It appears that it will be different in 2009 as Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree, Missouri WR Jeremy Maclin, and Florida WR Percy Harvin have first-round grades as of now. That could change after the college all-star games, NFL Combine, and individual Pro Day workouts.
So far there are the only three, every year NFL scouts breakdown a players strengths and weaknesses prior to the draft and give teams their assessment of prospects. There’s always one or two players that make a mercurial rise up several team’s draft boards with phenomenal workouts.
It appears that NFL teams are now shying away from drafting wide receivers in the first round unless the prospects are elite level or can’t miss prospects at the position.
This could be due to several first round picks not developing as planned or everyone remembering Matt Millen dragging down the Lions franchise by selecting several receivers.
Sometimes the scouts are right and several times the scouts are dead wrong. It really depends on what team a prospect is selected by, what type of offense a prospect is asked to play in, and that teams quarterback and coaching staff.
Looking back at the last five NFL drafts the numbers of wide receivers drafted are getting lower. In 2007, five receivers were selected with the Chiefs Dwayne Bowe & the Colts Anthony Gonzalez being the most successful in the year selected.
In 2006, the Steelers Santonio Holmes was the only receiver selected in round one. In 2005 six receivers were selected with the Ravens Mark Clayton & the Jaguars Matt Jones being the most successful. In 2004 seven receivers selected in round one but Larry Fitzgerald & Lee Evans were the best of that class.
When you speak of positions in the NFL such as wide receiver job requirements start with a player’s size. The minimum size is 5'9" 180 lbs.; the optimum size is 6'3" 220 lbs. The size and speed factor for all position has been huge but for most wide receivers the bigger the better.
The bigger receivers in the league are such threats on slant patterns, red-zone weapons, and impossible to stop in jump ball situations. In light of this information and the fact that the teams aren’t drafting a lot of receivers in the first round, scouting is very important.
By now it should be a known fact that many of the NFL’s best receivers have been found in the middle rounds such as Hines Ward, Steve Smith, Anquan Boldin, Donald Driver, and Brandon Marshall. Another one of the best receivers, Wes Welker, was an undrafted free agent in 2004 a player has to want it.
Great speed is good to have but it isn’t as important as some people think. Some of the best receivers have quickness and strength to beat press coverage. They also possess the tenacity and hands to make catches in traffic, the size, and leaping ability to be downfield and red-zone threats.
There are seven guys in this year’s draft that may not hear their name called in the first round but have first round talent. There are no guarantees but these prospects have shown the ability to be playmakers in college that could develop into solid contributors with the proper coaching on the next level.
These are wide receivers that have the size, skill, and ability to make an impact on an NFL team.
Darrius Heyword-Bey 6'2" 206 lbs.
Has excellent size and speed, he is one of the nations most explosive receivers.
He has excellent hands, strength and route running skills but needs to improve his speed.
He has excellent hands & strength. He finished the season with 63 receptions, 929 yards & eight touchdowns. He had 12 catches for 126 yards & a TD in LSU’s come from behind 40-31 win against Troy rallying from being down by 28 points.
Derrick Williams 6'0" 200 lbs. Penn State
He is a productive player with exceptional speed, good separation skills, catches the ball well and is an excellent kick returner. He could add more size and strength for the next level.
Ramses Barden 6'6" 220 lbs. Cal Poly-SLO
He is this year’s top small school prospect, due to his impressive size and athleticism; he is rising up the draft charts. He doesn’t have elite top-end speed but he does have impressive body control and soft hands. Like Mike Williams before him, tall receivers with slow 40 times don’t do well.