Draft Decision: Wide Receivers

We've taken a look at several wide receivers the Colts might consider in this year's NFL Draft. Now, ColtPower compares two of these prospects head-to-head. How do they stack up against one another ... and which one should the Colts draft?

Percy Harvin versus Derrick Williams:

Reputation:

Harvin has a reputation for being an explosive playmaker that can help a team in a lot of different ways and hurt their opponent in a lot of different ways.  He has extensive experience — and success — as a receiver, and running back, as well as tremendous potential as a return man.  He is dangerous in the open field and has the speed and acceleration to pull away from most defenses.


Percy Harvin
AP Photo/J. Pat Carter

Williams has all of that experience, as well as fairly extensive actual game experience as a punt and kick returner.  Although Harvin's numbers as a tailback and wideout dwarf those of Williams, experience is extremely important and, the more you can do to help the team, the more you can do to help the team. 

Additionally, Harvin has had his fair share of bumps and bruises throughout his college career — though he hasn't missed many games due to injury — while Williams is about as healthy as a running back/receiver/returner can be.

Character:

Harvin referenced some off-the-field problems dating back to high school during his interview at the Combine. The fact remains, however, that those problems didn't ever manifest themselves at Florida. He was a key player on a national championship team, and coach Urban Meyer and quarterback Tim Tebow aren't likely to put up with a lot of nonsense.

Williams was the top-ranked recruit in the country coming out of high school and gets nothing but rave reviews from everyone that talks to him, from Joe Paterno to Ed Thompson. He's widely credited with being a leader and being a huge part of the Nittany Lions' resurgence in recent years.

Measurables:

Williams is 6 feet tall and weighs 197 pounds, Harvin is 5-feet-11 and 192 pounds.  Close enough and right at the height and weight that the Colts covet at the position.  Even though he's shorter, Harvin's hands are a half inch longer than Williams' hands.

Athleticism:

Harvin's vertical jump was a little underwhelming for the third-ranked receiver on Scout.com's draft board, but he still posted a respectable 31 5/8 inch vertical and ran a 4.41 40-yard dash.  Williams, however, did not perform so well, running a subpar 4.58 second 40 and tallying a vertical jump of 31 inches.

Harvin will be able to focus on his position drills and the short shuttle at his Pro Day, while Williams will need to put as much energy as possible towards getting that 40 time in the 4.4 range.

Production:

This is where Harvin blows Williams away.  He has averaged 11.6 yards per touch in his three seasons in Gainesville, a number made even more impressive given the fact that he doesn't have any kickoff returns to pad his average and 194 of his 327 touches were rushes.

He has scored 32 touchdowns on those 327 touches, or once for every ten times he touched the ball.  Granted, he's in a more creative offense than Williams and plays a more dynamic role, but he also has faced stiff competition in the SEC and has had to play through injuries.


Derrick Williams
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Williams is certainly no slouch, though, with a 9.3 yards per touch average and more experience — 444 total touches, four years playing college ball instead of three, and game experience returning kickoffs and punts.  But, he also has 50 kickoff returns to pad that average and has scored 22 touchdowns on 444 touches, or once for every 20 times he touched the ball.

Value:

As the third-ranked receiver and 19th-rated player overall, Harvin would have considerable value for the Colts when they choose 27th in the first round.  Historically, Bill Polian and his staff have chosen the best athlete available that fills a need, especially with their first pick.  Harvin would fit that bill for sure and Eric Hartz believes he could be available.

Williams is the 11th-rated receiver and the 92nd-rated player overall.  With all the ways he will be able to contribute as a rookie, he represent a tremendous value pick at the end of the third round.

Who They Should Pick:

For everything he could contribute on special teams and the fact that taking Harvin would be more of a luxury pick, the Colts should take Williams with their first pick in the second day.  Harvin is an incredibly gifted player and is obviously superior to Williams — he's not ranked that far ahead of him for nothing — but with so many other needs at so many other positions, can Indianapolis afford to take him in the first round just because they have a number of good receivers, but not three great ones? 

The Colts offense hasn't been as effective as it was when Marvin Harrison was in his prime, but it also has been far from anemic. 

Who They Would Pick:

Note that this is who they would pick, not who they will pick, since I feel that Harvin will be gone after the first 15 selections.  If he were to still be available at 27th overall, the Colts would select him.

He'd be too high on their board, plays too important of a position to the team, and can be used in too many different ways and formations for them to pass on him.

At the End of the Day:

There's still a lot that needs to be decided between now and draft day.  If Harvin runs a blistering short shuttle and performs well in receiver position drills at his Pro Day, he could leapfrog Jeremy Maclin and get selected in the top 15 or even the top 10.  If he performs poorly in the position drills and tweaks a hamstring, making scouts question his durability, he could fall out of the first round.

Williams could run a 4.4 40 at his Pro Day and look smooth in and out of his cuts, catapulting him into the second round, where he would hold significantly less value for the Colts.  He could turn in another stopwatch stinker and end up falling to the middle of the fourth round, where the Colts could move up and select him and he would hold even more value.


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