Monday, March 28, 2011

2011 Draft: Wide Receivers

With the draft rapidly approaching, my studies of the 2011 prospects has picked up it's pace. With that in mind I've spent the last day hammering footage of wide receivers and here's what I've come up with.

- Jeff Maehl. I liked Maehl at the combine and what I've seen in-game just reinforces that. Surprisingly quick and really good hands.

- Terrence Toliver. Overall I'm not totally sold on Toliver, but he does have excellent run after the catch skills, something that is in high demand among teams that favour the short passing game (the lumped together "West Coast Offense" teams). There is plenty of potential there given the right scheme.

- A.J. Green. Eventually you knew this name was going to come up and here it is. What can you say about Green that hasn't already been said? He's a great all round receiver. Probably quite a safe pick in the first round.

- Julio Jones. People have been creaming their pants over Julio Jones for the last three months, but I came away from watching his film (oh, such a bad choice of words) with a distinctly underwhelming impression. I'm not saying he was bad, just average. Certainly didn't see anything that would justify a first round pick.

- Torrey Smith. Probably my favourite receiver in the 2011 draft. Yeah I know, Torrey Smith? But he was consistently very good from what I saw. In particular I thought his positioning, working the defenders to get over the top of them on deep passes, was excellent. Will probably slip into later rounds, where someone will bag a bargain.

- Jonathan Baldwin. I'm going to give Baldwin some of the benefit of the doubt, in that all the footage that I watched of him was mired by poor quarterback play. But even then, that's not really a 100% full proof excuse. He just looked a little lazy at times, and even a little clumsy. Not sure how much he would really improve with a better QB throwing to him.

- Randall Cobb. I've been keeping an eye on Cobb for a while now. Very impressed. I love Cobbs technique and I love the adjustments that he makes to his routes to pick his way through a cluster of defenders and get into space. Given time to build a partnership with a smart QB, Cobb could go on to great things.

- Leonard Hankerson. What's not to like about this guy? Speed, size, uses his body to fight off defenders. He has great hands, really safe, and from what I understand he has invested a lot of time in the offseason periods working to make himself better, while juggling college life and two kids. I respect Hankerson for that and I believe he will be rewarded for his hard work.

- Titus Young. There's something a little cocky about Young, which isn't a bad thing necessarily. The guy has great speed, great agility, and superb hands. Another pretty sound pick.

- Jerrel Jernigan. He's quick. He's very strong for a receiver. Pretty damn agile. And smart. Listening to him in an interview rattling off the various things he was looking at on a wildcat play, you get the sense Jernigan will have little difficulty coping with the high mental demands expected of an NFL receiver. Perhaps not a first rounder, but anything less than that seems like a safe bet on Jernigan.

- Greg Little. Speed? Check. Strength? Double check. Spin move? Triple check. He perhaps loves that move a little too much, but whatever works I guess. Bit of a red flag over character though. Can't seem to resist finishing a play with a bit of smack talk and that's the kind of thing that can land a player in trouble, fast. Not sure if I'd want to bite for that reason. Someone will probably take a chance, and if they can tame the attitude a bit then he has a great future.

- Vincent Brown. Talk about ball skills? The start talking about Vincent Brown. Excellent hands coupled with great concentration. Add to that some great route running and you have a winner in Brown. Not the fastest kid in the world on film, but a pretty sound receiver none the less.

And finally, in what is becoming an annoying habit for me, I've spotted another RB that I'd like to mention:

- Daniel Thomas. When I was watching Cobb I came across Thomas again and I delved a little deeper under the surface to see what this kid was about. He's not the fastest back in the draft, nor the most agile, but he has a knack of slithering through space and getting the yards. Could be a handy late round pick for someone.

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