Draft Exclusive 42: Some Rice, Some Driver

This prolific All-American receiver, who visited Green Bay last week, got on scouts' radars extremely late in the process. Now, he barely has time to fill his suitcase with clean clothes. We talked to him in our latest draft exclusive.

Raymond Webber finished two receptions short of Jerry Rice's single-season SWAC record.

But maybe Webber's story more closely resembles another former SWAC standout, the Green Bay Packers' Donald Driver.

Driver had 33 career catches until making 55 grabs for 1,128 yards as a senior at Alcorn State. Webber had 79 career catches until posting a remarkable 101 catches for 1,429 yards as a senior at Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

While Rice was a first-round pick, Driver wasn't drafted until Ron Wolf made a last-second decision to use a seventh-round pick on him in 1999. Webber, a big receiver (6-foot-2 1/2 and 220 pounds) with good speed (4.50 at his pro day), made a pre-draft visit to Green Bay on April 4-5. The Packers need an influx of young talent with Driver having turned 36, so maybe it'd be fitting if they took a late-round flier on a fellow SWAC star.

Webber got on scouts' radars late, getting noticed only when they visited the school to check out defensive tackle Ibraham Abdulai.

"I just road his coattails," Webber told Packer Report with a laugh. "Then I was just telling scouts, ‘You're not here for me now but you will be. You'll come back at the end of the season because I'm going to do that much to put up numbers and impress.'"

Impress would be an understatement.

With a change in offensive coordinators and philosophies, Pine Bluff aired it out in 2010 and Webber was the beneficiary. He was voted a consensus Football Championship Subdivision All-American. Only Rice, with 102 receptions in 1983 and 103 in 1984, finished with more catches than Webber in SWAC history.

"It never was a goal," Webber said of breaking the Pro Football Hall of Famer's record. "It wasn't a goal because I didn't find out until after the season was over."

That's right. Apparently, nobody bothered to tell Webber that he was chasing a legend. So, not only did Webber not ask for a few more balls be thrown his way in the season finale against Texas Southern — he caught 11 balls, anyway — he started kicking himself for missed opportunities earlier in the season.

"Yeah, a lot, man," Webber said. "I think about some of the catches I should have had that would have put me over his record."

Still, the pre-draft attention has caught Webber by surprise. He called his visit to Green Bay "great" and enjoyed watching film of himself and the Packers' receivers with new receivers coach Edgar Bennett.

"Oh, man, the whole process, I can't believe it," he said. "I had a blessed year, and even having the year I had, I still didn't know what was going on. Then I had an all right pro day, and I still didn't know what was going on. And then I've been going on these visits, and I still don't know what's going on. It's just one of those things where I really don't know what's going on.

He's made visits to at least a half-dozen teams and had a private workout with St. Louis, as well, according to a source.

"I've been flying everywhere," Webber said. "When I finally get back to my house, all it is is a transition so I can pack more suits, more underwear and back on the road."

Webber said the strength of his game is his aggressive play. If he catches the ball, he takes it upfield in a hurry. If he doesn't have the ball he tries to "beat someone up" as a blocker. Work ethic — a Rice and Driver signature — defines his game, too, he said.

"All I heard about was his phenomenal work ethic, how hard Jerry Rice works, how he'd catch the ball and run to the end zone," Webber said. "He did everything it took to be an elite receiver. I try to mimic that. If I catch the ball, I run to the end zone. I started doing everything that Jerry Rice did."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.

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