Colts Prospect: WR Anthony Gonzalez

The Colts reloaded their offensive juggernaut by drafting a smooth route runner in Anthony Gonzalez from Ohio State. The talented receiver should give Peyton Manning a potent weapon working out of the slot, much as Brandon Stokley ahd in the past.

Anthony Gonzalez WR Ohio State

Numbers: 6000/193, 4.44 forty, 2.58 twenty, 1.48 ten, 38 vertical, 10'3 long, 4.08 shuttle, 6.54 cone

2006 stats: 51-734-8 receiving, 2-28-0 rushing, 2-24-0 punt returns, 6-85-0 kick returns

The Player: Simply put, Gonzalez is as NFL-ready as college receivers get. Not only does he come from a major college with a pro-style offense, but he excels in the nuances necessary for NFL success, which many draft picks lack. He runs crisp routes, adjusts to his quarterback's situation and takes adantange of lapses in coverage. To top it all off, he's got great natural hands, superior vision, rare agility and excellent timed speed.

So if he's so great, why was he available at No. 32? Well he's shared his offense with Ted Ginn Jr. (No. 9 pick in 2007 by Miami) and Santonio Holmes (No. 25 pick in 2006 by Pittsburgh), both of whom were faster and flashier, though not as polished. He's also a bit slight and can be knocked off his routes by a determined DB, and he isn't the hardest guy to bring down.

But don't get the idea he isn't tough. Gonzalez will run crosses and pull patterns over the middle through the tough stuff and not falter or flinch no matter how many safeties or linebackers are within hitting range. He will extend his arms and body in any situation, not just the easy ones. Although he's the only Buckeye receiver in recent memory to run anything other than a post or a screen, Gonzalez has a grand total of zero fumbles in his career.

One added benefit of drafting Gonzalez is getting his character as well. Besides his well-known philanthropy and charity work, Gonzalez is a natural leader who inspires his teammates with his work habits, intelligence, discipline and courage.

Reminds me of: The obvious answer here is Brandon Stokley, because that's whose shoes Gonzalez is trying to fill. Although they do share more than just superficial similarities, Gonzalez is a lot tougher than Stokes and brings a more nuanced game. Instead, I'd say he's more like Isaac Bruce, a second-round pick by the Rams in 2004, whose 887-13,376-80 career receiving stats absolutely dwarf the production of the guys (Charles Johnson, Johnnie Morton, Thomas Lewis, Derrick Alexander and Darnay Scott) drafted ahead of him.

How he fits: The Colts were so desperate for a slot receiver after Brandon Stokley went down that they pulled Dallas Clark out of his starting tight end spot and played him there. Now the Colts have a legitimate starting-quality player at slot, which is essential for their offensive plan.

It's an enviable spot for any receiver, with Peyton Manning throwing passes Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne With his ability not just to catch the ball and run, but to understand and run very intricate routes and adjust on the run, Gonzalez is capable of a 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown season from the slot, though perhaps not for a year or two. And, if he adds a bit of bulk, he could be heir apparent to Marvin Harrison's outside spot.

Only a holdout or an injury (neither of which seem likely given Gonzalez's past history) is likely to stop him from taking over the spot starting from Day 1 of camp.


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