Gil Brandt's Analysis By Position: Wide Receivers

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Speed is important at this position, but the ability to run routes (Steve Largent), have a burst (Jerry Rice), catch the quick slant for a first down to keep the drive alive (Michael Irving and Cris Carter), or make a block to help the running game, are all important as well.

Wide receiver is a position in which players selected after the first round have a chance to play and excel at a high level -- Deion Branch (NE), second round; Anquan Boldin (ARI), second round; Chad Johnson (CIN), second round; Chris Chambers (Miami), second round; Hines Ward (PIT) third round; Steve Smith (CAR), third round; Terrell Owens (DAL), third round; Joe Horn (NO), fifth round; Donald Driver (GB), seventh round; Rod Smith (DEN), undrafted free agent -- just to name a handful.

This year will most likely go down as the first time in 12 years a wide receiver will not go in the first half of Round 1 -- 16th pick or better. It will also most likely be the first time in the last 14 years that less than three receivers are select in Round 1.

Over the past 10 years, 45 wide receivers have been selected in the first round (including a record seven in 2004). Six were taken in the first round in 2005. Over the past 10 years, 79 were taken in Rounds 2 and 3.

If you are a fantasy football fanatic, this year's draft class will not be like the 2004 class, where four of the seven first-round receivers caught 48 or more passes and combined for 32 touchdowns. The 2005 class was not a fantasy player's delight and don't expect a lot from this class either.

Since 1998, 351 wide receivers have been invited to the Combine. The next highest position over this period of time is cornerbacks (241). Since 1998, 305 wide receivers have been drafted, the most of any position over that period of time.

1. Santonio Holmes, Ohio State (5-10 5/8, 188; 4.40)

Holmes did not work out at the Combine, but did everything at Ohio State Pro Day. He ran the 40s in 4.39 and 4.40 (weighed nine pounds less at 179), 4.26 in the short shuttle and 6.82 in the cone drill. He had a 38-inch vertical and a 10-foot-7. He did not lift. Holmes was a three-year starter at wide receiver in high school and lettered in basketball and track. He was a member of the 4x400 meters relay team that won the state championship in his junior and senior years. He redshirted in 2002, started four games in 2003 scoring seven TDs on 32 catches. In 2004, he started 12 games and scored seven TDs on 55 catches. He started 12 games in 2005, scoring 11 TDs on 53 catches. He has great quickness, is very explosive, has very good hands and will try to block. He can return punts and kickoffs as well. His size however, is drawback. He's a lot like Terry Glenn in size and style. He has athletic ability, but he'll need to get stronger.

2. Chad Jackson, Florida (6-0 7/8, 213; 4.34)

Jackson had a complete Combine workout. He ran his 40s in 4.32 and 4.36. He had a 38½-inch vertical jump, a 10-foot-2 long jump, a 3.97 short shuttle, a 6.73 in the three-cone drill and did not lift. He played wide receiver (scored 52 TDs) and free safety in high school and also lettered in basketball and track. He played as a true freshman (no starts), catching three passes and a touchdown. He played 12 games in 2003. In 2004, he had three starts and scored six TDs on 29 catches. In 2005, he caught 88 passes for 900 yards and nine TDs. He's a very good athlete with size and speed coming from a very good high school program. But he didn't start much for Florida (only three games in his first two years). He doesn't look as fast in full gears as he ran at the Combine. He made some great catches and dropped some easy ones. He needs to be taught how to block. He as a lot of upside, but there are lots of question marks. He can be special or just another Florida receiver to have struggled in the NFL.

3. Sinorice Moss, Miami (Fla.) (5-8, 185; 4.39)

Moss had a complete workout at the Combine. He ran one 40 in 4.38 and 4.39 (two watches). He had a 42-inch vertical jump, a 10-foot-3 long jump and a 6.99 cone drill. Moss played wide receiver in high school and also lettered in track (sprints and long jump). He played as a true freshman, but did not start or score in his first two years. He started four games in 2004 and scored three TDs. In 2005 he he caught 37 passes and scored six TDs. Moss may be the quickest player in the draft with great acceleration and leaping ability. His arm measures 29 inches and hands measures nine inches, but catches the ball clean with his soft hands. He will have a hard time on crossing routes. He has a small frame and has a history of injuries, but he can make the big plays. He will work hard to excel.

4. Derek Hagan, Arizona State (6-1¾, 208; 4.45)

Hagan had a complete workout at the Combine. He ran two 40s in 4.48 and 4.42. He had a 36-inch vertical jump, a 10-foot-4 long jump, and a 4.07 short shuttle. He did not do the cone drill. Hagan played wide receiver and defensive back in high school and was team captain in three sports as a senior (basketball, track and football). He played as a true freshman with three starts, then started in 33 games over the next three years. In his four years, he caught 258 passes, the most ever in Pac 10 history. He's a very good competitor, has made a lot of catches and seems to understand his running routes. He did not drop a pass at Arizona State, but dropped some at the Combine and at the Senior Bowl. He's not much of a blocker and doesn't seem as fast as his timed speed at the Combine. He has good character and could be a No. 2 receiver in the NFL.

5. Greg Jennings, Western Michigan (5-11 1/8, 197; 4.46)

Jennings had a complete workout at the Combine. He ran two 40s in 4.42 and 4.50. He had a 36½-inch vertical jump, a 9-foot-9 long jump, and a 4.16 short shuttle and a 6.68 three-cone drill. He was a three-sports star in high school (football, basketball and track). He redshirted in 2001 after suffering an ankle injury in the opening game and missed the next four games. He did a good job of returning kicks in 2002. He caught 228 passes and 39 TDs over the next three years. He shows good quickness and has very good hands. He had some big games against big schools. He has a good touch and will catch the ball up the middle, but he's not much of a blocker. He looked good at the East-West game. The big question however, is can he do it at the next level. He's most like a No. 2 receiver.

6. Demetrius Williams, Oregon (6-1¾, 197; 4.48)

Williams did not run at the Combine, but did everything else. He ran 4.47 and 4.48 at Oregon Pro Day on March 16. He had a 38-inch vertical jump, a 10-foot-7 long jump, and a 4.08 short shuttle and a 6.84 three-cone drill. He played wide receiver and cornerback in high school. He redshirted in 2001, played but did not start in 2002, then started 13 games in 2003 and grabbed eight TDs. In 2004, he was injured and missed three games, then returned in 2005 for a big year. He had 59 catches and 10 TDs. He's tall and thin with good quickness, body control and good hands. He has the ability to separate, but needs to get tougher and do a better job blocking. He's a lot like Eagles WR Todd Pinkston and could be a good second receiver.

7. Travis Wilson, Oklahoma (6-2, 214; 4.52)

Wilson had a complete workout at the Combine. He ran two 40s in 4.47 and 4.56. He had a 36½-inch vertical jump, a 3.99 short shuttle and a 6.70 three-cone drill. He played wide receiver and cornerback in high school (had 21 receiving TDs on 69 catches) as well as returned kicks. He also lettered in basketball and track. He played as a true freshman in 2002, then played in all 27 games over the next two years while starting in 11. He recorded 50 catches and 11 TDs in 2004. He was injured and did not have a great season in 2005. He underwent surgery for stress fracture and played in only nine games and started in seven. He's a big, strong receiver and will catch the ball coming across the middle. He's a very good athlete and looked good at the Senior Bowl. He has lots of ability, but will need to work harder.

8. Brandon Williams, Wisconsin (5-9 3/8, 179; 4.51)

Williams had a complete workout at the Combine, running two 40s in 4.49 and 4.52. He had a 34½-inch vertical jump, a 4.07 short shuttle and a 6.67 three-cone drill. He played wide receiver and defensive back in high school and also ran track. He played as a true freshman in 2002, starting six games. He totaled 44 starts at Wisconsin and had 202 catches (a school record). He has everything you want in a receiver, except for his height. He has outstanding quickness, great production, good toughness and will block. He also has good hands, is a good route runner, returns kicks well and an all-around good person. He has a thin built and I doubt he can ever weigh over 185 pounds. He's a lot like New England's Deion Branch and will surprise people with his ability.

9. Maurice Stovall, Notre Dame (6-4 3/8, 217; 4.59)

Stovall had a complete workout at the Combine. He ran his 40s in 4.57 and 4.60 seconds. He had a 35-inch vertical jump, a 10-foot-2 long jump, a 4.14 short shuttle and a 6.62 three-cone drill. He did not lift. Stovall played wide receiver and defensive back in high school. He also ran track, setting area records in the 200 and 400 meters. He also did long jump. He played in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2002, but did not start. In 2003, he made three starts and then eight in 2004. In 2005, he started 12 games, recording 69 catches and scored 11 TDs. He's a tall receiver who can create mismatches. He's a very athletic player, very strong and can beat the jam. He played much better after a weight loss, but does not seem to have great quickness.

10. Mike Hass, Oregon State (6-0 5/8, 205; 4.62)

Hass had a complete workout at the Combine. He ran two 40s in 4.57 and 4.60, 4.14 in the short shuttle and 6.97 in the three-cone drill. He also had a 32-inch vertical jump and a 9-foot-7 long jump. He played wide receiver in high school (Oregon's 4A Player of the Year) and also lettered in baseball. He redshirted in 2001, played in 2002 (no catches), then started 11 games in 2003, catching 44 balls for 1,013 yards (an outstanding 230 yards per catch). He had 176 catches over the next two years. He set a Pac 10 single season record when he had 293 receiving yards against Boise State in 2004. He's a Steve Largent type of player, not fast but knows how to run routes and get open. He's a great competitor with good blocking skills (may be best in the draft as a receiver). If he ran under 4.5 seconds he would be the first receiver chosen. He will make the third-down catch to move the chains. He has great character. He needs to wear Adidas shoes to run faster.

11. Brandon Marshall, Central Florida (6-4½, 229; 4.54)

Marshall had a complete workout at the Combine, but did no shuttles. He ran two 40s in 4.53 and 4.55 seconds. He had a 37-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot long jump. He ran a 4.31 short shuttle and a 6.96 three-cone drill at Central Florida Pro Day on March 1. He played quarterback and defensive back in high school and also lettered in basketball and track. He won the Class 3A state triple-jump championship with a jump of 48 feet 6¾ inches his senior year. He played as a true freshman in 2002 and started five games in 2003. In 2004, he started three games at wide receiver and seven games at safety. In 2005, he had 11 receiving TDs on 74 catches. He's a big target with long arms (32 5/8 inches). He can go up to catch the ball and provides a tough matchup for smaller defensive backs. He's strong and will play faster than his timed speed. He's had problems with coaches and teammates, so he can be a risk but with big rewards. He played great at the Hula Bowl.

12. Jason Avant, Michigan (6-0½, 209; 4.67)

At the Combine, he did only the jumps (37-inch vertical; 9-foot-10 broad). He worked out March 17 at Michigan with his hand in a cast. He ran clocked twice in the 40 in 4.8 seconds, the short shuttle in 4.19 and the three-cone drill in 7.02. He ran the 40 again at Michigan and was timed in 4.65 and 4.67. At Michigan, he played as a true freshman in 2002 but did not start. He started 31 games over the next three years and caught 167 passes (13 touchdowns). He's a big wide receiver, but he lacks the top speed needed at the position (he did not return kicks) and needs to play at 190 pounds. He is very instinctive and adjusts well to poorly thrown passes. He's a good person who will work hard and block.

13.Martin Nance, Miami (Ohio) (6-4¼, 213; 4.55)

He had a complete workout at the Combine. He was clocked in the 40 at 4.51 and 4.58 seconds, the short shuttle in 4.08 and the three-cone drill in 6.91. He also had a 33 ½-inch vertical jump and a 9-foot-4 broad jump. In high school, he played wide receiver and cornerback. He also ran sprints in track. At Miami, he redshirted in 2001. He played but did not started in 2002. He started 13 games in 2003 and had a big season with Ben Roethlisberger as his quarterback (90 catches; 1,498 yards; 11 TD; seven 100-yard games). Injuries limited him to five starts in 2004 but last year he started 11 games and wound up with 81 catches and 14 touchdowns. He has very long arms (33 5/8 inches) and big hands (10 3/8) but he catches the ball with his body too much. He will catch the ball coming inside and find the open area. He works hard, plays smart and tries to block. He had very good shuttle times, but I don't think he will ever be a No. 1 receiver.

14. Hank Baskett, New Mexico (6-2 7/8, 224; 4.50)

He had a complete workout at the Combine. He was clocked in the 40 at 4.50 and 4.49, the short shuttle in 4.17 and the three-cone drill in 6.79. In high school, he played wide receiver, quarterback and punter. He also played basketball and was a state champion in the high jump (7 feet). After redshirting at New Mexico in 2001, he was injured in August 2002 and missed most of the season, but his first two catches went for touchdowns. He started 23 games over the next two seasons. He's a hard working, intense competitor. He has good hands and leaping ability. He lacks great quickness for his position, but with the way he can jump, he should be a good goal-line receiver. He's a great young man whose father spent 30 years in the Air Force.

15. Devin Aromashodu, Auburn (6-2¼, 201; 4.39)

He had a complete workout at the Combine. He was clocked in the 40 at 4.35 and 4.41, the short shuttle in 4.16 and the three-cone drill in 7.04. He also had a 39-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot broad jump. In high school, he played wide receiver and free safety. He also played basketball and ran track. At Auburn, he played as a true freshman in 2002 and started eight games. He started 23 games over the past two years. He has speed and can run good routes. He's not real quick; he has more track speed than football speed. He can return kickoffs. He has good, but not great, hands. He will be a size-and-speed project for some team.

16. Skyler Green, LSU (5-9 1/8, 192; 4.52)

He had a complete workout at the Combine, but would not run the shuttles and did not give a reason why. He was clocked in the 40 at 4.51 and 4.53 seconds. He also had a 34-inch vertical jump and a 9-foot-10 broad jump. He ran the shuttles at LSU's Pro Day. His senior year in high school, he rushed for 2,174 yards -- as a quarterback. He can throw the left-handed pass. At LSU, he played as a true freshman in 2003, when he led the nation in punt-return average (18.5) and had five touchdown catches. He was injured in 2005 and didn't play real well. He's a great person who is very strong with good quickness. He has toughness and will play hurt. But his lack of height will hurt him and he probably will be a No. 3 or No. 4 wide receiver. However, he can be a very good return man.

Wild Cards

Here are four college quarterbacks who will try to make it in the NFL as wide receivers.

Marques Hagan, Virginia (5-9 3/8, 202; 4.63)

He had a complete workout at the Combine. He was clocked in the 40 at 4.59 and 4.65 seconds, the short shuttle in 4.38 and the three-cone drill in 7.03. He also had a 36-inch vertical jump. He reminds you of Brian Mitchell, who played quarterback and whom Washington drafted in Round 5 in 1990. Hagens has the same traits. He can return kicks, be a third-down back, catch passes and run the ball. He has great quickness and vision with very good hands. He's versatile and will compete. He has run and return instincts. He can be special, and the fans will love him.

Reggie McNeal, Texas A&M (6-2, 195; 4.42)

He had a complete workout at the Combine. He was clocked in the 40 at 4.40 and 4.42, the short shuttle in 4.25 and the three-cone drill in 6.96. He also had a 32-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-1 broad jump. He was a great athlete in high school who led his team to a state championship. He also played basketball and baseball, and ran track. There's a chance he could become a quarterback in the NFL. With his straight-line speed, he has too much talent not to take a chance on.

Michael Robinson, Penn State (6-1 3/8, 227; 4.57)

He did not work out at the Combine. He did everything March 16 at Penn State's Pro Day. He was clocked in the 40 at 4.56 and 4.58 seconds, the short shuttle in 4.41 and the three-cone drill in 6.95. He also had a 32½-inch vertical jump and a 9-foot-11 broad jump. He has asked to work out at the Combine at quarterback, running back, defensive back and wide receiver, but chose not to. After playing quarterback at high school, he played quarterback, running back and wide receiver at Penn State. He has good size for any position and he has quickness. He's a very good worker who was named team captain. He's smart; he graduated back in 2004. He might be a safety; he has the toughness for the position. He will be an interesting pick for someone.

Brad Smith, Missouri (6-2 1/8, 213; 4.52)

He had a complete workout at the Combine. He was clocked in the 40 at 4.51 and 4.52 seconds, the short shuttle in 4.33 and the three-cone drill in 7.00. He also had a 39½-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-8 broad jump. As a freshman, he passed for 2,333 yards and rushed for 1,029. In four years, he passed for 8,799 and rushed for 4,289 (a Division I-A record for quarterbacks). He started 48 games in his career. He's a great athlete who's strong, tough and durable. He worked out in Indianapolis as a quarterback and wide receiver. On Missouri's second Pro Day, he worked out only as a receiver. He was an erratic passer; he's smart but made bad decisions. He will be a project at wide receiver, perhaps a Kordell Stewart type.

Others to watch

These players have some positive attributes -- speed, production, height, quickness -- but aren't quite as good as the top 16.

David Anderson, Colorado State (5-10½, 192; 4.60)

34-inch vertical jump; 9-foot-8 broad jump

Miles Austin, Monmouth (6-2 1/8, 215; 4.49)

40½-inch vertical jump; 10-foot-3 broad jump

Jeremy Bloom, Colorado (5-9, 173; 4.53)

Did not jump at the Combine

Marques Colston, Hofstra (6-4 5/8, 224; 4.52

37-inch vertical jump; 10-foot-3 broad jump

Ed Hinkel, Iowa (6-0¼, 190; 4.57)

34-inch vertical jump; 9-foot-8 broad jump

Domenik Hixon, Akron (6-2½, 200; 4.38)

38½-inch vertical jump; 10-foot-7 broad jump

Greg Lee, Pittsburgh (6-1½, 201; 4.59)

35½-inch vertical jump; 9-foot-7 broad jump

Anthony Nix, Auburn (6-4½, 235; 4.50)

31½-inch vertical jump; 9-foot-3 broad jump

Jonathan Orr, Wisconsin (6-2 1/8, 195; 4.48)

35½-inch vertical jump; 9-foot-11 broad jump

Willie Reid, Florida State (5-10½, 188; 4.39)

37½-inch vertical jump; 9-foot-9 broad jump

Corey Rodgers, TCU (5-11 7/8, 209; 4.63)

33½-inch vertical jump; 9-foot-9 broad jump

Richie Ross, Nebraska-Kearney (6-3 7/8, 209; 4.63)

37-inch vertical jump; 10-foot broad jump

Clinton Solomon, Iowa (6-2¾, 214; 4.58)

33-inch vertical jump; 9-foot-6 broad jump

Delanie Walker, Central Missouri (6-1½, 240; 4.54)

35½-inch vertical jump; 9-foot-10 broad jump

Todd Watkins, BYU (6-2 3/8, 202; 4.42)

36-inch vertical jump; 9-foot-10 broad jump

Jeff Webb, San Diego State (6-2 1/8, 211; 4.43)

37-inch vertical jump; 10-foot-6 broad jump

Looking ahead

Wide receivers to look for in the 2007 draft:

Aundrae Allison, East Carolina

Steve Breaston, Michigan

Andre Caldwell, Florida

Joel Filani, Texas Tech

Jarrett Hicks, Texas Tech

Jason Hill, Washington State

Jeff Samardzija, Notre Dame

Chansi Stuckey, Clemson

Steve Smith, USC

Courtney Taylor, Auburn

Size And Speed

The averages of the 40 wide receivers at this year's Combine were:

Height: 6-1 1/8

Weight: 207

40 time: 4.51

Vertical jump: 37-inches

20 shuttle: 4.19

Cone drill: 6.95

Of the 40 at the Combine, eight were 6-3 or taller with, Hofstra's Marques Colston being the tallest at 6-4 5/8.

Florida's Chad Jackson ran the fastest 40 at 4.34. Twenty-three players ran 4.5 or under.

Best vertical jump was by Miami's (Fla.) Sinorice Moss at 42 inches.

Best long jump was by Boston College's Will Blackmon at 11-foot-1.

Best 20 shuttle was by Chad Jackson, clocking 3.97.

Best cone drill was by Will Blackmon, clocking 6.67.

What scouts look for when grading wide receivers:

Critical factors

  1. Character
  1. Ability to learn football
  1. Competitive toughness
  1. Work habits
  1. Athletic ability

Position specifics

  1. Release
  1. Hands
  1. Adjustment to ball
  1. Run after catch
  1. Accelerate deep
  1. Route running
  1. Jumping ability
  1. Quickness
  1. Blocking ability
  1. Separation

Did You Know?

Jason Avant of Michigan had 23 interceptions at Carver High School in Chicago.

Hank Baskett of New Mexico was the Mountain West outdoor high jump champion in 2004 with a 6-foot-11 leap at 215 pounds.

Charles Sharon of Bowling Green caught a pass in all 48 games he played in.

Jovon Bouknight of Wyoming played in 47 games and caught at least two passes in all 47 games.

Mike Hass was a walk-on at Oregon State in 2001 and was awarded a scholarship in the fall of 2003. He became the first wide receiver in Pac-10 history to post three consecutive 1,000 yards seasons (1,013 in 2003, 1,329 in 2004 and 1,532 in 2005).

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