Watching Hard Knocks the other night I came across an intriguing Wide Receiver prospect named Chris Hogan. Apparently Hogan was an all conference lacrosse player for Penn State in college, then transferred to tiny Monmouth University in NJ (of Miles Austin fame) and played mostly cornerback and a little wide receiver for a year. Consequently he had virtually no college football resume when he graduated in 2011. He nevertheless was signed by the 49ers in 2011 as an UDFA, but did not make the team. He is now in Dolphins camp trying to make it as a long shot WR. Reggie Bush dubbed him “7-11″, because apparently he's always open. Bush kept telling his coach "just get it to #81, coach, just get it to 7-11, 'cause he's always open". And damned if he wasn't always open in the little action he got against Tampa Bay.
Now this is just preseason and Hogan only got in the game late, when he was playing against scrubs. Given his resume he is obviously extremely raw, but the quality of being always open is intriguing nonetheless. The last guy we had like that was Wayne Chrebet. If that was all we knew about him he might be intriguing enough to kick the tires. But there's more. Hogan is not a guy with poor measurables who just has a knack for finding the seams. Consider this report from the Star Ledger in 2011.
A former all-conference lacrosse player at Penn State, he played only one year as a receiver and cornerback for Monmouth. The 6-2, 220-pound Hogan had just 12 receptions, but three of them were touchdowns and he had three interceptions. Still, he wasn’t anywhere near NFL teams’ radars. That is, until he ran a 4.47-second 40-yard dash, blew away the competition in the other speed drills and bench-pressed 225 pounds 28 times at Fordham’s pro day March 8. Each of those figures would have put him at, or near, the top of the receivers who worked out at the NFL Scouting Combine.
“I always tell people Chris and ‘Cush’ are two of the best athletes I’ve ever trained,” said Joe DeFranco, owner of DeFranco’s Training in Wyckoff, in reference to Hogan and Texans linebacker Brian Cushing, a Bergen Catholic grad. “He’s just an all-around athlete. And he’s not a lacrosse player trying to play football; he’s a football player who took a couple of years off.” The Giants, Jets, Colts and 49ers have all been in contact with Hogan, who is trying to make up for lost time on the football field. Will the Cowboys take a look?
“Scouts say, ‘Well, if he’s so good, why did he only play 13 plays a game on offense?’” Monmouth offensive coordinator Scott Van Zile told The Star-Ledger. “I tell them since Miles (Austin), we’ve had good receivers but not great receivers who can flat-out win 1-on-1s, so we’re a concept-based passing team and the ball finds the open receiver. “But had we known what this kid was or had him for another year, we would have made him the focal point and there’s no doubt he would be the conference player of the year because there’s no one in the conference like him.”
So, to sum up, he's big (6'2", 220) he's very strong (28 reps@ 225), he's fast (4.47 40), he's an elite athlete, and he's always open. Sounds very intriguing indeed. In addition, apparently he was on the Jets radar screen in 2011, so we know about him and have expressed some interest in the past.
There are only 2 obvious problems with him.
1. He is obviously very raw (although apparently surprisingly good in his route running skills).
2. He is currently in Dolphins camp.
The first problem could perhaps be addressed by stashing him on the practice squad for a year. Coach him up, get him his reps, and in a year we might really have something. The second problem is more difficult. However, he is currently listed as 4th string on the Dolphin's depth chart, even after they cut Chad Johnson, and there seems to be a good chance he will be cut. If he is, maybe we should take a look. I know, taking a look at a guy who can't make the Dolphins as a receiver sounds like a very bad idea. but if this guy is cut loose, he may be a special case, one where he has tremendous potential but is just cut because he is not quite ready yet to produce at an NFL level. Give him a year of development, and who knows? Maybe we have a bigger, stronger, faster, more talented Chrebet. Wouldn't that be something?
So, what do you guys think? If Miami cuts him loose, should we kick the tires?