If you had asked draftniks which Texas A&M player had the best chance of being a first-round pick a year ago, Jeff Fuller would have been the most common answer. In a demonstration of how dramatically draft stock can change in a year, Fuller didn't hear his name called in the entire draft, while his QB Ryan Tannehill, who had all of six career starts going into the 2011 season, went eighth overall.
Now the pair is reunited in Miami, along with their former head coach, Mike Sherman, who is the Miami Dolphins' new offensive coordinator, as Fuller signed with team soon after the draft was concluded.
Some of the most prominent voices in the NFL media have reminded us just how highly the league thought of Fuller a year ago. Dan Pompei of the National Football Post named Fuller to his "all-undrafted players team" and shared that two NFL front office people told him Fuller was a first-round talent. Pompei even went as far to say it was "crazy" that Fuller was undrafted, and that he'd be surprised if Fuller didn't make the team.
Sports Illustrated's Peter King also matter-of-factly stated that Fuller was a "legitimate first-round prospect" in October. King called him "absolutely an NFL-caliber receiver" if he catches the ball well in camp. As Aggies fans found out last year, that is a big if.
Fuller's drops during the 2011 season torpedoed his draft stock, and a very poor Senior Bowl basically killed his chances of being drafted. A review of film from 2010, his good year, reveals that maybe he was overrated going into his senior season even if his hands didn't let him down. Watch this breakdown of his positive and negative plays from three biggest games of the 2010 season:
As you can see, Fuller is big and he moves very well for a large wide receiver. He'll get physical with the cornerback when the ball is the air and he does show good ability to catch the ball away from his body. Still, Fuller isn't sudden or fast, and he creates no separation downfield. He doesn't play with much strength and creates nothing after the catch.
Gil Brandt of NFL.com said that Fuller could be a receiver who converts to tight end, and I agree. Fuller's game reminds me of a famous Dolphins free-agent bust, Ernest Wilford. Wilford just happened to be a 6'4" wide receiver who the Dolphins attempted to convert to tight end after he caught just three passes in his first year with the team as a wideout. Fuller could follow a similar path...if he makes the team.