Some teams began their rookie mini-camps this weekend. We won’t really know how the Jaguars’ Justin Blackmon turns out until the season is well underway, but it doesn’t hurt to start the comparisons to the leagues other young wideouts right now. There were eight receivers selected in the first three rounds, four were first round selections, three in the second, and only Mohamed Sanu in the third. We’ll take a peek at what’s being said around the league in the order they were drafted.
Justin Blackmon sat out of the final day of the weekend’s minicamp with a sore foot. Coach Mike Mularkey says it isn’t a big deal and that the team had “[seen] what we needed to see” so taking him out for the day to prevent further aggravation was fine by him. Blackmon displayed his superb hands the first three practices by making plays on poorly thrown balls. There haven’t been any circus catches and he is learning the playbook, but Mularkey fully expects that “He’ll get faster in everything he does.”
Michael Floyd is expected to be the most productive receiver according to some sources. Arizona’s own coach, Ken Whisenhunt admitted he had Floyd as the seventh best player on his board and the second best receiver before the draft. Arizona doesn’t have its rookie mini-camp until the 11th, so news has been slow, but expect some good reports to come out about the Larry Fitzgerald-mentored Floyd.
Kendall Wright is not a favorite of mine. But despite my opposition, the Titans thought he was worthy of a first round pick. When Wright was taken, many expected a defensive player. GM Ruston Webster defended his selection by saying he’d rather take a wide receiver he had rated highly than his third or fourth rated defensive prospect. Wright enters a good situation with wide-man Matt Hasselbeck and the franchise’s future – Jake Locker competing to throw at him. Wright will participate in the Titans’ rookie mini-camp beginning on May 11th.
Brian Quick has a shot to be something special in St. Louis. It’s reported that head coach Jeff Fischer and Co. were less stressed about having to nab Blackmon on draft day after visiting with Quick but you’ve got to wonder about that. Quick is talented and by all reports Fischer expects him to do big things for the Rams. The Rams love Quick, but some of the fan base seems confused. We’ll find out how enamored the team is when mini-camp begins on May 11.
Stephen Hill wowed scouts at the combine with his unbelievable speed. The Jets, of course, bit. Hill already has his contract signed and had nothing to distract him in camp from his play. Hill impressed the team, especially head coach Rex Ryan, with his speed and big 6’4″ frame. Hill dropped one pass in drills – a deep ball that bounced off his finger tips. Ryan is excited over Hill’s performance and says he will be starting this season.
Alshon Jeffery enters a pretty plush situation in Chicago. He isn’t expected to be the top receiver on the depth chart thanks to the Bears trade for Miami’s Brandon Marshall. But with a role model like Marshall around, you’ve got to wonder about how Jeffery’s character concerns will go away. Will he be motivated enough? I’m not certain he will be, but Chicago’s willing to take a chance. They’ll find out if he has shed some pounds and is ready to work when he reports for their May 11 mini-camp.
Rueben Randle was an intriguing choice by the Giants in the second round. Randle was selected with the 31st pick of the second round. Marc Ross, New York’s director of scouting, thinks Randle is better than his college stats because of the mediocre quarterback play at LSU. This helps to explain why the Giants had Randle ranked higher than many teams. Randle himself says that he’s not quite NFL ready. Makes you start to scratch your head about the confidence the kid will bring with him to mini-camp on the 11th.
Mohamed Sanu went to the Bengals in the third round. Sanu is a player I believe could have been a first round prospect and will succeed in the NFL. Sanu is a gifted runner and should fit well with A.J. Green and Andy Dalton in Cincinnati. The fanbase seems excited to have Mo’ Sanu around and will be able to see some great play. Sanu could make a big splash with the Bengals this season, and I’m looking forward to that beginning with mini-camps on May 11.
While the jury will be out on all of these players for a bit, it’s about that time when teams can really begin to analyze what they’ve got. As the reports come in, we’ll be keeping tabs here at B&T to see how Justin Blackmon compares to his main competition. The receiver class is deep this year and it’s looking like a lot of teams are relying on their receivers to provide some highlights this offseason and on the field when the regular season finally begins.