Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Draft 2003 [Print without images]

Tuesday, April 8, 2003
Rogers the catch of this draft at WR

By Len Pasquarelli
ESPN.com

Here is how ESPN.com rates the top 10 wide receiver prospects in the draft:

  • Charles Rogers (Michigan State)
    Vital statistics: 6-feet-2 3/8, 202 pounds, 4.33 in the 40.
    Numbers game: In just two college seasons, early entry prospect had 125 catches for 2,551 yards and 25 touchdowns, including streak of 13 straight games with a touchdown catch.
    Upside: Strong upper-body and knows how to beat the initial jam. Always plays under control and, even when it looks like he's gliding, is going full tilt. Very polished, fluid receiver with great hands, aggressive going for ball.
    Downer: Not as tall as advertised in Spartans media guide, and not quite as thick as scouts felt he would be, but still a blue-chip prospect. A little brash at times. Hasn't worked as much on the intermediate routes as he should.
    The dish: Lock to be a top five pick and probably will be the second player selected overall.

    More on WRs
  • Others: Justin Gage (Missouri), David Kircus (Grand Valley State), Billy McMullen (Virginia), Sam Aiken (North Carolina), Doug Gabriel (Central Florida), Walter Young (Illinois), Kassim Osgood (San Diego State), Nate Burleson (Nevada), J.R. Tolver (San Diego State), Ronald Bellamy (Michigan), Chris Vance (Ohio State), Antwone Savage (Oklahoma), Adrian Madise (TCU), Carl Morris (Harvard).

  • Rising: Arizona's Bobby Wade is a mid-4.5s guy but is a very savvy wide receiver who is more quick than fast, runs sharp routes and simply knows how to get open. He could go near the end of the first day and, in the right system, be an effective slot receiver. Chisom Opara of Princeton has size, and only decent speed, but has performed well in workouts and could now be a second-day pick.

  • Declining: There are four big-name wide receivers -- Anquan Boldin (Florida State), Brandon Lloyd (Illinois), Terrence Edwards (Georgia) and Shaun McDonald (Arizona State) -- whose pedestrian 40-yard times have put them on the slide. Boldin could still be chosen in the second round because of his size and athleticism. Edwards is viewed as soft, Lloyd as slow and McDonald is a little guy who hasn't run well.

  • Intriguing: Arnaz Battle of Notre Dame has played a lot of positions, including quarterback at one point, but has good hands and is a natural athlete. He surprised scouts by running in the low 4.4s and, while still raw as a receiver, could be a nice utility player. He can return kickoffs, play on the kick coverage units and maybe serve as a No. 5 receiver. Teyo Johnson of Stanford is as big as some tight ends in this draft (6-5 3/8, 247 pounds), and perhaps could be used as an H-back.

  • Sleeper: Tennessee's Leonard Scott is a world-class sprinter who has dabbled at football, catching just 28 passes in four seasons, but it's hard to ignore his 4.26 speed and kickoff return potential. He's not very big or tough but showed much improved receiving ability at his campus audition.

  • Notable: Reggie Newhouse (Baylor) is the son of former Dallas Cowboys running back Robert Newhouse. ... Terrence Edwards (Georgia) is the brother of Miami Dolphins tailback Robert Edwards. ... In his four years in the Florida Marlins minor league system, Kelley Washington (Tennessee) hit just .219 while playing shortstop. ... Leonard Scott (Tennessee) has won virtually every sprint title in the Southeastern Conference and was an NCAA 60-meter champion. ... Clinton Jones (Iowa) is the cousin of Hawkeyes quarterback Brad Blanks.

  • Position trend: Size matters and, if you don't believe it, take a look at the physical dimensions of the top five prospects. Every team wants the bigger, more physical wide receiver who can muscle defenders off the ball and use his body to create separation, especially in the "red zone."
  • Andre Johnson (Miami)
    Vital statistics: 6-feet-2, 230 pounds, 4.36 in the 40.
    Numbers game: Had just 40 catches in first two seasons of a three-year career, then averaged 21.6 yards per reception in 2002. Amazingly, has averaged a touchdown every 4.4 receptions.
    Upside: Former Big East 60- and 100-meter champion, so plenty of speed, and an afterburner kick. Incredible physical specimen, great size, very rare combination of physical dimension and big-time playmaking skills.
    Downer: Hardly a natural receiver, will fight the ball into his hands at times, and doesn't always run very precise routes. Good study habits in film room but needs to get on the field more and work on refining the little things.
    The dish: Isn't nearly as polished as Rogers, but a few teams in the top 10 have him rated higher, and he will be a top five choice.

  • Taylor Jacobs (Florida):
    Vital statistics: 6-feet-0 3/8, 205 pounds, 4.37 in the 40.
    Numbers game: His 64 catches for 1,000 yards in '02 represented more production than he had in his first three seasons combined, and his eight touchdown catches equaled his career total to that point.
    Upside: Former track sprinter, will flash explosive speed on occasion, has played in a big-time passing game and is very polished. Adjusts well to the ball in the air, runs above-average routes, high character guy and a leader.
    Downer: His linear speed doesn't always translate into on-field quickness and, when he drops a pass, it tends to hang with him too long. Despite very good career, confidence level isn't always what it needs to be for next level.
    The dish: Although he never shied away from the middle of the field, there are scouts who feel he's a little soft. Likely to be chosen in the second half of the first round.

  • Kelley Washington (Tennessee)
    Vital statistics: 6-feet-2 , 223 pounds, 4.42 in the 40.
    Numbers game: Played just two seasons, was injured for all but four games in 2002, but had huge '01 campaign, with 64 receptions for 1,010 yards and five touchdowns.
    Upside: Former baseball player and high school quarterback, has muscular build, looks like a mini-tight end, he's so cut. Tremendous athlete who just moves effortlessly through a secondary. Agile, good change of direction and usually plays under control.
    Downer: After a superior 2001 season, neck injury limited him to just four games in '02. The injury, plus a four-year stint in baseball, means limited exposure to game. Had surgery last fall to address the neck injury.
    The dish: Even the teams that love him acknowledge they are betting "on the come," and there are still some concerns about his neck and also about his attitude. Bottom of first round or top half of second stanza.

  • Bryant Johnson (Penn State)
    Vital statistics: 6-feet-2 3/8, 214 pounds, 4.37 in the 40.
    Numbers game: Scant playing time first two seasons, and lined up at defensive back as sophomore, but combined for 1,783 yards in final two years. Had just 10 career touchdown catches.
    Upside: Former track star exudes versatility, has returned kicks, and even played some defensive back. Great hands, excellent concentration, and a fearless receiver coming across the middle. Plays a very physical style.
    Downer: Despite solid 40-yard time in campus workout, on film, doesn't seem to separate from the corners with great facility. Not as quick in and out of his cuts as some of the top receivers in pool, nor as explosive.
    The dish: Scouts are wary of his 40-time, because the track at Penn State is unusually fast, and not a natural big-play guy. Could sneak into bottom of first round but more likely a second-rounder.

  • Talman Gardner (Florida State)
    Vital statistics: 6-feet-0 5/8, 205 pounds, 4.38 in the 40.
    Numbers game: Used primarily on kickoff returns first two seasons, then exploded as starting wide receiver, with 19 touchdown catches in '01-'02 and an 18.8-yard average.
    Upside: Another former high school sprinter with explosive speed and burst. Nice build, looks more like a tailback and runs like one too, very strong and will add yards after the catch. Has returned kickoffs at times in the past.
    Downer: At this point in his career, a better athlete than he is a polished wideout, really not a natural receiver. Loves the vertical routes and has to learn to throttle down better on intermediate stuff. Stiff coming out of break.
    The dish: On the rise, but an arrest earlier this week, that involved alleged gun possession and marijuana possession will force scouts to take a closer look at his background. Likely second-round choice.

  • Kareem Kelly (Southern California)
    Vital statistics: 5-feet-11 , 186 pounds, 4.41 in the 40.
    Numbers game: Consistent throughout four-year career, with 43 or more receptions every season, three or more touchdowns each year. His 43 catches in 2002 were actually a career low.
    Upside: As high school sprint champion, qualified for Junior Olympics in 100- and 200-meter dashes. Great upfield speed and, while not the biggest guy, will dodge the initial jam. Will make the tough catch and add yards.
    Downer: Too many drops. Allows his concentration to lapse and gets too sloppy in route-running. Despite good change of direction, will struggle sometimes to get separation, and appears to just float through games.
    The dish: Obvious on film that he doesn't like to block, relies way too much on natural talents, coaches wonder about work ethic. A second-rounder just on talent but has to gain some maturity.

  • Tyrone Calico (Middle Tennessee State)
    Vital statistics: 6-feet-3 , 223 pounds, 4.34 in the 40.
    Numbers game: Four-year starter who never equaled his freshman output of 65 receptions, but still caught at least 37 balls every season, and finished with 194 catches for 2,634 yards and 17 scores.
    Upside: Huge receiver, from a physical standpoint the kind of prospect every team covets at the position, great frame and long arms. At least at his college level, showed he will run over defenders, willing to go into a crowd after the ball and to block in running game.
    Downer: Didn't exactly face big-time competition in Sun Belt Conference and, at this juncture of his development, mostly a linear threat. Does not run the short and intermediate routes well, and still a bit of a long strider.
    The dish: Incredible 40 times at combine and in private workouts, along with prototype size, have turned on some scouts. But still a project of sorts. Should go off board in second round.

  • Kevin Curtis (Utah State)
    Vital statistics: 5-feet-11 1/8, 186 pounds, 4.34 in the 40.
    Numbers game: In just two seasons, former junior college player, who took two years off to complete his Mormon missionary requirements, totaled 174 catches, 2,795 yards and 19 touchdowns.
    Upside: Very underrated receiver in this draft class. Both quick and fast, very bright, had one of top scores on Wonderlic test. Fights for the ball, will make the catch in a crowd and, despite lack of size, a willing blocker.
    Downer: Because he took two years off for mission, a bit overaged, and not as big or physical as you'd like. Usually manages to avoid the jam but will get knocked off the ball. Like many prospects in this group, still more of a straight-line receiver than route-runner.
    The dish: Much crisper on routes in recent workouts. Some team will get a steal if he slips into the third round.

  • Bethel Johnson (Texas A&M)
    Vital statistics: 5-feet-11, 201 pounds, 4.31 in the 40.
    Numbers game: Injuries held down his statistics, averaged just 29.3 receptions and 435 yards in four-year career, while posting just 11 touchdown catches.
    Upside: Can flash explosive speed and, in routes and after the catch, has the ability to run right by people. Not just a sprinter, since he flashes quickness in his cuts, very aggressive player, good coordination and overall agility.
    Downer: Has been an underachiever, undisciplined and unfocused during stretches of his career, relies too much on natural ability. Doesn't attack the ball aggressively, will get lazy against the jam and take himself out of plays.
    The dish: Second-round talent but scouts are very concerned about past abdominal surgeries and, obviously, about his work ethic. Could well slip into the third round.

    Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.