Category Archives: Wide Receiver

Not An Issue

Harvin

In a widely publicized report, Percy Harvin, the junior wide receiver formally of the Florida Gators, has tested positive for marijuana use at the 2009 NFL combine. This has been a lingering rumor for quite some time, but became official throughout mainstream media in the past 36 hours.

Yes, Harvin may now be a tough sell to a chapter of the boy-scouts, and he probably won’t be the top candidate to lead a Sunday-school group, but let’s be serious now– this is not a cause for concern. Obviously we don’t condone recreational drug-use for professional athletes, but it’s truly sad how quickly we can tattoo the dreaded term “character issue” to a player, for such a trivial practice .

Certainly, Percy Harvin now has an obligation, as a representative of the National Football League, to stay clean on a zero-tolerance basis. The fact that he failed to keep his urine clean for the biggest job interview in his life, isn’t particularly comforting; however, to allow this drug-test to demean his draft status is just plain silly. If you’re naive enough to believe that Harvin is the only high calibre athlete to smoke pot, you’re horribly mistaken. It’s a common phenomena in pro-sports, that is often jokingly admitted to, and the adverse effects attached to a positive drug test don’t take into account the substantial majority who do not get caught.

Harvin was a hard-working, stand-up guy during his time as a Florida Gator. He was not a chronic law-breaker, nor was he a generic trouble-maker. He was loved by teammates, and was never perceived as a distraction. Some question his coachability and repect for authority, but personally, anyone who plays for his team on a broken ankle, and publicly discloses the injury as a simple sprain needs to be given a tad more credit.

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No Logging Permitted

How imperfect is the human memory? Why are we so consumed with the present,  so much so that we ignore the very proof that is permanently ingrained in history.

In the case of Texas Tech wide-out Michael Crabtree (6’2″, 220lbs) , we’ve forgotten that bone fractures heal, that rehabilitation regenerates health, and perhaps most importantly, that this kid caught 231 passes for well over 3000 yards and 41 touchdowns— in two seasons.

It has been the trendy draft prediction to suggest that Crabtree will fall to the Oakland Raiders at pick number seven, creating a three-headed offensive juggernaut in the black-hole (Jamarcus Russell, Darren McFadden and Crabtree). Even more ridiculously, some suspect that Crabtree will be passed by the Raiders, falling to the Jacksonville Jaguars at pick number eight. My reaction, shock and awe.

Aside from the fact that Crabtree is hands down the best offensive weapon in this draft, there are also natural fits for Crabtree in the top 5, that satisfy both golden draft requirements: “need” and “value”. Let’s go numerically—pick two, three, and five.

At pick number two, St. Louis will go into their off-season program with Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton starting at wide receiver. Given the release of Torry Holt, Avery is the only viable option that can possibly hold a starting spot. The Rams are frighteningly thin at WR. Enter Crabtree.

At pick number three, Kansas City has the proven receiving threat of Dewayne Bowe on the outside, but the patchwork beneath him leaves much to be desired. With Todd Haley as the head coach, and Tony Gonzalez’s career winding down, this makes more sense than people are lead to believe. Enter Crabtree.

Finally, the fifth pick. The Cleveland Browns shipped away Kellen Winslow earlier this offseason, there goes 100 catches. Braylon Edwards has been horribly inconsistent. Joe Jurivicious is gone, and Stallworth will be soon, given his recent automotive incident. Enter Crabtree.

This kid is a true phenom. Sorry Oakland and Sorry Jacksonville.

Verdict: Top-5.

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Onward, Upward, and Heyward (-Bey)

610x

This past weekend, the NFL’s 2009 rookie class descended upon Lukas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to participate in the annual NFL Combine. It is there that scouts, team officials and doctors are allowed to poke, prod and examine both the physical and mental capabilities of the future pieces of their franchise.

Each year, there is the proverbial “work-out warrior”, where one player puts up dazzling numbers in the various measurement drills. Warriors of years past include Vernon Gholston (New York Jets), Vernon Davis (San Fran 49ers), Broderick Bunkley (Philadelphia Eagles), and a whole host of others- each of whom got significant paychecks on draft day. This year’s version- Darrius Heyward-Bey, the junior Wide Receiver from the Maryland Terps.

Not only did Heyward-Bey run the second fastest 40-time this decade by a WR (4.3 seconds), but also, he stood out in his position drills, running fluidly and catching the ball well. This was a timely performance seeing that the consensus top wide receiver, Michael Crabtree, has had nothing but adversity consume his name this past weekend. Crabtree reportedly has a stress-fracture in his left foot, which follows the ankle problem that bothered him this past season.

Cue the truly money-making performance by Heyward-Bey, who was originally thought to be a top-25 pick, but now, likely won’t be available past pick number 15.  Hopefully his performance translates into production- which is alarmingly rare, especially when one looks at the names of the past “workout warriors” above. However, there is no reason to believe that DHB won’t succeed in the NFL. His college production matches the dominance of his combine numbers, and he will likely excel at the next level.

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Wide Receivers Follow Suit

Harvin, Crabtree, Maclin

In what has been an exciting set of developments, this year’s crop of underclassmen wide receivers have mimed their offensive counterparts in the backfield. It seems as though declaring for the draft as a young-gun is more “in vogue” this year than any in recent memory, as illustrated by the two most critical offensive skill positions.

The most notable wide receivers that have declared for the pros are: Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech), Jeremy Maclin (Missouri), Percy Harvin (Florida), Darrius Heyward-Bey (Maryland) , Kenny Britt (Rutgers) and Hakeen Nicks (North Carolina). Crabtree is the most alluring prospect, often being cited as the number one talent in this year’s draft, regardless of position.

But beyond the Crabtree-mania, there exists a group of receivers that represent a complete 180 degree turn-around from the first-round drought that we witnessed last year at the WR position. Maclin has the potential to climb into the top-15, Harvin into the top-20, and each of the remaining prospects all have a realistic shot at being late first to early second-rounders (assuming they work-out well, and perform strongly at pro-days etc.)

So what are the consequences of this eminent double-cohort at the wide receiver position. It is frighteningly similar to the situation unfolding at the tailback position, where established seniors are being forced down the totem poll, by the more athletic, more skilled and more confident list of underclassmen. This is obviously bad news for the likes of  Derrick Williams (Penn State), Louis Murphy (Florida), and all other senior wide receiver prospects. Not only was the glut at the position unexpected, but it will ultimately cost these college graduates millions of dollars on draft day.

So much for the cliche “stay in school”, these underclassmen have apparently been far more influenced by the Steve Miller Band… “take the money and run”.

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