Wexells' Value Board: 2005 NFL Draft WR's

Last May, after Plaxico Burress stopped working for the Pittsburgh Steelers, two men took in the news and shook their heads. One was the chairman.

"It's not going to work," said Dan Rooney, who felt Burress was making a contract statement.

"Plax ought to know," said the other man, a scout, "that wide receivers are a dime a dozen these days. They're everywhere in college football."

By consensus opinion, the scout is being proven right. At least 15 wide receivers are considered first-day talents in this draft. That's close to last year, when a bountiful crop of 13 wide receivers was harvested on the first day, 7 in the first round.

The Steelers, after signing free agent Cedrick Wilson, don't have an immediate need at the position. Yet, they'd like to fill their open No. 5 receiver slot with a player who can grow with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. And with so much talent available in rounds 1-3, the time is now.

VALUE BOARD

First Round - Reggie Brown (6-1 5/8, 196, 4.49) is the lesser known of the Georgia receivers but emerges the better pro prospect over Fred Gibson (6-4, 196, 4.55). The Steelers will give Brown serious consideration at pick No. 30. Brown's career at Georgia was sidetracked by an ACL injury as the starting flanker his second season in 2001. He struggled in 2002 but came back to lead Georgia in receiving the last two years with 97 catches (1,423 yards) in 22 starts. He was All-SEC as a senior. He plays bigger than his size because of a vertical jump of 41½ inches, two inches better than any other receiver at the combine. It's consistently reported Brown jumps 43½ inches. By comparison, Burress had a vertical jump of 33 inches at the 2000 combine. Brown was the No. 2 receiver in a short-ball Georgia offense, so he couldn't show off his big-play ability. He did prove tough over the middle and is considered a terrific and willing blocker. Brown played against elite competition and is maniacal about his training, adding ankle weights and weighted vests to his running. Brown once bench-pressed 400 pounds.

First Round - Mark Clayton (5-10 3/8, 193, 4.43) of Oklahoma is a championship-caliber player in the Hines Ward mold. Clayton's a tough gamer who may slide through the first round because of the high number of bigger and faster athletes. It's not a stretch to imagine Clayton slipping in the first round behind the likes of Brown and Matt   Jones. Clayton caught 149 passes for 2,301 yards the last two seasons.

Second Round - Mark Bradley (6-1 3/8, 201, 4.40) of Oklahoma isn't a surprise to anyone anymore. Another great athlete, Bradley could become a better pro player than his celebrated sidekick Clayton. The son of former Oklahoma QB Dannny Bradley, Mark Bradley played QB for two years at Arkansas Pine-Bluff before tearing an ACL. He transferred to Oklahoma to take advantage of better rehab facilities. He rehabbed through 2002 and in 2003 returned his first kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. He threw for a touchdown on his first pass attempt. Bradley caught 34 passes for 685 yards (20.1) in two years as the Oklahoma No. 2 receiver. Coach Bob Stoops called him the best athlete on the team and said if he'd had Bradley four years, Bradley would be "a first-day cornerback" in this draft. As it is, he's a game-breaking receiver whose stock is rising.

Second Round - Terrence Murphy (6-1, 202, 4.45) of Texas A&M, Roddy White (6-1¼, 207, 4.45) of Alabama-Birmingham, Vincent Jackson (6-4¾, 241, 4.55) of Northern Colorado and Jerome Mathis (5-11¼,181, 4.31) of Hampton are four of the many outstanding first-day prospects.

Seventh Round - Tyler Stubblefield (5-11¼, 174, 4.76) of Purdue is the all-time leading receiver in NCAA history, yet was snubbed by the combine. Then Stubblefield ran the dreadful 40 time on campus. But he can play, and he did improve that 40 time to 4.6 at another campus workout. Don't let this guy run to Canada just yet.

LOCAL PROSPECTS

Chris Henry (6-4, 197, 4.5) of West Virginia and Leron McCoy (6-1½, 211, 4.40) of IUP have two things in common: 1.) They have tremendous potential and, 2.) They both need to grow up or watch that potential slip away. Henry is equal parts talent and head case in the Antonio Bryant mold. Henry's been suspended twice and came off poorly in combine interviews. He could slip to the fourth round. McCoy has been involved in a series of minor scraps that are beginning to add up. His practice habits are also being criticized. Perhaps not being drafted would serve as a wake-up call.


Steel City Insider Top Stories