Positional Analysis: WRs

The Vikings will be looking for a receiver at all points during this draft, which makes knowing something about the top wide receivers coming out this year a must. We preview the good, bad and the ugly of the top 17 in this positional installment.

VIKINGS WIDE RECEIVERS – Randy Moss, D'Wayne Bates, Derrick Alexander, Kelly Campbell, Kenny Clark, Cedric James.

VIKINGS DRAFT EXPECTATION – There are a couple of things that come into play with wide receiver for the Vikings this draft day. From the push the team made for Oronde Gadsden in recent weeks – to the point of negotiating a final contract that fell through – it's clear the team was looking to upgrade, and that will likely be the case on draft day itself. The only question is when do the Vikings pull the trigger on a deal? It may be earlier than some think. Last year, the Vikings were prepared to take wide receiver Josh Reed (now with Buffalo) in the second round before the Bills snapped him up two picks in front of Minnesota. This year could be much of the same, as the Vikings wait to see who drops into the second round. If a player there intrigues them, they might well make the jump earlier. If not, the third or fourth rounds look like solid alternate options.

THE CLASS OF '03 – A very solid group at the top. There could be as many as four or five going in the first round, and quite possibly two going off the board (Charles Rogers and Andre Johnson) before the Vikings get to select at No. 7. While they may be the only two true blue-chippers in the bunch, there may be as many as 10 wide receivers taken by the time the Vikings are on the clock in the third round.

FIRST ROUNDERS

Charles Rogers, Michigan State, 6-2, 202 –
Third-year junior who was a Prop 48 as a freshman…Won the Biletnikoff Award given last year to college football's best receiver…In two years with the Spartans, he caught 125 passes for 2,551 yards and 25 TDs…Saved his best for the bowl games. In two games, he caught 17 passes for an inhuman 445 yards and four TDs…Has very good hands and catches the ball in stride by adjusting to passes…Ideal combination of speed, size and strength…A true home threat on every play…Has been compared to Terrell Owens for strength and Marvin Harrison for deep speed – high praise indeed…Had a run of 13 consecutive games with a TD…Excellent leaper for fade routes…Gets from line to top speed in less than 10 yards…Tough enough to break jam coverage…Only downside is his disposition – another area where he compares to Owens. PROJECTION: He won't stay on the clock long and seems like a lock to end up with Detroit at No. 2.

Andre Johnson, Miami, 6-2, 230 – Fourth-year junior…Collegiate sprinter who won the Big East 60-meter indoor and 100-meter outdoor titles last year…Comes from same program that produced Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne in the 2001 draft…In two years as a starter, caught 86 passes for 1,710 yards and 19 touchdowns…Has excellent leaping abilty – a 41-1/2 inch vertical…Picks up a lot of yardage after the catch…Known for making highlight film catches…Good blocker who likes to use size to get physical with CBs…Has no fear going over the middle…Needs to work on route running and study more film. PROJECTION: His stock continues to rise. Has incredible size for a WR and top-end speed. Could be as explosive a WR as has come out of college since Randy Moss. He could go as high as No. 3 to Houston, but, if he's still on the board at No. 7, the Vikings could shock the NFL, take him and have the most explosive offense in the NFL.

Taylor Jacobs, Florida, 6-0, 205 – Fourth-year senior…Collegiate sprinter who ran a blazing 21.06 in the 200 meters last spring…Only a one-year starter, he missed three games with a thigh injury, but still caught 64 passes for 1,000 yards and eight TDs…Nice combination of size and speed, he's very dangerous after the catch…Team leader who has his head on right…Isn't a physical receiver and gets jammed…Works hard, but doesn't play in pads with the same lightning speed he has on the track. PROJECTION: As just a one-year starter, he has some issues about how quickly he'll adjust to the pro game, but, unlike some of the other top WRs who are criticized for bad attitudes, he has a willingness to work and improve. He should likely go in the final third of the first round, maybe to the Jets – who are looking to replace Laveranues Coles (but might want a more physical receiver).

Kelley Washington, Tennessee, 6-3, 223 – Played just two years of college football after spending four years in the Florida Marlins minor league system…Has some serious injuries on his rap sheet, including a torn lateral collateral ligament in his left knee and surgery that fused two spinal vertabrae together at the base of his neck…As a part-time starter in 2001, he caught 64 passes for 1,010 yards and five TDs, which he followed up with a monster 11-256-1 game in the SEC championship…In only four games in '02 before his spinal surgery, he caught 23 passes for 443 yards and one TD…Excellent hands and can outjump d-backs…Very physical and uses height/weight mismatches to his advantage…Compared to Randy Moss for his ability to leave defenders behind after the catch…Not much of a blocker – also like Moss…Some scouts complained that his ego is bigger than his stats, which could turn some teams away. PROJECTION: Serious injuries are a concern that will drop his stock in some eyes, but has the complete package from the measurables standpoint. If he keeps his ego in check, he could slide into the first round.

SECOND/THIRD ROUNDERS

Bryant Johnson, Penn State, 6-2, 214 –
Fourth-year senior…Two-year starter who caught 99 passes for 1,783 yards and seven touchdowns…Long arms and good hands…Viewed as a possession receiver, but has good speed and can break long runs after the catch…Hard to jam because of his size and strength…Good route runner…Has deceptive speed, but isn't extremely fast or quick. PROJECTION: The combination of size and leaping ability make him a very solid NFL prospect, but the lack of deep speed will likely have some teams shying away. That said, he could end up being a very nice addition to a team with a speed receiver already. Should go early to middle of the second round.

Anquan Boldin, Florida State, 6-1, 216 – Fourth-year senior…Outstanding high school athlete who set a Florida record for most total yards (11,433)…Missed all of '01 season after tearing his left ACL…Excellent burst off the line but has trouble maintaining speed downfield…Physical and can outmuscle corners looking to jam him at the line when in position…At his best going over the middle…Was going to fight for QB job before injuries put him back in WR corps…Ran a disappointing 4.7 40 at the Combine. PROJECTION: Seen as a raw talent with upside, but awful 40 time at the Combine likely dropped his stock into the second round and, in some teams eyes, even lower.

Brandon Lloyd, Illinois, 6-0, 184 – Fourth-year junior…Competed on Illini track team as hurdler and high jumper…Started half-time as freshman but missed 2000 season after breaking his leg in a non-football injury…Last two years caught 125 passes for 2,016 yards and 17 TDs. Second-Team All-Big 10 last year…Has excellent ballet type moves and adjusts to the ball well…Rarely drops passes…Pushes defenders off the line…Good, but not great speed…Doesn't have great upper body strength or bulk. PROJECTION: Has good attitude, but poor speed at the Combine and average physical abilities will drop him into the second round.

Tallman Gardner, Florida State, 6-1, 205 – A huge question mark after being arrested last week for marijuana possession and a loaded concealed handgun in his car…Fourth-year senior…Full-time player last two seasons, catching 70 passes for 1,267 yards and 19 touchdowns – an amazing catch-to-TD rate…Great size-speed combination…Has returned kickoffs…Extremely fast at getting from the line to top speed…Not a great route runner, he tends to be the designated deep guy, like a Willie Gault or John Jett type. PROJECTION: Was viewed as a second-rounder who could be a defense-stretcher. But, with his recent troubles with the law, some teams may avoid him altogether and nobody will likely jump on him until the third round.

Teyo Johnson, Stanford, 6-5, 247 – Third-year sophomore…Played basketball for Stanford in 2000 as a redshirt freshman…In two years, he caught 79 passes for 1,032 yards and 15 TDs – scoring a TD in all but nine of his 23 college games…Very big receiver who could play H-back in the NFL…Has leaping ability to go with height, which will make him dangerous in the Red Zone…For his size, doesn't beat the jam as often as he should and isn't much of a blocker. PREDICTION: A rare ‘tweener between WR and TE, may not have the speed to be a great WR or the size to be a dominant tight end. However, his great upside potential will likely get someone to snap in the second or third round.

Sam Aiken, North Carolina, 6-2, 209 – Fourth-year senior…Two-year starter who set Tar Heel records for receptions and yards receiving in '02…In two years, he caught 114 passes for 1,779 yards and 12 TDs…Caught nine passes at the Senior Bowl and was named offensive MVP...Good upper body strength…Excellent leaper who flashed a 39-1/2 inch vertical at the Combine…Hard to jam at the line…One of the best run blockers in this year's WR crop…Will have to be a possession over-the-middle receiver because he doesn't have deep speed. PROJECTION: Has a lot of positives and is a hard-nosed receiver coaches will like. Isn't going to be a top pick because of his lack of quickness, but should go on the first day.

DAY TWO PROSPECTS

Tyrone Calico, Middle Tennessee State, 6-4, 223 –
Fourth-year senior and four-year starter…Had his best receiving year as a freshman…Finished his career at MTSU with 194 receptions and 17 TDs…Held up well at Senior Bowl facing the best corners in the country…Excellent mix of size, speed and strength…Great vertical speed, he can get past d-backs if not jammed at the line…Drops too many catchable passes…Didn't live up to his hype following a phenomenal freshman season…Not great over the middlle…Put on a show at the Combine, but lack of consistent top competition will have him a push for the first day.

Billy McMullen, Virginia, 6-4, 210 – Fourth-year senior…Three-year starter who blew up as a junior, catching 83 passes for 1,060 yards and 12 TDs…Suffered a shoulder injury at the end of 2001 season and numbers dropped to 68-886-3 as a senior…Good height and strength…Very long arms (35 inches) and big hands surround the ball…Didn't miss game time with injury, despite playing hurt…Enjoys blocking and handing out punishment instead of taking it…Isn't a vertical stop-and-go receiver…The lack of big-time speed will likely drop him to the second day, but some scouts think he can be a big-time player.

Shaun McDonald, Arizona State, 5-9, 165 – Fourth-year junior…Put up mammoth numbers in two years as a starter, catching 113 passes for 2,295 yards and 24 touchdowns…Two time All-Pac 10 pick and a Biletnikoff Award finalist…Loved by his coaches for toughness and leadership…Almost never dropped a pass he should have caught…Can move vertically and laterally with the same efficiency…Viewed as too small for the league, both in size and strength…Many scouts think he could have helped himself a lot by staying another year, because with his lack of size and strength, most teams won't likely take a chance on the first day for a guy who could end up just being a kick returner in the NFL.

Nate Burleson, Nevada-Reno, 6-1, 197 – Fourth-year senior and three-year starter…In his first two years as a starter, he caught 110 passes for 1,658 yards and 10 TDs; in his final season, his numbers were an eye-popping 138-1,629-12…Very good at cuts and change-of-direction routes…Very strong blocking technique…Great leaper with 42-1/2 inch vertical jump…Good hands on short routes, but dropped too many deep balls that were catchable…Because of the UNR offense, his numbers look more impressive than his ability would dictate. Should fall into the fourth or fifth round, but his fearlessness over the middle will serve him well to make an impression on a scouting department.

Kareem Kelly, USC, 6-0, 186 – Fourth-year senior…Excellent speed…Was a three-time high school sprint champion in California…Ran collegiate track, posting times of 5.67 in the 50 meters and 10.33 in the 100 meters…In three years as a starter, he caught 144 passes for 2,94 yards and 11 TDs, which fell short of his freshman year when he had 54-902-4 numbers as a No. 3 receiver…Exceptional speed…Plenty of experience vs. top competition at the college level…Very quick off the line when avoiding jams…Drops far too many passes…Get in a funk when things go bad and tends to pout…Has the talent to be a first-day selection, but his bad attitude has already turned off a lot of scouts that follow the Pac 10, and whoever takes him will have to deal with that baggage.

Justin Gage, Missouri, 6-4, 217 – Fourth-year senior who enrolled at Mizzou as a QB…Three-year starter and two-time All-Big 12 selection…In final two seasons caught 156 passes for 1,995 yards and 14 TDs…Excellent size for a WR and has already perfected the toe-drag on the sidelines…Willing and impressive blocker…Doesn't have great speed or good upper body strength…Looks to be a player who can get better as he progresses and has the makings a late-round gem they talk about years later, but his lack of deep speed will hold him back on draft day.

Kassim Osgood, San Diego State, 6-5, 208 – Fifth-year senior who spent three years at Cal-Poly – first as a cornerback and, in his final season in 2000, he caught 83 passes for 1,337 yards and 14 TDs…He had a monster senior season in his only year at SDSU, catching 108 passes for 1,552 yards and eight TDs…Very tall with good strength…Has long arms (33 inches)…A threat in the Red Zone, but not running deep vertical routes…His lack of Division I-A experience will likely hurt him, but he could be a surprise early pick by a team that falls in love with his size as a possession receiver.

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