Simmons hits on Marquiss Wilson's NFL readiness

PULLMAN -- It is a frequent discussion among Washington State fans on the CF.C message boards. Marquess Wilson features prototypical size and speed for an NFL wide receiver. Now it becomes a matter whether Wilson is prepared for the game's highest level. Outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons sheds some light.

WSU faithful had a similar discussion seven years ago when Jason Hill was in pursuit of several school records. Hill elected to return for his senior season in 2006 and was a third-round selection the following April by the San Francisco 49ers. Hill, who was the 76th pick of that draft, was selected higher than any receiver in program history.

The last Cougars' wide receiver to bypass his senior season, Devard Darling, also was a third-round selection. He was selected 82nd overall in 2004 by the Baltimore Ravens.

But Wilson is a little different as some already have pegged him as a first-round selection next spring if he chooses to forego his senior season. His stock appears to have slipped lately, though. CBS Sports' unnamed analysis cites drops and diminished production from last season as reasons behind dropping his projection to the second round. CBS draft analyst Rob Rang about Wilson's strength.

It is an assessment Simmons agrees with.

"I'll tell you what I told him, maturity wise, he's nowhere near ready for that level," he said. "Even from a body standpoint wise, no, he's not ready physically."

Simmons didn't discount Wilson's ability, adding that Wilson is one of the best wide receivers he's ever coached. Talent aside, Wilson has some pieces of his game that he has to work on.

"Talent-wise, yes," Simmons said. "Talent-wise, absolutely yes. Mentally? Competitively? Guys that got that dog in 'em? No."

Wilson had had some trouble with the drops this year, an uncharacteristic trait of the formerly sure-handed Tulare, Calif., native. Simmons said that's just another reason why Wilson should take a step back and look in the mirror.

"Some of [those drops] are concentration," Simmons said. "Some of it is you have to be ready to make the routine play at any given time."

Simmons added that Wilson has the raw ability to become one of the best in the game. He already has the talent to be characterized as one of the top pass-catchers in the Pac-12. But it requires more than that to succeed in the NFL.

"Playing in the NFL is a lifestyle," Simmons said. "Those guys play for paychecks. That's a grown man's business. Marquess just turned 20 years old. At the end of this season if he wants to elect to try his hand at that, that's between him and his family."

Wilson had a good practice today, showing a good burst and sure hands all afternoon. The lanky receiver has become a huge weapon in the red zone during practice, something the Cougars have yet to feature during in-game action.

Elsewhere on the field, sophomore quarterback Connor Halliday threw a crisp ball all afternoon, emphasizing the pass to check-down targets. Halliday has struggled with the short pass this season, routinely looking downfield before examining what the defense is giving him on a play-to-play basis.

The offensive line got senior Wade Jacobson back after taking a day off yesterday. The line continued to rotate senior Taylor Meighen, as well as juniors Zach Brevick and Matt Goetz into the trenches all afternoon. Senior Dan Spitz remained absent for the second consecutive day.

The defense looked similar to what it has in recent days, although freshman Kache Palacio saw more time than usual rotating in with the linebacking unit. Palacio's speed off the edge gives the Cougars a little more burst on defense, something they'll need to feature if they hope to keep up with an explosive team such as Oregon.

"They're a very scrappy group," Leach said of Oregon. "I think they play really hard. They have a lot of diversity to them."

The Cougars take on the Ducks at Century Link field this Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.

The 1s Running with the 1s for the scrimmage:

OFFENSE
LT - John Fullington (Brevick got some time) LG - Wade Jacobson (Goetz/Meighen/Brevick got some time) C - Elliott Bosch (Meighen got some time) RG - Jake Rodgers (Goetz/Meighen/Brevick got some time) RT - Gunnar Eklund (Brevick got some time) QB – Connor Halliday (Jeff Tuel got some snaps) RB – Carl Winston/Teondray Caldwell/Leon Brooks X-WR – Marquess Wilson (Dominique Williams got some snaps) Y-WR – Brett Bartolone (Andrei Lintz got some time) Z-WR – Isiah Myers (Bennett Bontemps got some snaps) H-WR – Gabe Marks (Gino Simone got some snaps)

DEFENSE
Kache Palacio rotated between the different linebacker positions, not just the BUCK position this afternoon. LT - Matthew Bock NT - Ioane Gauta RT - Xavier Cooper (Steven Hoffart got equal snaps) BUCK - Travis Long SAM - Cyrus Coen MIKE - Darryl Monroe WILL - Justin Sagote CB - Damante Horton/Daniel Simmons CB – Nolan Washington/Daniel Simmons FS - Casey Locker SS - Deone Bucannon

SPECIAL TEAMS
LS - Alex Den Bleyker P - Mike Bowlin KO - Bowlin/Andrew Furney rotation FG - Furney KR - Leon Brooks PR - Leon Brooks (Rahmel Dockery got some snaps)

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