through arm tackles…Holds the ball close and covers it up upon contact to prevent the fumble…Effective route runner, especially from the inside slot position… Has the body control and field awareness to get open down- field…Makes proper adjustments to the ball in flight and excels at extending to make the tough, high catch…Very adept at running corners, seams and crossing routes…Has outstanding work habits…His ability to get into second gear quickly, hold onto the ball and power his way through tackles could see him shift to a position in the backfield at the pro level…Gets good zone movement in his pass routes…Intense blocker who will give maximum effort…Has the leaping ability to show promise on special teams as a punt blocker.
Negatives: Never settled down to learn one position, as the coaching staff constantly changed his position…Labors at times separating from the defensive backs on deep routes, appearing more comfortable in the short area…Has limited lateral agility when trying to turn the corner… Shows hesitation at times sliding and accelerating through the holes…While he shows intent as a blocker, he does not have the bulk to be effective as a fullback.
Regarded as the team's best all-around player….Helped the Irish by running, passing and catching the football, as well as both returning and blocking kicks during his career… Classic playmaker who can perform and produce big plays at a variety of skill positions…Finished his career with 814 yards and three touchdowns on 72 receptions (11.3 avg), 146 yards and four scores on 41 carries (3.6 avg), 102 yards and a touchdown on 3 of 5 pass attempts, 439 yards on 21 kickoff returns and 30 yards on a pair of punt returns.
Positives: Long and tall, with lean muscle development…Uses his long arms and power to get by the jam releasing off the line…Smooth and efficient getting into his routes… Shows good route awareness, knowing the depth on his patterns while recognizing the coverages…Deceptive runner who will sneak up on the defensive back and then suddenly separate…Uses his body properly to uncover and position when getting to the pass in the short area…Takes advantage of his long arms to get up for the ball at its highest point… Natural hands catcher who will combat with the defenders to take the ball away…Has the body control to adjust to the ball over his shoulders…Powers his way for extra yardage, but also has some hip swerve and wiggle to elude…Willing blocker who always goes after defensive backs upfield.
Negatives: Lacks sudden movement off the snap, relying on his smooth release to get open…Does not have that sharp burst needed to consistently turn upfield…Loses his concentration at times, dropping the easy passes…Does not have good vertical speed… Has a hard time keeping track of the ball on deep routes (possible peripheral problem?)… Has had several wrist fractures, causing one to question his durability…Has also been hampered with nagging hamstrings.
Regarded as one of the top receivers in the country, Brian is only the second player in school history to catch at least 44 passes twice in a career (Kevin Jordan is the other) and no one has done it three times…He is also the second player in school history to record at least 712 receiving yards in two different seasons (J.J. Stokes is the other) and no one has accomplished that in three seasons…Brian possesses very good speed and quickness which, combined with his size, makes him an outstanding big-play performer…He is also an excellent blocker…Finished his career with 139 receptions for 2127 yards (15.3 avg) and 20 touchdowns, the fifth-best career totals in school history.