devon Wylie at USC Combine 2006 (via ricksutter)
This is the first in a series of 10 blogs I'm putting up about guys that are 5-7th round graded guys, and/or some that are borderline rookie free agents that the team needs to take a look at. I'm not going to go over the 1st and 2nd rounders, because that will be beaten to death by every sports writer. Why not take a look at later round players with some real potential? Find that diamond in the rough Jeremy Lin of the NFL kind of player.
Today we're going to look at one position that had a roster spot up for grabs all last year, and is still up for grabs this year. The last wide receiver spot even up to last years preseason finale, it was up for debate. Do you keep a real wide receiver, or a special teams gunner type of guy for that last #5 wide receiver spot? A lot of people say go best special teams performer because he'll never see the field as a receiver. The other thinking is that if the player is a receiver, then keep the best receiver available, and let the special teams sort itself out. The fact that Logan Payne was kept on the team, despite an injured wrist for 6 or 7 weeks, shows the priority they place on special teams.
Well how about you draft someone that can do both pretty well, to have your cake and eat it too? A guy who can be a special teams demon, and bring a skillset to the wide receiver pool that can get him some burn on offense as well as special teams? No need to choose next season between real receivers and special teams players. That player is here now. His name is Devon Wylie. Wide receiver, special teams extrodinaire from Fresno State. More after the jump.
Devon Wylie is currently rated on CBS Sports as the 30th ranked wide receiver in the draft and a 6th or 7th round player. He is 5'9 and 185 or so. Very similar to a guy the Jets drafted years ago. Santana Moss. He is rumored to run a high 4.3 forty. Somewhere around 4.38. If you watch his tape, he's extremely quick, and more quick than fast. He can run routes and cut on a dime and create separation to the point you can't even see the corner in the screen sometimes when he's catching a pass. I've watched about 3 videos of him, but in this one there's a collaboration of things he can do.
He reminds some of Wes Welker with his quickness and route running. He reminds others of Dante Hall, formerly of the Chiefs with his return ability. Here is where he stands out though. He also plays gunner on special teams and gets tackles willingly, and downs punts on the 1" line pretty well. He is the first guy down the field and gives himself up to down balls and returners.
Those are his strengths. His weakness is that he can't catch consistently. He's a body catcher sometimes gets the drops, other times though he catches everything in site and all hand catches. Sometimes that's corrected, sometimes that's just who the guy is. The thing with this player is you don't need him to have great hands because of what he brings to the table. He also can get jammed up at the line as was reported in the East West Shrine game he played in.
As you can see there's a ton of things you can do with this guy. Because of his speed you can use him primarily as a punt and kick returner, which will take the wear and tear off of Joe McKnight. You can put him in bunch formations where a DB can't jam him and let him run quick routes, or wide receiver screens and let him make the first guy miss, and then take off. These are high percentage passes that will help Sanchez and keep the chains moving, and aren't hard to catch. You can run him deep 5 times a game to take the top off the defense and make the safeties play honest. His 4.3 speed warrants some deep passes.
Best of all, you can use him as that 5th wide receiver and gunner. This eliminates the need to worry about keeping a guy like Logan Payne, or the latest end of the bench WR from Duke. He can be your poor mans Wes Welker, Dante Hall, and Don Beebe all in one. All for the price of a 6th or 7th round pick. That's good value for a guy that can handle at least 3 jobs on your team (punt coverage, kick/punt returner, and receiver).
This is all subject to change but his current ranking http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/prospectrankings/TSX/2012_WR. My hope (maybe in fairytale land) is that scouts actually do read our posts and take into consideration players that we mention. I realize this is a pipe dream, but I will continue to blog anyway. Get the word out, Devon Wylie is coming. This guy, if drafted will do a lot of things for this team.