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2009 NFL Rookie Profiles: Wide Receivers

A look at the 2009 NFL Draft Wideout Rookie Class

Who will be the first WR taken in the NFL Draft? 6 months ago, I would have laughed at this question. Now, I am not so sure. Michael Crabtree seemed like a lock after the college football season ended. Then came the combine and a flurry of stock-dropping hits to Crabtree’s once invincible armor. Could Jeremy Maclin and / or Darrius Heyward-Bey pass him and be the first WR off the board? Which WR will the Raiders’ Al Davis hone in on? This is looking like an above-average crop of rookie WR, with a number of potential instant impact guys. Keep in mind though, for every Eddie Royal and Dwayne Bowe, there is a Limas Sweed and Mark Clayton.

Michael Crabtree:

College – Texas Tech (Redshirt Sophomore Season - 97 catches, 1,165 yards, 19 TD's)
Height/Weight – 6’1” 215 lbs.
Dynasty Draft Grade - 1st round 
Player Comparison – Dwayne Bowe, Donald Driver (in his prime), Reggie Wayne
Questions – The question is not if he will be good, but if he will be great
Ideal Fantasy Landing Spots – Bengals, Jaguars

Comments – Follows up with another elite year at Texas Tech and entrenches himself as the best draft-eligible WR in college football. Then the offseason happens. He measures smaller than expected at the combine. Okay, not a huge issue. Then he pulls out of the NFL Combine with a stress fracture in his foot. He is having surgery and will be out 10 weeks. Don’t let this news affect his Dynasty status in any way. He is still a top 2 pick in Rookie drafts and has the potential to be a Top 5 WR in the NFL within 3 years. Crabtree is a physically tough player with excellent hands and route-running ability. Not quite the prototype that Larry Fitzgerald is or the physical freak that Calvin Johnson is, but he is pretty darn close to an ideal NFL WR. 

Percy Harvin:

College – Florida (Junior Season - 40 catches, 644 yards, 7 TD's, 659 rushing yards, 10 rushing TD's)
Height/Weight – 5’11” 200 lbs.
Dynasty Draft Grade - 1st round 
Player Comparison – Reggie Bush, DeSean Jackson
Questions – Not if he will be a useful NFL player, but if he will be a great NFL player
Ideal Fantasy Landing Spots – Patriots

Comments – Looking for fantasy potential? This beast is loaded with it. He will never be a true WR1, but could be a big-time fantasy threat because of his ability to make plays and carry the ball. Averaged just under 10 yards per carry his junior season. His speed and explosive playmaking ability are elite. Character question marks and "me" attitude could be a concern. He will make an immediate impact as a return guy in the NFL. Expect a slower involvement as a WR because Harvin hasn't run a full route tree and wasn't 100% focused on routes at Florida. Don't be fooled by his size, he is very solidly built and has played through nagging injuries. If a creative offensive coordinator gets his hands on Harvin, he could put up huge numbers rushing, receiving and returning. Expect big things.  

Jeremy Maclin:

College – Missouri (Redshirt Sophomore Season - 102 catches, 1,260 yards, 13 TD's)
Height/Weight – 6' 200 lbs.
Dynasty Draft Grade - 1st round 
Player Comparison – Greg Jennings, Steve Breaston
Questions – Build, durability
Ideal Fantasy Landing Spots – Raiders, Jets

Comments – Maclin played in a spread offense in college and put up huge numbers in his 2 seasons at Missouri. He is just 20 years old and has the potential to end up as the best WR of 2009 draft class. He is a classic playmaker that will pay dividends as a return specialist. Smallish frame and fragile, he is hesitant to go over the middle. Open space burner that should be high on draft boards for a number of NFL teams. See where he lands on Draft day, but he will almost assuredly have an opportunity to compete immediately for playing time. Long-term upside is extremely high. 

Brian Robiskie:

College – Ohio State (Senior Season - 42 catches, 535 yards, 8 TD's)
Height/Weight – 6'2" 207 lbs.
Dynasty Draft Grade - 3rd round 
Player Comparison – Anthony Gonzalez
Questions – Upside
Ideal Fantasy Landing Spots – Broncos

Comments – A definite sleeper selection that should be high on your dynasty draft boards. Regarded as a safe option, he is good bet for immediate production and a solid career. NFL bloodlines - his dad is Falcons WR coach Terry Robiskie. Good work ethic, willing to learn and hungry to prove himself. Upside is somewhat limited, as speed and separation are question marks. Will be a possession receiver on Sundays, but slot players can be very valuable fantasy assets.

Kenny Britt:

College – Rutgers (Junior Season - 87 catches, 1,371 yards, 7 TD's)
Height/Weight – 6'3" 215 lbs.
Dynasty Draft Grade - 2nd round
Player Comparison – TJ Houshmandzadeh, Marques Colston
Questions – Top End Speed
Ideal Fantasy Landing Spots – Giants

Comments – Britt leaves Rutgers after establishing himself as one of the best Big East WR's in recent memory. He has power and plays very physical. Will make an excellent redzone threat. He wants to be the go-to guy, has the skills and mindset necessary. Not a game breaker because of his lack of top end speed, but he could develop into a legit WR1 on a championship caliber team. Don't let him get past the 2nd round in your dynasty draft. 

Darrius Heyward-Bey:

College – Maryland (Junior Season - 42 catches, 609 yards, 5 TD's)
Height/Weight – 6'2" 205 lbs.
Dynasty Draft Grade - 2nd round 
Player Comparison – Roddy White
Questions – Is he a track athlete playing WR?
Ideal Fantasy Landing Spots – Browns

Comments – Heyward-Bey had a solid but certainly not overwhelming career at Maryland. A lackluster QB situation and a run heavy offense will do that to a guy's numbers. But don't be fooled, because especially with college WR's, the numbers don't tell the whole story. He has the potential to be a true, go-to WR if he continues to improve and is developed properly by the team that drafts him. He drops too many balls, must concentrate on catching first before he thinks about taking it to the house. Speed is excellent, as he impressed everyone at the Combine in March. Return game threat. Hey-Bey could be a true WR1 if everything breaks right, or Troy Williamson if it doesn't. Draft him for his upside, but expect ups and downs as he develops. 

Hakeem Nicks:

College – UNC (Junior Season - 68 catches, 1,222 yards, 12 TD's)
Height/Weight – 6' 210 lbs.
Dynasty Draft Grade - 2nd round 
Player Comparison – Chris Chambers
Questions – True WR1 ability?
Ideal Fantasy Landing Spots – Ravens

Comments – Nicks followed up a very solid sophomore year in Chapel Hill with an outstanding junior year. He stepped up even more once fellow WR Brandon Tate went down with a torn ACL. Nicks has that WR1 swagger about him, but he might be more of a WR2 or possession guy in the NFL. In a perfect world, though, he could develop into one of the Top 15 or 20 WR's in the NFL. Nicks plays very tough and bigger than his 6 foot frame. Has run every NFL route at UNC and is pro-ready. Should provide excellent value in PPR leagues. His situation will determine how productive he is as a rookie, but he has the skills to make an instant impact. 

Ramses Barden:

College – Cal-Poly (Senior Season - 67 catches, 1,257 yards, 18 TD's)
Height/Weight – 6'6" 229 lbs.
Dynasty Draft Grade - 3rd round 
Player Comparison – James Hardy, Plaxico Burress
Questions – Can he produce against NFL competition?
Ideal Fantasy Landing Spots – Dolphins

Comments – Barden had back-to-back 18 TD seasons at Cal Poly, not exactly a fertile college football breeding ground. He played against inferior competition, but produced outstanding numbers from the moment he walked on campus. He is a natural redzone target and could produce dividends there as a rookie, with his great hands and massive frame. He can make tough grabs normally limited to receivers 3 or 4 inches shorter. He is a project and will take time to adjust to the NFL, especially coming off the line and running routes. This is a pure upside pick, because if he proves himself against NFL athletes, you are looking at a serious weapon. 

Mohamed Massaquoi:

College – Georgia (Senior Season - 58 catches, 920 yards, 8 TD's)
Height/Weight – 6'1" 210 lbs.
Dynasty Draft Grade - 3rd round 
Player Comparison – Torry Holt
Questions – Hands
Ideal Fantasy Landing Spots – Seahawks

Comments – Massaquoi had a very good college career as Matt Stafford's go-to WR. He is a fine athlete and a fierce competitor. Strengths include route-running, blocking anddurability. He wants to be great and is willing to put the work in. Leadership qualities are outstanding and by all accounts is an upstanding citizen. He tends to drop catchable balls too often and his game speed is a tick above average, despite what a clockwatch might tell you. He is moving up NFL draft boards and should be moving up yours as well. Try to nab him in the middle rounds of your draft as your leaguemates pay closer attention to other WR that are garnering more hype. 

Brandon Tate:

College – UNC (Senior Season INJURED - 16 catches, 376 yards, 3 TD's)
Height/Weight – 6'1" 195 lbs.
Dynasty Draft Grade - 4th round 
Player Comparison – Bernard Berrian
Questions – Recovery from knee injury
Ideal Fantasy Landing Spots – Texans

Comments – Tate tore his ACL and MCL during his senior year at UNC. So the obvious first question he healthy? Well, he didn't run at the Combine or during the UNC pro day, but he should be ready to go by training camp, according to reports. We would guess he is not 100% until his 2nd NFL season. Has run pro-style routes, which should help him. He can contribute in the return game and he does have upside to be a productive NFL receiver. Don't expect much in 2009, but draft him for his long-term potential.