Greg Cosell consumes film of football players and renders unvarnished opinions. The film study is part of his job as the senior producer for NFL Films. The unvarnished opinions are what you get when asking him about any player he feels his has reviewed enough.
His review on the receivers class as it pertains to the Vikings rendered two players he believes are good first-round fits for Minnesota. One of them, Keenan Allen, is commonplace when discussing Vikings needs. Another, Robert Woods, is a player that Cosell likes more than most analysts.
"I think it's a very solid receiving class. Is there an Andre Johnson, a Calvin Johnson? There is not," Cosell said. "From what I've seen of Keenan Allen, I very much like Keenan Allen of Cal. I like Robert Woods from USC. I think both those guys are equal to a Justin Blackmon, who was the sixth pick last year. I don't think Allen or Woods will be the sixth pick, but I don't know that. Allen is a very intriguing player to me because he's very smooth and fluid, and while I'm sure he's not going to be a 4.38 guy, he's a very smooth accelerator. He's very smooth in run-after-the-catch, as is Woods."
Allen didn't run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine because of an injury while Woods showed that he isn't a speed merchant when he ran a 4.51. But speed isn't the forte of either of their games. Being refined receivers is.
"For those who focus on 40 times and pure straight-line speed, that will be a factor. For those who don't and look at overall receiving skills, it may not be a factor," Cosell said. "This concept of a No. 1 receiver is interesting to me. Over the years, a lot of people associate No. 1 receivers with the ability to run by corners. Or, obviously in the case of Calvin Johnson, he's obviously such a physical specimen. So I think there's other traits. No one would argue that Larry Fitzgerald isn't a No. 1 receiver and he isn't a 4.4 guy. He's got other outstanding traits. My guess is Keenan Allen or Woods would not be seen as one of those guys. I personally think Allen would have a better chance of evolving into that guy than Woods, but I like Woods a lot as well.
"Very often in the NFL, the ability to get vertical is not a function of speed. It's a function of how to use your vertical stem to set up corners. Allen can do that."
Many draft analysts have Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson ranked as the top receiver in this year's draft. Cosell sees a lot of potential with Patterson when it comes the measurables, but he might be the most raw when it comes to technique of the top receivers.
That should be no surprise, given Patterson played only one year at Tennessee and set the single-season school record with 1,873 all-purpose yards (46 receptions for 778 yards and five touchdowns; 25 rushes for 323 yards and three touchdowns; four punt returns for 101 yards and one touchdown; and 24 kickoff returns for 671 yards and a touchdown).
"He's a big kid with speed and he can catch. He's incredibly raw. There's a lot of tools to work with, however," Cosell said. "A perfect example is he is not anywhere near as explosive running routes as he is with the ball in hand. But because he is an explosive kid, you can teach him to maximize his explosiveness, but he's not there right now. He's unrefined as a route-runner, but because of his size and his explosive movement he's obviously worth the risk, for wont of a better term, but he may not be that guy year one. He'll be used year one because you can use him on a reverse – you can find ways to get him into your offense, but he may not be a 75-catch, 1,200-yard receiver as a rookie."
Therein lays the rub for the Vikings. Patterson very well could be gone by the time Minnesota's No. 23 overall pick is executed, and even if he's not they could be looking for someone that can contribute more consistently early in his career.
The issue with Allen was both quarterback play at Cal and an injury to his left knee that caused him to miss the final three games of 2012. Those two factors could push him down to being valued somewhere around the Vikings' 23rd pick. Because of the injury, Allen was limited to 61 catches for 737 yards and six touchdowns last year. For his career, he had 205 receptions for 2,570 yards and 17 touchdowns.
"I think Allen and Woods are the most NFL-ready to make immediate contributions on a consistent, week-to-week basis," Cosell said. "Patterson will make some explosive, spectacular, SportsCenter plays, but I think Allen and Woods are probably more prepared to be an NFL wideout with all the subtle details that go into that right now."
Cosell isn't into rankings and assigning values by round when it comes to NFL prospects. For him, rankings become skewed because different teams will look for different qualities in a receiver. Because of that, he isn't ready to say that Allen and Woods are ahead of Patterson, but it's clear he believes they are more NFL-ready.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
NFL Films analyst likes two WRs for Vikings
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