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Possibility at 17: Darrius Heyward-Bey

As we head for the Draft, Gang Green Nation will take a look at some potential picks for the team. Today we will profile Darrius Heyward-Bey, a wide receiver from the University of Maryland.

What NFL Draft Countdown thinks:

A smooth, fluid athlete...Long strider with rare speed...Explosive with great acceleration and a burst...Quick and agile...Terrific height and bulk with long arms...Excellent leaper...Nice body control and ball skills...Tough and not afraid to work the middle...Vertical threat who can separate...Also a dangerous weapon on reverses...Great work ethic...Could also contribute  as a return man...Still has a ton of upside.

Is inconsistent catching the ball and does not have great natural hands...Questionable instincts and awareness...Still very raw as a route runner...Not much wiggle and won't make people miss...Doesn't break a lot of tackles...Average strength...Marginal blocker...Has little or no special teams experience...Wasn't real productive..Workout Warrior?


What SB Nation's Mocking the Draft thinks:

Strengths: Heyward-Bey is probably the best vertical threat among the wide receivers in this class. Easily breaks press coverage. He uses his strength to be beat the jam and break away from defenders. At times, he can make difficult catches look easy. Tall with long arms. Solid after the catch setting up his blockers. Very good leaper and knows how to reach the ball at the high point.

Weaknesses: At this point in his career, Heyward-Bey is still more of a track athlete than a wide receiver. He's not the best route runner and will need to be coached heavily in this area. Wasn't really asked to go across the middle while at Maryland so his toughness is somewhat questionable. Unreliable as a blocker.

What I think:

I have made it clear that I am lukewarm at best taking a receiver early in the Draft. If the quarterback situation does not pan out, the passing game will suffer regardless of whom lines up at receiver. The investment could easily turn into a poor one. Even if I was confident in the team's quarterback, I would express extreme caution on taking a wideout like Heyward-Bey.

He is the Vernon Gholston of receivers. While he is an incredible athlete, he has not shown the qualities necessary to play the position at a high level. His hands and route running are suspect. He can beat anybody in a race. It will take a lot of developing for him to consistently beat corners on anything other than vertical patterns, and he drops too many passes in the instances he does. If Heyward-Bey puts it all together, he will become a number one target. However, he has too much developing to do for any team to feel remotely safe of that happening. He is too much of a roll of the dice to give first round money. He is too raw to fill the immediate need at receiver.