Imagine Seattle’s offense with one more great receiver.
The Seahawks are averaging 50 points a game in their last three outings. They’re running the ball efficiently. Russell Wilson is throwing the ball well. Everything is clicking.
But just imagine this offense with one more talented wide out to go with Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin. Doesn’t Wilson deserve to be complimented with more weapons? Are you not intrigued to see just how good he could be with another game changing receiver on the roster?
There’s a fear factor about drafting first round receivers, largely inspired by Matt Millen’s ill-fated tenure as Detroit’s General Manager. Between 2003-05, Millen selected Charles Rogers, Roy Williams and Mike Williams with top ten picks. The heavy outlay at the position made little impact on the team, with another top-ten pick Joey Harrington also becoming a top-ten quarterback bust for Millen. Since then, fans have often cited a distrust in drafting receivers early.
Is this a good time to mention Millen also drafted Calvin Johnson?
Here’s the thing – it doesn’t really matter what happened in the past. If 99 first round receivers bust, it doesn’t mean #100 won’t make the Hall of Fame. In the 2008 draft, no receivers were drafted in the first round. At the time it was assumed this was an example of the NFL ‘learning its lesson’. In reality, it was just a review of the draft class on the whole. A year later, six receivers were taken in the first round. And the success rate of the players taken in the subsequent three drafts is quite high.
2011 – A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Jonathan Baldwin
2010 – Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant
2009 – Darrius Heyward-Bey, Michael Crabtree, Jeremy Maclin, Percy Harvin, Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt
That’s eleven receivers in total. Of the group, only the Al Davis-inspired Heyward-Bey is a calamitous bust. Green, Jones, Thomas and Bryant are among the NFL’s best receivers, while Harvin, Nicks, Britt and Crabtree are key components within their respective teams. Jonathan Baldwin has struggled to make an impact, yet Kansas City’s quarterback position is a mess and they’ll likely earn the #1 overall pick next week. Funnily enough, there appears to be a correlation between receivers drafted early being successful and whether they have a good quarterback throwing the ball. Funny that, isn’t it?
After all, Millen’s greatest mistake in Detroit wasn’t to draft three receivers in round one. It was to invest in a bad quarterback.
Really it’s not the receiver position itself that is the issue. It’s whether you can identify the right players and put them in a good situation. The Seahawks have their quarterback and the ‘good situation’. Who would bet against them identifying the right player if they do choose to draft a receiver?
That’s the direction I’ve gone in this latest mock. We’ll continue to look at a lot of different options in the new year. The pick I’ve gone with is a relatively inexperienced player who could fall simply for that reason. Brandon Coleman is far from the finished article. Yet his upside is incredible. This is the first time I’ve mocked him to Seattle, but it’s not the first time we’ve talked about him. His team, Rutgers, is taking on Virginia Tech in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Friday. I wonder if an athletic Russell will be throwing to him in 2013?
Will he declare? It’s still a debating point. He told Keith Sargeant: “That was something I was going to think about after the bowl game, but right now I’m thinking about coming back for another year. I’ll just keep developing. I like this bond I have with this team, and I feel like I still have room to grow as a receiver.” He still sounds unsure, even if he claims to be leaning to a return. A big bowl performance can change things. So can a positive report from the draft committee. Ultimately what he has to decide is whether he’s more likely to take the ‘next step’ with more time in the college ranks in a run heavy system, or whether he’s better off turning pro. It’ll be a tough choice.
Just a first round projection today…
|#1 Matt Barkley (QB, USC)
The Chiefs need a quarterback. They don’t have a terrible roster. They have to do this.
|#2 Bjoern Werner (DE, Florida State)
The Jaguars need a pass rusher and Werner could steadily move up the boards after a 13.5 sack season.
|#3 Damontre Moore (DE, Texas A&M)
Only Jacksonville has less sacks than Oakland. Moore had 12.5 in the SEC this year for A&M.
|#4 Luke Joeckel (T, Texas A&M)
This is the starting point for whoever replaces Andy Reid. They have to repair the offensive line.
|#5 Dion Jordan (DE, Oregon)
He’s a physical freak. He could blow up the combine. If he does… then hello to the top five.
|#6 Manti Te’o (LB, Notre Dame)
The way Buddy Nix is talking, he’ll probably trade back into round one for a quarterback. If he keeps his job.
|#7 Sheldon Richardson (DT, Missouri)
Defensive end is the bigger need but three are off the board already.
|#8 Dee Milliner (CB, Alabama)
Elite potential. Vastly underrated. The complete cornerback.
|#9 Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia)
All the messing around at quarterback cannot happen again next year.
|#10 Jake Matthews (T, Texas A&M)
He’ll move over to left tackle in the pro’s.
|#11 Chance Warmack (G, Alabama)
He’s good enough to go in the top ten. So is Jonathan Cooper.
|#12 Alec Ogletree (LB, Georgia)
Top-ten potential. This would be a steal.
|#13 Star Lotulelei (DT, Utah)
He has a lot of upside, but he’s inconsistent.
|#14 Matt Elam (S, Florida)
Elam’s a dynamic defensive back who will make plays at the next level.
|#15 Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Tennessee)
The X-Factor player of this draft.
|#16 Kyle Van Noy (DE, BYU)
After everything he’s done this year, someone could draft this guy early.
|#17 Eric Fisher (T, Central Michigan)
The Rams need to find a left tackle and Fisher looks a lot like Joe Staley.
|#18 Jonathan Cooper (G, North Carolina)
Athletic guard who could even switch to tackle. He will start for 10+ years.
|#19 Ezekiel Ansah (DE, BYU)
Another player who could really boost his stock with a great combine. A Giants type of pass rusher.
|#20 Taylor Lewan (T, Michigan)
The next best tackle on the board.
|#21 Arthur Brown Jr (LB, Kansas State)
Don’t under-estimate this guy. He’s legit.
|#22 Zach Ertz (TE, Stanford)
This gives Sam Bradford another weapon, but also solidifies the offense in general.
|#23 DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Clemson)
It’s time to start talking about this guy as a top-25 talent.
|#24 Tyler Wilson (QB, Arkansas)
No, I don’t think Indianapolis drafts Tyler Wilson. But this could be the range where a team like Buffalo trades back into round one.
|#25 Jarvis Jones (DE, Georgia)
Jones’ spinal stenosis could lead to a grade in the late first round.
|#26 Brandon Coleman (WR, Rutgers)
Physically immense but undercooked and it could lead to a slight drop if he declares.
|#27 John Simon (DE, Ohio State)
Just a solid, blue-collar pass rusher.
|#28 Markus Wheaton (WR, Oregon State)
A smart team will draft this guy early. He’s the second coming of Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace.
|#29 Jesse Williams (DT, Alabama)
I think he fits best at the five technique in a 3-4.
|#30 Sylvester Williams (DT, North Carolina)
Terrific pass-rushing defensive tackle who can line up at the one or three technique.
|#31 Dallas Thomas (G, Tennessee)
He had an excellent 2012 season. Thomas can play guard or tackle.
|#32 Jonathan Jenkins (DT, Atlanta)
Atlanta could use an interior upgrade.