The Grand National Championships

April 17, 2009

Day 1 Draft Breakdown…Wide Receivers

Last year? There was not much quality to the depth that was out there for the passcatcher. There was a lot of depth, but there was no first round ace. This year? It brings something different. Height and awesome. Trust me, there will be a lot of receivers drafted here.

Michael Crabtree
1. Michael Crabtree Texas Tech
6’2″ 215 4.54

There is so much to love about Michael Crabtree’s game? It’s sick. Outside of timed speed? Here’s what Crabtree brings to the table.

Ball skills
Hand catching at the high point
Getting himself open
And he was a Heisman finalist on one foot last year. Yeah. he’s an ace.

What’s his weaknesses? The speed is not great, and the separation will become an issue at some point. It also means he’s never going to be a home run hitter. But I am merely nitpicking. Crabtree is ready.

I mean, worst case scenario? He’s Keyshawn Johnson. But like the last redshirt sophomore to declare himself for the draft, there’s a surprising polish to his game. If you must know. Crabtree could sky to Larry Fitzgerald’s heights. He has that high of an upside.

Jeremy Maclin
2. Jeremy Maclin Missouri
6’0″ 198 4.45

Jeremy Maclin has that certain something to his game. It’s a mixture of elusiveness that rivals Devin Hester and hands that compare favorably to Torry Holt. Give him the first step? And he’s gone. Have him leap for the ball? He’ll get it. And going east and west? He’s just as scary.

He does have one real weakness right now. Ask him to run the entire route tree? And it won’t go great. His concentration can run hot and cold. And he does need to develop more on-field strength.

But if he gets his hands on the ball? He’s straight nightmare for defenders. You will see him as a returner straight away, and he will be awesome. When his polish gets there? He will be kind of like Steve Smith without the crazy.

darrius heyward bey
3. Darrius Heyward-Bey Maryland
6’2″ 210 4.25

There’s a certain archetype that you find in Wide Receivers. The wide receiver with superb athleticism and no polish to him. That’s DHB in a nuthsell. The 40-time is sexy, and he does have olympic level straight line speed. He does have the build that if the light ever turned on, he could be better than Crabtree. He has solid ball skills and the same sort of physciality and fearlessness.

But his hands are inconsistent on his best days, and his instincts and awareness? Also not so good. Maclin’s route running skills are better as well. And that sprinter speed? Strictly straight line as well. He also won’t break many tackles for a dude his size.

In my head, I have a name. This is strictly first instinct, and I know I’ve been proven wrong in these scenarios before. But the name that fits the archetype of DHB, at least in its most recent incarnations? Troy Williamson. Turtle nation can commence feeling insulted…now.

4. Percy Harvin Florida
5’11” 192 4.39

Percy Harvin is a weapon, pure and simple. Get him the ball out in space? And he’s going to fuck some shit up. He has soft hands and good body control. But his elusiveness? His elusiveness is the skill that pays his bills. Sweeps, screens, slants and flies. Spectacular.

If you’ve heard of anything close to Percy Harvin, you know his major weakness is his feet. He does not stay healthy, and it’s mostly with his heel and ankle. Sure, route running is a bit of a problem, but you know what? Being a Devin Hester-Reggie Bush type with missing positional and seemingly no special teams skills is essentially ballast if he can’t stay healthy.

What he brings to the table when he sees the field? It’s Top 5 talent. He is such a good playmaker when healthy you you see him among the left tackles and Crabtree. But the problem? He’s not a strong healer, and he always seems dinged up, and that’s why he may fall out of the first round of the draft.

Hakeem Nicks
5. Hakeem Nicks North Carolina
6’1″ 212 4.51

Youtube Hakeem Nicks, and you know what you’ll find? He has hands that are spectacular. That catch wasn’t merely ancedotal, dude has got hands. He also has general ball skills and excellent body control. And he has the heart to work the middle of the field.

He will never be a vertical threat. He does not have great levels of athleticism. He does not get great separation. The injury at the combine cum fat butt? It is only an issue because it entails character and motor. If he gains 15 pounds because of a lack of working out for the biggest job interview ever? What happens when he gets rich?

Let the scout that made the rumors of Hakeem being an underized tight end fade from your mind. What he is, is a receiver with hands of glue. He may never be spectacular. But he has the grit and intangibles to have a nice decade long run as a Jake Reed type. He will possess your heart.

Kenny Britt
6. Kenny Britt Rutgers
6’3″ 218 4.50

He knows how to use his height and long arms to his advantage like a Republican on a Racist southerner. He can get up and snatch the ball out of the air. Add to that good timed speed, solid route running and a general swagger to his stride? There is a pretty tasty skill set here.

That being said? it’s a fine line between swagger and asshole. Britt walks that every day. He also loses his concentration from time to time. And his agility? It’s meager at best. So, there just might be those days where he’ll go out and get 2 catches for 3 yards.

A potential high reward player with good athleticism despite his mediocre timed speed and unrelaible hands and the diva mentality of many #1 receivers? I wonder if his build reminds you of anybody? Tell you what? I will give you two sets of line breaks and ellipsis to for you to think of a name.

I say Braylon Edwards clone. What say you?

Brian Robiskie
7. Brian Robiskie Ohio State
6’3″ 209 4.46

When it comes down to it? Robiskie has the little things down cold. He does not waste movement on his routes. He finds the openings on zones. And he has the hands to pluck and high point the ball out of the air. He will block and give every effort on every play.

But Ohio State has a notoriously fast track. That 4.46 is not his real football speed. He’s never going to be spectacular vertically. And in terms of the elusive question? He’s not great at that either. A fast defensive back can get him from behind.

However? He does have a strong skill set. His father is a wide receiver coach. And he’s learned all the little things from him. And he has the work ethic to polish his strengths into finely honed skills. There’s a lot of Hines Ward to his game, and he has a strong chance to touch that ceiling.

Juaquin Iglesias
8. Juaquin Iglesias Oklahoma
6’1″ 210 4.44

You want someone to get dirty going over the middle? You want Iglesias. He also has top-notch hands and he can make defenders miss in the short areas of the field. He makes fast cuts and his catch radius? It’s very nice. And if necessary? You can stick him on special teams and have him return a punt or a kick or two.

But like Robiskie? His 40-time does not match his actual time. His seperation skills are inconsistent. And he does not have the burst to go vertical. And for a dude this size? Getting himself knocked off the line is not something that you should have happen.

But that being said? He has the potential to be more than a mere posession receiver. A west coast offense will love him. An offense that relies on slants, digs and run after the catch? They will love him. If the Pack didn’t have 27 receivers? He’d be a perfect fit.

Now, receiver sleepers are multiple and plentiful. Trust that I will post more about these pass catchers. Jarrett Dillard is gonna be a steal. Trust me.


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