Robert Woods is extremely underrated

March 19th, 2013 | Written by Rob Staton

Most underrated player in the draft? Probably

This piece was partly inspired by a reader comment on Sunday. ‘Bobk333′ wrote in the Gavin Escobar article that he considered Robert Woods the most underrated player in the draft, stating:

Woods has all the markings of a *great* – as in all-pro, as in hall-of-fame potential – NFL receiver. Speed is important for an NFL wideout, but the importance has been taken to the extreme. Skill in catching the ball, running routes, fooling defenders, along with intelligence, timing and body control, are more important than raw speed in the 40-yd dash. Woods reminds me of skilled, smooth, intelligent, crafty receivers like Lynn Swann, Jerry Rice and Steve Largent who had extraordinary hands and extraordinary attitudes, who were hard working and ran perfect routes with perfect body position, with the god-given talent of being to fool defenders with seemingly minimal effort.

Robert Woods is the Russell Wilson of this year’s draft. He has the most potential for greatness not only among the receivers but among all the players coming out this year.

It’s easy to forget just how highly rated Woods became before Marqise Lee burst onto the scene at USC. He exploded as a true freshman and started his sophomore year putting up crazy numbers. 17 catches for 177 yards and three touchdowns against Minnesota, 14 catches for 255 yards and two touchdowns against Arizona, twelve catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns against Notre Dame. He was on fire.

Yet as Lee emerged as a true freshman in 2011, Woods’ role diminished. By 2012 he was no longer the focal point of the passing attack And while he still had some big games, it was Marqise Lee making the headlines and breaking the records.

When Woods declared for the 2013 NFL draft, he delivered the following knockout quote: “If the coaches wanted to keep me another year they would have probably got me the ball.”

He’s since claimed he was mis-quoted and I’m told even tweeted the reporter who wrote the story to make that point.

The point is, Marqise Lee is probably going to be a top-15 pick one day. He is insanely talented. That’s what people were saying about Woods. His stock appears to have fallen simply because USC had two studs for Matt Barkley to throw to instead of one. Let’s say Lee commits to another college team. If Woods continued his strong production from early 2011, he would’ve probably won a Biletnikoff by now. He’d be the superstar receiver in Southern Cal. And his stock would probably be much higher.

He ran two unofficial 4.44′s at the combine (later moved to a 4.5 officially). He’s not Tavon Austin, but he’s certainly faster than a lot of the other receivers at the combine. He looked good at 6-0 and 201lbs. In many ways he’s Percy Harvin-lite. I suspect Pete Carroll saw that comparison physically. He maybe saw a little Percy in Robert Woods.

If you look at mock drafts these days you’ll see Woods in the second or third round range. I still think he could and maybe should be a first round pick. And if you can get him any later than that, make the pick and feel good about it. Would I consider him at #56? Sure. Why not? Sometimes you just can’t look a gift-horse in the mouth. The Seahawks don’t need an army of receivers in the 5-10-6-1 range, but they do need as much talent as they can find. Woods will improve any roster.

Watch the first video below and the first thing that stands out to me is his competitive nature. The athleticism is there for everyone to see. He can run, he can make plays. Yet it’s the way he competes in the air that’s so impressive and may attract him to Seattle despite their depth at receiver.

0:21 – he makes a difficult grab over the middle in tight coverage, high pointing the ball and showing strong hands with a defender draped all over him.

2:06 – Barkley makes a high throw off his back foot. Woods knows he’s going to get drilled, but makes a fingertip grab. Despite a suplex from the UCLA defensive back, he somehow maintains possession of the ball.

2:40 – Woods lays out over the middle, diving at full stretch to make an athletic catch. Again, he risked his own health (defender also diving for it) to get the first down.

3:17 – This is one of the best touchdowns you’ll see from the 2012 season. I still don’t know how he completes this catch at the back of the end zone. He was well covered (so much so, the ref’s called pass interference) and showed such amazing concentration, hands and body control. Superb.

4:29 – Another example of high pointing the football, showing complete control through the catch and not hearing footsteps from the defensive back.

6:28 – Thrown over the middle. Woods is being tackled in mid-air before the ball even arrives. No problem. He still maintains concentration, corrals the football and makes a first down.

There are other throws in the videos below where you’ll see further evidence of a guy who plays with a spark. He competes to make difficult grabs. He’s not 6-4 and 220lbs, but he plays above his listed height and weight. I like the way he reacts after a catch. He’s pumped up. It’s an all-round attitude that’ll serve him well at the next level.

Can he be a #1 receiver? I believe he can. I think he can run any route, make any play. I think immediately he’ll be a threat as a kick returner while also fitting into a NFL offense. When a play breaks down he finds a way to give his quarterback an option — an underrated feature not often talked about with college players. Woods shows strong hands (not too much of a body catcher) and he can make plays away from his frame.

He’s not a flawless player by any means — he had frustrating days at USC with occasional mental errors. He lacks the truly elite size. While Harvin has shown the ability to run away from players with ease, Woods struggles to go up through the gears quickly. He won’t be a big time YAC threat or a great downfield receiver. He’s not a home run hitter.

However, he’s suddenly plummeting down draft boards because he’s unfashionable. He’s a USC guy (when did that become such a negative?) without prototype size. Whatever. He should be in the early second round discussion at worst. I’d happily spend a pick in the late first to get him on my team if I needed a receiver. At any stage beyond that the value seems too good to pass.

If he does fall as far as #56 (perhaps unrealistic) the Seahawks could be ready to pounce. By 2014 Sidney Rice’s contract might be untenable. We don’t know whether Golden Tate will be retained (he’s a free agent after 2013) or whether Doug Baldwin can continue to factor in the offense. Even despite the Harvin trade, it’s not ridiculous for Seattle to consider drafting another playmaking receiver. Planning ahead is going to be crucial for this team to stay ahead of the curve. The eventual savings made by replacing Rice, Zach Miller and others on the cheap will help keep some of the teams underpaid stars in Seattle.

I can see a future where Harvin and Woods are Russell Wilson’s answer to Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. For those wondering, both Harrison and Wayne are 6-0. And yet they created a dynamic combination for Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. I see no reason why Harvin and Woods cannot do the same in Seattle. Frankly I doubt he does make it to #56. Personally, I hope he does. And I hope the Seahawks are ready to take advantage if it happens, even with needs elsewhere.

As Bobk333 said on Sunday, he might be this years answer to Russell Wilson. He might be the most underrated player in the 2013 draft.

43 Responses to “Robert Woods is extremely underrated”

  1. peter says:

    Rob,

    I’m stoked that you brought this guy back up again. After the talk of move TE’s, and electric playmakers, it does seem that across the whole draft spectrum Woods is being forgotten. His production was amazing, and I for one would be supremely happy if the Seahawks took him at 56. Both from the who knows what the future brings stand point in regards to Rice/Tate, to the very real sense that Robert Woods is about as ready to go and make an impact as Dustin Hopkins without waiting for perceived ceilings to match known floors, ala, Patterson/Hunter….

    Anyways, as always keep it up! especially now that you have to I imagine cast more stones to see what the 56th pick will bring

    • glor says:

      Speaking of TE’s, doesn’t it seem that TE and O-Line are areas we need to focus on to lower those cap hits? We are spending 10mil more than the 9rs on the o-line and Zack’s cap number is huge (when compared to Hernandez or gronk.)

      • Steeeve says:

        Miller’s cap hit drops to $6M next year so that won’t be an issue. Breno and McQ will likely be priority replacements next year, and I wouldn’t be shocked if our first 2 picks are DT and OT. McQ has a fairly large cap hit for a backup; if he doesn’t win a starting job he may be cut before the season. I am sure some team will overpay for Breno next year so now would be the time to select his replacement.

        • Rob Staton says:

          I wouldn’t be so sure about anyone overpaying offensive tackles… particularly a right tackle. There are some big name left tackles still on the market this year without even a visit so far.

  2. Ed says:

    Nice thoughts Rob, I made a statement like this when they made the Harvin deal. Mine was more about maybe trading Rice away this year (maybe Cotls 2nd rd pick). If whether or not his happens can you see Woods or Hopkins taken with our 2nd rd pick?

    2nd Woods/Hopkins (WR)
    3rd Gooden (LB)
    4th Hill (DT)

  3. Colin says:

    Fantastic article Rob and it reaffirms what I’ve always thought about Woods. He is a tad undersized but he is a fine receiver that was downplayed by the emergence of Marqise Lee. I’d be satisfied by his addition.

  4. Before I saw whispers of 1st-round talk, I felt that Justin Hunter was the extremely underrated prospect that could be all-pro, HOF-potential receiver. Now, in terms of underratedness, I kind of feel they’re about the same. I really, really like Robert Woods.

    Kind of hard to be excited about drafting a receiver in the 2nd, now, though.

  5. Madmark says:

    On MY big board I’ve made and I do mean MINE. I wasn’t concerned with height because there so much more to a receiver. DeAndre Hopkins, Ryan Swope, Robert Woods, Chris Harper. I don’t think woods is as underrated as people think from what I’m seeing he’ll go before Swope in the 30′s or in the 40′s if theres a run on WR. This is just my thoughts. If Harper was slip to our pick in the 4th I’d take him. I’ve kindia given up hope on Swope or Wood because if we don’t sign Branch we have to use the 2nd on Brandon Williams. The draft of Harvin in the 1st has lead me to believe that we won’t pick another receiver until 3rd a stretch but surely one in the 4th. I’m hoping for another JS/PC hint in the future.

  6. Hawksince77 says:

    Rob,

    If not Woods, then perhaps Greene. If not Greene or Woods, then somebody like Ertz or Lacey. The point is, somebody really talented is likely to be there for Seattle’s first pick, and given their moves in FA, they don’t have to get locked into any one position. It can be all about talent.

    And as somebody wrote somewhere else concerning the future cap management of the team, now is the time to draft potential replacements for Rice/Lynch/Miller. Young cheap talent that will keep the Seahawks competitive. Woods could be that guy.

    • Dobbs says:

      Seems like I should’ve refreshed before making my post… what this guy says. If we continue to get value out of players that are essentially playing for free, then we can become a dynasty.

  7. Madmark says:

    This doesnt have anything about woods but I was looking at a mock draft and saw that from the 4th round on the pick numbers has changed . Instead of 120 it was 123 and instead of 131 it was 138 is this from comp picks? Curious

  8. Dobbs says:

    What’s clear is that it’s important to continually draft players that can contribute. Those low-cost players enable you to retain or obtain players who are proven difference makers in the league.

  9. JW says:

    Nice mention of Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne- the exact combo I thought of when someone mentioned the addition of Woods a few days ago (actually I first thought of Duper and Clayton at 5’9″ each, but I digress). Point is, if the WR can get open, Russell will get them the ball. Having a WR corps that can phase in as other guys phase out will help maintain a competitive edge. Woods can definitely do that. No qualms with him at pick 56 whatsoever.

  10. Misfit74 says:

    I’m not quit sure what to make of Robert Woods. He reminds me of Damian Williams or Brian Robiskie. I hope he’s better than that, but it could be another case of an overrated USC WR. He seems smooth catching the ball and isn’t negatively sized, I’m just not sure he’s all that special. Has the impression of an average player at the NFL level.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I think he’s far better than those two. I had Williams in R3 range, Robiskie later than that.

    • You are not the first person to make the Damian Williams comparison. It’s been going around. I loved Williams back in the 2010 draft, and I think he’s been a very solid pro stuck on a bad offense in Tennessee.

      My only reservation about Woods is this: “is his best football still ahead of him?” What areas of untapped potential does he possess? To me, the answer to those questions is “no” and “none.” I think what you see is what you get with Woods, he’s already at his potential. He’s not an “upside” guy, just a polished NFL ready player with #2 WR tools.

      I do think Woods is a better player than Williams though, and vastly superior to Robiskie. I never bought into the hype with him, personally.

      I think Woods and Bailey are extremely similar players and I think both will have Bobby Engram type careers in the NFL. They won’t blow you away with their statistics, but they might post a 1000 yard season if placed in a good offense and will be dependable, easy to like receivers.

      • If not Bobby Engram, then perhaps a more durable, more talented Doug Baldwin. Doug Baldwin without the injuries feels like a good projection given the similarities in size, speed, quickness, route running, and clutch ability.

      • Misfit74 says:

        “My only reservation about Woods is this: “is his best football still ahead of him?” What areas of untapped potential does he possess? To me, the answer to those questions is “no” and “none.” I think what you see is what you get with Woods, he’s already at his potential. He’s not an “upside” guy, just a polished NFL ready player with #2 WR tools.

        I do think Woods is a better player than Williams though, and vastly superior to Robiskie. I never bought into the hype with him, personally.”

        Great feedback, Kip. While I agree Woods may be better than Damian Williams, I agree that Woods is a similarly polished, what you see it what you get type of player without a high ceiling in terms of upside. He could carve out an Ike Hilliard or Keenan McCardell type of career (or Engram, as you said). I wouldn’t draft him before round 4. I liked Sanu better last year and see where he went….

  11. SunPathPaul says:

    As has been mentioned, since the 2nd round and after is so affordable, why NOT take the best talent, and saturate the roster with real playmakers that won’t break ur bank or cost our nucleus of players.

    BJ Maniel looks sick. He is like a reflection of RW in loose terms. He likes to work, so RW will sharpen that knife with ease…

    Woods? Looks solid! If Duper and Clayton r both 5-9, then who cares in totality about height?! It’s about the player and their karmic presence! Some have all the stats, but suck. Let’s go with what their souls do on the field. Boom! If they rip it up, especially with RW at the helm, then so be it!!!

    John Smith seems like a good RW fit on D…(work ethic wise)

  12. Morgan says:

    If he ends up on another team in our division I will be tremendously put out.

  13. Ed says:

    The more I look at this, I think we have a real good chance at getting a playmaker at #56.

    There will be runs on DLine and OLine. It could be argued, but most rank the following WR/TE as follows:

    1st Austin/Patterson/Hunter/Allen/Ertz/Eifert
    2nd Patton/Reed

    That leaves Hopkins/Williams/Woods/Escobar on offense and maybe Greene/Collins on defense.

    Would love to get Hopkins/Woods/Greene at #56

  14. Derek says:

    If he was there at #56 I would take him in a second. He is a true x receiver except for the size. He would be Wilson’s Reggie Wayne for years to come. This got me thinking, maybe when team has a more accurate QB they look less for size and more for routes and separation. Guys like Brady, Manning, and Rodgers don’t have a bunch of guys over 6 feet. Just as Tate is really fixed at the x role, I would wait till after the draft to extend him. If we draft Woods, we don’t extend Tate, and Woods becomes backup/replacement for Rice.

  15. Ed says:

    I would resign Tate and pair him up with Woods/Hopkins with Harvin in the slot. That would give us a pretty talented 3 receiver set (with all 3 able to return and work out of the backfield too). If we don’t trade Rice for a 2nd this year, hope he has a big year and we unload his large salary for a high pick next year.

  16. Chris says:

    I don’t see it. If he’s Largent or Rice then I’m Dan Marino.

    And is it really possible for Woods, and Hopkins, and Bailey, and Swope, and Wheaton to all be hugely under-rated 1st round talents (all have received headlines similar to the one Woods got today)? All along with the usual guys listed in the 1st round like K.Allen, Patterson, and T.Avon?

    Sorry, but statistically speaking, almost all of the guys above are going to be busts to varying degrees. I’m not even convinced Woods can even get off the line against a real #1 NFL cornerback.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Woods, Hopkins, Bailey, Wheaton and Swope all have a legit shot at being very effective receivers IMO. More so for me than Allen and Patterson (who I’ve never raved about) and I think Austin’s success or failure will be determined by how you manufacture his production, which will not be easy.

  17. Robert says:

    I don’t see it. I think we might target Brandon Williams with #56. Next to Brandon Mebane, they would destroy the pocket with push and/or penetration. If our effective run stuffing and pass rush are too dependent on special personnel groups, then teams will game plan to not allow those players on the field for critical plays. I also liked the suggestion of trying Red Bryant inside with Bennet playing Red’s DE spot at times. I hope we draft Armonty Bryant despite the infusion of DE’s…

    • The CHawk Talker (aka Eric) says:

      I don’t see Brandon Williams being worth a 2nd round pick (let alone being the best remaining DT at 56). He may have great upper body strength but not so much in his legs, and it shows in his game. He’s pretty slow off the snap, doesn’t track the ball well, and gets lost on a lot of plays. He had decent senior year stats, but c’mon, he played in DII. I don’t see his skills translating well to the NFL (at least not in his rookie year). Maybe after he spends some serious time in the weight room with a professional trainer and builds his legs to match his upper body strength.

      Armonty Bryant on the other hand…he may also be from DII, but if you watch his game, he’s a serious ball hawk. He’s also quick. He could use some time in the weight room too (more upper body strength), but it’s a lot easier to bulk a guy up than it is to teach him to follow the ball.

      Just my opinion.

    • Chris says:

      I like Brandon Williams. Don’t know about him in the 2nd though, still too risky for that pick. 3rd would be very nice value if he gets there. Seems like he might end up an early 3rd, though.

      With Bennett now on the roster I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the Hawks go for one of those bigger 3T types with hopes they can be 3-downers after this year.

  18. Robert says:

    Swope and Hopkins impress me much more than Woods. Hopkins creates more separation than much faster players and plays taller than most basketball body players.

  19. drewdawg11 says:

    I have always liked what woods brings to the table… But if still rather take Terrence Williams so that we can groom a possible replacement for rice. If he doesn’t last until our pick, I’d love to de mark Harrison in round three. They both being something different to the table, a good size/speed combo. I think that DT or OG/OT would be a better choice for the second rounder. Of course, if someone absolutely shocks you with their availability, splurge on a non-need position. The game is won in the trenches.

  20. Maz says:

    I would agree with Kip, that what you see is what you get with Robert Woods. Also don’t like the fact that he doesn’t seem to put enough effort into blocking on running plays to be a Seahawk. I feel as if it’s lack of effort, and we seem to find guys who always compete. I don’t see a lot of growth potential from the tape. Does a lot of things well, great body control in the air. Really smooth athlete, good feet. Hands 7.5/10 I think he will be a better slot guy in the NFL. Don’t see a #1 WR. 4th round. Would really look into Da’Rick Rodgers before pulling the trigger on Woods. I would go with a later round prospect to develop if I had to make the decision on WR @ #56 at this point. There really isn’t a WR in this draft more exciting than Percy Harvin for the Hawks.

  21. christian says:

    Underrated? To me he is overrated. His 3 cone and shuttle two drills used traditionally to measure agility was among the worst at wr, he has great straight line speed, but no ability to get off the press no strength no agility equals never open in NFL. Much rather draft a couple later guys such as josh boyce, tavarres king, mark harrison, tj moe , and see what sticks and focus on how we can improve this team right now, not trying to fill my 5th wr spot with my first pick, particularly when it would not be an upgrade over what is currently on our roster. Give me a dt like brandon Williams, or akeem Spence, or a lb in mold of zavier Gooden, sio moore, or Te that falls any of those would make a bigger impact, this year and for the next few years as well, as sid, golden, Percy, and dfresh are all under control for approx this year and next
    everyone is getting greedy you’d all like us to have getting 5 deep diff makers on receiver, this isn’t madden. WRs take about 3 years to develop though so yeah you draft a couple later and see if you can mold em, but not with first pick, cray peeps cray

    • Rob Staton says:

      You’ll have to forgive me, but what does ‘cray’ mean?

      If WR’s take three years to develop and given how important they are, surely it makes sense to bank a good one now given that in 3 years Sidney Rice will no longer be on the roster and they won’t 100% necessarily re-sign Golden Tate or Doug Baldwin? I’d rather take my chances on a guy like Woods than a late round guy without his potential. Plus I’m really not seeing Brandon Williams, Akeem Spence and the linebackers above Robert Woods. Seems to me like that’s overrating need vs value.

  22. christian says:

    Cray=crazy firstly that pre- supposes Robert woods isn’t a bust, which I believe he is. I personally believe he’ll be out of the league on 3 years if that.
    I have him rated out of the to 10 wrs and too me that means he’s not on my radar in the 2nd at all, I realize you think more of him than I do and that’s certainly ok. But putting aside my distaste for woods aside, again i simply dont see 5th wr, being more value, than dt, olb. In a vacuum wr in second may be good value but this is not a vacuum. Gonna throw some numbers down just pulling em out, sid-85, tate-82, percy-92, baldwin-75, 2nd rnd wr-70s??.
    Or lb malcolm smitty-75, mike Morgan )72, 2nd round lb-75-ish
    or dt branch or some other fa not yet signed-75, 2nd rnd dt-70s, what positions make more sense from a com-Pete perspective, from taking bpa for yer team perspective. In my opinion that isn’t the 5th wr

    • JeremyDT says:

      did you really just bring Madden numbers to the argument?

      I have to agree with Rob, that with WR’s taking 3 years to develop, you don’t wait until the year you need one, you plan ahead. I’d prefer M. Harrison in the 3rd, but at the same time, I have not been seeing anyone that is likely available on the defensive side that stands out dramatically for the 56th pick. I would be happy with M. Harrison in the 3rd and M. Lattimore in the 4th, a swiss army knife O-lineman in any round and Defense in all the other rounds. Just my thoughts.

      • Chris says:

        Check out Rodney Smith if you like Harrison.

        The MH love frankly has me a bit annoyed since R.Smith is a much more fluid and natural receiver with equal or better measurable than MH. The only reason I can see that MH gets so much dark horse receiver pub is that (1) he had a faster 40 time by a couple hundredths of a second and (2) because of 1 very few people have bothered to see R.Smith’s tape yet.

        As an aside, I noticed a few weeks ago the Seahawks had both Harrison and Smith come in to take a look.

  23. Christian says:

    First of all not Madden numbers- pulled them from the air, but they are similiar cause guess what? FO grades the players, it may not be in a 0-100 format, I’ve heard it said it’s a 7 star format but I digress but that’s what I used to get my point across, and I didn’t say you wait till the year you need 1. I said you draft a couple but later rounds and you certainly don’t waste your 1st pick on it, when it does not represent an upgrade this year, or even probably next, or the year after that’s what late rnd picks are for aka development. Rnds 1-4 you look for starters, under that you look for guys you can develop into starters.

  24. Misfit74 says:

    Early Doucet is a FA. There’s your pseudo-Robert Woods for near the vet minimum and no draft pick. Just a thought. Doucet isn’t great, but he’s experienced and would fill in similarly as a end of bench receiver.

    I’d want much brighter upside in a similar round range as Woods is projected to go. Give me Justin Hunter, Da’Rick Rogers, M.Wheaton, and several others that just shine brighter than Woods. I’d rather make a splash with a big 2nd round steal than limp in with just another Ben Obomanu type. Absolutely, positively not sold on Woods being a special pro.