NFL Draft suddenly deep at receiver

When the draft comes around, receivers are the prized possession. They bring the glory, and teams have to look into the coffers to find a player that may have slipped. Talented players drop, particularly at the skill positions, and gems can often be found beyond the first round.

The advice from NFL coaches can mold a future career. An English teacher that paves the way for a future journalist. Inspiration comes from many and the words from a Hall of Famer can mean so much to a young career.

It was all that and more for Craphonso Thorpe when San Diego Chargers' wide receivers coach James Lofton came up to him and talked about the wide receiver position.

"It was a very humbling experience to meet some of these guys that I am meeting. I never really met them and now I am a talking to them and they are saying they want to meet with me and holding conversations with me. It is humbling."

Thorpe had a disappointing senior year but is one of those players that is looking to make a statement on the next level. He reminds a little of Laveranues Coles, a kid with loads of potential but suffered a setback and lasted until the third round. Coles went on to play for the New York Jets and has had a solid career as a No. 1 receiver.

Thorpe, the Florida State standout suffered a leg injury during his senior campaign, robbing him of the momentum he had begun with a superb junior year. After amassing 51 catches and 11 touchdowns as a junior, he was limited to 40 receptions and just two touchdowns.

Thorpe has no regrets and doesn't look back on it with disappointment. He is happy to be able to strap his helmet on and compete, one of the reasons he thought it was imperative to come to the Senior Bowl.

"I feel like I was blessed to be on the field," said Thorpe. "A lot of people had the same injury I had and never bounced back from it and aren't able to play again."

When he came to Mobile, Thorpe had a lot to prove.

Was he healthy? Was the trademark explosion back?

"Yeah, because I came back two months early from my injury and I feel like pretty much the entire season I wasn't healthy except the Bowl game against West Virginia," he said. "I am trying to show them that I am the same wide receiver they saw in '03."

The receiver that had seven of his 11 touchdown grabs on plays of at least 25 yards, and had two games where he secured 200-plus receiving yards.

The same man who won the 100 and 200 at the ACC Outdoor Track Championships in the spring of 2003 to lead FSU to the men's title and was named ACC Outdoor Track Performer of the Year.

Team doctors were wary, as is their right, and put Thorpe through a comprehensive check at the Combines in Indianapolis last month. Thorpe endured hours in front of team doctors, pulling him this way and that and the MRI's that go with it.

"It was just time," Thorpe began. "It was a process and took time."

By playing through the pain, Thorpe may have turned some heads his way. True, his numbers were down, but he showed that no matter the ailment, he will be out there on the field fighting for the team.

"It showed my willpower, my drive, my strength and love for the game to play through that kind of pain and still be productive."

He didn't work out in Indianapolis because of a blister on the back of his heel but did work out at his Pro Day on March 15. A terrific 40 time, timed at 4.30 on a fast track could very well have dispelled any misconceptions related to his past injuries.

After running the drill, Thorpe was hounded by scouts from at least 10 teams, including scouts from the Vikings, Saints, Lions, Rams and Falcons. It was the second time the Rams met up with Thorpe, greeting him at the Senior Bowl as well.

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