During Jay Gruden's three seasons as offensive coordinator in Cincinnati, the Bengals selected a total of five wide receivers in three drafts between 2011 and 2013. And if the Redskins new head coach had any draft input at his previous gig, the list of five would seem to reveal a bit about what Gruden prefers when drafting a target for his quarterback.
|Wide Receivers Drafted Under Gruden in Cincinnati|
|Courtesy of Pro Football Reference|
If you ask me how I take my coffee, I say black. If you ask me how I like my eggs, I say scrambled with cheese. And if you ask Jay Gruden how he prefers his pass targets, well, the track record—albeit a small sample size—would seem to suggest tall, without too much bulk and with a heavy dose of athleticism.
Keeping that in mind, the Washington Redskins will have six picks in May's upcoming NFL draft, yet they'll be without their first-round selection, which served as additional ammo in the trade to land Robert Griffin III in 2012.
While the receiving corps requires improvement, the free-agent market is underwhelming and likely overpriced, making the team's best option to take advantage of a deep wide receiver class and attempt to land some value at the position.
Using Gruden's imprecise taste for receivers, here's a look at some intriguing pass-catchers who not only fit the mold but should also be available within the Redskins' drafting range.
Martavis Bryant (6'4", 200 lbs), Clemson
Often overshadowed by Sammy Watkins while at Clemson, Martavis Bryant deserves some attention of his own, given his size, length and athleticism.
Because Bryant doesn't possess the route-running ability of some of the other higher-rated receivers in this class, he's considered a raw prospect who will need to take well to professional coaching if he's going to have a shot at fulfilling his potential. But he has those desirable, yet uncoachable physical tools that could really shine once he fully learns the position.
Of this list, Bryant's frame and build is most comparable to that of A.J. Green.
You can see my full notes on Bryant, here.
Allen Robinson (6'3", 210 lbs), Penn State
While his measurables look the part, Allen Robinson doesn't exactly play at his listed height. He's not the dominating red-zone target, the jump-ball don or the long strider who dashes past the deep safety.
That being said, Robinson still possesses desirable traits as a wideout, including great vision, solid route-running and a strong ability to earn yards after the catch.
Although he's a solid prospect in this draft, Robinson isn't a great fit in Washington. The Redskins already have a player with a similar skill set in Pierre Garcon, and they could afford to go after a guy who plays to his full height and size.
You can see my full notes on Robinson, here.
Davante Adams (6'2", 216 lbs), Fresno State
Athletic, solid build, deceiving speed, good leaping ability, reliable hands—Davante Adams features all the characteristics of a top-notch wideout in the NFL. His elusiveness can also go a long way, as he demonstrates the ability to turn a short pass into a large gain thanks to his strength and open-field running ability.
My (selfish) hope is that Adams drops on Day 2, perhaps as a result of teams fearing that the spread offense at Fresno State inflated his production. But truth is, Adams is legit. And he'd fit well in Washington.
Adams' frame and build is comparable to that of Mohamed Sanu.
Jordan Matthews (6'3", 209 lbs), Vanderbilt
Although teams may not be enamored with his upside, Jordan Matthews is one of the safer and more reliable receiver prospects in this class. He has deceiving top-end speed, above-average athleticism and lots of fight after the catch.
Additionally, Matthews is an intelligent football player, capable of running any route, and he'll surprise you by coming down with contested catches in tough situations.
However, like Robinson, Matthews doesn't play as tall as his height suggests.
The Redskins crave a receiver who can impose and create physical mismatches, and I don't get that feeling when I watch Matthews.
Devin Street (6'3", 195 lbs), Pittsburgh
Even as the lankiest receiver on the list, Devin Street has plenty to offer as a Day 3 prospect.
Street has good length for the position, fearlessness across the middle, sticky hands and unexpected elusiveness after the catch. Unfortunately he's not a burner down the sideline, but he understands defenses and he's capable of making them pay.
Donte Moncrief (6'3", 226 lbs), Ole Miss
This isn't the first time I've plugged Donte Moncrief, and it probably won't be the last.
Moncrief is a large, strong receiver with great hands, valuable route-running skills and the ability to make things happen after the catch. He uses his size and strength to threaten defensive backs, and his style would pair well with the gritty effort of Pierre Garcon.
If Moncrief drops to early Day 3 (which wouldn't shock me), the Redskins could capitalize with their early selection in the fourth round.
You can see my full notes on Moncrief, here.
Brandon Coleman (6'6", 220 lbs), Rutgers
Unlike some of the others mentioned above, there's no doubt Brandon Coleman plays to his size. Partnered with a strong pair of hands, Coleman uses his immense frame to bully opposing secondaries, effectively boxing out defenders to create separation and presenting a large throwing target for his quarterback.
There are some concerns regarding work ethic and consistent effort, making Coleman one of the those type prospects who "can be as good as he wants to be."
While his natural and physical talent warrants argument for him being a first-round selection, Coleman will be taken later on by a team that not only believes in the player but also in its own coaching staff to get the very most out of him.
Are the Redskins that team?
This is far from an exact science. But whether the rookie receivers in Cincinnati were selected in part due to Gruden's philosophy and system, or if he had no input and instead just gained experience working with a receiver in a certain physical mold that Marvin Lewis or team owner Mike Brown covet, Gruden and the lengthy athletic wide receiver at least have a history together.
We'll see if that carries over now that Gruden's running the show in Washington.