NFL Draft Breakdowns: Receivers And Tight Ends

March 21st, 2009
Should the Bucs pass on a defensive tackle to grab Jeremy Macklin? Learn about him and 18 receivers and tight ends who could impact the Bucs and the NFL.

Should the Bucs pass on a defensive tackle to grab Jeremy Macklin? Learn about him and 18 receivers and tight ends who could impact the Bucs and the NFL.

Along with the Bucs’ gaping holes on defense, there remains a glaring need for a No. 3 (or better) wide receiver. Maurice Stovall just doesn’t inspire much confidence.

Defensive coordinator Jim Bates, of course, is probably praying the Bucs don’t trade for Jay Cutler and do snatch a big run-stuffer in Round 1 of the NFL Draft.

However, NFL Draft guru Justin Pawlowski, host of the The Blitz, on 620 WDAE-AM,  says the Bucs might not be able to pass on a certain wide receiver with their first round pick. 

Learn about him and 18 receivers and tight ends in today’s positions breakdowns. It’s just another chapter in the most complete and Bucs-specific draft preview anywhere. Enjoy daily draft coverage right here at {+++}

Wide Receivers

Updated 3-21-09, Justin Pawlowski

Michael Crabtree – Texas Tech
6’1’’ – 215 lbs – DNP
Top 10

Why I’m taking him: The main reason I’d take Crabtree is his hands.  When I watch this guy, he never drops a pass.  Also, whenever a play needs to be made, he makes it.  He’s the type of receiver your quarterback can have faith in at all times.

Why I’m staying away: I must admit I was a little disappointed when Crabtree measured in at the combine 2 inches shorter than what he was listed at Texas Tech.  Also, not being able to fully workout before the draft is a scary proposition.  I do agree that he can be an elite player, but there are other elite players in this draft, and if it comes down to me having to choose between a player that worked out and one that didn’t, I’m choosing the one that did.

Impact on the Bucs roster: Don’t get your hopes up.  The odds of this happening are less than the odds that I will forget about the NFL and the draft, and start wall to wall coverage of tennis.  If that one percentage point comes true and the Bucs get a chance to draft Crabtree, you should thank God, play the lottery, and go to Vegas.  He will be a great receiver!!!  Oh, by the way, bye bye Antonio Bryant.

 NFL Comparison: Larry Fitzgerald & Anquan Boldin:  I would be shocked if Crabtree wasn’t a star in the NFL.  I went through each receiver in the NFL and couldn’t figure out who Crabtree reminds me of.  In the end, I realized that Crabtree has the size and build of Anquan Boldin, but the incredible hands and route running of Larry Fitzgerald.  His speed might only be average, but with those qualities, he won’t have to worry about speed.

Jeremy Maclin – Missouri
6’ – 198 lbs – 4.45
Top 15

Why I’m taking him: Speed.  That’s my answer.  I remember one of the first times I saw Maclin play, and I was amazed.  He has the speed and agility to make a big play at anytime, but his hands are great as well.  He always seems to catch the ball with his hands and never takes his eyes off of it until it’s in his grasp.  Maclin will also add something pretty special to my return game.

Why I’m staying away: To be quite honest, I’m not really sure why I’d stay away from Maclin.  I’m not thrilled about his overall size.  He isn’t very tough or physical.  He definitely needs to work on his route running, coming from the spread offense.

Impact on the Bucs roster: Maclin would be a great addition to the Bucs new vertical offense.  Who wouldn’t like to see Maclin line up opposite of Antonio Bryant with Michael Clayton in the slot.  If he’s there at the 19th pick, the Bucs better think long and hard.

NFL Comparison: Reggie Wayne:  I’ve always viewed Reggie Wayne as the silent killer on the Colts.  In an NFL with Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson, and other big mouthed receivers, Reggie Wayne is one of the best and quietest around.  I think Maclin could be very similar.

Percy Harvin – Florida
5’11’’ – 192 lbs – 4.41
1st Round

Why I’m taking him: Harvin is the best playmaker in this draft.  He’s lined up at receiver and running back at Florida, and has sliced up some of the best and fastest defenses in college football.  The gear Harvin seems to hit when he sees a seam is unlike most players in college or the pros.  It’s at that point he accelerates into his rare breakaway speed.  His cuts are crisp.  His movements are fluid.  He’s a multi-threat who can also return kicks and punts.

Why I’m staying away: This guy can’t seem to stay healthy.  I’m not sure if it’s the stretching or the strength, but Harvin has to find a way to stay on the field and avoid the big hit.  The good news is that he hasn’t had any major injuries, but the small ones have added up over the years and have kept him out of games.  He also needs to improve his route running.

Impact on the Bucs roster: Harvin is interesting.  On one hand, he could be one of the most electric players in the NFL.  If that happens, it will be hard watching him do that in another uniform.  On the other hand, he could be constantly getting injured and never turn into anything in the NFL.  If that happens, it will be tough watching him do that in a Buccaneer uniform.  The question is, “are you willing to take the risk?”  

NFL Comparison: Steve Smith:   There are a lot of similarities here, even more than I thought.  Obviously, their sizes are very similar.  Also, their movements, agility, and speed are very comparable.  Actually, their speed is so similar; they both ran a 4.41 in the 40 yard dash at their respected combines.  The question is whether Harvin can turn into the polished receiver that Smith has turned into.

Hakeem Nicks – North Carolina
6’1’’ – 212 lbs – 4.54
1st – 2nd – Round

Why I’m taking him: I love the pair of hands Nicks has.  He’s made a few of the best catches I’ve seen in college.  Nicks is an excellent route runner, and is not afraid to go over the middle and make the tough catch.  He’s also strong and physical and willing to lay a big hit on a defender.  He’s got great character, and has proven to be healthy over his collegiate career.

Why I’m staying away: The one thing lacking from Nicks game is elite speed.  I believe he’s got enough speed to get open, and could make the occasional play down the field, but most of his work will be as a possession receiver.  His speed might be comparable to Keyshawn Johnson.

Impact on the Bucs roster: There’s a lot to like about Nicks, but I’m not so sure he’d be a good fit for what the Bucs are doing on offense.  Right now, the Bucs already have Bryant and Clayton who are both more possession receivers than speed receivers.  I’m not so sure the Bucs would want to add another possession receiver to that list.

NFL Comparison: Anquan Boldin:  They have a similar build and size.  They have similar speed.  They are both physical.  They both catch the ball extremely well.  Did I miss anything?

Darrius Heyward-Bey – Maryland
6’2’’ – 210 lbs – 4.30
1st Round

Why I’m taking him: I love the combination of size and speed with Heyward-Bey.  That combination could make him a legit No. 1 receiver in the NFL.  His long arms and excellent leaping ability make him even taller than he already is.  Heyward-Bey also possesses a great work ethic and will to get better.

Why I’m staying away: First, I’d stay away because I’d hate to have to say “Heyward-Bey” anytime I’m talking about him.  I’d take him if it was either “Heyward” or “Bey”, but not both together.  Also, the main reason I wouldn’t take him is his inconsistent hands.  There is nothing more frustrating in football than a receiver who has trouble catching the ball.  Right, Michael Clayton?  He’s very raw as a receiver as well, and would need good coaching.

Impact on the Bucs roster: I’m not so sure Heyward-Bey would be a great pick for the Bucs.  Sure, he’s got speed to get deep in the Bucs vertical offense, but I’m not so sure the Bucs are looking for a “project” at receiver with inconsistent hands.  Personally, I think there will be other players available at 19 that would be a much better fit for the Bucs.

NFL Comparison: Roddy White or Troy Williamson:  I put both White and Williamson because those are the two directions Heyward-Bey could go.  Who the hell was Troy Williamson before the combine?  Well, the same could be said for Heyward-Bey after he ran a 4.30 at that combine.  I do think Heyward-Bey had more success in college, which is why I do believe there is a chance, with his physical tools, he turns into a stud receiver.  The fact is, Heyward-Bey is a boom or bust prospect in this year’s draft.

Kenny Britt – Rutgers
6’3’’ – 218 lbs – 4.47
1st – 2nd Round

Why I’m taking him: After covering USF last year, I got to see first hand what Kenny Britt can do.  He is quite the talent.  There’s a reason he’s been rising up draft boards.  His combination of excellent size and 4.47 speed is very impressive.  I also know that he has very good hands, and uses his big body to shield defenders from the ball.  He’s also not afraid to go across the middle.

Why I’m staying away: Attitude and maturity could be Britt’s downfall.  Some scouts who have met with him have described Britt as “arrogant.”  With arrogance could come laziness or a lack of work ethic.  Arrogance can also cause a problem in the locker room.

Impact on the Bucs roster: Britt might need to go to a team with strong leadership to help control his arrogance and force him to mature.  Unfortunately for the Bucs, those leaders were released a few days before free agency.  Because of that, I don’t believe Britt would fit in with the Bucs locker room.  He has a ton of talent, but the Bucs have more dire needs.

NFL Comparison: Terrell Owens:  Let me first explain that I don’t feel that Britt will be as much a pain in the ass as Owens, but the potential is there.  Britt has a similar build to Owens, but might actually catch the ball a little better.  Britt’s success might come down to what his attitude turns out to be, and how quickly he can mature.

Derrick Williams – Penn St.
5’11’’ – 194 lbs – 4.37 (Pro Day Number)
2nd Round

Why I’m taking him: I like Williams as an all-around playmaker.  While at Penn St, Williams played quarterback, wide receiver, running back, and also returned punts and kicks.  Despite a poor performance at the combine while battling the flu, Williams bounced back to show what kind of athlete he is by having an outstanding pro day at Penn St.  Williams will bring a nice spark to any offense.

Why I’m staying away: Williams was the No. 1 recruit coming out of high school, but never lived up to expectations.  That worries me that he might be an underachiever.  Another thing that worries me is his habit of dropping catchable passes.  Inconsistent play has clouded his collegiate career.

Impact on the Bucs roster: I’m actually a fan of Williams.  He might not be an elite player, but he would be a very solid 2nd round pick.  The problem is that the Bucs don’t have a 2nd round pick.  If Williams somehow falls to the 3rd round, the Bucs should waste no time in drafting him, but I believe his stock is moving up as we speak, to the upper half of the 2nd round.

NFL Comparison: Eddie Royal:  When I watch both of these guys on film, maybe it’s just me, but they remind me so much of each other.  Both are shifty receivers, who bring speed and playmaking ability to an offense.  Both of these players are also very good returners.

Brian Robiskie – Ohio St.
6’3’’ – 209 lbs – 4.51
2nd – 3rd Round

Why I’m taking him: I like Robiskie most because he already has the look of a professional receiver.  What I mean is that he is an excellent route runner, which is essential in the NFL, and he catches everything thrown his way.  He is a very intelligent player who knows what it takes to succeed, and has one of the best work ethics because of that.  He’s also very durable and has a ton of experience.

Why I’m staying away: I’m staying away from Robiskie because his potential might be tapped.  He isn’t very electric or fast, and has a tough time getting separation.  He isn’t very elusive either, which affects his yards after a catch.  There really anything special or flashy about Robiskie.

Impact on the Bucs roster: I’m not so sure Robiskie would be a great fit for what the Bucs are doing.  He’s definitely a possession receiver, and the Bucs already have both Bryant and Clayton who fit that mold.  However, I would not be upset at all if the Bucs drafted him.  He is a true football player whose desire, heart, and work ethic could rub off on his teammates.

NFL Comparison: TJ Houshmanzadeh:  Robiskie reminds me a lot of the type of possession receiver Houshmanzadeh has become over the course of his career. Neither player has the speed to burn by a corner, but they are both smart and excellent route runners which help them to get open.  Once they’re open, you won’t see either of these players dropping too many passes.

Ramses Barden – Cal. Poly
6’6’’ – 229 lbs – 4.51
2nd – 3rd Round

Why I’m taking him: As a receiver, you have to love this guy’s size.  Once Barden ran his 40 at his pro day, and ran a 4.51, he immediately started moving up draft boards.  What also comes with a man of his stature is long arms and big hands, both of which help him catch everything thrown his way.  He is a smart player as well.
Why I’m staying away
: The thing that worries me most with Barden is his level of competition.  Sure, he dominated at his level, but that level wasn’t very good.  How will he do against NFL corners?  Even though he ran a nice 40 at his pro day, that doesn’t mean he has elite speed to get deep.  Along with the lack of deep speed, he lacks the speed to get separation.  

Impact on the Bucs roster: OK, so the Bucs don’t need a receiver, but if Barden is there in the 3rd round, would I take a flyer?  I’d have to say I’d at least think long and hard about it.  I mean, this is a guy who caught 36 touchdowns the last 2 seasons.  Think about that.  Also, other than Bryant and Clayton, who do the Bucs have?  Maurice Stovall?  Dexter Jackson?  Paris Warren?  Barden blows all of them out of the water.

NFL Comparison: Vincent Jackson:  I remember the year Jackson was drafted out of the University of Northern Colorado.  Everyone seemed to forget about him because of his level of competition.  Personally, I think Jackson is a pretty good receiver.  For comparison, Barden is taller, faster, and has better hands.

Louis Murphy – Florida
6’2’’ – 203 lbs – 4.43
3rd – 4th Round

Why I’m taking him: Murphy is an intriguing prospect.  I love the combination of size and speed he possesses.  He also has very good hands and can make the tough catch in traffic.  Murphy is really nice in the vertical game as his timed speed translates very well to the field.  Once he hits his second gear, he can create separation with defensive backs in the secondary.  I also like how Murphy has matured over the course of his career at Florida.  During his early years, his work ethic was terrible and he was constantly in Urban Meyer’s doghouse.  Recently, his work ethic is very good, and he is more focused than ever on the game of football.

Why I’m staying away: He is a Florida receiver, right?  You know, I hate grouping a player because of the position he plays and where he played it at, but this is pretty ridiculous with Florida receivers failing in the NFL.  At first, I thought it was Spurrier receivers, but Urban Meyer’s receivers haven’t done much better.  Route running could be one of the main issues with Meyer’s receivers making the transition to the NFL, and that’s one of Murphy’s weaknesses.  It doesn’t help either that Murphy might not have the smarts either.  Also, he might have good top-end speed, but his agility and ability to make defenders miss, isn’t very good.

Impact on the Bucs roster: With the Bucs moving away from the West Coast offense and more toward a vertical pass game, I think Murphy might be a good mid-round selection.  For the Bucs sake, I wouldn’t take him any higher than the 4th round though.  I understand that Murphy might go in the 3rd round, but the Bucs have more pressing needs to address in the 3rd round than a middle-of-the-pack wide receiver.  Now, if Murphy slips to the 4th round, I’d have absolutely no problem with the Bucs taking him.  As goes with all the receivers in this draft, the Bucs could add another and it shouldn’t affect the players already slated to make the team.

NFL Comparison: Chad Jackson:  I guess the comparison here should be with any other Florida receiver.  Chad Jackson had amazing measurables, but never made it in the NFL.  Last year, Andre Caldwell blazed the 40 at the combine, but the Bengals weren’t to enthused with him last season.  The question is whether Louis Murphy will break the mold, and only time will tell us that.

Juaquin Iglesias – Oklahoma
6’1’’ – 210 lbs – 4.56
3rd – 4th Round

Why I’m taking him: I like the little things Iglesias brings to his game.  He’s a very good route runner, and possesses the quickness to shake defenders.  He’s also a clutch receiver that makes big plays when big plays are needed.  Iglesias has an excellent work ethic to  help him improve in the NFL as well.

Why I’m staying away: I got a chance to watch Oklahoma a few times last season, and each time I watched them, I was extremely disappointed in Iglesias.  He doesn’t have elite size or speed.  Also, in each game I watched, I saw him drop a pass or two he should have caught.  His lack of strength might make him susceptible to jams from cornerbacks.  

Impact on the Bucs roster: I’m not a fan of Iglesias at all.  I do not think he’d be a very good fit for the Bucs.  If the Bucs want this type of receiver, I’d hope they’d look at Brian Robiskie.

NFL Comparison: Darrell Jackson:  I played with Darrell Jackson at Tampa Catholic.  My biggest complaint about him was that he never caught the ball with his hands.  This lead to a few drops.  I see the same problem with Iglesias.  There are too many times where I see Iglesias let the ball get into his chest.  Because of this, he had those drops I wrote about above.

Tight Ends

Brandon Pettigrew – Oklahoma St.
6’5’’ – 263 lbs – 4.85
1st – 2nd Round

Why I’m taking him: Pettigrew is a very good all-around tight end, and probably the best in this year’s draft class.  His blocking is superb to most of the tight ends this year, and he does a great job at staying on his block till the whistle.  His outstanding size and long arms help him in both blocking and receiving.  Pettigrew possesses very soft hands and can act as a security blanket for his quarterback, but once he has the ball, he is extremely powerful and could cause damage to people trying to tackle him.

Why I’m staying away: Pettigrew is not a big play threat.  He just doesn’t have elite speed to stretch the field.  Because of this, I’m skeptical as to where he might go in the draft.  He’s also had some off-the-field issues after getting arrested in February of 2008 for assaulting a police officer.

Impact on the Bucs roster: So the Bucs trade their 2nd round pick this year and a 5th round pick next year for Kellen Winslow and you think they’re going to draft a tight end?  That makes me chuckle!!!  However, with how crazy this offseason has been, would it be that farfetched?  Um…yes!!!!!

NFL Comparison: Jason Witten:  Pettigrew is a kind of throw-back tight end.  Much like Witten, Pettigrew doesn’t have elite speed, but is so good at everything that comes with being a tight end.

Shawn Nelson – Southern Miss.
6’5’’ – 240 – 4.56
2nd Round

Why I’m taking him: You have to love Nelson’s combination of size and speed.  Add in a pair of soft reliable hands, and you’ve got yourself a heck of a threat in the pass game.  He’s also a tough player who gives very good effort blocking for the run game.  His technique is very good, and his frame is such that he would be able to add to it over the course of his career.

Why I’m staying away: Nelson has to do a better job of maintaining weight and needs to get much stronger.  There are times when he tends to be physically dominated at the line of scrimmage.  Also, his route running is only average, and tends to rely mainly on his physical ability.

Impact on the Bucs roster: Well, I see Nelson going somewhere in round 2.  Because of that, I don’t see him in a Buccaneer uniform.  Of course, if the Bucs brought him in, Alex Smith would be let go.

NFL Comparison: Dustin Keller:  Much like Keller, Nelson has superb pass catching ability, but must improve his strength.  However, as the Jets found out last year, it’s nice to have a threat like Keller at the tight end position.  I can see Nelson being considered right around where Keller went last year, at the very top of the 2nd round.

Jared Cook – South Carolina
6’5’’ – 246 lbs – 4.50
2nd Round

Why I’m taking him: This guy’s a big play waiting to happen.  I guess that goes with a tight end that averages over 15 yards a reception for his collegiate career.  He has more than enough speed to stretch the middle of a defense or take a short pass and break it for a long play.  Cook also has soft hands and is a reliable target for his quarterback.  For Cook, he might be just scraping his potential.

Why I’m staying away: I’m worried that Cook might turn into a “workout warrior”.  What I mean by that is that he measured so well at the combine, but will that translate to the field.  He offers no help in blocking.  Of course, he comes from a Steve Spurrier offense, so you must take him with a grain of salt.  Cook also relies heavily on his natural talent and doesn’t possess good technique as a tight end.

Impact on the Bucs roster: Even if the Bucs needed a tight end, I’d still stay away from Cook.  I believe there are much better all-around tight ends than him.  

NFL Comparison: Vernon Davis:  Vernon Davis was flying under the radar before his combine performance.  Since then, he hasn’t done much in the NFL.  Actually, he has been quite the disappointment.  Well, Cook is following down a very similar path, and that would scare me off from drafting him.

James Casey – Rice
6’3’’ – 246 – 4.78
3rd – 4th Round

Why I’m taking him: Casey is a very interesting prospect.  His production last year was outstanding.  He ended 2008 with 111 receptions for 1,329 yards and 13 touchdowns.  He is a mature player as he spent 3 years in the Chicago White Sox minor league system before finally attending Rice.  He is a big time threat as a tight end or H-back.  Casey has excellent hands and runs very nice routes.  Casey’s an extremely hard worker on and off the field.  Actually, he is a triple major in Economics, Sports Management, and Managerial Studies.  By the way, he’s got a 3.38 GPA at Rice.

Why I’m staying away: Casey lacks elite speed to help him get open in the NFL.  He’s also just average as a blocker.  I believe that’s it.

Impact on the Bucs roster: I really like Casey as a 3rd or 4th round pick.  He’s not as flashy as other tight ends this year, but he does so many things well.  He’s got great character and is a leader to boot.  I know the Bucs don’t need a tight end, but I wouldn’t be upset one bit if they took a flyer on Casey.  I think he’d be an upgrade over both Alex Smith and Jerramy Stevens.

NFL Comparison: Dallas Clark:  Much like Dallas Clark, I see Casey making his home in the slot…That’s what she said.  Both Clark and Casey run nice crisp routes and both have excellent hands.  This would be the best way to use Casey.

Cornelius Ingram – Florida
6’4’’ – 245 lbs – 4.68
2nd – 3rd Round

Why I’m taking him:  Ingram’s my big time mismatch.  He is a wide receiver trapped in a tight ends body.  That can be viewed as a good thing or a bad thing.  His soft hands and excellent body control help him to catch any ball that’s thrown his way.  His good speed and quickness helps him to get open and not have to make acrobatic catches.  Ingram can definitely stretch the middle of a defense, and still has a down of upside.

Why I’m staying away: Well, what is he?  Is he a tight end or a receiver?  He doesn’t bring anything as a blocker.  Hell, the Gators mainly used him in the slot, not on the line of scrimmage.  Ingram is not nearly as strong or physical as he needs to be, and he actually seems to shy away from contact.

Impact on the Bucs roster: The potential is there for Ingram, I just don’t think the potential is there for the Bucs to take him.  From everything that Raheem the Dream and Marky Mark Dominik have said is that the Bucs want to get more physical.  If that’s the case, I’m sure there will be other players available that fit that description in the 3rd round.  That’s saying Ingram falls to the 3rd round.  I’m sure there will be atleast one team that loves his potential.

NFL Comparison: Benjamin Watson:  Watson has been a nice threat in the Patriots pass game, but he’s never been much more than that.  I see Ingram having a similar career to Watson, as both players will make their living in the slot…That’s what she said!!!!!

Travis Beckum – Wisconsin
6’3’’ – 243 lbs – 4.61 (Pro Day Number)
3rd – 4th Round

Why I’m taking him: In my opinion, Beckum is one of the best receiving threats at the tight end position in this year’s draft.  He has plenty of speed, runs good routes, and catches the ball extremely well.  Beckum is a mismatch no matter who’s lined up on him.  He is too athletic for linebackers, and too big for corners and safeties.

Why I’m staying away: Durability is my main concern with Beckum.  He’s dealt with neck, back, and leg injuries the past two years at Wisconsin.  He also doesn’t bring much as a blocker.

Impact on the Bucs roster: I’m not so sure as a 3rd round pick, but I’d love a guy like Beckum in the 4th round if he drops.  As long as he stays healthy, he is a big time playmaker at the tight end position.  If the Bucs drafted him, it would more than likely spell the end for Alex Smith in a Bucs uniform.

NFL Comparison: Kellen Winslow:  Winslow is a little bigger than Beckum, but both are big time receiving threats at the tight end position.  They also have both dealt with their fair share of injuries.  Winslow might be just a tad more physical than Beckum.

Chase Coffman – Missouri
6’6’’ – 244 lbs – DNP
2nd – 3rd Round

Why I’m taking him: You have to love Coffman’s production while at Missouri.  In 2008, as a tight end, Coffman racked up 90 receptions for 987 yards and 10 touchdowns.  Obviously, his hands are great.  He also runs crisp routes, and knows how to get open.  His height gives him a big advantage over smaller defenders.  Coffman is the type of tight end that finds the soft spot in a zone, and becomes a security blanket for the quarterback. 

Why I’m staying away: I have a couple problems with Coffman.  First, he brings next to nothing as a blocker.  He might get in the way of a defender, but that’s all.  That means he is only a threat in the passing game.  Well, Coffman lacks elite speed to stretch the middle of a defense.  I’m not sure Coffman will ever be anything more than a solid backup tight end.

Impact on the Bucs roster: Coffman is definitely not what the Bucs need, and they should not even consider him. 

NFL Comparison: Ben Utecht:  Ben Utecht was a solid backup in Indianapolis for years before becoming the starting tight end in Cincinnati last year.  Much like Coffman, Utecht is a nice receiving tight end who lacks ideal speed, and is not a very good blocker.  Both could be decent players, but I wouldn’t expect much more.

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