The 2009 NFL Draft: WR Prospects

Wrs_medium

 

Next in the multi-part draft breakdown are the wide receivers. I watch a ton of college football, but I’m not Mel Kiper Jr., so all of these are up for discussion.

 

After having the good fortune of watching such talent as Marty Booker, Rashied "Dropopotamus" Davis, Brandon Lloyd, and Mark Bradley, we all know we need a #1 and #2 WR. With the Bears releasing Marty Booker and John Tait’s retirement, here are the major holes to fill:

 

1) Starting RT

2) #1 and #2 WR

3) FS/SS

 

Some, like GeauxBears, have been clamoring for the #18 pick to be used on an offensive lineman, preferably an OT. Some want that playmaking WR that we’ve lacked for the past few years. Some, like WCG, are looking towards a defensive selection. Before John Tait’s retirement, I was on the fence about who to draft. I was intrigued with Darrius Heyward-Bey, yet I realized our offensive line was also terrible last year. Tait’s retirement just swung my vote into the OT slot.

 

There are four elite WR talents in the draft this year (Crabtree, Maclin, Heyward-Bey, and Harvin). However, there are some diamonds in the rough with the other wideouts available. Join me after the jump.

Michael Crabtree, Sophomore, Texas Tech
Height: 6'3"       Weight: 214 lbs.

YEAR

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FUM

LST

2007

134

1962

14.6

75

22

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

2008

97

1165

12.0

82

19

2

1

0.5

3

0

0

0

Pros: Freak of an athlete....sturdily built....fearless going across the middle....great awareness....can read defenses and locate the seams quickly....jumping abilities are excellent....rarely drops passes...fluid moving out of his starting position....will fight for the ball in traffic.

Cons: Lacks elite top-end speed....not considered a leader, but no other character concerns.

Let's take a look at the BGA of Crabtree: 

DATE

OPP

RESULT  

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FUM

LST

11/1

Texas

W 39-33

10

127

12.7

28

1

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

11/8

Oklahoma State

W 56-20

8

89

11.1

18

3

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

11/22

@Oklahoma

L 65-21

6

62

10.3

15

0

1

-2

-2.0

2

0

0

0

COTTON

Mississippi

L 47-34

4

30

7.5

11

1

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

Average:  7-77 yards, 10.4 YPC, 1.25 TD's.

Bottom line: Crabtree is hands-down the best WR in this draft; his only negative is a slight lack of top-end speed. Because of his arsenal of tools, there's no way he's making it out of the top five picks.

Projected round: Top 5 selection 

Jeremy Maclin, Sophomore, Missouri
Height: 6'1"      Weight: 200 lbs.

YEAR

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FUM

LST

2007

80

1055

13.2

82

9

51

375

7.4

30

4

0

0

2008

102

1260

12.4

80

13

40

293

7.3

56

2

0

0

Pros: Good height and bulk....elite top-end speed....extremely dangerous if unimpeded at the LOS....body control during jumps is excellent....rarely drops passes....has an excellent stiff arm that he used with success in the 2008 campaign....reads blocks well; can turn a short-yardage into a TD....hits his top-end quickly.

Cons: Needs coaching on reading defenses quicker....does not appear to show any desire to block....will often run out of bounds instead of fighting for a few extra yards....does not explode out of initial breaks (could hurt in the NFL because his speed will not mask it as well).

Let's take a look at the BGA of Maclin:

DATE

OPP

RESULT  

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FUM

LST

8/30

Illinois

W 52-42

4

31

7.8

10

0

3

2

0.7

2

0

0

0

10/4

@Nebraska

W 52-17

5

89

17.8

58

1

3

15

5.0

6

0

0

0

10/11

Oklahoma State

L 28-23

8

120

15.0

41

0

2

6

3.0

9

0

0

0

10/18

@Texas

L 56-31

8

66

8.3

16

0

2

-1

-0.5

6

0

0

0

11/29

Kansas

L 40-37

9

123

13.7

30

1

3

32

10.7

22

0

0

0

12/6

@Oklahoma

L 62-21

7

46

6.6

27

1

1

2

2.0

2

0

0

0

ALAMO BOWL

@Northwestern

W 30-23

7

39

5.6

9

1

5

43

8.6

11

0

0

0

Average: 6.85-73.42 yards, 10.68 YPC, .58 TD's.

Bottom line: If we lived in a perfect world, we could combine Maclin's speed with Crabtree's body and ball skills and call it a day. Regardless, Maclin is a great prospect who needs some fine-tuning to become an elite NFL WR.

Projected round: Top 10 selection

Darrius Heyward-Bey, Sophomore, Maryland
Height: 6'3"       Weight: 206 lbs.

YEAR

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FUM

LST

2006

45

694

15.4

96

5

5

5

1.0

9

0

0

0

2007

51

786

15.4

63

3

5

107

21.4

54

1

0

0

2008

42

609

14.5

80

5

15

202

13.5

76

1

0

0

Pros: Freak of an athlete....runs a low 4.3 40....great height....high-character kid....has the top-end speed to hit the home run in the NFL....tracks the ball well....fights for the ball in traffic and is not afraid to go over the middle.

Cons: Due to his below-average teammate's talent at Maryland, the combine is make-or-break for H-B's draft status....needs to add a little bulk....needs coaching running routes, as he'll round off and not crisply change directions....drops catchable balls due to lack of focusing....does not possess good blocking fundamentals.

Let's take a look at the BGA of Heyward-Bey:

DATE

OPP

RESULT  

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FUM

LST

9/13

California

W 35-27

2

59

29.5

32

1

1

9

9.0

9

0

0

0

9/27

@Clemson

W 20-17

0

0

0.0

0

0

1

76

76.0

76

0

0

0

10/4

@Virginia

L 31-0

0

25

0.0

25

0

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

10/18

Wake Forest

W 26-0

11

101

9.2

41

1

1

1

1.0

1

0

0

0

11/15

North Carolina

W 17-15

5

43

8.6

15

0

2

5

2.5

5

0

0

0

HUMANITARIAN BOWL

@Nevada

W 42-35

4

48

12.0

21

0

1

-6

-6.0

0

0

0

0

Average: 3.6-46 yards, 9.88 YPC, .33 TD's.

Bottom line: When compared to Crabtree or Maclin, Heyward-Bey's numbers are subpar. Keep in mind that that H-B played at Maryland and did not have an above-average NCAA QB throwing to him (unlike Crabtree or Maclin). H-B is a physical specimen, and his future looks very bright in the NFL.

Projected round: Late 1st

Percy Harvin, Junior, Florida
Height: 5'11"      Weight: 195 lbs.

YEAR

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FUM

LST

2006

34

427

12.6

58

2

41

428

10.4

67

3

0

0

2007

59

858

14.5

52

4

83

764

9.2

66

6

0

0

2008

40

644

16.1

70

7

70

659

9.4

80

10

0

0

Pros: 4.3 40 time....can line up as a RB, for those limited teams who want to run out of the Wildcat....good body control....sets his hips and explodes out of the line....reaches top-end speed quickly and eliminates CB's cushions....is aggressive going over the middle....upside as a PR/KR.

Cons: His physical size....Harvin's time in the NFL will depend on how he matches up against bigger and stronger DB's....has durability concerns....route-running is unpolished....must bulk up....lets the football get away from his body during RAC.

Let's look at the BGA of Harvin:

DATE

OPP

RESULT  

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FUM

LST

9/6

Miami (FL)

W 26-3

1

12

12.0

12

0

5

27

5.4

10

1

0

0

9/20

@Tennessee

W 30-6

2

49

24.5

34

1

6

31

5.2

9

0

0

0

10/11

LSU

W 51-21

6

112

18.7

70

2

2

13

6.5

8

0

0

0

11/1

@Georgia

W 49-10

3

52

17.3

25

1

4

37

9.3

20

1

0

0

11/15

South Carolina

W 56-6

1

6

6.0

6

0

8

167

20.9

80

2

0

0

11/29

@Florida State

W 45-15

0

0

0.0

0

0

6

13

2.2

9

1

0

0

BCS

@Oklahoma

W 24-14

5

49

9.8

19

0

9

121

13.4

52

1

0

0

Average: 2.57-40 yards, 12.61 YPC, .57 TD's.

Bottom line: Harvin's a boom-or-buster prospect. He's extremely fast and has high value as a returner, yet is an unpolished route runner with below-average height. He could be a dangerous slot threat for a team; I'm hoping that team isn't the Bears.

Projected round: Mid-to-late 1st 

Hakeem Nicks, Junior, North Carolina
Height: 6'1"       Weight: 215 lbs.

YEAR

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FUM

LST

2006

39

660

16.9

83

4

1

10

10.0

10

0

0

0

2007

74

958

12.9

53

5

1

-1

-1.0

0

0

0

0

2008

68

1222

18.0

74

12

5

34

6.8

12

1

0

0

Pros: Strong runner....does not go down on initial hit....jumping skills/body control is excellent....excels at catching the ball in traffic....aggressive in his route-running....does not hesitate going over the middle.

Cons: Does not appear to even care about blocking....lacks a mean streak....lacks initial burst off the line....top-end speed is adequate at best....won't be able to separate from man coverage in the NFL. 

Let's take a look at the BGA of Nicks:

DATE

OPP

RESULT  

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FUM

LST

10/4

Connecticut

W 38-12

3

55

18.3

31

1

1

8

8.0

8

0

0

0

10/18

@Virginia

L 16-13

6

90

15.0

23

0

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

11/8

Georgia Tech

W 28-7

3

72

24.0

31

1

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

Average: 4-72.33 yards, 19.1 YPC, .67 TD's.

Bottom line: Like Heyward-Bey, Nicks needs to have a good combine. His career numbers aren't a problem to scouts, but his 40 time will be. As of this point, Nicks is the fifth-best WR and a lock for the second round. If Nicks surprises people with his 40 time, he could jump into the late 1st.

Projected round: Late 1st - early 2nd

Juaquin Iglesias, Senior, Oklahoma
Height: 6'0"5/8       Weight: 204 lbs.

YEAR

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FUM

LST

2005

19

290

15.3

34

2

1

9

9.0

9

0

0

0

2006

41

514

12.5

37

2

2

6

3.0

4

0

0

0

2007

68

907

13.3

51

5

8

87

10.9

41

1

0

0

2008

74

1150

15.5

48

10

1

7

7.0

7

0

0

0

Pros: Great route-runner....no character issues....great vision after the catch....appears to take pride in his blocking....will not go down after the first hit....will go across the middle....above-average awareness along the sideline.

Cons: More quick than fast; will not be a deep threat....has some fumbling issues he must take care of. 

Let's look at the BGA of Iglesias:

DATE

OPP

RESULT  

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FUM

LST

9/27

TCU

W 35-10

4

63

15.8

24

1

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

10/11

Texas

L 45-35

7

92

13.1

28

0

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

10/18

Kansas

W 45-31

12

191

15.9

48

0

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

11/22

Texas Tech

W 65-21

1

28

28.0

28

1

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

11/29

@Oklahoma State

W 61-41

8

86

10.8

18

1

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

12/6

Missouri

W 62-21

9

125

13.9

36

2

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

BCS

Florida

L 24-14

5

58

11.6

22

0

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

Average: 6.57-91.85 yards, 15.58 YPC, .71 TD's

Bottom line: Iglesias is one of those players who you root for. He's a high-character individual who does a lot of little things right. The problem with drafting Iglesias is how he'll fit on an NFL team. He won't outrun anyone, which leaves him as a #4. If has a good 40 at the combine, his stock will dramatically rise.

Projected round: Late 2nd - early 3rd 

Kenny Britt, Junior, Rutgers
Height: 6'4"       Weight: 215 lbs.

YEAR

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FUM

LST

2006

29

440

15.2

74

2

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

2007

62

1232

19.9

53

8

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

2008

87

1371

15.8

93

7

7

75

10.7

31

1

0

0

Pros: No durability questions with Britt....fights for the ball in traffic and won't go down easily....reads defenses well....finds the seam quickly.

Cons: Big character question marks (see below)....takes a long time to get to top-end speed....blocking is subpar....stutter-steps too much....has a tendency to take his eyes off the ball to locate safeties....sideline awareness is sorely lacking....drops balls too often due to a lack of focus.

Let's take a look at the BGA of Britt:

DATE

OPP

RESULT  

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FUM

LST

10/25

@Pittsburgh

W 54-34

5

143

28.6

79

3

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

PAPAJOHNS BOWL

North Carolina State

W 29-23

6

119

19.8

42

1

1

16

16.0

16

0

0

0

Average: 5.5-131 yards, 24.2 YPC, 2 TD's.

Bottom line: The reason I have Britt listed so low is because of two reasons: only decent top-end speed and a lot of character concerns. He was suspended for one game in 2008, and some believe he has questionable-at-best work ethic. ESPN's Insider scouting report even listed him as having an inflated sense of his abilities. Regardless, his talent will land him in the second or third round.

Projected round: Late 2nd - middle 3rd 

Brandon Tate, Senior, North Carolina
Height: 6'1"       Weight: 195 lbs.

YEAR

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FUM

LST

2006

5

72

14.4

26

0

3

20

6.7

15

0

0

0

2007

25

479

19.2

51

5

12

131

10.9

54

1

0

0

2008

16

376

23.5

69

3

11

143

13.0

54

1

0

0

Pros: Decent route-runner....excellent at catching balls in traffic....sideline awareness is above-average....decent body control once in the air.

Cons: Top-end speed is above-average, but it takes him a while to hit it....initial burst off the line is subpar....durability is an issue (knee injury in 2008)....needs to hit the weight room hard to have a chance at being an NFL WR. 

Let's take a look at the BGA of Tate:

DATE

OPP

RESULT  

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FUM

LST

10/4

Connecticut

W 38-12

2

17

8.5

17

0

2

1

0.5

8

0

0

0

Average: Funny. Real funny.

Bottom line: Tate has a lot of question marks. If he shows that his knee is healed up at the combine, he'll boost his draft stock. Keep in mind that Tate was sharing the load with Hakeem Nicks, so don't be fooled by his low numbers. He has some potential as a return man, and with good coaching could be a decent receiver in the NFL.

Projected round: Early 3rd - mid 4th

Who didn't make the list:

Brian Robiskie, Senior, Ohio State

Robiskie lacks top-end speed and must hit the weight room. However, outside of those two elements, Robiskie is a quality NFL prospect. Look for him to get off the board in the third round.

Derrick Williams, Senior, Penn State

Williams has great top-end speed, but there are a lot of questions with Williams. He loses his balance easily, needs to bulk up, footwork is inconsistent, and he drops easy passes too often. With good coaching, he'd be a decent WR; however, he needs to hit the weight room hard to be a primary target.

Pat White, Senior, West Virginia

White has a lot of durability questions and has to bulk up a lot if he plans on being an NFL WR. He has had a tendency to fumble the ball too often, but good coaching should alleviate that. White's two shining positives are his speed and elusiveness, which should be enough to get him off the board in the 4th round.

ChiFan's Sleeper:

Ramses Barden, Senior, Cal Poly

Barden does not have excellent top-end speed, but his massive 6'6", 220 lbs. frame should help alleviate that. While he did play FCS competition most of the year, he absolutely dominated them and did well enough against Wisconsin to show he's not a pushover. His combine 40 could help boost him into the 2nd round; otherwise he'll be a 4th rounder.

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