It's easy to get lost in the crowd at an NFL factory like Miami-Florida. This year, the program placed two receivers in the draft, Travis Benjamin to the Browns in the fourth round and Tommy Streeter to the Ravens in the sixth round. LaRon Byrd formed a dynamic trio with Streeter and Benjamin last year, and he might have a better shot of "making it" in the NFL because of an advantage Streeter and Benjamin do not have: Byrd is getting to learn from his idol, Larry Fitzgerald.
Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic reports Cardinals undrafted wide receiver LaRon Byrd was nicknamed "Little Fitzgerald" since his junior year of high school, and he has patterned his game after Fitzgerald's throughout his college years. According to McManaman, Byrd has "turned heads" with several impressive catches that highlight his leaping ability and sure hands that draw comparisons to Fitzgerald.
ESPN NFC West Blogger Mike Sando also reported that the Cardinals "like (Byrd's) potential" after he made an "impressive leaping grab" in the team's Fan Fest practice. Sando also placed Byrd under "longer odds" to make the team in his recent roster breakdown, but also pointed out that the Cardinals always keep six wide receivers, and have even kept seven in the past.
Byrd doesn't have the long speed of Benjamin or Streeter, but he has ideal size compared to the undersized Benjamin, and he has much better hands than Streeter. Byrd isn't a true burner, but his 4.47 pro day 40 time is plenty fast for a 6'4", 220 lb. receiver.
The rookie has also struck up a friendship with Fitzgerald and is "always asking him questions," according to McManaman. The energizing effect and developmental boost given by playing with a childhood hero underscores why sometimes it's better to go undrafted than be selected in the sixth or seventh round.
Byrd summed up his feelings about going undrafted:
"I'm a guy nobody knew about, but the way I look at it is the only thing different from a free agent and a first-round pick is the money. You still have to play football."
Lucky for him, Byrd has a guy is pretty good at playing football to look up to and learn from in Arizona. If Byrd can even become half the player Fitzgerald is, in time, the money will come.
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