Niles Paul Pushes to Reach Potential

Niles Paul has all the tools to become a dominant receiver in the NFL. However, questions about his hands and off-the-field behavior have teams thinking twice. Over the next three months, he'll do everything in his power to state his case as a go-to guy.

The numbers on Niles Paul's measurements look better than those in his box score. He is a 6-foot-1, 220-pound force, yet he ended his Nebraska career with 103 grabs, 1,532 yards and five touchdowns.

There are reasons for his quiet stats: he did not emerge until his junior season, he played in a run-first offense, he missed two games last season with a foot injury, etc. However, those issues make him somewhat of an enigma heading into the draft.

"I'm trying to prove all the doubters wrong," Paul said. "I want to show I can do all the things they said I can't do."

WR Niles Paul
David K Purdy/Getty
One of the things scouts question is Paul's hands, as he suffered some untimely drops at Nebraska. He did a good job of assuaging some of those concerns at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., where he rarely put a ball on the ground.

There are also questions about Paul's maturity, as he has two alcohol-related citations since 2009.

"I'm trying to show everyone my character," he said. "I'm an outgoing person and a real person. I'm a family person and I have a big family, so I'm used to being on a team."

Paul has drawn comparisons to Anquan Boldin because of his physical style, willingness to go over the middle and ability to gain yards after the catch. But given his off-the-field issues, perhaps a comparison to Vincent Jackson is more apt.

One thing Paul does that Boldin and Jackson do not is contribute on special teams. It is something he looks forward to doing as he works his way up the ranks in the NFL.

"I played on every special team since I was in college. I played punt team and kickoff; I was the punt returner and the kick returner. I'm willing to take on any role they put me in," said Paul, who returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in college.

Paul is ready to start making those kinds of big plays on Sundays, but a lot has to happen before then, including the NFL Combine, the NFL Draft and, of course, the signing of a new collective bargaining agreement.

When the time comes, he will be ready to make plays and earn his way into a leadership role.

"I know when to lead and I know when to follow," he said. "I know when to sit in my place and when to take charge."

With the draft only months away, Paul is charging hard.

Michael Lombardo is a member of Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the network. His work has been published by NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports.

BoltsReport Top Stories