WIDE RECEIVERS FOR GREEN BAY
by Jerry Gilbert
The story for wide receivers in this year's draft is all about pairs. USC has a pair of highly rate receivers, as do LSU and Ohio State, and in every case, some think that the lesser of the two may become the better pro. The bottom lie however, is that if three schools have 6 top prospects, this wide receiver class is talented and deep. This suits eh needs of the Green Bay Packers, who despite having the established Donald Driver and the promising Greg Jennings., need a home run threat to add to their offense. They need to replace Javon Walker.
Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson is the best of the class, who convinced the world that he has no equal when he ran a 4.32 forty at the combine in borrowed shoes. At 6-5 239, with great hands, there is little more one could ask of a rookie wide receiver. The Packers have no shot at Johnson. On the other hand, who will be picked next is wide open and there will be many fine receivers in the first few rounds.
Of the two LSU receivers, Dwayne Bowe 6-2 221 4.5 is the higher rated , but Craig Davis 6-1 200 4.41 will also be drafted very early. They are both proven receivers who teamed with quarterback JaMarcus Russell to create an overpowering offense. For Southern Cal, Dwayne Jarrett 6-4 219 4.6 has the big name, but Steve Smith 6-1 200 4.44 could be drafted ahead of him. They will also be gone by the conclusion of round. two.
Ohio State's Ted Ginn Jr. is one of the stars of this draft. I would take him at 16 and look forward to long passes, ends around and exciting kick returns. He has speed, elusiveness and vision. Ginn could drop to 16 because injury has slowed him during testing and scouts questions his skills as a receiver and his hands. Javon Walker came into the NFL with questions about his routes and his hands. He worked like a professional, and he developed pro level receiver skills. Ginn would do the same, and he is much faster and quicker than Walker.
Ginn's partner at Ohio State was Anthony Gonzalez 6-0 193 whose 4.4 forty at the Combine surprised many of the scouts. Gonzalez has fine hands and will also be drafted high.
The Packers might draft one of these players, or perhaps Tennessee's Robert Meachem 6-2 214 4.39 in the first round, but if Marshawn Lynch is the choice, the remaining top receiver may well be selected in round 2.
As happens nearly every year, the post season all star games allow a receiver from a small school to step forward and show that he can compete with the best. This year it was Jacoby Jones of Lane College. Jones has good size at 6-3 210 and pretty good speed at 4.5. His Combine vertical jump was an impressive 34 inches. At Lane, he compiled 5,380 all-purpose yards as a four year starting receiver and kick returner, and his best football could be ahead of him because he concentrated solely on football only in his senior season. Several scouts are very high on Jones.
An intriguing prospect for the late rounds is a converted quarterback, Legedu Naanee of Boise State, a 6-2 225 athlete who runs a 4.4 forty. Entering Boise Stat as a quarterback , Naanee set weight lifting records for the position and later converted to being an H-Back and finally, as a senior, a wide receiver. In 2006, he caught 35 passes for 541 yards and 6 touchdowns. A superior athlete, Naanee has much to learn about wide receiver, but that is why he will be available in the late rounds.
Another prospect who could provide a presence in the red zone is Aaron Fairooz 6-6 209 4.49 from Central Arkansas. In two years as a starter he score 18 touchdowns, set several school records and was selected for two all America teams. Many teams benefit from a tall receiver and the Packers may be able to pick up such a player in this draft.
Many schools may be providing a pair of receivers for this draft. The Packers need only one, and if they sign Randy Moss, that one receiver could be a project.