We haven't addressed the wide receiver position in any of our previous draft watches. Until last week, with the Cincinnati Bengals collection of young talent at the position (AJ Green, Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell and Andrew Hawkins) it wasn't a perceived need. But then AJ Green's knee bent backward.
All signs point to Green being out this week, but not beyond that. Still, any of us who remember Kijana Carter know that a player can go from franchise savior to what-might-have-been on one snap in the NFL. Green's absence last week showed us two things: Green is a phenomenal, game-altering presence even as a rookie, and Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell might be fine compliments, but neither is dependable to step up and change a game. Combine that with the uncertainty surrounding Jordan Shipley's rehab from knee surgery, and it's quite possible the Bengals might be looking at a wide out in April. This year's draft could be chock full of great receivers, so it might be an opportune time to spend a pick there and solidify that position. Here are some games today that might showcase some possible Cincinnati targets:
We're not going to highlight Alshon Jeffery or James Blackmon. First, both are juniors, so it's not a cinch that either will come out this year, second, both are so high on the draft boards they would most likely be gone before the Bengals pick, and third, neither plays today. Jeffery's South Carolina team is off and James Blackmon played last night.
Behind them would be Notre Dame senior Michael Floyd who plays at 4:00 today on NBC against Boston College. Floyd is 6'3" and 230 pounds of speed and grace. Putting he and AJ Green on opposite sides would almost be unfair to opposing cornerbacks. Floyd may break 1000 yards receiving for the second consecutive year tomorrow. He already has seven touchdowns, and quite possibly could be gone in the top 10 based on raw physical ability. He's had a tendency to disappear at times this year, however, most notably at Pittsburgh and against USC. He also had some off field issues this past off season which threatened his eligibility. Those issues could cause him to slide on some draft boards.
Texas A&M hosts Kansas at noon on FSN in a game featuring another big, athletic target in Jeff Fuller. Fuller gained attention last year when he topped 1000 yards and was quite impressive going up against LSU's Patrick Peterson, now an Arizona Cardinal. He brought in 12 touchdowns last season. He's known more for his strength than his speed and at 6'4" and 220 pounds would give Andy Dalton another big target. His hands are huge and sure. His production has fallen off a bit this year as he doesn't look to repeat the numbers he had last season. Fuller could definitely be available when the Bengals pick with either of their first round selections.
A wild card choice and hometown kid, DeVier Posey makes his 2011 debut for Ohio State against Penn State today at 3:30 on ABC. Posey, a LaSalle high school product, was part of the scandal last year that ultimately cost Jim Tressel his job. Posey sat out the first five games this season as a result of that incident, but was suspended additional games for receiving other impermissible benefits, so today's game will be both his first game of 2011 and last game in Ohio Stadium as a Buckeye. The 6'3" Posey has surpassed 800 yards receiving in two consecutive years and scored 16 touchdowns in three seasons in Columbus. He was a top 10 prospect heading into this season. He'll have two more regular season contests and possibly a bowl game to showcase his talents.
Also in that game will be Penn State wide out Derek Moye. Moye is 6'5" and 202 pounds. Moye's numbers have been similar to Posey's, but he's suffered a bit this year with Penn State's struggles at quarterback. Still, his yards per catch average is a career best 17.4, so he has plenty of big play ability and will likely again top 800 yards for the Nittany Lions.
So as you watch today, imagine Andy Dalton having not only AJ Green as a "go up and get it" type of red zone target. Imagine another long athletic receiver on the other side with Jermaine Gresham running down the seem. You can see Jay Gruden drooling at those possibilities for his offense.
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