Note: This series
contains excerpts and sample profiles from my 2006 Rookie Scouting
Portfolio, an FFToday.com publication available
for purchase. For details, sample material, and testimonials
for this compendium of game film study and dynasty league reports,
Last year I researched the historical
productivity of rookie wide receivers and reached the conclusion
very few were impact players right out of the gate despite the
recent exploits of Boldin, Moss, and Clayton. Although the rookie
class had some very talented receivers, I didn’t predict
anyone to bust out. Instead, I ranked the players on their potential
to make some sort of impact. The class of 2006 is not much different
in this respect but in contrast the class of 2005, these receivers
are considered one of the weaker crops in recent memory.
As with every rookie class, I think it’s too hasty to make
such a statement. I believe there some players in this group that
in time will make a greater impact than many predict. These are
my top-15 receivers based on film study. I am leaving out players
I did not study, such as New Mexico’s Hank Baskett, Auburn’s
Ben Obomanu, or San Diego State’s Jeff Webb. These players,
and possibly others, could have made this list if I studied their
game. My rankings are based a combination of collected data from
the scouting portfolio, my view of their potential fit with any
offensive system, and their potential for growth based on the
film study. The Score on these rankings is the highest raw checklist
score performed on this player.
Since this publication was written prior to the NFL draft, the
rankings are a reflection of players with the greatest chance
to make a positive impact with their overall skill sets, and how
flexible their skill sets are to the widest varieties of offensive
systems. In any dynasty league setting, I would be comfortable
drafting the first six receivers on this list in the early to
mid rounds. After that, it depends on the size of the league but
I think the top 10 prospects all have potential to be worthwhile
fantasy players within a three-year period.
|Top 15 2006 Rookie WRs
||Jackson has the best combination of
hands, size, and skills after the catch on the board.
He is the one receiver that best projects as a dynamic
playmaker from anywhere on the field.
||It appeared his stock was dropping,
but former NFL QB, Gary Danielson compared Hagan to
Rod Smith in terms of his routes and hands.
||Holmes may be the most likely player
to see the field early in his career. He's a tough,
polished player with a high football IQ.
||He's getting downgraded, but that
won't stop him.
||Sinorice has a chance to be as good
as Santana, but like his family, he'll need to
learn how to adapt to the rigors of the NFL.
||Williams isn't as fast as Steve
Smith, but he plays with a similar intensity. Keep an
eye on him.
||May seem like I'm rating him way
too high because he's nowhere to be found on any
draft boards I've seen. I don't mind risking
it, because he's too good to ignore.
||Stovall has a lot to learn but he'll
get his chances to learn it on the field.
||A smart receiver with debate about his
skills translating to the NFL. I think they will.
||Great hands, concentration, and body
adjustment. Not fast and upside is limited.
||Great upside, but inconsistent. His
injury could have played a role, but only time will
||Excellent football player that will
make his mark as a return specialist, but could make
an impact in the slot with the right team.
||Frail build, but good route runner with
excellent concentration. Should develop into a starter.
||If he stays focused and lands with the
||Lacks speed, but hands, effort, and
ability to thrive with physical play make Hurd worth
Of course, there can be a big difference between being a talented
player and making an impact right away. So here’s the way
I rank the players according to their potential to get it done on
the field for fantasy owners in re-draft and dynasty leagues.
Best Chance To Make Their Mark Early
Chad Jackson, Patriots: I believe
Jackson has the most physical talent in this draft class of receivers
to become a franchise player. Florida’s offense was in flux
this year, so it wasn’t a great time for the junior to show
his wares. But the Patriots liked enough of what they saw on tape
and at the combine to make Jackson a high, first day pick. Jackson
is one of those players that skeptics say looks much better in
practice than he does on game day. This is often the case with
great athletes blessed with size, speed, and naturally good hands.
Jackson needs to develop more consistency catching balls across
the middle and as a route runner. If he continues to improve his
game and develops a rapport with Tom Brady, the quartet of the
Pats franchise QB, Laurence Maroney, and Ben Watson could develop
into a base group that keeps New England a contender for years
to come. With the exception of one player in the decade, Florida
receivers have a poor track record when it comes to transitioning
to the NFL. The exception is Chad’s family member Darrell
of the Seahawks. Look for the younger Jackson to follow suit,
and make an impact early.
Greg Jennings, Packers: Jennings
impressed me early and often, in film study. He reminds me of
Derrick Mason—not very big, not extremely fast, but tough,
savvy, quick, and sure-handed. I like how he adjusts to the ball
in the air and gains yards after the catch. Jennings has already
looked impressive in mini camp and it wouldn’t be surprising
if he finds his way onto the field. I think he’ll wind up
a slot receiver opposite Donald Driver and either Rod Gardner
or Robert Ferguson. Funny enough, the 1st team All-MAC receiver
wasn’t even invited to the combine until a strong showing
at the Shrine Game. The Packers have a decent track record with
finding unsung talent at the receiver position. Terrence Murphy
was a good example from last year, and its doubtful Jenning would
be in Green Bay if last year’s impressive rookie didn’t
suffer a freak injury that will likely end his chances of continuing
an NFL career.
I believe Jennings will develop into the kind of receiver that
is in the right place at the right time. He should establish a
rapport with Brett Favre at some point this year. I think it will
be early enough in the season for him to have some nice games
from time to time this year. In dynasty leagues, Jennings won’t
be among the top 3 receivers off the board but he’ll likely
be as good, if not better in any given season throughout their
Great Expectations, Few Results This Year
Santonio Holmes, Steelers:
One thing that is apparent about the rookie out of Ohio State
is that he plays with a swagger. He’s a good route runner
at the college level and has the feet and cutting ability to transition
this skill to the NFL. He thrives in man coverage, so I expect
him to do the same once he learns the offense. What I like most
about Holmes is that he plays tough for his size. He regularly
delivered hard hits to his assigned man in the running game and
he’s just as liable to make a big play without the ball
in his hands as he is as a target. Tedd Ginn, Jr. may be the more
heralded athlete, but Holmes was the better receiver. Holmes did
get into trouble off field between mini-camp and training camp.
It won’t be serious enough for him to miss time.
If Ben Roethlisberger didn’t get into the motorcycle accident,
I’d have Holmes ranked at the top of my list. Unfortunately,
Holmes will now miss getting valuable reps with Roethlisberger
for at least part of the preseason, if not all summer. This will
likely setback to Holmes’ progress towards contributing
to the offense on a significant level until 2007.
Sinorice Moss, Giants: Sinorice
is another receiver from this draft class with good NFL bloodlines
(Santana Moss). The Giants new receiver is even smaller than his
older brother, but he maybe just as explosive. Both play with
a high level of fearlessness for their size and can leap high
enough to beat bigger corners in tight coverage downfield. Moss
will likely start out as a slot receiver in New York. Burress
made his mark as the go to guy in 2005 and Toomer will still be
a better option at least for this year, if not next.
I think the expectations for Moss are too high in the wake of
his older brother and Steve Smith having career years. I’m
not convinced the Giants receiver will be much more than a situational
receiver for this club. He’ll have to improve his ability
to beat the jam and develop the stamina to handle the higher level
of punishment he will receive in the NFL. If he can make the same
jump as his brother, the talent level is similar—I just
don’t believe it is as great. I think fantasy owners are
drafting Moss too early for the risks involved with his potential
Mike Hass, Saints: I think
Mike Hass is going to prove a lot of people wrong. He’s
compared all too often with Ricky Proehl. No offense to Proehl,
but Hass is going to be a much better receiver. The Oregon State
star is 20 lbs heavier than Proehl, and is fast enough to be a
starting receiver in this league. What Hass does best is run routes
and catch the ball. Two things that he does better than just about
every player in this class, and two reasons why many drafted before
him will underachieve.
Watching Hass at OSU get mugged in his routes and still catch
the ball reminded me of the same things Steve Largent did for
the Seahawks in the 70’s and 80’s. Largent was an
unsung player out of college that originally tried to make the
Cowboys squad before landing in Seattle. Neither Steve Largent
nor Michael Irvin were especially fast receivers, but they both
ran excellent routes, won battles in single coverage, and gained
the trust of their quarterbacks. I really believe Hass is going
to do the same thing in the NFL. That’s a big statement,
but considering where you can draft Hass in a dynasty league,
it’s worth grabbing him to find out.
The Saints new receiver has already looked great in mini-camp
and it wouldn’t be surprising if he finds his way onto the
field this year as the #3 or #4 WR. If the aging Horn or injury-prone
Stallworth get hurt, Hass could become a player New Orleans has
a tough time keeping off the field.
Derek Hagan, Dolphins: Hagan
began the year as one of the best prospects of the class, but
his post-season workouts in the Senior Bowl and combine were disappointing.
The problem was Hagan didn’t display great hands. He fought
the ball or had costly drops on easy throws.
This wasn’t the Hagan I saw at Arizona State University.
The player I saw caught 40-yard bombs over his shoulder with a
player wrapped around his waist 2-yards prior to the ball arriving.
The player I’m talking about displayed leaping ability and
concentration that reminded me a bit of Herman Moore but with
Former Lions starter, Gary Danielson compared Hagan’s game
to Rod Smith’s because Hagan has a knack for getting open.
As much as I like Hagan’s game, I believe it will take Hagan
more work to generate similar comparisons as a pro.
Still, I think Hagan is an absolute bargain in dynasty leagues.
Miami is looking for a player to beat out Marty Booker and I believe
Hagan will achieve that objective sometime in 2007. While Hagan
isn’t a burner, he’s very athletic and has more speed
than people expected from him. The Dolphins rookie should develop
into a terrific complement to Chambers. If Nate Burleson can have
a 1000-yard season in his sophomore year with Culpepper, I believe
Hagan can come close, if not exceed those totals at the same point
in his career in Miami.
Brandon Williams, 49ers: You
can find a sample profile and
checklist on Williams at the 2006 Rookie Scouting Portfolio
Information Page. Although Sinorice Moss is receiving the hype
and comparisons to Steve Smith and Santana Moss, I believe Brandon
Williams has a chance to develop into a solid starting receiver.
Williams isn’t as fast as Moss, but he’s a tough guy
that delivers in the clutch. Most people will tell Williams is
destined to be a slot receiver. He may start his career as such,
but I think he finishes as a productive guy on the outside.
Charles Sharon, Jaguars: Who?
Let me just tell you I’m not the only one that believes
Sharon is a fine receiver that a team should have drafted this
year. The Dallas Morning News’ Rich Gosslein—one of
the better draftniks in the media—mentioned Sharon as a
sleeper. The Football Genius—a
draftnik that I respect for his analysis—has high praise
for the Jaguars undrafted, rookie free agent. I don’t think
Sharon is going to take the NFL by storm as a rookie, but I do
think he’ll at least make the practice squad and develop
into a solid role player that eventually gets an opportunity somewhere
done the line—if not Jacksonville, elsewhere.
Demetrius Williams, Ravens:
Williams has enticing speed and leaping ability, and the Ravens
believe he’ll be the #3 receiver in their offense in the
very near future. This could be the case, but I’d still
keep an eye on third-year prospect, Devard Darling before you
get too enamored with the rookie out of Oregon. Williams has a
long-limbed, skinny physique and corners will be able to manhandle
him early. Despite this fact, Williams is still a decent dynasty
pick in the mid rounds of rookie drafts.
Maurice Stovall, Buccaneers:
Stovall’s value rose this year due to his athletic potential
and playing in Charlie Weis’ new system at Notre Dame. The
Bucs rookie is a smart kid with the kind of body that can develop
as he ages continues his weight training. He’s going to
be more of a possession receiver than an NFL deep threat once
he develops consistency and makes the adjustment to more physical
play. He’s going higher than I’d select him at this
stage of his career, because I believe it will take him more than
two seasons to show something.
Brandon Marshall, Broncos:
Marshall has already earned the moniker “Baby T.O.”
in some circles due to his physical play. A former defensive back
at the University of Central Florida, Marshall really came on
this year as a receiver. He’s the most physical receiver
in this class when it comes to beating the jam. Champ Bailey was
fairly impressed with Marshall in mini-camp and it would be hard
to imagine the Broncos aren’t quietly expecting the rookie
to develop into a starter one day. Personally, I liked what I
saw with Marshall because he demonstrates good concentration and
technique catching the football. I believe he has more upside
than any of the developmental players on this list.
Travis Wilson, Browns: The
rookie out of Oklahoma looked like a promising, first day pick
leading up to his senior year. Wilson got hurt early in 2005 and
his productivity, availability, and draft stock fell substantially
despite the fact he looked good in Senior Bowl practices. Wilson
has the size, quickness, and hands to be a solid, NFL starter
as he develops his game. The Browns are hoping they got a steal,
but I doubt we see that until at least late next year.
Jonathan Orr, Titans: Based
on what you can measure, Orr is a promising player. He had a great
sophomore year and looked like he might follow his fellow Badgers
Chris Chambers and Lee Evans into the NFL as a first day pick.
Orr’s follow up efforts at Wisconsin were disappointing.
This is a player with great leaping ability and deep speed. He
needs more work with his routes and catching the ball consistently.
One thing in his favor is his skill as a run blocker. He and Brandon
Williams were very good at sustaining blocks downfield. Although
I’m just an observer of game film, I think it is human nature
to say players need confidence to perform at their best. I believe
Orr has an issue with confidence. If he can gain confidence early
and continue to work hard, he has the shot to develop into a starting
quality receiver. I just think it will be tough for him to do
this at the pro level if he couldn’t consistently maintain
it in college.
Sam Hurd, Cowboys: Now this
is a player I believe will fight his way onto the field one day.
He’s a long shot out of Northern Illinois, but if you watched
him play, you’ll understand. Hurd isn’t stopwatch
fast, but he ran routes well enough to get separation on players
that were considered decent NFL prospects. He needs to add some
muscle to his skinny frame, but he’s fearless across the
middle and displays excellent body control. He catches the ball
very well with his hands and he was by far the best blocker at
the receiver position I saw all year. I think Bill Parcells is
going to like Sam Hurd a lot. The Cowboys actually signed Hurd
to a 3-year deal as a free agent after the draft. Although Terry
Glenn and Terrell Owens are ensconced in the starting lineup,
it is very likely both are only 2-3 years away from retirement.
Hurd could learn lot from two of the better technicians at the
receiver position. Hurd isn’t worth drafting, but I’m
mentioning him so you can become familiar with his name in case
you see it more often in the news around 2007.
Willie Reid, Steelers: If you
put Reid’s mental acuity and his confidence in his game
into Jonathan Orr’s body, you’d have top ten pick
in this draft. Reid has excellent skills after the catch and he’s
fearless across the middle. FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews
said Reid routinely gave his defense fits in practice. Reid is
a very tough player that produces in the clutch. I’m not
sure he has the size to be an impact starter, but he’ll
have some teams consider it much like they did with Az-Zahir Hakim
and Jermaine Lewis.
Jeremy Bloom, Eagles: I watched
Bloom beat Ahman Green in a sprint during a celebrity sports event
held in Jamaica back in 2001. In fact Bloom won the overall “superstar”
style contest. I wouldn’t be the least surprised if Bloom
becomes a fine, starting receiver. He doesn’t have a lot
of experience due to the NCAA ruling him ineligible to play football
for the remainder of his college career after he didn’t
give up his Olympic skiing sponsorships.
Why I believe Bloom will be the exception to the rule of Olympic
stars crossing over unsuccessfully to the receiver position has
to do with the fact he has the mindset of a football player. Bloom
does not fear contact. He is more of a football player that happened
to be a great skier than a great skier with some potentially attractive
skills for a football player. Kick returns are a specialty of
Bloom’s game and this is where he’ll make an impact
right away. He’ll function very well in the Eagles offense—he
can get deep or gain yards after the catch on short receptions.
Give Bloom a year to shake off the rust and another to adjust
to the pro game, and this world-class athlete will be an impact
player for Philadelphia.
Marques Hagans, Rams: Hagans
was an admirable college athlete that had some nice moments as
a college quarterback. Scott Linehan and the Rams hope they can
convert him into a pro WR. Hagans has good short area quickness,
decent hands, and skills after the catch. I’m not counting
on greatness from Hagans but keep an eye on him during the preseason
and check for any mentioning of his name in early 2007 for updates
on his improvement.
Skyler Green, Cowboys: Green
will make his impact on special teams. Don’t count on the
rookie out of LSU doing anything as a receiver on a regular basis.
He’s smaller than Steve Smith and Santana Moss and doesn’t
have the same quality of receiving skills.
Better With The Pads On
Jason Avant, Eagles: Avant
has excellent hands and terrific body control. The absolute best-case
scenario is he’ll develop into a player along the lines
of Cris Carter. I saw Avant make some catches at Michigan that
were truly special. But that’s a best-case scenario I don’t
expect. Avant isn’t very fast and his draft status dropped
because he hurt his arm prior to his workouts. He couldn’t
get into the type of stance necessary to run an optimal 40-time.
Even so, Avant isn’t much of a deep threat. He has an excellent
chance to become a reliable target in the west coast offense as
a complement to Reggie Brown. He is a player getting drafted in
dynasty leagues, but don’t be surprised if a non-descript
performance this summer leads owners to drop him. If that’s
the case, keep an eye on his development or if you have room,
scoop him up and wait awhile.
Ed Hinkel, Colts: Hinkel just
makes plays. He reminds me of a more athletic Wayne Chrebet. Look
for him to stick with Indianapolis and become a poor man’s
version of Mike Hass. This is a tough, savvy, receiver with good
hands and a team-first attitude. I don’t know if he’ll
ever be starter material, but he’s the type that could surprise.