Pro Football Weekly Draft Prospects WR
Everyone is looking for a powerful, graceful 6-4, 210-pound wide receiver with world-class speed, Michael Jordan-type jumping ability, Jerry Rice-type ball skills, Keyshawn Johnson-type strength and great ability to run after the catch. However, there is only one Randy Moss on this planet, and it may be another century or so before we see somebody with so much God-given talent. While everyone looks for great size and speed in wide receivers, the most important assets any receiver can have are the ability to get open, catch the ball and make plays after the catch.
The one big knock on Miami (Fla.) WR Santana Moss, who is not related to Randy, is that he is only about 5-9. However, he is built rock solid, nobody has ever questioned his toughness and he is a football player who runs track with championship speed that translates onto the football field. The Big East sprint champion is quicker than instant coffee and as fast as anyone to ever catch passes on a regular basis for the Hurricanes. He has a natural receiver’s hands, the run skills of a halfback and a quick burst and extra gear that lets him leave cornerbacks in the dust. He also possesses confidence, toughness, return skills and a big-play mentality. He is feisty and competitive and has a good feel for the game. Most of his drops will come when he tries to run before he has the ball because he is always thinking big play and touchdown when he has a chance to get his hands on the ball. Moss also is an excellent return man. A walk-on from the track team in 1997, Moss lettered as a true freshman, was a second-team All-Big East Conference selection in ’98, a first-team pick in ’99 and will probably be an All-American in 2000, despite being slowed earlier this year by tendinitis in his left ankle.
Moss’ sidekick, Reggie Wayne, is also a potential top pro prospect. As a four-year starter and freshman All-American, the only knock against Wayne is that he not a true burner. However, neither was a fellow named Michael Irvin, and he didn’t have a bad pro career. Wayne has good size and the best ball skills and hands on the Miami team. He also has tremendous balance and body control, the ability to make the tough catches look easy, the quickness, niftiness and instincts to get separation and be a dangerous runner after the catch and the toughness to lay out for the ball over the middle of the field. While Moss’ coming-out party in the eyes of many scouts may have been in last year’s Kickoff Classic, when he made Ohio State CB Ahmad Plummer look as if his feet were caught in quicksand at times, Wayne has been catching the eyes of NFL scouts since his freshman year, when he started from the second game on and was Miami’s best and most clutch receiver. Scouts also are very impressed with the fact both Moss and Wayne stayed at Miami for four years and really benefited from the high-intensity Miami practices and the competition they faced. Please note how much former Hurricanes TE Bubba Franks, who came out a year early, has struggled in Green Bay this year.
Clemson really has not been known for its receivers over the years, but Rod Gardner is doing his very best to change that. Gardner is a power-type receiver at 6-2 and between 215-220 pounds with tremendous strength and outstanding ball-catching skills. He will make the acrobatic and circus catches and physically abuse defensive backs with his size and strength. While his pure speed may be a little questionable, Gardner does have good quickness and a burst of speed that allows him to gain separation from defensive backs. He also knows how to use his size, strength and power to push and help him get some separation from the top cover corners. He set a school record last year with 73 catches for 1,009 yards, and he did not have a great pure passer throwing to him. This year, despite his lack of speed, he looked like a combination between Keyshawn Johnson and Randy Moss vs. North Carolina. Every time he went up for a jump ball, it looked like the defense just watched him catch it — as the case often is with Moss.
Everyone would love to see how well Ohio State’s dynamic duo of Ken-Yon Rambo and Reggie Germany would do if they had a more consistent and accurate passer than Steve Bellisari throwing to them. While Bellisari is much better than he was a year ago, he still misses way too many open receivers and really does not throw with a lot of touch or finesse. On the other hand, with Rambo’s combination of size, speed, hands, skills, body control and athletic ability, he looks like he could be the prototype NFL receiver. Rambo may be the Buckeyes’ fastest receiver since Joey Galloway and is catching the ball a lot more consistently than he did a year ago. While Rambo has cut down on his drops this year, Germany was not as consistent catching earlier this season as the Buckeyes would have liked. However, he still looks like a gifted receiver who can make some tough grabs and will make more when he improves his hand placement. While not the speed demon Rambo is, Germany is a tremendous jumper with stop-and-go quickness and the ability to drop weight and come out of his cuts.
Quincy Morgan came to Kansas State from Blinn (Texas) Community College in ’98 but was redshirted to allow him to develop a better grasp of the offensive scheme. He had his coming-out party in ’99, catching 42 passes for 1,007 yards and nine touchdowns and earning All-Conference honors. Morgan is a big-play maker with size, speed, run-after-the-catch ability and power. One of the most impressive things he does is catch short passes and turn them into big plays, like he did vs. Oklahoma this year. The book on him is if you lay off him and give him room underneath, he will turn short plays into home runs, and if you come up on him, he will run right by you. However, while Morgan is a tremendous talent, his concentration does not always match his other skills, and he has been somewhat plagued by dropped passes and fumbles this year.
Wisconsin’s Chris Chambers missed the start of the season with a stress fracture he suffered during the preseason and also was suspended for three games by the NCAA because of the discounts he and other Badgers received at a local shoe store. When he came back, he got nicked again but continued to play. Chambers is a 200-plus-pound receiver with over a 40-inch vertical jump and a sub-4.4 40-yard clocking on a fast surface. However, while he is Wisconsin’s best and most dangerous receiver, he is not always a sure-handed catcher and has been plagued by inconsistent hands throughout his college career. He is the type who makes big-league catches but drops some your local high school receiver would catch.
While Jackson State’s Daniel Guy does not have the skills and maturity of Sylvester Morris, he is a big, fast, strong, improving receiver with upside potential.
In terms of size-speed ratio, the closest player to Randy Moss in college football may be Eastern Kentucky’s Alex Bannister, who is almost 6-5 and reportedly ran under a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash on a very fast surface. He does not play to his 40-speed, however, is not a natural pass-catcher and is very raw. On the plus side, he is a great competitor and worker and a willing blocker who should get better.
Grambling’s Scotty Anderson is a tall, fast, big-play receiver who will body-catch on occasion but is catching and running his routes better. Alexander will need to get bulkier and stronger, but he is a very good athlete.
Miami (Ohio) WR Sly Johnson, Purdue’s Vinny Sutherland and Louisville’s Arnold Jackson are all smaller than scouts would like, but they are playmakers. Sutherland is not Tim Dwight in terms of quickness, explosiveness or competitiveness, while Jackson is tiny and has not had a good senior year. Johnson is coming off knee surgery but is getting better.
Arkansas’ Boo Williams has great size and can be very physical. He also has deceptive speed but is not overly disciplined and will need lots of work on reading pass routes.
Florida State’s most productive receiver as well as Chris Weinke’s go-to guy is Marvin Minnis, who is about as skinny as a rail but plays the game the way Lamar Thomas did for Miami (Fla.) when he was getting All-America consideration.
Oregon State’s Chad Johnson originally surfaced at Langston (Okla.) College in ’96, played for Santa Monica Junior College in ’97 and ’99 and arrived at Oregon State this fall. He is very raw, will drop some passes and must learn to run better routes, but he has size, speed and acceleration and is a big-play maker. His plays have had a major impact on two games, including the UCLA shootout.