I had prior obligations and wasn't at my house this morning, so I didn't watch the Combine on NFL Network until the very end. I won't BS you and pretend I did (instead I'll just present the facts). By the time I looked at my phone for the first time this morning, 11:30 AM, Twitter was abuzz with updates from Indianapolis. Ah, yes, that means it's 10:30 Indy time and the Combine has been going on for one and a half hours already.
I know there are a range of opinions on BGN regarding what should happen at the wide receiver position. I'm on the trade Maclin team. After all, can we at least agree the offense could use a different type of talent to complement DeSean Jackson? The Eagles will probably "demand" a second round pick for Maclin, but if a team offers a third, I'd pounce. Paying him big money after this season is just not a viable use of cap room given DeSean Jackson's contract.
Now time to cherry pick the first three that popped into my mind, including a longer profile of the player I think would look perfect paired with DeSean Jackson: Justin Hunter.
1) Tavon Austin - West Virginia
He's only 174 pounds and put up 14 reps of 225, just for fun. I really don't even think of think Tavon Austin as a wide receiver at this point, more a master-of-all trades, dynamite offensive weapon. I don't even rank him as a wide receiver when I'm evaluating this year's prospects. He's just a different type of player, surely not traditional. By the way, Twitter had some scouts down on the field at 4.20. Then Mike Mayock AND Charles Davis referred to him as the "Pocket Rocket." When you get compared to a female masturbatory sex toy, you know you're the shit. Tavon Austin makes all the ladies -- and NFL personnel people -- go crazy. I watched him a number of times live since I've been a big Geno Smith fan for years. Sometimes I just watch Austin's archive of videos when I'm bored. Oklahoma (500+ yards of total offense) is probably the most famous, but they're all exciting and awe-inspiring. You know what's even more remarkable? His ability to go deep is actually underutilized. West Virginia so often wanted to just get Austin the ball in space, it never really took advantage of his speed on downfield routes -- that ability to get behind the defense for a long ball. His NFL team will certainly deploy him that way, thus adding yet another dimension to his endless arsenal of talents.
I'm also a huge fan of Austin's teammate, Stedman Bailey, who will be a damn good wide receiver in the NFL himself. Tracks the ball so well in the air, catches everything, has deceptive speed, and his 32.68" arms are the same length as Keenan Allen's, who stands 6'2". That length translates to tape for Bailey, where he showcases a wide catching radius and plays much bigger than his 5'10" frame.
2) Marquise Goodwin - Texas
Listed numbers: 5087 / 173 - 31.48" arms - 8.58" hands - 4.27 40 - 13 reps - 132" (11') broad
An Olympic hurdler who broke onto the scene as an explosive (emphasis on explosive, literally, as well with that 132" broad jump) offensive weapon for Texas in 2011. He is dangerous as both a receiver and runner, who got his draft hype train started with an electrifying performance against Oregon State in the Valero Alamo Bowl. Even without the touchdowns, the very first play of that game is reason for you to love him. I liked him going into the Senior Bowl, and he didn't disappoint with his rare speed and surprisingly utility as a wide receiver. You've also surely heard by now that scouts down on the field in Indianapolis had him at 4.19. I expected Goodwin to break 4.3, but 4.19 is just ridiculous. It's not even real. No, seriously, it's not real. There's human error involved, that's why the electronic time is used.
3) Justin Hunter - Tennessee
Hunter's 39.5" vertical was tied for first among all WR participants (with Marcus Davis and former teammate Da'Rick Rodgers). Combine that vertical jump with his height and long limbs, and suffice to say he won't be getting outleaped or outreached for balls in the air. That 136" broad jump is second best since 2006, by the way. Wow.
A good friend of mine is a die hard Volunteers fan (he's from Atlanta, family's from Knoxville), told me before the 2011 draft that Denarius Moore was a legit talent who'd become a player in the NFL (search "Denarius Moore" when you access this link). So when I started my draft research, I asked him about Tennessee players and to recommend someone he really liked. Justin Hunter was the suggestion this time around, "superfreak athlete with superstar potential" was the follow-up text.
This friend -- let's call him by his real name, Ilan -- is still a bigger fan of Justin Hunter than the more-hyped Cordarrelle Patterson, who's generally considered the #1 WR on board. That's not an indictment of Patterson as a player either because he's electric with the ball in his hands and will be going in the top-15. Just shows you what Ilan thinks of Hunter's projection if he transitions to the next level (another text: "Hunter knows what he's doing as a receiver, Patterson has no clue"). And you know something? I agree with him. I even agreed with him back in December, after watching DVR'd games against Florida, Alabama and South Carolina (this was right before discovering draftbreakdown.com) and doing research online. Speaking of which, draftbreakdown.com needs more Justin Hunter videos.
Also, here's something to consider: 2013 will be Hunter's second full season removed from the ACL tear that prematurely cut his breakout 2011 campaign short in just its third game. Remember what's typically said about that second year back being when a player truly "feels like himself again." Someone tweeted Bob McGinn's article on Twitter today, and I specifically noted this quote from a scout:
"Didn't have quite the year after the ACL but probably the most physically gifted of all the receivers.... You go back and look at ('11) film, he's special. He didn't play well this year. He had drops. He didn't look comfortable on the knee. Long arms. Lean body. Ripped up. Outstanding athlete. He's really got good hands, too."
By the way, I assume this scout has access to all the film on Hunter, and not just 2011 like McGinn insinuates in parentheses. Because just from looking at his gamelog, Hunter had big time performances in 2010 as well. His upside is stratospheric (yes, he needs to put some meat on those bones), and his ceiling is as high as any wide receiver in this draft class.
Which prospects did you guys like? List them in the comments section. Personally, I can't believe Ryan Swope ran a 4.34. WHAT?!