Combine Reveals Receiver Possibilities

With Marvin Harrison's release looking inevitable, the Colts are keeping an eye on this year's crop of draft-ready receivers. ColtPower.com has confirmed several of the players they interviewed over the weekend at the Combine. Who are they, and what can they bring to the team? Get the scoop inside!

The Colts talked to receivers Jeremy Maclin, Demetrius Byrd, Austin Collie, and Derrick Williams at the Combine.  Each brings his own unique skill set to the table, so they'll be analyzed one-by-one.

Jeremy Maclin had an extremely productive year at Missouri, finishing first overall in the nation in average yards per game, with 202.4, which was 35 yards per game better than Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray, the number two player in the Big 12 and the number eight player overall.


Jeremy Maclin
AP Photo/Ed Zurga

While Maclin gained over 1,000 yards in kickoff returns and 270 yards in punt returns, he still was able to touch the ball 207 times and averaged an astonishing 13.7 yards per touch.

Maclin declared himself eligible for the NFL draft early, so he is a young prospect that will not turn 21 until August.  Heading into the Combine, he was generally regarded as the second-best receiver in the draft class behind Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree.

He is currently the second-ranked player at his position and the 13th-ranked player overall by Scout.com.  At 6 feet and 198 pounds, he has the blend of height, weight, balance, and college production that the Colts look for at the position.

Someone with the receiving and returning abilities that Maclin possesses would be of considerable interest to the Colts, who may find themselves in need of a receiver for 2009 and have been in need of an explosive return man for many years.  The only issue is that there is a long line of NFL teams that would be interested in securing Maclin's services and a number of them draft before Indianapolis at 27th overall.

Maclin hyperextended his left knee at the Combine and ran a slower 40 time than he thought he was going to post (4.4 seconds), but neither of those factors are likely to keep him out of the top 15.

Barring a major upset or a major injury, it is not likely that his draft position will change much between now and April.  It's always possible that the Colts could try to move up to take Maclin, but they have too many other needs in too many other areas — particularly if they lose as many free agents as it appears they are going to lose — so the best strategy for the Indianapolis front office will be to cross their fingers and hope that Maclin falls to them.

Demetrius Byrd is very similar to Maclin in terms of his stature — he's also 6 feet tall and tips the scales at 199 pounds — and he also ran a 4.42 40 at the Combine.

Byrd is looked at as a big-play receiver, with a 15.8 yards per reception average over the course of his college career and, with 11 touchdown receptions on only 72 catches, that means he caught a touchdown every 6.5 times he caught the ball. 


Demetrius Byrd
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

It's not surprising, then, that he models his game off of Chad Johnson and has a great deal of respect for Larry Fitzgerald.

"Not off the field but on the field," he said at the Combine about his favorite receivers. "I love watching Chad and the things he does when he's in the zone. Most recently, it's Fitzgerald.  That guy's a beast."

One of the reasons that Byrd is the 21st-ranked receiver and the 120th-ranked player overall is the fact that he was in Baton Rouge for four seasons and only had two seasons as a starter and 72 receptions to show for it.

For most of the men ahead of him on draft boards, 72 receptions for 1,134 yards and 11 touchdowns is a season, not a career.  The other reason that he is ranked so low is because of his lack of production and the struggles of the LSU offense his senior year and the fact that he was very emotional and expressive of his displeasure with those facts during the course of the 2008 season. 

Aside from coming out and proving that he could play the position and run just as fast as everyone else, Byrd was looking, "To show that the character during the season is not me. I'm a better guy than that and I just want to show who I really am."

If he can be had in the fifth round, he could be an exceptional value pick, as he will be motivated to prove his critics wrong and certainly has the tools and talent to succeed in the Indianapolis offense.


Austin Collie
K. Grinolds/Dawgman.com

Collie is another receiver that, at 6-feet-1 and 200 pounds, fits the physical mold of what the Colts are looking for at receiver.  He also has the college production that many teams covet, catching 106 passes in 2008 for 1,538 yards and 15 touchdowns, with 215 receptions for 3,255 yards and 30 touchdowns throughout his career at BYU.

Some of that production is related to the system that Collie was playing in, but a good deal of it is related to the fact that he was the best receiver on the team and got open most consistently.

However, Collie is currently the 12th-ranked receiver on Scout.com and the 94th-rated player overall, so he certainly has his detractors.  For the most part, the thinking is that Collie is not fast or sudden enough to play the position as effectively at the NFL level.

There are plenty of receivers currently playing for NFL teams and excelling on them that ran a 40 time as slow or slower than the 4.55 seconds that Collie posted at the Combine, but, for the most part, they were drafted in the second day.

He may need to fight his way onto a team as a third- or fourth-round selection, but it is not easy to have production like his at any level.  The Colts took a look at a similar player in last year's draft in Jordy Nelson.  He ended up getting drafted by the Packers in the second round, before Indianapolis could pick him up.

Perhaps the Colts will take a shot on Collie at the tail end of the third round, provided they haven't grabbed a receiver already.

Derrick Williams is a receiver by trade, but also has extensive experience returning kickoffs and punts.  Those are traits that are obviously very attractive to Indianapolis, as well as the fact that Williams is 6 feet and 197 pounds, has explosive potential, and also has experience at running back.


Derrick Williams
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

He's also the seventh-ranked receiver and the 60th-ranked player overall, but those rankings may suffer, given the fact that he ran a 4.58 40 at the Combine and posted only a 31-inch vertical jump.  Coaches and scouts are inclined to trust what they see on tape, but it is also important for them to factor workouts into the process.  Someone who needs to be quick off the line and outrun the opponent's punt coverage teams needs to show more burst and top end speed than that.

Williams does have another shot to wow scouts at his Pro Day and can keep his late-second, early third round draft status, but another poor workout might drop him out of the third round.  As far as the Colts are concerned, though, they're probably hoping that he runs a 4.7 40 at his Pro Day and that his stock continues to drop.

They've seen what they need to see from him in person and on film.  The fact remains that Maclin will probably not be an option and Williams is one of the few options out there at the receiver position that also has extensive experience as a return man.

 

The Colts also visited with Florida receiver Percy Harvin this weekend. Look for a separate story on Harvin coming up soon.


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