Matt Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio delivers a sample NFL Draft Scouting Report on Rams wide receiver Robert Woods, a player many deemed a consolation prize in the 2013 NFL Draft, but the RSP saw skills that made him a straight-up gift.
I’ve often shared with readers and listeners that the 2013 draft class was a pivotal season for the continuously-evolving RSP evaluation process. The rankings I did for my readers remained similar as it had during previous seasons.
Behind the scenes, I had developed a Depth of Talent Score that I thought would add necessary dimension and scope to the RSPs talent and evaluation process as well as lead me down a path that was better suited to ranking talent. Cordarelle Patterson earned top marks with my old method but the Depth of Talent Score had Keenan Allen, DeAndre Hopkins, and Robert Woods as three of my top-five options.
In hindsight, I wish I had adopted this ranking and scoring method in 2013, but I waited until a year later. In 2014, the RSP rated Odell Beckham, Jr., Sammy Watkins, and Mike Evans its top-three receivers—Beckham No.1 overall.
Despite ranking Woods as the ninth receiver on the RSP’s board his evaluation report delivers on one of the missions that has remained the same for the publication: The evaluation matches what the player looks like on the field and/or captures the path that the player had to take to look the way he plays.
2013 RSP Eval on Robert Woods
Robert Woods, USC (6-0, 201)
Woods is another example of a player who might be deemed a consolation prize in this receiver class, but would just be a straight-up gift in other years. He’s a player who often makes his quarterback look good – sometimes better than he really is.
Woods does an excellent job adjusting to the football and making plays in tight coverage or after contact from a defender. He’s a reliable receiver over the middle, in the red zone, or outside. Woods has soft hands and catches the ball away from his frame and has an above-average catch radius despite his average size.
He’s a player a good quarterback can throw open much like Victor Cruz has shown with Eli Manning at the helm in New York. Woods isn’t as explosive, but the body control, awareness, and hands are all there.
I like that Woods can use his hands at the line of scrimmage to work through press coverage. He has a pretty good move to swipe downward at a defender’s arms. He has good quickness to set up breaks and get behind defenders early in a route. He is a fluid route runner downfield and flashes some skill to tell a story on a defender to get open. I didn’t see him on a lot of routes where he had to attack the ball or work back to the quarterback.
What is apparent with the USC passing game is that Woods can make the first man miss and has the big-play ability in the open field after the catch, making him versatile as an offense and special teams weapon.
He has excellent agility as a runner, but he has to learn to show more selectivity with his decisionmaking to use it. He often loses too many yards trying to making a big play when taking what’s ahead of him is enough. However, he’s also been given the leeway to make these decisions and I see him make smarter decisions than poor ones.
At this point, I would not want Woods as a punt returner until he showed the discipline not to field every punt and then not to try to reverse his field or outrun defenders in situations where he risked worsening field position inside the 20. The more yardage lost inside the 20, the worse the effect on the team compared to the rest of the field.
After the catch, Woods carries the ball under his right arm on many plays regardless of the side of the field he’s running. He lacks power and strength as a runner and tends to lose balance and get dropped after initial contact or an arm tackle. Although there are also plays where he runs through contact that I wouldn’t have expected. It’s still not clear which is the real Robert Woods.
I’d like to see him as a blocker. As a blocker, he tends to catch the defender rather than attack with a punch. The angles are sometimes good but the ability to close, punch, and generate leverage is lacking.
While Woods flashes some skill against press coverage, but he has to learn how to dip the shoulder and use his feet to set up releases against more physical cornerbacks. He got held up at the line of scrimmage on a play he should have earned a release and the result was an interception late in the half in a game against Stanford that was a bit troublesome, but something he’ll learn from.
I think Woods is a fine prospect with enough skill to develop into an NFL contributor now and reliable starter with additional work. In this class, he’s an underrated player even if you realistically bump him to the 5-7 rage if these rankings based on where he’ll likely go in the NFL Draft.
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