Wednesday - Jun 26, 2019

Home / Commentary / State of the Rookie Receiver – Part Two

State of the Rookie Receiver – Part Two

One thing that was evident at this year’s combine is that the receiver class is extremely FAST! Four different guys clocked in at 4.38 or better in the 40-yard dash.

The biggest news out of the combine was about
Michael Crabtree
, Texas Tech, sophomore: first he measured in almost two inches shorter than his listed height of 6’3” and then medical examinations revealed a stress fracture in his left foot that will require surgery. Despite the revelations, he is still expected to be the top receiver in this class and the first one off the board in the draft.



Darrius Heyward-Bey


,
Maryland

, junior, 6’2”, 210 lbs.: He helped his draft stock more than anybody else. He placed inside the Top 10 at every drill. He had the best time of the day with a blazing 4.3 flat in the 40, fifth at the vertical jump with 38.5”, seventh in the 20-yard shuttle with a 4.18 time, ninth in the three-cone drill with a 6.8 time, fifth at the broad jump with 10’6” and ninth in the bench press with 16. Going into the combine he was considered a late first- or early-second round pick. His performance will likely propel him into the middle of the first round.

There are a number of wideout prospects that are underclassmen. Besides
Crabtree
and
Heyward-Bey
, there are at least four more wideouts that will be projected in the Top 15-20. They are
Jeremy Maclin
, Missouri, sophomore;
 Kenny Britt
, Rutgers, junior;
 Percy Harvin
, Florida, junior;
 Hakeem Nicks
, North Carolina, junior; and possibly Austin Collie, Brigham Young, junior.

Over the last 10 years there have been 20 underclassmen drafted in the first round. Of those 20, only three have placed in the Top 30 fantasy-wise using a basic scoring format of one point per 10 yards and six points per touchdown. This tells me that the learning curve for underclassmen may be a little longer to overcome in their rookie year in order to demand a worthy fantasy spot on a roster. Up to five of these underclassmen could go in the first round this year according to a variety of mock drafts. Besides the above mentioned factor there are reasons to be skeptical regarding some of these underclassmen. I’m not questioning
Crabtree
’s talent, but fractured foot aside, he and
Maclin
both played in a wide-open unsophisticated pass-happy offense and did not run a lot of NFL routes.
Harvin
did not run a lot of NFL routes but he also hails from the 757

Virginia Beach
neighborhoods that have brought us the likes of
Michael Vick
and
DeAngelo Hall
and he was suspended in college and high school, showing questionable character.
Heyward-Bey
is not a polished route-runner and was not consistent catching the ball with too many easy drops. After previewing the underclassmen for fantasy rosters, keep an eye on:


Hakeem Nicks,

North Carolina
, junior, 6’2”, 210 lbs.: He may have run an average 4.5 in the 40, but he had the best bowl game of all the receivers in the BCS series. Against

West Virginia
, he caught eight balls for 217 out of 277 of the team’s passing yards. He also ripped off touchdown runs of 73, 66 and 25 yards in the game. In three years at

North Carolina
, he became the most prolific receiver in Tar Heel history setting 14 school records along the way. Last year he was the first Tar Heel to ever exceed the 1,000 yard mark, going for 1,222 yards and 12 touchdowns on 68 receptions for 18 yards per reception. He can make the routine catch and the spectacular circus catch. He was having a solid but unspectacular day at the combine until he pulled up running field drills. He did not do anything to hurt his stock; if anything he solidified it.

In the last 10 years, six senior wideouts have placed in the Top 30 fantasy-wise using the same basic scoring approach. This tells me that the learning curve for seniors may be shorter to overcome in their rookie year and is more likely to demand a worthy fantasy roster spot. After previewing the seniors for fantasy rosters keep an eye on:


Mike Thomas,

Arizona
, senior, 5’8”, 187 lbs.: He really helped himself at the combine. He lacks ideal height but he has a compact frame and displayed good lower body strength. He ran a 4.4 flat in the 40 and showed an explosive first step. He turned in a 6.65 for the second best time in the three-cone drill and a 40.5 vertical jump for the third best measurement. Excellent college production and the Pac-10 career reception leader. He is competitive, tough for his size and played through injuries. He was a battler who worked inside and was not fazed by traffic. Displayed the ability to adjust his routes and find open lanes. At the combine, he looked very fluid and smooth as he ran seamlessly through the field drills. He was quick coming out of his breaks, made good adjustments on the ball and caught the ball with his hands rather than his body. He is an ideal candidate for the slot.


Brian Robiskie,

Ohio
State
, senior, 6’3”, 199 lbs.: Had an all-around strong performance. His 40 time was average at 4.5 but he placed inside the Top 10 in the vertical jump, 20-yard shuttle and three-cone drills. He looked good coming out of his breaks, made good adjustments on the ball and caught everything thrown at him, including a nice one-handed grab. He is the son of Terry Robiskie, the Atlanta Falcons WR coach. The coaches at the Senior Bowl, considered him to be the most-polished pass catcher of the group. He finished the week catching three balls for 47 yards. In his bowl matchup against

Texas
he had a solid outing with five catches for 116 yards. His numbers may have dropped last year but that was because OSU went to a run-first approach. The offense was conservative to begin with and he played with average passers during his college career. He is a polished route-runner and should be a solid possession receiver in the pros.

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