This series contains excerpts and sample profiles from my 2007 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, go
The 2006 class of receivers was not one of the better classes
in recent memory, but there were still quality players in the
Colston, a player I didn’t even list in last
year’s impact article, was by far the best of the rookie
receiver crop. The Saints rookie benefited from excellent quarterback
play and a great 1-2 punch on the ground to post terrific numbers.
Although there are very few rookie receivers out of the 1200 first-year
pass catchers who have attained numbers worth of an impact fantasy
starter in the history of the NFL, Colston represents a developing
trend of wide outs who made a big impact in year one since the
With the growing sophistication of college passing offenses and
a renewed demand for top-notch athletes with height, speed, and
strength, its no longer out of the realm of possibility for at
least one rookie receiver to be an immediate impact player on
an annual basis. Despite this trend, the wide receiver position
is still one of the most difficult to make the transition to the
NFL game. Pro offenses and defenses still operate on a much higher
level of play and the level of timing and precision with routes
requires an efficiency rarely seen on a college football field.
Last year, there were three rookies who had decent production
for significant portions of the season: Colston, Greg Jennings,
and Santonio Holmes. Jennings was one of my two immediate impact
players and Holmes was a player I mentioned who would have been
at the top of my 2006 impact list if Roethlisberger weren’t
in his motorcycling accident. Two other players ranked highly
on my list, Jacksonville’s Charles Sharon and Miami’s
Derek Hagan both have real opportunities to start for their respective
squads in 2007.
This year’s class has more promise than last, but that
doesn’t guarantee instant performance from more than one
receiver. Remember, the class of 2004 which included Larry Fitzgerald,
Roy Williams, Michael Clayton, and Reggie Williams had only one
impact rookie—and that player has been the least productive
of this group in the past two years (Clayton). As with every rookie
class, one year doesn’t tell the story—otherwise players
such as Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson, or Jimmy Smith would have
been written off before their careers ever got under way.
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
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 seven receivers (including Samardzija if he
were to suddenly—as improbable as it is—to find his
way onto an NFL organization) on this list in the early to mid
rounds. After that, it depends on the size of the league but I
think 12 of the 15 prospects listed have potential to be worthwhile
fantasy players within a three-to-five year period.
|Top 15 2006 Rookie WRs
||Possibly the most talented player in
this draft. He has ball-tracking skills that rival Moss
and Fitzgerald, the speed/power of Terrell Owens, and
conducts himself with humility and maturity.
||He is exceedingly fast, but also catches
the ball anywhere on the field. Hill delivers effort
as a blocker and plays productively when hurt. He should
develop into a fine primary receiver in the NFL.
||He is a tough and savvy football player
with more speed than most realize who catches everything
||Not on Johnson’s level as a physical
talent, but plays the position like a more athletic
Ed McCaffrey in his prime. His value will drop substantially
each year he sticks with baseball.
||He is the best after the catch runner
in this draft because he is quick enough to outrun defenders,
but has the power to run over safeties and undersized
||What you see is what you will get with
Jarrett—a big, strong receiver capable of catches in
tight spots with limited speed.
||Better than advertised speed and sets
up routes with good footwork and he has the best hands
on his team. He should develop into a decent slot receiver
if not a reliable #2 wide out in the NFL
||A sure-handed wide out with decent speed
and body control. He has been viewed as the most talented
WR on the Auburn squad despite playing with two players
the NFL drafted last year.
||Unless the receiver is a player capable
of out-leaping two defensive backs with incredible body
control to catch a ball in tight coverage after running
50 yards downfield (Calvin Johnson), a pass catcher
is only going to look as good as his quarterback. Walker
is a better player than advertised for just this reason.
He has speed, runs good routes, and will continue to
get better as he learns the position (he was a former
cornerback). If you remember St. Louis Cardinal WR Roy
“The Jet Stream” Green, Walker could draw comparisons
||Not stopwatch fast, but very quick and
catches the ball well in traffic. Baker should become
a good possession receiver with strong redzone skills
and running ability.
||Johnnie Lee Higgins
||If he can learn to beat the jam, Higgins
becomes a very dangerous receiver.
||He has good hands and body control.
With more coaching and experience, Jones has the talent
to be an 80-catch receiver in the NFL.
||Meachem is much lower on my rankings
because he is much more tentative catching the ball
with his hands than advertised.
||Davis has the physical tools, but must
improve his consistency.
||A developing prospect that has gotten
by on pure athleticism. He could improve tremendously
with adequate coaching.
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
Johnson, Lions: For me, there have been three, can’t-miss
rookie receivers in the past five years. All three of these players
were receivers I saw on film and they looked NFL-ready as juniors.
The first two were Larry Fitzgerald and Roy Williams. There were
various aspects of their game that were more refined than even
the best college receivers—and both appeared more physically ready
for the pro game than most. The third player is Williams’ new
teammate, Calvin Johnson.
As much as I am a huge fan of Larry Fitzgerald, I think Johnson
has a chance to be even better. What makes Johnson such a promising
impact player is he possesses Fitzgerald’s combination of
physical style of play around and away from the ball with a professional
and mature beyond his years approach to his new career. The thing
that separates Johnson from Fitzgerald is his speed and explosiveness—the
Lions rookie has superior deep speed and leaping ability.
Unless you’re new to football, you’ve already heard Johnson was
one of the two best offensive players in this draft. What will
make him an instant impact rookie is the fact he’s favored to
start on the outside—opposite Roy Williams—and with Mike Furrey
in the slot. Williams is already a pro bowl-caliber receiver in
his own right and Furrey has proven to be a crafty performer in
Mike Martz’s pass-friendly system. The odds are likely that quarterback
Jon Kitna will improve upon his numbers with a year under his
belt in Detroit and the addition of more explosive depth at the
running back position. Opposing teams are going to have a difficult
time keying on Johnson and that should mean the rookie could post
some impressive rookie numbers. Is a 1300-yard, 17-score effort
on the level of Randy Moss’ first NFL effort in the cards? I don’t
think so, but 1100 yards and 8-10 scores seems like a good possibility
for this gifted rookie—still an incredibly optimistic number.
Giants: Mike Williams and Dwayne Jarrett were the marquee receivers
at USC, but in my opinion the guy who operated opposite them is
going to be the better NFL player. When it comes to pure skills
I honestly don’t understand what people have been watching to
think otherwise. Williams and Jarrett are taller and bigger and
personnel types see these big frames on receivers and think Terrell
Owens-Keyshawn Johnson-Cris Carter—can’t-miss players with long,
productive NFL careers that had a physical advantage against defensive
When I think of Steve Smith, I see a player who fits along a
continuum of talent-skill-style spanning Hines Ward, Jimmy Smith,
Donald Driver, and Marvin Harrison. Smith is 6-0 and 200 lbs,
more than adequate height and weight to be an outside receiver.
The former Jaguar, Jimmy Smith, was 6-1, 202 lbs. Hines Ward and
Steve Smith are the same size. Harrison is 6-0, 175 lbs. I’ve
heard people peg Steve Smith as a slot receiver—that is a huge
Maybe the Giants rookie will begin his career in the slot, but
he’ll finish it as a productive veteran on the outside. If there
was a wide receiver that really made John David Booty, Matt Leinart,
and Carson Palmer look good in situations where that had no business
doing so it was Smith. The USC alum has a knack for adjusting
to the ball in the air—not like Randy Moss in the sense of timing
his leap, but running down the ball and changing the direction
and pacing of his spring to the pass—and there were several games
where this receiver made passes look far more accurate that they
really were. After surprising everyone with 4.45-40-yard dash
time at the combine, there were fewer questions about his speed.
It is really Smith’s initial acceleration or ability to use quick
bursts of speed to separate from defenders that makes him dangerous.
I routinely saw him separate from the 2nd and 3rd level of the
defense while running a route or after the catch.
What really makes Smith one of the most NFL-ready players in
this draft class is his ability to run good routes and catch the
football in traffic. Smith is, pound-for-pound, one of the toughest
rookies in the 2007 draft class. As an evaluator of game film,
one of the truest tests to see if a receiver has what it takes
play in the NFL is how he executes a skinny post. This route is
one of most difficult to complete because the coverage is generally
tight in two areas: the corner is often playing press coverage
and there is safety waiting over the top. If the coverage is zone,
then there’s often a linebacker trailing the play so he
can make a receiver sandwich with the safety. The timing of the
route between the receiver and the quarterback has to be impeccably
good. Even so, the receiver knows he is going to take a hit from
the blind side or a run straight into kill shot.
There were higher rated, or higher drafted prospects that could
not execute this route or other routes in tight coverage: Robert
Meachem, Sidney Rice, Ted Ginn, and Craig Davis were the most
prominent examples. In my opinion, based on what I saw on film,
Steve Smith was the best prospect at this route. His timing, hands,
and toughness are excellent. This is a receiver who will not be
intimidated by NFL safeties. He does not shy away from contact
when he has to make a catch. One of the problems Eli Manning has
faced is he lacked the receivers with this type of mentality and
talent rolled into one. Early reports out of Giants camp is that
Steve Smith will not only be the favorite to be the slot receiver,
but he’ll also have a very good shot to compete for a starting
job on the outside versus Amani Toomer, who is coming off a season-ending
knee injury. Toomer is a solid veteran, but I believe Smith will
Smith may not be as exciting a prospect as the guys that look
good when using a tape measure, stopwatch, and scale, but I see
him at the very least as a consistent, #2 WR in fantasy football
for a long time. You can wait for Meachem, Rice, or Jarrett to
be the “next” prototype, or you can have Steve Smith.
Personally, I don’t want to wait.
Bowe, Chiefs: I believe Bowe could potentially go to the pro
bowl several times in his career if matched with the right offensive
system. I’m not sure if Kansas City is that system, but he’s still
worth an early selection in dynasty leagues. Other than Anquan
Boldin and Terrell Owens, I don’t think I watched a more impressive
runner after the catch as a receiver. There was a
contest versus Arkansas where Bowe spun off linebacker’s hit
after taking a screen pass and cutting across the middle of the
field. Although the LB was undersized, he was about the size of
Roy Williams or Shaun Taylor and still didn’t have a chance. At
6-3, 217 lbs, His bread and butter plays at LSU was this slip
screen pass because he consistently got first downs or even bigger
players from what I observed, 2 out of every three times they
ran the play.
Bowe is a naturally physical player and it shows up as a run
blocker. I’m sure this was a very attractive part of the receiver’s
game when the Chiefs reviewed the film. Although the Kansas City
rushing attack has question marks at the line of scrimmage, there
is no question that their receivers are not great run blockers.
Larry Johnson has the skills to break even longer runs if the
Chiefs receivers could make or sustain blocks on the outside of
the defense and Bowe will instantly provide that possibility as
a downfield blocker.
What the LSU alum needs to learn is better route running. The
LSU passing game was a basic system. Even the simplest pro offenses,
and Herm Edwards regimes have been criticized for employing predictable
offensive schemes, will be an adjustment for Bowe. Additionally,
Bowe had problems holding onto passes throughout the early part
of his career. It turned out the rookie had very poor vision and
after LASIK surgery, he demonstrated a great deal of improvement
in his final year at LSU. With the heightened pace of the NFL
game, don’t be surprised if Bowe experiences some lapses
in concentration and drops the ball at some inopportune moments.
Nevertheless, I believe Bowe has the skills to immediately challenge
for the #2 WR spot as a rookie. Samie Parker is best suited as
a slot receiver and Jeff Webb is more likely another year or two
away from getting a true shot to see significant time if Eddie
Kennison remains healthy. Look for Bowe to at least crack the
line up by mid-season and put up some numbers worth considering
him as a bye-week option. From a dynasty league perspective, I
think Brodie Croyle has a chance to be a talented passer in this
league if he can stay healthy. Behind the Chiefs line, that’s
a bigger ‘If” than it should be. Still, I like Bowe’s skills more
than the workout-warrior trio of Meachem, Rice, and Davis. Don’t
hesitate to take Bowe early in a rookie draft if you don’t need
a QB and duo of Lynch and Peterson are off the board.
Great Expectations, Few Results This Year
Meachem, Saints: All I heard about this fall and winter was
Robert Meachem. I hate
to say this about a person, but he was one of the most overrated
players in this draft. It’s not that he lacks talent. Meachem
is a big, strong receiver with speed. If you don’t get your hat
on Meachem after he catches the ball, he can take it the distance.
Although he lacks the power and natural running skills of Dwayne
Bowe, he’s a true threat after the catch.
Meachem also has good awareness of the sideline/end line as a
receiver and I was impressed with his ability to track the ball
on deeper routes. This is the type of player a coach drools over
because of his potential. Forgive me, but sometimes the use of
the word “potential” is not a compliment.
Meachem’s greatest issue is his ability to catch the football.
Yes, I heard all the pre-draft work out reports about Meachem
catching the football very well in drills. Drills are supposed
to simulate skill sets on the field—supposed to, the operative
phrase that’s key. When is the last time in a game a receiver
had to run down the field catching balls from machines every few
yards from different directions? I watched some of these drills.
Meachem appeared mechanical when he caught the ball. This is because
he was still refining the techniques of catching the ball with
his hands. The game film supports this assertion.
Put a corner or safety on Meachem and the guy has difficulty
holding onto the ball when extending his arms to make a catch.
I saw him drop 7 balls in a game, most of them in the 1st quarter,
because he couldn’t catch the ball with his hands. When
he reverted back to allowing the ball into his body, he began
to produce. This wasn’t the only game, either. Later in
the year, Meachem still showed difficulty catching the ball with
his hands or in tight coverage. He also lost his concentration
when faced with the prospect of taking a huge hit.
Former LSU receiver and current Saints teammate, Devery Henderson,
had the same issues coming out of college. He demonstrated improvement
last year, but before then he’s been buried on the bench and it
is still not a given that he’ll continue this ascent to level
of desired consistency in 2007. I believe this makes Meachem,
a decent dynasty pick but not anyone to consider as a rookie.
Plus, he arrived to the Saints mini-camp out of shape and quickly
injured his knee, requiring surgery. The best thing I can say
about Meachem at this point is he has potential—and I’m not sure
that’s a compliment…
Jarrett, Panthers: Was I alone or were the draft day events
between Jarrett and USC-alum Keyshawn Johnson priceless entertainment?
If you remember, Johnson’s career has been filled with instances
where his desire to pump himself up has resulted in some fairly
embarrassing moments. First there was his book where he bad-mouthed
his teammate Wayne Chrebet, an undrafted free agent who simply
out-produced the first pick in the NFL Draft. He looked classless
and selfish. Then a few years ago in Tampa, Me-Shawn is mic’d
for the MNF showdown against the Colts. Johnson performs well
early and knowingly talks bad about Marvin Harrison’s game in
comparison to his. What happens? The Colts storm back from a seemingly
unattainable deficit to win the game on the arm and hands of Manning
and Harrison. Comeuppance again…
Of course, you’d think Keyshawn would have learned. Especially
when his mouth cost him his job with the Bucs. But in months prior
to the draft, Johnson, in his typically insecure fashion said
Jarrett wasn’t ready to make the transition to the NFL after
comparisons were made between the two USC receivers. Jarrett catches
wind of these comments and doesn’t want to be compared with
Johnson any more. Fast-forward to April and it’s just fitting
that Keyshawn Johnson is on ESPN’s broadcast as a guest
host when the Panthers pick none other than Jarrett in the second
round—especially of Johnson is asked to break down Jarrett’s
game on tv just an hour or two prior. The writing is clearly on
the wall and Johnson is suddenly put on the spot to interview
his successor. What Johnson doesn’t realize is that his
successor already cost him his job. Within the week, the Panthers
release Johnson to essentially make room for Jarrett. I’m
telling you right now, if you put Joe Theismann and Keyshawn Johnson
in the same announcers booth, you might not realize there is a
game going on—if this happens, I guarantee someone from
the FFToday board will likely start the first instance of hooliganism
in the NFL just to put a stop to it. It might be the only brand
of terrorism I’d ever consider supporting.
But this is supposed to be about Jarrett. Honestly, there’s not
much to say. What you see is what you get with this prospect.
He is big, has good hands, and has some power after the catch.
He has good body control. Sound like Keyshawn Johnson, yes? Yeah,
sounds like it to me, too. I just think he’ll need a bit more
time to adjust to the NFL game than Johnson. He’s simply not as
talented as the veteran receiver—barbs aside about his timing
and desire to trash talk, Johnson was one of the better possession
receivers in football. Jarrett will see the field in certain situations
this year, but don’t look for him to make an instant impact unless
there are a rash of injuries to the Carolina corps. Honestly,
I thought current Patriots receiver Kelley Washington had a bit
more talent than Jarrett coming out of school and he was a 4th
round pick. I would be happy selecting Jarrett in a dynasty draft
but only if he fell past round two or three.
Rice, Vikings: I think Rice will be a better player than Robert
Meachem, but he has more ground to cover in order to get there.
He’s a tremendous athlete playing a Steve Spurrier system that
places athletes in situations where they can make plays. So far,
the rate of Florida and South Carolina receivers who flourished
in the NFL after working under Spurrier has been very low. I believe
Rice has a very high level of athletic talent and I expect him
to make strides quickly, but that means 2-3 seasons. I would not
expect anything from this receiver until 2008, the earliest. Even
the, I still think he’ll be raw with routes.
Jr., Dolphins: I like Ginn very much as a football player,
but not so much as strictly a receiver. This is not a common thing
to say about a player, but Ginn is an uncommon athlete. Ginn,
Devin Hester, and Reggie Bush may be the best open field runners
to come out of college football in several years. The Ohio State
return specialist and receiver is also a quality college defensive
back who doesn’t have any issues with physical contact.
But I believe Ginn is still very raw as a receiver. If put Ginn’s
physical skills and field vision with Gonzalez’s receiving skills,
he would have been a top-three player on my list of receivers.
Right now Ginn doesn’t have good ball-catching technique and his
sophistication with routes is limited to streaks, crossing routes,
and screens. He’ll make an impact for the Dolphins this year,
but I believe it will come more in an Antwaan Randle El-type of
role when the former IU star was with the Steelers. I can see
fantasy owners drafting Ginn if return yardage counts in their
league scoring systems, but his NFL draft position does not match
his immediate fantasy impact in most re-draft leagues. As a dynasty
prospect, I’m still not convinced he’ll be a quality starter as
a receiver at any point in his career. Desmond Howard was a special
player, but not a quality receiver. I see Ginn in a similar way.
Sneaky Good (Note: These are lower
profile players according to their draft position or media hype,
but should outperform the “Great Expectations…”
players not only earlier, but also more consistently throughout
49ers: Hill is the total package and in my opinion, may only
be second to Calvin Johnson in this class of quality wide outs.
The only reason I have Hill listed in this area is the fact he’s
entering training camp as the #3 or #4 receiver on the depth chart
behind two established veterans Darrell Jackson and Ashley Lelie,
and much-improved Arnaz Battle. But if he shows what he did at
mini-camp—14-year veteran, Trent Dilfer pointed out Hill as one
of the better performers in the sessions—he could ascend quickly,
considering Lelie hasn’t made a good impression thus far, and
Jackson is also coming off injury.
Why is Hill the total package? You can read a
sample of my film study where he faced a quality Cal secondary
and blew them up for more details, but here’s the basics: Hill
is a tough, sure-handed receiver with a knack for getting downfield.
I’ve heard some respectable draft analysts compare Hill to Chad
Johnson. I think that makes sense. While not as big as Johnson,
he does possess the receiver’s toughness and explosive playmaking
skills. I think he has the potential to run routes as well as
Isaac Bruce. If Hill plays anywhere close to these two receivers,
you have a pro bowl pass catcher.
When I look at the Niners offense, I can’t help but think this
is team will wind up competing for the division title very soon.
They have made excellent decisions to restock the offensive line,
Frank Gore is one of the best backs in the NFL, and Vernon Davis
is an offensive explosion waiting to happen at tight end. I am
an Alex Smith fan and believe he will make the next step this
year. Jason Hill is going to be the future primary threat for
this passing offense, or at least threat 1-A with Davis, by 2009.
Gonzalez, Colts: I love how Gonzalez runs routes. He’s going
to be a fine slot receiver at least until Marvin Harrison retires.
Gonzalez reminds me a bit of Steve Smith, but without the proven
experience to get off the line of scrimmage in physical, press
coverage. He has the speed to get deep, but that role belonged
more often to Santonio Holmes and Ted Ginn, Jr. while at Ohio
State. Peyton Manning has already said good things about Gonzalez’s
approach to the game, so he’s off to a somewhat promising start.
I could see Gonzalez having some quality games this year, but
not consistently enough to warrant more than a waiver wire selection
in re-drafts. In dynasty leagues, he has much more promise if
he can develop into an outside threat capable of producing in
Marvin Harrison’s role. I think he’s a vogue pick for the “expert”
owner because he plays in the Colts offense, but I’m not entirely
sold he’ll be a long-term fix when Harrison leaves. Either way,
he has the smarts and toughness to produce well in even a limited
Jaguars: This is the second University of Central Florida receiver
who once played cornerback to make it to the NFL in consecutive
years (Brandon Marshall of the Broncos was the first). Walker
had an impressive season after returning from an ACL tear and
playing with, at best, an average quarterback. He runs good routes
for his level of experience and has very good hands. Jacksonville
pointed him out as one of the better performers in spring ball.
The problem is Walker’s knee is still on the mend and he may need
more time to heal before he can make an impact in the fall. But
in autumns to come, Walker is a name to watch. The Jaguars are
currently fed up with big-name/little production prospects Reggie
Williams and Matt Jones. I believe Williams will be gone by 2008,
if not cut this year. Look for Walker to vie for starting time
next year if he’s fully healed.
Lee Higgins, Raiders: If there is a late round receiver I
want in this draft, Higgins is one of them. He’s a good return
specialist, but unlike Ted Ginn, has already flashed above average
skills as a receiver. I think the Raiders got some value with
this pick. In 2-3 years, I think Higgins could bring some surprising
value to a fantasy owner if he can learn to defeat press coverage.
I was highly impressed
with his play at the position while covering UTEP games. Its
players with Higgins’ speed and elusiveness that has me wondering
why one would spend a top 15 pick on a player like Ginn. This
comment may come back to haunt me, but so be it.
Jones, Texans: I only saw Jones play in an all-star game,
but he really was impressive for his lack of big-time experience.
Jones could become a better receiver than Meachem, Davis, Rice,
and Ginn. In fact, I count on it. This kid has size, speed, and
excellent body control. Although he didn’t make some of the circus
grabs in the game I watched, he came very close. I think the Texans
got it right with Jones and I anticipate he’ll become a solid
complement to Andre Johnson in 2-3 seasons—or possibly his replacement
if the receiver gets a big offer to go elsewhere.
Taylor, Seahawks: The Auburn receivers in recent years have
under-whelmed at the NFL level, but I think Taylor is the best
of that group. He lacks the deep speed you want from a featured
receiver, but he adjusts well to the ball in the air and has good
hands. He’s very solid across the middle. The Seahawks seem to
have receivers who have had trouble catching the football. I don’t
think this is Taylor’s problem. He could develop into a successor
to Bobby Engram within a year or two.
Chargers: Davis does everything well that he was asked to
do at LSU, but catch the football consistently in traffic. He
has good speed and quickness, size, leaping ability, and skills
after the catch. After Ginn’s selection, this was the most surprising
selection of a receiver in the first round. I believe Davis will
have a lot of trouble living up to the expectations of the round
he was selected because I don’t think you can teach a player to
be contact-tolerant. He seems to be better with contact when the
ball is in his hands as a return specialist, but I saw him unable
to maintain concentration to make catches in the middle of the
field under the pressure of a big hit. If he demonstrated this
in games more consistently I would have rated him higher than
Steve Smith like the Chargers did. Since he didn’t, I see him
lacking the skills as a multi-dimensional receiving threat and
Baker, Steelers: Baker lacks speed and, allegedly, the maturity
to be a top end prospect. But he has some skills I really like
as a receiver. He has excellent size and leaping ability, which
he uses well in the middle of the field and the red zone. I actually
thought Baker stood out more on film in certain games than any
receiver on their roster, even when Chad Jackson was on the squad.
But I think he’ll have a difficult time beating out Nate Washington
or Cedrick Wilson for a roster spot. Still, there’s a chance he
could catch on somewhere else and develop into a quality possession
target in a few years.
Jeff Samardzija, Cubs Farm Team:
I was told recently by a well-informed reader that one of the
biggest causes of Brady Quinn’s woes with accuracy were his receivers
not running the correct route. That may be the case, but Samardzija
was undeniably an athletic talent at the position with excellent
hand-eye coordination on deep balls. He was also a very strong
runner after the catch. The former Notre Dame star is now a minor
league pitcher with the Chicago Cubs organization, but as with
other NFL players who quit baseball to return to football—Deion
Sanders, Kelly Washington, and Drew Henson among them—Samardzija
could change his mind and find a way to get out of his contract
and back into football. While I don’t think it’s likely, he has
the skills of a first-day prospect at the wide receiver position
if he were to get back into football. It will become increasingly
difficult for Samardzija to return to the receiver position if
he waits longer than a year. It’s too bad, because I thought he
was a big-game player with a knack for the position and the toughness
and smarts to be an excellent pro.