West Virginia's Stedman Bailey announced a couple weeks ago that he would declare for the NFL Draft, throwing himself into a deep wide receiver class without an elite group of standouts. Bailey enjoyed a breakout 2012 season, catching 106 passes for 1501 yards and 23 touchdowns.
School: West Virginia
Position: Wide Receiver
Big Board (as of 12/27/12): CBS (120), My Rank (75-90)
Bailey played for Miramar High School in Florida, where he was teammates with his current quarterback, Geno Smith, and was named a Florida Class 6A First-Team All-State selection as a senior. He was named to the Big East All-Freshman team in 2010.
Bailey has extremely soft hands. He's as reliable a pass-catcher as there is in this draft. He makes all the easy catches, but is also extremely adept at bringing in difficult balls while making it look easy.
He is great at catching the ball in tight spaces on out routes against the sideline or in a tight spot over the middle. He also goes over his shoulder extremely well.
Over the three game films I watched on Bailey (Marshall, Baylor, Texas), his ability to catch passes at or over his head, especially over his shoulder, really stood out. He adjusts to the ball in the air with his shoulders, but even if he isn't in perfect position, he can stick out his hands and make the catch.
Bailey isn't an outstanding athlete, but he uses deception and outstanding body control to make up for his lack of size and explosiveness. He is an extremely smooth runner, which sometimes makes his speed hard to gauge because he's moving faster than it appears.
He doesn't have the explosiveness of teammate Tavon Austin, but his top-end speed seems to be only a notch below elite, and he is much stronger than Austin.
Bailey is an extremely solid route runner. As noted before, he relies on deception to find holes in the secondary. He can get good separation off the line and then uses head and shoulder fakes to throw off the defensive backs.
He gets out of his cuts clean and changes speed effortlessly, which is a huge asset. He gets open on short routes consistently because he feigns a quick start and then turns to the ball. He is also good at finding seams on deep routes, which results in a number of his long touchdowns.
Bailey has had no significant injuries, and that durability is a big plus considering his smaller frame. He's competitive on the field and has seen major improvements throughout his college career, which is a testament to his work ethic and desire to get better.
The only blip on the radar was an incident where he got caught shoplifting medicine at Kroger. Bailey was cited for the incident but not arrested. There are no other major red flags in terms of Bailey's character.
Bailey has a lot of company with other similarly valued receivers in this class, so his draft position is hard to predict. He could rise up as high as the middle of the second round, but I also wouldn't be surprised if he has to wait until the fourth round to hear his name called.