THE BEST OF THE
THE NEXT BEST THING
ROD GARDNER, Clemson, 6-2, 217 A fifth-year senior...Worked at QB and safety early in his college career before settling in full-time at wide receiver...A two-year starter, he caught 124 passes for 1,963 yards and 10 TDs...Incredibly strong for a wide receiver, he can bench press 400 pounds...Very good hand-eye coordination, he has the speed to get beat, the athleticism to leap for a pass and strength to outmuscle a defender for the ball...Doesnt have top-end speed and likely will be forced to be a possession receiver in the NFL...Viewed as the best pro prospect at WR out of Clemson in 20 years...Did not work out at the Combine by his choice.
PROJECTION: Doesnt have the pure speed of Terrell, Robinson or Santana Moss, but his incredible pass catching ability will assure that he goes on the first round and could be the most productive rookie receiver of the crop in his first season.
SANTANA MOSS, Miami, 5-9, 185 A fourth-year senior who came to Miami on a track scholarship and walked on to the football team...A three-year starter who has got better every year catching 30 passes for 681 yards and eight touchdowns in 98, 54-889-6 in 1999 and 45-748-5 last year, despite being slowed much of the season with left ankle tendinitis...From his numbers, its obvious he is a big-play receiver who picks up yardage in bunches...A dangerous punt returner...Finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy balloting...Between receptions, punt returns and reverses, he scored 10 touchdowns last year and averaged 17 yards every time he touched the ball...Has a monstrous 42-inch vertical jump, which helps make up for his lack of size viewed as his primary drawback...Willing to fight for the ball...Very muscular for a wide receiver...Scored six touchdowns on punt returns the last two seasons...Size will be his primary hindrence...Won the Big East track titles for long jump and triple jump last year...Did not work out at the Combine.
PROJECTION: A dangerous gamebreaker, but, in the era of big wide receivers, he will have to be a change-of-pace guy who doesnt fit the prototype mold. Even so, expect to see him go in the first half of the first round.
CHAD JOHNSON, Oregon State, 6-1, 191 The cousin of Tampa Bays Keyshawn Johnson and Tennessees Samari Rolle...Well traveled, he began his college career at Langston College (the alma mater of Matthew Hatchette) and then played two years at Santa Monica (Calif.) College...Arrived at Oregon State with only one year of college eligibility left and made the most of it, catching 33 passes for 713 yards and six touchdowns...Learned his craft in high school where he was teammates with All-Pro d-backs Rolle and Duane Starks...Made a huge impact at the Senior Bowl by wowing scouts with his receiving skills, speed and ability to make difficult catches...Excellent size and long arms...Only played major college ball for one season, which could scare away some teams...Didnt help himself at the Combine, running a 4.56 40 and a 33-inch vertical jump even though he has posted much better numbers other times.
PROJECTION: Didnt have a choice but to come out because his eligibility was up, but Johnson made believers out of coaches and scouts at the Senior Bowl and the Combine, so his stock has risen enough that he may well go off the board in the first round.
REGGIE WAYNE, Miami, 6-0, 197 A teammate of Moss who gave the Hurricanes a potent 1-2 punch in the receiving game...A four-year starter who is a fourth-year senior...Caught 173 passes for 2,510 yards and 20 touchdowns half of them last season...Missed much of his sophomore and junior seasons after tearing his left ACL and, while he played, he wasnt as effective as before, but showed no signs of trouble last year...Has been compared to Antonio Freeman, a mid-round steal who developed into a great NFL wide receiver...Moved himself up several spots by an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl...Will catch the ball in traffic...Not a bomb specialist or the fastest guy on the field, but has the ability to make big catches for big yardage...Did not work out at the Combine.
PROJECTION: Will likely fall into the second round, but has all the capabilities of becoming an NFL starter in a short period of time.
FREDDIE MITCHELL, UCLA, 5-11, 187 Played on the Bruins baseball team and was prized enough to be drafted by the White Sox...Fourth-year junior...Missed out on almost all of the 1998 season afer breaking his right femur...Started half of UCLAs games in 99, catching 38 passes for 533 yards...Came back 100 percent from the injury last year, hauling in 68 passes for 1,314 yards and eight TDs...Took first-round CB Jamar Fletcher to school in the Sun Bowl, catching nine passes for 180 yards and a TD...Can make the almost impossible catch look easy...Can burn man or bump-and-run coverage...A little bit of a head case who likes to talk of his own importance...A concern over such a serious leg injury could scare some teams off...A little shorter than most wide receivers...Made himself some money at the Combine, running a 4.44 40 and flashing a 39-1/2 inch vertical jump.
PROJECTION: The jury is still out on Mitchell. Some teams that have worked him out might be willing to take a jump on him in the first round, but more likely, hell go early in the second round.
CHRIS CHAMBERS, Wisconsin, 5-11, 208 Fourth-year senior who also played on the Wisconsin basketball team...In two years as a full-time starter, he missed three games in 99 with a broken finger and four games in 2000 with a stress fracture in his foot and a suspension for rules violations...In those two seasons, despite missing considerable time, he caught 88 passes for 1,252 yards and eight TDs...Exceptional leaping ability...Willing to catch the ball over the middle...More musclebound that typical wide receivers...Very fast, he has run several sub-4.4 times in the 40...Hasnt ever really refined his pass-catching skills and, while he has great potential, is still a little rough around the edges...Didnt run or lift at the Combine, but showed off a 45-inch vertical jump.
PROJECTION: A guy that some believe has all the makings of a first-rounder, but, in this years draft, hes likely to fall into the second round.
QUINCY MORGAN, Kansas State, 6-1, 210 Senior who began his college career in 1996 at Blinn (Texas.) College...Two year starter at K-State, catching 106 passes for 2,173 yards and 23 TDs...Played with Patriots backup QB Michael Bishop at Blinn and won the 1996 Junior College Championship...Set a Big 12 record averaging 24 yards a catch as a junior and averaged more than 46 yards a catch on his nine touchdowns that year...Excellent speed/size ratio...A prototype big-play home run receiver...Viewed as a bit of a head case who loses his cool at times and drops too many passes...Didnt work out at the Combine even though it could have greatly improved his stock.
PROJECTION: The experts all see him as a boom or bust, but many said the same thing about Randy Moss, which is why he last 20 picks before going off the board. Morgan will likely go late in the second round and could a Godsend or a nightmare.
ROBERT FERGUSON, Texas A & M, 6-1, 206 Third-year junior...Forced to attend Tyler (Texas) Junior College after failing to make his grades with the Aggies...Played only one year at A & M, catching 58 passes for 885 yards and seven touchdowns...Played much of the season fighting an ankle injury, but still posted strong numbers...Excellent combination of size and speed and has strong hands...Is seen as something of a project for now, but has the intangibles coaches love and could become a solid pro...With only one year of major college football, he is seen as a player a team may have to wait a couple of years to get a return on its investment...Ran a 4.48 40 at the Combine and had a 36-1/2 inch vertical jump.
PROJECTION: Really hurt himself by not waiting another year. He could have easily been a first-rounder with another year of experience, but now looks to go late in the second round.
KEEP AN EYE ON
Ken-Yon Rambo, Ohio State, 6-0, 195
Alex Bannister, Eastern Kentucky, 6-5, 205
Kevin Kasper, Iowa, 6-0, 195
Reggie Germany, Ohio State, 6-1, 183
Marvin "Snoop" Minnis, Florida State, 6-0, 173
Milton Wynn, Washington State, 6-2, 206
Cedrick Wilson, Tennessee, 5-9, 180
Stevone Smith, Utah, 5-9, 186
Scotty Anderson, Grambling, 6-2, 181
Eddie Berlin, Northern Iowa, 5-11, 190
Jon Carter, Troy State, 5-11, 180