NFL Draft Profile: Michigan State WR B.J. Cunningham

Seth NewmanCorrespondent IJanuary 12, 2012

Cunningham could be a late gem in the NFL Draft
Cunningham could be a late gem in the NFL Draft

When thinking about the great wide receivers that have walked through the Michigan State campus, a few might come to mind. Charles Rogers, Derrick Mason, Plaxico Burress, Devin Thomas, Courtney Hawkins, Matt Trannon, Kirk Gibson, Muhsin Muhammad, Gene Washington and Andre Rison were all great receivers during their time at MSU, but none of them can say they have the school record for receiving yards, or catches. Those records belong to B.J. Cunningham.

Cunningham comes from Westerville Oh., and was ranked a 3-star recruit on both and On ESPN, Cunningham scored just a mere 70 on a scale of 90 for how much potential he had. Once on the campus of MSU, Cunningham contributed right away on the field. As a freshman, Cunningham caught 41 balls for 528 yards. Each year his numbers increased, and as a senior, Cunningham caught 79 balls for 1,306 yards and 12 touchdowns.

His career totals are impressive: 51 games played, 218 receptions, 3,086 yards and 25 touchdowns. The yards and catches are school records, while the 25 touchdowns is only two behind Rogers' record of 27.

Cunningham has been the most consistent, sure-handed receiver for the Spartans over the last three years. The duo of Cousins to Cunningham was often called on Saturdays by Michigan State radio announcer George Blaha. He put up these gaudy numbers when Michigan State’s main focus was to pound the ball on the ground with their traditional running attack.

While at MSU, Cunningham saw plenty of recognition come his way during his four-year career. As a junior, Cunningham was an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention selection, and as a senior, Cunningham was voted MVP by his teammates and 2nd team All-Big Ten. Both ESPN and Yahoo named him to their first team Big Ten selections, and he was named fourth team All-American by Phil Steele and honorable mention All-American by Sports Illustrated.

As a senior, Cunningham caught 12 touchdowns, which tied for first place in the Big Ten conference. Cunningham ranked third in the Big Ten for receiving yards during his senior year, and 17th in the FBS.

Cunningham is known for his route running, great hands and acrobatic catches.

He has great size for a receiver, being 6-foot-2 and 215 lbs, but the knock that is believed to hurt his draft stock is his ability to break away from cornerbacks. NFL scouts are concerned about his 40 time which is projected at 4.61.

Wide receivers don’t always have to be lightning fast to be successful in the NFL. Don’t believe me?

Look at these 40 times that were otherwise useless in evaluating these wide receivers. You may have heard of some of these wide receivers.

Anquan Boldin 4.71

Marques Colston 4.55

Chad Ochocinco 4.54

Brandon Lloyd 4.62

Wes Welker 4.61

Larry Fitzgerald 4.63

and JERRY RICE 4.7

Speed isn’t everything in the NFL: these wide receivers ran the fastest times ever at the NFL combine, all 4.3 or under.

Darrius Heyward-Bey 4.3

Yamon Figurs 4.3

Trindon Holliday 4.29

Jacoby Ford 4.28

Jerome Mathis 4.28

Rondel Melendez 4.24

Don’t recognize them as elite wide receivers in the NFL? That’s because they are not.

Cunningham could be a solid number two receiver in the NFL. The only things the combine doesn’t measure are heart and determination; Cunningham has plenty of both.

I expect Cunningham to be drafted anywhere from the fourth round to the seventh round.