2013 NFL Draft: All Purpose Prospects

November 6th, 2012

Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey make West Virginia better every time they touch the ball (Photo: US Presswire)

 

By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer

Football, and really sports in general, has become more and more specialized with a particular trait being valued over a traditional or well-rounded skill-set. You know that modernization is taking place when a guy like Bruce Irvin, openly selected as a purely situational player, maybe even on the field for third down only, goes in the first round.

 

The following list is a group of players you might here termed as “athletes” or “hybrids” suggesting that they either don’t fit in one category or they are skilled enough to be effective in several. Actually, a lot of these guys could be so-called specialists or valued because of a solitary skill-set; but their versatility comes from the fact that they can line up at various positions or areas of the field in order to take advantage of that unique ability. For the purposes of this article I’ll sort them to two categories: All-Purpose Prizes and Multi-Positional Powers.

Rankings are based on a combination of overall talent/value and versatility (50/50 ratio).

 

All-Purpose Prizes (AP)

 

They might be undersized, but they rack up enough yards to tower over opponents on the stat sheet. These are the return-men, running backs and slot receivers who can be termed as multi-purpose threats.

1. Robert Woods USC 6’1 180

Possible Positions: WR (slot or out wide), KR, PR

 

Woods has excellent speed and runs routes well whether in the slot or split out wide and also is a terrific punt returner. He projects best as a slot receiver who, when given that free release, can utilize his speed to create separation. Not an overly physical receiver, Woods has the hands and frame to compete for balls in traffic pretty well, by far the best of this relatively diminutive group of players.

 

2. Tavon Austin WEST VIRGINIA 5’9 174

Primary Position(s): WR (slot), KR, PR

 

Austin uses his elite speed to zoom past defenders and cover ground in a blink of an eye. He may lack the size or strength to play as a traditional receiver, but guys with his blurring speed and quick feet have begun to create a new role and a valued spot on pro roster. He has value as a punt returner, more so than a kick returner, as well as being an electric big play threat from the slot, on bubble screens and reverses.

 

3. Stedman Bailey WEST VIRGINIA 5’10 188

Positions: WR (slot), KR, PR

 

Bailey is the bigger and ever so slightly less explosive Mountaineer, but by no means… He has been incredible reliable and Geno Smith’s primary target during his Heisman run. Yes he isn’t the world class caliber speedster that Austin, Marquise Goodwin or Andre Debose are but is better equipped to handle the massive increase in physicality that comes with the jump to the pros.

 

4. Kenjon Barner OREGON 5’11 195

Positions: RB, WR, KR, PR

 

His teammate De’Anthony Thomas gets a lot of pub for being “the fastest man in football” according to Sports Illustrated. Barner, however, may be the more versatile of the two showing the ability to handle a steady workload as a running back as well as a receiver and return-man. Barner is small in stature, but is more than willing to run between the tackles and demonstrates vision and balance in traffic. Darren Sproles is an apt comparison and Barner is actually faster than Sproles with a 4.38 40 time.

 

5. Denard Robinson MICHIGAN 6’0 197

Positions: WR, QB, KR, PK, RB

 

Recruited to play QB in Rich Rodriguez’s spread attack, the electrifying Robinson will have to transition to wide out at the next level. He is simply too inconsistent as a passer and that’s before you take his lack of height into consideration. He’ll have to adjust to the team speed of NFL defenses, not to mention a new position.

 

6. Quinton Patton LA TECH 6’2 195

Positions: WR (slot), KR, PR

 

Patton was a sleeper on my Stock Update back in late September and I really like his play-making ability from the slot. He isn’t super fast or strong, but he seems to have a knack for the big play and displays great vision, agility and decent height. Against Texas A&M he exploded for 21 receptions, 233 yards and 4 TD.

 

7. Andre Debose FLORIDA 5’11 180

Positions: WR (slot), KR, PR

 

Debose is one of the fastest players in the country and shows some intriguing receiving skills to pair with that straight-line speed. Not the natural receiver that Austin or Bailey is, but he flashes some potential, has good hands and the ability to get deep.

 

8. Onterio McCalebb AUBURN 5’11 175

Positions: RB, KR, PR

 

A gifted returner with tremendous lateral quickness and an overall smoothness to his game, he lacks the bulk to carry the ball much more than 10 times a game, but is valuable on reverses, catching passes out of the backfield on and toss sweeps as a halfback.

 

9. Theo Riddick NOTRE DAME 5’11 200

Positions: WR, RB, KR, PR

 

Riddick has been solid filling in as a running back in a depleted backfield for the Irish, but projects more as a slot receiver/ scat back hybrid type. He doesn’t have blazing speed but a nice combination of bulk and lateral agility for his size makes him a versatile threat.

 

10. Marquise Goodwin TEXAS 5’9 180

Positions: WR (slot), KR, PR

 

Goodwin competed for theUSas a long jumper in the 2012 London Olympics, but has track star speed as well. He plays wide receiver for the Longhorns and while he is very explosive, he lacks the consistent production as a pass catcher to earn an early selection.

 

11. TJ Jones NOTRE DAME 5’11 190

Positions: WR, Scat Back, KR, PR

 

Notre Dame’s emergence to national relevance has been predicated on the physicality of their defense, but the offense has some weapons that rookie QB Everett Gholston can rely on. Tyler Eifert, Cierre Wood, Theo Riddick along with TJ Jones have all been capable of big plays. Jones is a smaller yet slightly faster version of teammate Theo Riddick and could be a valuable special teamer in the pros.

Tags: 2013 NFL Draft, all purpose prospects

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