To a certain point I can hear the groans already. "We already have receivers we don't play enough" "We've drafted a WR in the first two rounds every year for a decade" "Stedman Bailey still hasn't gotten a chance" And you know what? I agree. I agree that we have a growing corps of Wide Receivers. I agree that Bailey still needs to be given a shot on the field. I agree that we take too many WR's. But thus far everyone not named Austin Pettis has not produced this year, so it can't hurt to play the field a little and see if we can find a #1 WR in a decent class, just in case Quick continues to stall in his progress. With all that said, let's take a look at our three candidates.
Brandon Coleman: Rutgers
Where he succeeds:
Physical ability – Coleman is an absolute monster physically. He stands at a monstrous 6 feet 6 inches and weighs in at roughly 220 lbs. He’s an absolute matchup nightmare in that regard and would be an imposing figure on the outside. Beyond that, he’s a very strong player and when he gets the ball in his hands he can make plays happen by fighting off defenders.
Moves – An underrated part of Coleman’s game is the fact that he can throw defenders off with his moves. A quick double take sends a lot of defenders flying. While he would need to adjust this to fit the NFL mold, a player as big as he is with good moves would be a top WR for years to come.
Burst – Coleman shows little burst and while he has good straight line speed, can sometimes run into trouble on shorter routes. With how fast the NFL game is Coleman might find trouble getting separation from defenders, especially on quick pass plays.
Work Ethic – With how physically outstanding Coleman is his level of effort is downright appalling. In plays where he’s not the intended target he gives up easily, he looks sluggish when he’s matched up with defenders before getting the ball, and he has a problem with taking plays off. Simply put, that kind of behavior will not fly in the NFL.
Blocking – One of the most underrated parts of a Wide Receiver’s game is their blocking. Coleman doesn’t block very often, and when he does it looks sloppy. Once again, with his size and strength he should be one of the biggest assets in the run game, but he just seems to take those plays off.
Catching Ability – Coleman has issues with catching in two main areas. One is that he prefers to catch with his body than his hands, and the other is that he sometimes gets lost in the lights when catching over his shoulder.
Brandon Coleman is a monster. No two ways around it. His stature and strength ensure that someone will give him a starting role sooner rather than later. However, if his work ethic remains as is he’ll be seen more as what could have been rather than what is
Jordan Matthews: Vanderbilt
Where he succeeds:
Hands – Matthews has huge hands and it shows with how he catches the ball. Rather than wait for it to come to his body he stretches out his long arms and forces the ball into his very strong hands. This is a big plus in shorter routes, but it’s also a huge bonus in the deep game as it means when he has to stretch(which he does often at Vanderbilt) he has no issues cradling the ball and making the catch.
Burst – The opposite of Coleman, Matthews shows tremendous burst and is able to work his way around defenders and fight them off at the line. This increases his versatility, as it means he can line up outside, in the slot, can work screen routes and so much more.
Intelligence – Matthews knows what he’s doing on the football field, plain and simple. He knows what routes to run, knows when is a good time to abandon those routes, and knows where the defenders are at almost all times.
Blocking – Matthews suffers from the same issues as Coleman in that he just doesn’t quite know what to do when blocking. However, unlike Coleman, this isn’t due to a lack of effort on Matthews’ part. When run plays are called he’s often forcing himself into the mix, but he just doesn’t have the knowhow right now to stick with his man and create lanes for the RB.
Elusiveness – When Matthews has the ball in his hands, he’s very conservative. You won’t see him juke defenders often, and unfortunately given his size, you won’t see him run over DB’s. Even though he’s 6’3" 200 lbs Matthews just doesn’t know how to throw his weight around.
Short routes – When Matthews hears footsteps on short routes, he loses his concentration and his game suffers because of it. When trying to protect himself and the football he’ll sometimes turn into defenders before the ball is in his hands.
Matthews is a stud in the making. He works hard every play, he’s smart, and he’s got great hands. While he won’t wow anyone by shedding tackles or blowing through the entire backfield, he’s a versatile WR who can play anywhere on the field, and that’s what every team needs.
Kasen Williams: Washington.
Where he succeeds:
Elusiveness – Williams is hard to tackle. Let's just put that out there. He's got moves, he's got strength, he's the whole package here. On the off chance you're 1 on 1 with him and he doesn't juke you out of your shoes, odds are the best you're gonna do is slow him down until one of your teammates comes in to make the tackle.
Catches with Hands – This is always a plus in my book, as it's so much easier to adjust to throws when you use your hands rather than your body. Williams isn't the best with his hands, but it's always worth noting.
Blocking – Williams blocks like a TE when he's called upon. If he doesn't knock you down with his sheer strength he'll move you to create a lane for whoever's running at the time.
Speed – Williams doesn't have elite burst or downhill speed, which makes getting separation from defenders a hassle for him. It also means when he's in the open field that players are more likely to catch up with him.
Consistency – Williams is an odd duck in his catching ability, in that he can make amazing plays where five men tackle him at once from every different angle, and he'll drop easy looks with nobody within ten feet of him. He has to work on his consistency if he's going to be successful in the NFL.
Williams is a good round 2/round 3 prospect. He's a solid option that can make defenses miss and force coverage on him, making all the receivers around him better. Not to mention with his blocking ability he's a good man on the field during the run game or with screen passes.