Here’s a guessing game for you. Below I have described three receivers that teams drafted or signed as rookies in the last 3-5 years. All three receivers see significant time with their respective offenses and they all have a similar role.
Can you guess each player? The first three people to guess all three players correctly will win a free copy of a past issue of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio (your choice from seasons 2006-2010). Just complete the form at the end of the post and I’ll announce the winners as soon as I have three readers correctly identify them.
Player A is one of those players that do enough things better than you think. Despite slightly below average height/weight, he uses his hands and feet well to defeat press coverage and he adjusts well to down field throws in tight coverage to fight for
the ball – he plays big.
Player A has decent down field speed and the ability to accelerate off the line of scrimmage to get on top of a defender on the perimeter. He consistently caught the football and demonstrated quickness out of turns on routes.
Player A is a hands-catcher, but he tends to catch the football very tight to his body, which could result in dropped passes in a more physical league. Its questionable whether he is even 5-11, because he doesn’t appear that tall on tape. He needs to get more depth into his routes against tight coverage and use his hands and feet to set up some of these routes, such as slants in tight coverage. He isn’t a strong runner after the catch; he doesn’t have the strength to use a stiff arm effectively against cornerbacks and he won’t run through a lot of arm tackles or even wraps up high.
Player A is a reliable college receiver with a shot at a slot role in the NFL if he can demonstrate the athleticism to consistently gain yardage after the catch. We’ll see if he continues to surprise.
Player B is a playmaker because of his speed and vision in the open field. He runs with good balance for a man of his size, and he will lower the shoulder to finish
plays. He works well with his QB in scramble drills and he can catch the ball well with his back to the line of scrimmage. He usually can make the first man miss and string moves together to set up the second and third defender in pursuit.
The commentators with NFL experience in this game compared Player B to Percy Harvin. From a speed and quickness standpoint I agree. He has the burst and hands to
develop into an NFL receiver. He catches the ball away from his body and his speed makes him a threat to make big plays from anywhere on the field as a returner, receiver, or
runner on the perimeter. He adjusts well to the football in the air and shows some wiggle both as a route runner and ball carrier. He’s still a raw player and needs to refine his game,
but he is very much worth taking a chance on.
Although there are elements to Player B’s game that compare favorably to Harvin, he is far less physical than Harvin. He’s fearless, but not as strong. He doesn’t break a lot of tackles or bounce off hits like Harvin. He runs reasonably well like an RB in terms of technique but he’s not a player that could carry the ball as many times as Harvin did at Florida. In fact Harvin could probably carry the ball for the Vikings 10-15 times in a game and perform well if they were desperate for him to do so. He isn’t as polished a route runner as Harvin.
He doesn’t sink his hips into to breaks and he is unproven against tight coverage or press coverage. If he can show he has skills to develop these techniques, his upside is good. If he can keep passes away from his body, run more routes over the middle than crosses, and defeat the jam, he’ll be much more than a return specialist in the NFL.
Player C is one of the best natural receivers in the this draft class. He reminds me a lot of Derrick Mason–a smaller receiver who has enough speed to get deep, enough quickness
to get longer gains from short passes, and the toughness to go over the middle on routes where he knows he will have to get hit to make the catch. He’s a good route runner and
makes the effort as a blocker.
Player C is an undersized receiver that I love to watch play football. He has demonstrated no problem going across the middle in traffic to catch the football and he adjusts to the football very well. He is fearless across the middle and he will make possession catches with imminent contact. The big question is whether he can defeat press coverage and whether he has enough speed to be a multidimensional threat in the NFL.
He catches the ball with his hands and demonstrates the ability to adjust to the ball in the air. He has the savvy to get separation on defenders either as a route runner or positioning himself at the last moment on jump balls. He has very good acceleration and can gain yardage after the catch.
Player C should be an effective punt returner or valuable slot receiver early in his career. Although undersized, he has the potential to become a starting receiver in the right offensive system. He may not be the next Marvin Harrison or Terry Glenn, but he’s a smart, tough receiver who made [his quarterback] look very good. Derrick Mason potential is possible here. He’ll be a bargain for someone.