Steadman Bailey is really underrated

February 19th, 2013 | Written by Rob Staton

For me, Steadman Bailey and DeAndre Hopkins are competing to be the best receiver in this class. And it’s a close call.

This isn’t a class filled with 6-4 receivers who can dominate in the air and still get downfield. You won’t see any A.J. Green’s or Julio Jones’ going in the top ten. Keenan Allen is the highest rated ‘bigger’ receiver and he’s only 6-2. He’s also coming off an injury and isn’t expected to have a great combine (he could run in the high 4.5’s, maybe even 4.6’s).

What we do have this year are smaller, more technical and gritty receivers. Hopkins runs crisp routes, catches the ball with his hands, is the definition of clutch and is still capable of making downfield plays. Markus Wheaton is a speed merchant with better physical skills than you’d expect and he looks like a Mike Wallace clone. Robert Woods is a playmaker at 6-1 who can be used in a number of ways.

And then there’s Steadman Bailey. He’s only 5-10 and 188lbs. He’s not the type of player people get overly excited about because everything’s about size these days. How big are you? How fast are you? People should be getting excited about this guy though.

For starters I think he’ll run faster than anyone expects at the combine this week. There are a few example in the tape above where he gets in behind a defense or just shows a great burst coming out of his break to get open. Like Hopkins, he’s a savvy route runner who gets open through technical ability and precision rather than relying on strength and raw speed. He makes difficult catches look easy, he can get downfield, he’s a competitive player who deserves a lot more respect than he’s getting.

I admit I underestimated him to start with. It’s easy to do at that size. You also always have a degree of scepticism when you see this Dana Holgorsen offense. It’s a prolific, extreme spread offense. They used Geno Smith in a more orthodox manner than Brandon Weeden at Oklahoma State, but there’s still a lot of air-raid concepts — steep drop back, double the size of the field and exploit a strong arm on underneath and crossing routes. Then you watch West Virginia closely and realise most of the manufactured stuff goes to Tavon Austin. Bailey is running pretty standard routes and making play after play.

In the three games logged in the tape above, Bailey makes 30 catches. I’ve watched it through twice now and didn’t see any drops. In fact, he looked extremely comfortable making each and every one of those thirty grabs.

People are going to make obvious comparisons to Golden Tate based purely on size. However, Bailey is much more technically accomplished than Tate was at Notre Dame. He’s a better route runner and a better catcher with superb control. Even during his last year in college where he won the Biletnikoff, Tate still looked like a converted running back a lot of the time.

I think he appealed to Pete Carroll and John Schneider because despite his size he ran well at the combine and showed a real competitive nature on the field. Tate wasn’t the biggest, but he played above his size. He’d win jump balls against taller defensive backs. He had a thick frame and some YAC potential. It pretty much took him three seasons to ‘get it’ in the league, but suddenly he looks the part. Maybe it’s the Russell Wilson factor? Whatever it is, Golden Tate is now an asset for Seattle and will probably continue his upward trend.

The Seahawks have been looking for another big receiver for a while. They drafted Kris Durham then brought in Terrell Owens, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow. None worked out and I suspect they’ll continue that search this off-season. I don’t expect them to go out and keep adding smaller receivers — they already have two with Tate and Doug Baldwin. I think they’ll only consider a shorter target if he’s competitive in the air and makes up for a lack of size in several different ways. For me, Steadman Bailey is so polished, so emphatic — his size doesn’t matter. And he should be an option for the Seahawks on pure BPA in round two if he’s still on the board. Depth is needed at receiver. I’m just not sure he makes it to #56.

Look at the first play in the video above where he makes a difficult over-the-shoulder touchdown grab in tight coverage. He makes a similar score at 2:47, showing superb control on the deep route. There are several examples where he presents his hands to the quarterback and plucks the ball out of the air. He constantly keeps moving to try and help out the QB and provide a target. It’s all effortless.

The Baylor tape is influenced by the fact the Bears decided to plant several scarecrows as defensive backs for the game. Some of the blown coverage situations are laughable. There’s also some superb plays between Smith and Bailey – including the fade for a touchdown at 3:37. The touchdown at 5:27 is a thing of beauty. Bailey fakes giving up on the route to take away the double coverage, then explodes back into fifth gear to make the scoring grab. Not many receivers show that level of awareness to get open. It’s crazy good.

His performance against Texas was a masterclass. It starts at 5:44 with a difficult touchdown catch on an underneath route in traffic. If that was tough, check out the score at 6:44. How does he catch that football? He’s diving to the back of the end zone, his body isn’t in an ideal position to make the catch. And yet he completes it while also escaping tight coverage. His third score against the Longhorns again shows great adjustment to the ball, avoiding traffic to make what looks like an easy catch, but it probably isn’t.

Some of Bailey’s success can be put down to familiarity with Geno Smith. They went to high school together and years of chemistry has developed going into the pro’s. Whichever team drafts Geno Smith really should be busting a gut to get Bailey too. I suspect they’ll just continue to produce even at the next level. But let’s not take anything away from these two — they both deliver as individuals and it’s time Bailey started to receive more attention.

The Seahawks don’t necessarily need another Golden Tate style receiver, but you aren’t drafting Bailey to fit a mould. You’d be drafting him because he’s better than most other receivers in this class, presents terrific value and will be a polished receiver at the next level. He’ll compete against bigger defensive backs. He’ll be a playmaker. So even if this team wants to get bigger at receiver, I still think they’ll have a hard time passing on Steadman Bailey if he’s there in round two.

Let us know what you think. There’ll be an updated mock draft tomorrow.

Note: After I completed this piece, tape against Oklahoma and Syracuse was also made available. So here it is…

62 Responses to “Steadman Bailey is really underrated”

  1. Zach says:

    Good receiver, Rather have DaRick Rodgers though. One thing that stood out to me is how bad some of those throws were by Smith. Yikes.

    • Nolan says:

      I’m also intrigued by Darick Rodgers rob I haven’t herd you talk much about him is that because he was a small school guy without easly accessible tape or you don’t like him as an option for the hawks.

      • Rob Staton says:

        I haven’t seen any of his Tennessee Tech tape so it’s been hard to comment on his 2012 season. I saw him at Tennessee in 2011 obviously. As I said in a different thread, it’s hard for me to judge that guy. His entire stock is based on whether you believe he’s ‘changed’ as an individual. Has being booted out of the SEC changed him for the better? Has he had that epiphany moment when he realised his career/life was being flushed down the toilet? The only way of knowing is by interviewing him, speaking to the coaches at Tennessee Tech and doing a lot of undercover homework. I personally can’t do those things. So it’s impossible for me to say I would or wouldn’t draft him. He’s talented, sure. But if he’s a complete idiot who puts the team, his career and maybe team mates at risk of being unable to compete to their maximum potential I don’t want to know. And I have no way of knowing whether he’s turned over a new leaf.

        • Zach says:

          Ogletree is out too then.

          • Rob Staton says:

            Maybe, although Ogletree didn’t work himself off a team after repeated warnings.

            • Nolan says:

              I think it depends on why he was given the boot something won’t be an issue in the pro game that are an issue in college… Did he run into any trouble at Tennessee tech?

              • Rob Staton says:

                It was persistent drug related issues at Tennessee.

                • UGAHAWK says:

                  Rob, love the site. Been following for some time, just never comment. I feel when it comes to GA boys I can offer some insight. I’m a UGA alumn and follow recruiting and the team closely. DRogers recruitment out of high school was dirty and there were serious concerns about his decisions at that time. He was involved in a bar brawl his freshman year. Was continuously disrespectful to the TN staff and was given numerous chances. Dooley was forced to put up with a lot to save his job, but Rogers pushed it once too many times. And the Hawks, maybe more than any other team, have a better gauge of him and his character than anyone. Kippy Brown (WR coach) recruited DR and has strong ties to the TN program. He certainly has the 411 on the type of person DR was and is.
                  On Ogletree, I work in the county he grew up in. I don’t want to get into specifics, but he had some issues. He’s a great athlete, but not the grinder I think JS/PC are looking for.
                  Based on what I know, NO WAY Rogers or AO are on the hawks board.

                  • Rob Staton says:

                    Thank you UGAHAWK – really appreciate the information there and also the kind words about the blog. Really interesting comments on the two players.

  2. Trudy Beekman says:

    Hmmm, nice find Rob. I think the obvious comparison for those on this blog would be Wheaton. Maybe less top-end speed, but a bit more make-ya-miss with the ball in space. Good hands catching, very good physicality before and after the catch. Routes look very clean for a college WR. I never thought I’d say anything like this, but my preference between he and Wheaton will depend on their 40 times.

    • Chris says:

      I was thinking he looked a ton like Golden Tate before I read the article (and saw the Tate reference). They’re both shorter, squattier RB body type guys with apparent good YAC. Tate looks better to me than this guy though. Slightly more elusive and although Rob’s article says Steadman’s hands are better, I might disagree. Tate has amazingly strong hands and is a great high pointer.

      • Rob Staton says:

        It’s not so much the hands, it’s the control, polish and route running. Tate has improved, but it’s taken three seasons. Bailey comes into the league a much more rounded prospect.

        • Attyla the Hawk says:

          He’s definitely worth a look early in day three.

          Tate’s contract is expiring shortly. While I agree he’s developed into an excellent receiver, the fact is this team needs to find ways to let talented guys go free and succeed those players with talented rookies. Bailey would be a solid transition guy that would allow Seattle to maintain productivity while getting younger.

          I like Tate personally and think he’s one of our success stories. But we have a LOT of success stories. And not all of those stories will end in Seahawks blue. We need to be look at all of our 2010/2011 draftees and try to find suitable cheap options everywhere we can. Bailey is very good prospect that fits that bill.

          I don’t however think that getting younger but not better is worth a day one or two pick. Those picks should be reserved for actual upgrades in talent. Not just upgrades in youth.

          • Rob Staton says:

            The idea of picking Bailey is not just to potentially replace Tate. It’s also about adding needed depth and quality to the receiver position. He’ll be long gone by day three.

  3. Stuart says:

    Good points Trudy..

  4. Jim Q says:

    I think it’s noteworthy that in the 16 games NFL season the highest TD total by a WR was 14 by James Jones. I know Bailey wasn’t playing in NFL games, but in his shorter season he had a total of 25-TD’s, which is pretty close to twice as many TD’s in a lesser number of games. Even the clips in this article show a whole lot of Bailey in the end zone. I think he will be a scoring machine, regardless of or in spite of his height.

    NFL TD leaders, 2012: https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2013/02/12/2012-wide-receiver-touchdown-reliance/

  5. Cameron says:

    I LOVE Steadman Bailey. Like you say he’s more refined than Tate was at this point in their respective careers, but he shares Tate’s freakish balance and body control. Pete Carroll has always said he wants ‘touchdown makers’, well, spread offense or no spread offense, this guy makes touchdowns.

  6. Michael says:

    Thank you Rob. This guy has not gotten nearly enough love yet. Looking forward to his combine numbers.

  7. Nolan says:

    If we did draft this guy and he turns out to be a golden Tate clone it might make it easier to let Tate leave in free agency and not have to pay him … Just a thought

    • SunPathPaul says:

      Seems feasible. If Steadman works out like he looks, Tate would probably be a cap casualty…
      If we an get a BIG WR also, we could shift from the more expensive Rice too. If Stephen Williams pans out, or say we take another WR late and they work out, we could have a majorly different WR corp in just 2 years.

      I would love to have Steadman Bailey – even like his name…Steady Steadman! I guess it all depends on WHEN we take a WR, not if… Plus I still think the ‘joker TE’ might be the most value for us since we run so much to begin with… Reed, Wheaton, Austin, Bailey, Goodwin, Wilson… Rogers… could all end up a Seahawk!

      • Chris says:

        I’m thinking Joker could possibly be more likely as well. I see a 2 TE focus in the future as more likely than 3 WRs on the field due to the emphasis on the run game and playing against base defenses. If we’re wheeling 2 WRs out there on most plays we may have enough WR depth as it is.

    • Rob Staton says:

      A very valid thought too, especially with other players also approaching contract years.

    • Trudy Beekman says:

      Good point. Reading that FG repost of the GB model was pretty eye-opening. At this point only RW, Okung, ET and Sherman appear to be locks to re-sign in Seattle. Every other solid production player is expendable if you keep picking up 9 guys in the draft. As much as we would like to project a big FA signing and then the dream draft based on need (Short, Brown, Wheaton, Reed, Quanterus Smith …), this off-season will probably be even more eyebrow-raising than previous ones now that the team is in more of a sustainment period. We like to gripe about the holes in the defense, but this was the best defense in the league last year. This team will always have holes. No team has ever been 100% complete, nor will they ever be … the salary cap won’t allow it.

      I’m pumped to just keep watching this team’s current roster improve, to watch tape on everyone so I can have guys to root for and against in the coming years, and to laugh at everyone else for not having the smartest guys in the room running their franchise.

    • A. Simmons says:

      Notice how teams like Green Bay, New England, and Pittsburgh tend to churn through receivers, TEs, and RBs while continuing to remain playoff competitive. Teams that pay top dollar to receivers in the salary cap area aren’t spending money wisely. Receivers that think they’re more important to team success than the QB are fools as are the GMs that sign them. A smart receiver would stick with the QB that is making him look great and take less money. I guess this is the era where you get as much as you can whenever you can. I may be dumb for thinking this, but if I would weigh personal monetary gain versus playing for a winning team when deciding how much to sign for. It seems to me that if I’m part of a winning team I can pick up more money in endorsements and merchandise sales with a high profile winner rather than taking a bigger contract playing for a lower profile loser. At least that’s how I see it.

      • SunPathPaul says:

        Grat points A.Simmons. You would think making a little less money, but playing with winners would be a huge option for these players. There is not much loyalty between players and teams. I can imagine RW playing like he did this last year, and when he finally can redo his contract, NOT being a guy that wants to get ALL he can. Why can’t the core of a team, Sherm/ET/Okung/RW/Lynch all just decide that they will ALL VOLUNTARILY take a small percentage less each, so they can keep the TEAM TOGETHER. It seems like this wouldn’t be that hard if they like and believe in one another…maybe I’m idealistic!?

  8. Danzell says:

    Kris Graham? Im sure you mean Kris Durham ;)

  9. Galen says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE Stedman Bailey. So competitive. But I don’t necessarily think that a big receiver is a dire need if we’re able to find an h-back/move TE who could be split out wide like an Ertz, Escobar or Reed. If we can get Bailey and a Joker TE in the first three rounds I see no reason why this offense isn’t Top 10 in the league.

    • Galen says:

      Hate the way I worded that. Made it sound like Bailey is a big receiver and that I didn’t read the article lol. Bascially, we don’t need a big WR if we can find a joker TE

  10. Eric says:

    “Stedman Bailey is really underrated”

    He won’t be after the Combine. I totally agree – without question he’s one of the best WRs in the draft.

    But I’m thinking like Galen above – I’d rather have one of these TEs – Eiffert, Ertz, or Escobar (probably in that order though that’s a tough call).

    Imagine a double TE set with Miller and one of those guys, with Tate in the slot and Rice going deep (or, even better, Bowe from KC either in a trade for Flynn or in FA).

    Well, a guy can dream…

    • Rob Staton says:

      I tend to agree, would love to see how they use a guy like Ertz in this offense.

      But if they go in a different direction in round one and Bailey is there in R2… I’m taking him.

      • Eric says:

        This is one deep, dark draft. Impossible to predict. The level of talent at numerous positions is so consistent through the first 3, maybe even 4 rounds that there has to be a short list of prospects whom JSPC would take with glee if they happen to fall that far.

        For example, what if (a big if) Jonathan Cooper is still on the board at #56? Or, (and this is a bigger if) DeAndre Hopkins? Too far fetched? Probably, but then again, if ever there was a draft where something that crazy could happen…

        Ok, so more realistically, what about Escobar or Reed, or Datone Jones or Sylvester Williams, or Larry Warford or Barrett Jones? Any of those are legitimately possible at 56, and one could make strong arguments for each.

        Of course, the picture should come into focus a bit more after the Combine. Either way, with the season we just had, combined with the promise of what is yet to come, this is shaping up to be the most entertaining draft in years. It’s a good time to be a citizen of HawkNation!

    • SunPathPaul says:

      Imagine that 2 TE set, Miller and Ertz, Tate in the slot and Wheaton the burner, or Patton / Hunter / Goodwin / Bailey or Dobson outside!!! We would be sick dangerous. Russell will get to KNOW his guys well, and the chemistry WILL show. Just look how Tate and Rice and Miller came alive last year. Now there is no sharing of reps or question who the QB leader is… Magic Time

      Adding a joker TE & playmaking WR = Success for years…

  11. Leonard says:

    Thanks Rob. Bailey ended up being the one that impressed me when I was watching West Virginia games to check out Austin.
    Have you gotten much further down the WR list? There are a couple of mid to late round guys that I like and would be interested in your opinion about. T.J. Moe from Missouri and Josh Boyce from TCU. Neither have great stats because of poor QB play & scheme. They both have decent size, +- 6 foot tall and fairly thick. Both are very quick with decent straight line speed and kick return potential. I have not found a lot of tape on either so I am going off of a small sample size. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

  12. Hawksince77 says:

    Rob,

    CBS currently has Steadman as the 14th rated WR in the draft, the 103rd ranked overall. That translates to a 3-4th round range.

    http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/players/1664860/stedman-bailey

    Why do you suppose that’s the case?

    Watching the tape, he seemed extremely competent, and I mean that as the highest praise for the position. Consistent. Play-maker. Tough (didn’t he drag a DT into the endzone on that one play?) Yes, he looks/plays somewhat like Tate, but I am not sure it matters. You should have more than one play-maker on the field at a time. Imagine Wilson throwing him the ball. Smith looked like he was staring down most of his receivers, and while he threw some nice balls, the placement wasn’t always that great.

    Steadman seemed to be a very tricky route runner. He embarrassed several CBs and safeties, and at other times, simply beat them to the catch.

    He is getting no hype right now. I haven’t seen him near the top of anyone’s WR list. Does that mean Seattle can draft him at a discount?

    • Rob Staton says:

      14th rated receiver? Maybe they were watching the wrong guy….

      • Hawksince77 says:

        Rob,

        Not defending the rankings, I don’t have the competence to judge, but here’s the list:

        13 *Keenan Allen WR 1 California Jr 6-3 210 1
        19 *Cordarrelle Patterson WR 2 Tennessee Jr 6-3 205 1
        35 *DeAndre Hopkins WR 3 Clemson Jr 6-1 200 1-2
        39 Tavon Austin WR 4 West Virginia Sr 5-09 175 1-2
        43 *Robert Woods WR 5 Southern California Jr 6-1 190 2
        45 Quinton Patton WR 6 Louisiana Tech rSr 6-0 202 2
        50 Terrance Williams WR 7 Baylor rSr 6-2 201 2
        54 Markus Wheaton WR 8 Oregon State Sr 5-11 183 2
        56 Aaron Dobson WR 9 Marshall Sr 6-3 203 2
        66 *Justin Hunter WR 10 Tennessee Jr 6-4 200 2-3
        77 *Da’Rick Rogers WR 11 Tennessee Tech Jr 6-2 206 2-3
        83 Cobi Hamilton WR 12 Arkansas Sr 6-2 199 3
        91 Marquise Goodwin WR 13 Texas Sr 5-09 179 3
        103 *Stedman Bailey WR 14 West Virginia rJr 5-10 195 3-4

        http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/prospectrankings/2013/WR

        My sense is that lists like this in part reflects the perspective of the scouting community. If that’s the case, perhaps Bailey falls into a nice round where Seattle can take him with maximum value.

        Or, as we approach the draft, his rating rises until it more closely matches yours.

        • Rob Staton says:

          It certainly reflects some of the group-think around this draft class. The idea that Aaron Dobson is 50 places ahead of Bailey for me is incredible and unfathomable.

          • Attyla the Hawk says:

            I think you’d agree though, that even though we deride it as group think, the fact is it is a very real phenomenon. Dobson and Hamilton are bigger receivers and they are not nearly as talented. But the size alone will push those guys up on many teams’ boards.

            I’m perfectly fine with group think. Especially when other teams adhere to it like gospel. Leaves talented/unconventional guys available in bulk for teams with the stones to make unconventional picks.

            I actually think those rankings are probably pretty accurate if you consider it a blended look at all 32 teams. I don’t think it is even close to our board and I’ll go with our board every year.

    • Colin says:

      CBSsports, FOX sports, they are all pretty bad when it comes to mock drafts.

      • Hawksince77 says:

        I don’t know about mocks, but this site has all the guys eligible for the draft (I assume, anyway). They are broken out by position with brief evaluations and rankings. Whenever I hear of somebody, I check it out here, and that provides some familiar context (for me, anyway).

        • Nolan says:

          Derek Stephens did a podcast on receivers for field gulls tester day he gave vault a 3rd – 4th round grade wasn’t as excited as rob.

  13. Shamus McGee says:

    wouldn’t mind seeing him in a Hawks uniform….makes plays, catches the ball all over the place…nice work as always Rob.

  14. Stuart says:

    Say it’s round 3 and the Hawks are on the clock. Round 1 Hawks went to DT and round 2 Hawks went to WLB. Suppose we have our choice on R-3 between TE J. REED, WR WHEATON and WR BAILEY, which player do you choose?

  15. Bird says:

    Is Bailey someone that could fill KR/PR role as well?

  16. Cysco says:

    no doubt Bailey can catch the ball, but I just don’t see him being a fit for the Hawks. (same reason I don’t see Hopkins being a match) He doesn’t have elite measurables. I can’t see this team starting two undersized players at WR. Would it be smart to draft a backup/replacement for Tate? Sure. Just not in round 2.

    The team needs a compliment to Tate, not a clone. They’ve got a burner in Rice and a big play/YAC guy in Tate. What they need is that big possession target. This is why I think they’ll take a serious look at TE in round 2 and will take a flyer on a dude like Courtney Gardner in round 4.

    Speaking of Gardner, I was bummed to see he wasn’t invited to the combine. 6’3″ with sub 4.4 speed? that would have been fun to watch. Maybe it’s for the best so his stock doesn’t rise too much.

    • Robert says:

      Agree! PC wants a big WR, but he has mentioned he likes what the Pats do with 2 TE sets. A smaller/faster joker TE would create some great mismatches and provide the coveted big target.

      I am very intrigued with Gardner!

  17. Dan says:

    This FO drafted Thomas in the first round of 2010 and admitted that they had no plan to do so originally. Schneider was hinting that they had other positions on their big board but just couldn’t pass up on a prospect of that caliber. Is there a guy out there, who could potentially fall, that JS/PC just can’t pass up?? A pick that comes out of left field.

    • Rob Staton says:

      There are several. It wouldn’t be too surprising if any of the big names defensive lineman drop, or an Ogletree, or Jonathan Cooper, or Cordarrelle Patterson.

    • Dan says:

      Ya but what about a guy like Vaccaro? I wasn’t completely opposed to moving Chancellor to the WILL position last year. That pick would certainly be unexpected by fans and GMs alike.

  18. Christon says:

    Rob, you are right on with Bailey. After watching some film – I too was really impressed with his speed and his polished route running. When I think of a “good route runner” I think of short-to-intermediate routes, timing based, (usually) slow WR but I think he is a very good deep route runner who will surprise people with his speed. When Bailey goes deep his controls the DBs by putting them on the back shoulder. I don’t think Geno Smith is a very good deep ball thrower because he tends to throw rainbows and he puts too much air under his throws at times. But because Bailey runs a great deep route he can control a DB on the under thrown lobs but when he needs to he has the speed to separate, adjust, and pull away from the defender with the ball in the air. He would be a really nice weapon to pick up – I don’t know if they could take him right now because I think he could be considered a luxury pick (being a short and similar as he is to the WRs we already have on the roster) but if the Hawks trade down into the top of the second while picking up an extra early 3rd. I could then see him get drafted by the hawks with the extra pick.

  19. MJ says:

    Rob, the thing I admire most about this site and your writing is that you have conviction in what you say/think, but don’t take yourself overly serious.

    I get a good chuckle everytime you mention “Senior Analyst.” Twitter is loaded with these guys that have never worked for an FO, but claim to be “Professional Scouting Director.” I am sincerely passionate about the draft and love the work you and Kip do, but it kills me when some of these guys act like they are holier than thou in the Draftnik world. The ironic part about this is, I value your input more than these self proclaimed gurus and even some guys on tv.

    In essence, you let your evaluations/opinions speak for themselves, and stick to them. You don’t need to give yourself some flowery title and act like you spoke with John Schneider yesterday. This wasn’t intended to be a fluff comment, but I just appreciate you and Kip being “real.” Very refreshing. Keep it up fellas!