NFL draft preview: Receivers
10:20 PM CDT on Saturday, April 15, 2006
By RICK GOSSELIN / The Dallas Morning News
Sinorice Moss, Miami
There's a spot in the NFL for Sinorice Moss – and he can thank his brother Santana. And Steve Smith.
The NFL has become the land of the giants at wide receiver. Braylon Edwards (Cleveland), Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona), Andre Johnson (Houston), Charles Rogers (Detroit), Mike Williams (Detroit), Reggie Williams (Jacksonville) and Roy Williams (Detroit) all stand 6-3 or taller, and all were chosen in the top 10 of the last three drafts.
Everyone wants to get bigger on the flank. But the two most productive receivers in the NFL last season were 5-9 Smith and 5-10 Santana Moss, who ranked 1-2 in the league in receiving yards. Smith gained 1,563 yards and Moss 1,483. Smith also shared the touchdown lead with 12.
"Watching my brother and Steve Smith last year opened a lot of coaching eyes," Sinorice Moss said. "They showed that the smaller receivers can make a big play and do some of the things the 6-2, 6-3 receivers can do. In the past, everyone wanted a big receiver. But small receivers can get the job done also."
That gives Sinorice hope. He's trying to sneak into the first round himself, but his size is definitely working against him. At 5-8, he's tiny by NFL standards.
But he was small by college standards as well and still produced at the NCAA's highest level, catching 68 career passes for 1,106 yards and nine touchdowns. What he lacks in size he makes up for with 4.38-second speed over 40 yards.
THE TOP 15
This is the worst wide receiver board of the decade. There were five wideouts in the top 15 picks in 2004. There may not be a wide receiver in the top 20 in 2006.
Rank --- Player --- School --- Ht. --- Wt. --- Noteworthy
1. Santonio Holmes * Ohio State 5-10½ 179 Cousin of RB Fred Taylor
2. Chad Jackson * Florida 6-0½ 213 4.34-sec. speed in the 40
3. Sinorice Moss Miami 5-8 185 4.38 speed in the 40
4. Greg Jennings Western Michigan 5-11 197 MAC Off. Player of Year
5. Derek Hagan Arizona State 6-1½ 208 Pac-10's all-time leading WR
6. Demetrius Williams Oregon 6-1½ 197 11 career 100-yard games
7. Maurice Stovall Notre Dame 6-4 217 11 TDs in 2005
8. Travis Wilson Oklahoma 6-2 214 4.47 speed in the 40
9. Brandon Williams Wisconsin 5-9 179 2,924 career receiving yards
10. Jason Avant Michigan 6-0½ 212 3-time academic All-Big Ten
11. Brandon Marshall Central Florida 6-4½ 229 Started at safety in 2004
12. Skyler Green LSU 5-9 192 '03 NCAA punt return leader
13. Martin Nance Miami of Ohio 6-4 213 208 career catches
14. Hank Baskett New Mexico 6-2½ 224 4-time academic All-Mtn. West
15. Mike Hass Oregon State 6-0½ 208 Biletnikoff Award winner
* potential first-round picks
Damarius Bilbo (Georgia Tech), Jovon Bouknight, Jason Carter (Texas A&M) and Skyler Green should have no problem reading NFL defenses. All were all-state quarterbacks in high school. Cory Rodgers (TCU) and Clinton Solomon (Iowa) also moved from quarterback to wideout in college.
The draft process is old hat for Bilbo. He was a 22nd-round draft pick by the Milwaukee Brewers coming out of high school in 2001 as an outfielder.
GETTING A JUMP:
Hank Baskett (New Mexico) and Missouri's Sean Coffey (Ohio) were state high jump champions in high school. Brandon Marshall (Florida) and Richie Ross (Nebraska) were state triple jump champs.
Jonathan Orr of Wisconsin was senior class president at Henry Ford High School in Detroit. He caught 107 passes and scored 19 touchdowns as a college receiver.
Derek Hagan of Arizona State is the Pac-10's all-time leading receiver, and Jovon Bouknight of Wyoming the Mountain West's all-time leader in receiving yards. Other wideouts in this draft who left campus as their school's all-time leading receiver are David Anderson (Colorado State), Miles Austin (Monmouth), Mike Hass (Oregon State), Greg Jennings (Western Michigan), Eric Kimble (Eastern Washington), Martin Nance (Miami of Ohio), Richie Ross (Nebraska-Kearney) and Charles Sharon (Bowling Green).
Hank Baskett (New Mexico) caught passes in the final 24 games of his career, Greg Jennings in his final 34 games, Jason Avant (Michigan) his final 35 games and Derek Hagan his final 41 games. Charles Sharon caught passes in all 48 games he played and Jovon Bouknight in all 47 games he played. Bouknight, in fact, caught at least two passes in all 47 of those games.
It was hard for Todd Watkins (BYU) to stand out at San Diego Helix High School. His teammates in 2000 included quarterback Alex Smith, the first overall pick of the 2005 NFL draft by San Francisco, and Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush, who projects as the first overall pick of the 2006 draft.
Demetrius Williams (Oregon) grew up in Northern California as a Cowboys fan and fashioned his physical style of play after Michael Irvin. "He was probably the first receiver to really be physical," Williams said. "He wasn't the biggest, the strongest or the fastest, but he always found a way to make plays." Sometimes Irvin played on the edge of the rules. So does Williams. "I can be a little dirty," Williams said. "But that's everybody."
Richie Ross was an all-state high school basketball player in Lincoln, Neb., who went to South Dakota to play college ball. After one year there, he transferred home to Nebraska-Kearney and began playing football. He wound up starting all four seasons at wide receiver, earning All-Rocky Mountain Athletic honors three times and NCAA Division II All-America honors twice. He's the most productive receiver in this draft, with 279 career catches for 4,882 yards, 50 touchdowns and 18 100-yard games. Here are the 10 most productive wide receivers in this draft:
Player ------ School ------ Catches
Richie Ross Nebraska-Kearney 279
Derek Hagan Arizona State 258
Eric Kimble Eastern Washington 253
Jovon Bouknight Wyoming 250
Greg Jennings Western Michigan 238
Jeff Webb San Diego State 234
Charles Sharon Bowling Green 232
David Anderson Colorado State 223
Mike Hass Oregon State 220
Nichiren Flowers Nevada 214
Santonio Holmes (Fred Taylor's cousin) and Sinorice Moss (Santana's brother) are not the only receivers with family ties to the NFL. Skyler Green of LSU is a cousin of defensive lineman Jarvis Green of New England, and Todd Watkins of BYU is the nephew of former NFL running back Tommy Watkins (Detroit, Cleveland).
SANTONIO HOLMES, OHIO STATE:
When in doubt, put a Buckeye atop the wide receiver board. Paul Warfield, Cris Carter, Terry Glenn, Joey Galloway and David Boston give Ohio State a track record of success at the position, so give Holmes the nod in 2006. He has 4.3-second speed over 40 yards and used it to average 18.4 yards per catch in 2005 and 16.4 yards in his career. He led the Buckeyes in receiving his final two seasons.
MILES AUSTIN, MONMOUTH:
Small-college players must dominate to get a sniff from the NFL. Austin dominated with 150 catches, a 19.1-yard average and 33 TDs. He's 6-2, 215 pounds and flashes 4.47 speed in the 40. He was three-time All-New England Conference.
Best of Texas
1. TRAVIS WILSON, OKLAHOMA:
The Carrolton product had a superb junior season playing opposite future NFL first-round draft pick Mark Clayton, leading the Sooners with 11 TDs and finishing second with 50 catches. But injuries limited him to 25 catches in 2005. Draft projection: Mid-rounds.
2. CORY RODGERS, TCU:
Draft projection: Rounds 4-5.
3. JASON CARTER, TEXAS A&M:
Draft projection: Rounds 5-6.