Monday, April 14, 2008

Draft Prospect Scouting Reports: Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Here is the third installment of my positional draft preview.

The players that I am discussing are those that the Dolphins have worked out, interviewed, or had other such contact with.

Today, I will be looking at wide receivers and tight ends. Miami's wide receiving corps especially needs an overhaul after parting ways with Chris Chambers, Wes Welker, and Marty Booker.

I will organize the prospects into tiers, as such:

  • First tier: First-round talent
  • Second tier: Second or third-round talent
  • Third tier: Mid-round (4-5) talent
  • Fourth tier: Late round (6-7) or FA talent

1. Devin Thomas, Michigan State
  • Pros: good size, 4.40 speed, runs well after the catch, very good abilities when the ball is in the air, excellent kick returner, lots of upside
  • Cons: only one year of great production, will require time to reach his full potential, sloppy route running, he may be fast but he doesn't have that elite separating speed
  • Compares to: Koren Robinson
Thomas is likely going to go too high in the draft for Miami to consider him. I could see him being an option if he somehow fell to #57, but that's near impossible. Miami doesn't really need to spend this high of a draft choice on a WR.

2. Andre Caldwell, Florida
  • Pros: Very fast (4.37) with a burst, can make the circus catches, can beat the jam, strong after the catch, can return kicks, great work ethic
  • Cons: not a vertical threat, doesn't change directions quickly, drops too many catchable balls, his blocking needs work, durability concerns
  • Compares to: Hines Ward
Caldwell is most dangerous when he's running straight ahead since he doesn't change directions quickly. That lack of versatility and one-dimensional aspect of his game might hurt him bad in the NFL. That can probably be coached up. What scares me the most is his tendency to drop catchable balls. Miami already had a guy who made all the circus catches and dropped the easy ones in Chris Chambers. Do they want that again? As a second or third option, maybe.

3. Dustin Keller, Purdue
  • Pros: vertical threat, good hands, above average skills after the catch, lots of experience, great intangibles like work ethic
  • Cons: not a good blocker, some durability issues, won't fight for the ball in a crowd, has trouble beating jams at the line
  • Compares to: Eric Johnson
Miami can certainly upgrade their woeful TE group, but I'm not so sure that getting such a one-dimensional player would be the right direction to go in. Keller is not a good blocker, and that's not going to help the running game or the pass protection. I'd rather get a player who may not be quite the downfield receiving threat that Keller is, but who is a more well-rounded and complete player.


1. Eddie Royal, Virginia Tech
  • Pros: excellent speed (4.39) with a burst, vertical threat, strong and tough to bring down, dangerous after the catch, excellent return man
  • Cons: Short (5'10"), durability concerns, route running needs work, struggles to beat the jam
  • Compares to: Roscoe Parrish
Royal seems a bit like a poor-man's Ted Ginn, and so I don't think he complements Miami's receiving corps that well. Of course, if the Dolphins want to find a new return man so that Ginn can concentrate solely on being a No. 1 receiver, then Royal will be worth a look. However, he doesn't possess the size that Parcells and Co. covet, and thus I think they will probably look elsewhere.

2. William Franklin, Missouri
  • Pros: very fast (4.37) with a burst, great leaping ability, a deep threat who is also not afraid to go over the middle, dangerous after the catch, good character, still has upside
  • Cons: route running needs work, not very strong, catching technique can be improved, not a good blocker, minor durability concerns
  • Compares to: Roddy White
Franklin may go in the fourth round, which is too high for Miami to take him, but if he falls into the sixth round, Miami will have to look hard at him. He's a versatile receiver who can go deep as well as run routes across the middle of the field. He's a developmental project and he has a learning disability that may cause him to learn the playbook slower than most, but if the coaching staff can be patient with him, they may be able to get a steal on draft day. I like Franklin, and if he's there in the sixth, hopefully Miami likes him enough to pull the trigger.


1. Justin Harper, Virginia Tech
  • Pros: great size (6'4", 213 lbs.), very athletic, can make the spectacular catch, superb leaping ability
  • Cons: drops too many balls, not that fast (4.56), struggles to separate
Again, this is another guy that drops more balls than he should. But Harper's price tag makes him very much worth a look. If Miami can snag him in the sixth or seventh round, they should. He's got the size that Parcells loves, and he could probably become a solid red-zone threat.

2. Josh Morgan, Virginia Tech
  • Pros: very athletic, good hands, creates separation, good leaping ability, can play special teams, still has upside
  • Cons: speed is just average, not a vertical threat, not a good blocker, has character and work ethic issues
  • Compares to: Johnnie Morant
Morgan still has significant upside, but he is far too inconsistent. On top of that, he's run into trouble off the field and he has personality issues. That should lead Miami to steer clear.

3. Lance Leggett, Miami (FL)
  • Pros: good speed, good size (6'3"), great leaping ability, vertical threat, can make the circus catch, still has upside
  • Cons: route running needs work, struggles against the jam, durability concerns, inconsistent
Leggett is a track star, there's no doubt about that. The question is whether he is a football player. He certainly wasn't helped with the QB play in Miami, but some of the blame must also fall on him. Still, his problems are correctable with good coaching, and he could prove to be quite a steal. There's just as much a chance that he will be cut before the season even begins as he will become a solid player, but his high potential is worth a late-round flier or free agent contract.

4. Pierre Garcon, Mount Union
  • Pros: good bulk (210 lbs.), solid speed, great leaping ability, good blocker, strong, can return kicks, still has upside
  • Cons: he's a Division III standout and so he did not play against top competition, struggles to beat the jam, sloppy route running, lots of questions about how he'll translate to the pros
Garcon is somewhat intriguing since he has a lot of the physical tools you want in a receiver, but since he only played Division III, it's tough to tell how he'll match up against elite defenders. He dominated at the level that he played, but how will he do in the NFL. I think it'd be worth a seventh-round pick or a free agent contract to find out.

5. Darnell Jenkins, Miami (FL)
  • Pros: great route runner, knows how to get open, not afraid to go over the middle, solid blocker, can return kicks
  • Cons: short (5'9"), rather slow (4.60), not very strong, struggles with the jam, some durability issues
With the seventh-round picks that Miami has, they should have better options at WR than Jenkins. I'd rather Miami look at guys with more upside with their late round picks. I don't think Jenkins has too high of a ceiling. Still, it might be worth it to bring him in as a free agent if he's available.

6. John Dunlap, North Carolina State


Anonymous said...

Garcon won't be around as a FA or even a 7th round pick. Many experts have him tabbed going in either the 4th or 5th rounds with the NY Giants and Vikings being the hottest candidates for him right now. A shame since I think he would like to play close to home (W. Palm Beach) in Miami if possible.

SPL said...

Good point. I know his stock has been rising quickly lately. I'm just curious to see if on draft day the teams get scared from spending that high of a pick on a D-III guy. I really wouldn't be surprised either way, but thanks for the comment.