- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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With the NFL draft closing in, ESPNBoston.com is narrowing its list of prospects that it projects as the best fits for the Patriots at areas that seem likely the club could target:
Player: Robert Woods
School: Southern California
Listed height/weight: 6-foot-0, 201 pounds
Scouts Inc. rank: 5th (scouting report)
Draft projection: Late first round/early second round
Why he’s on our list: Woods is one of the better route-runners among receiver prospects in the draft. He isn’t a burner, but has good size and was highly productive in college. The Patriots brought in quite a few receivers for pre-draft visits, and Woods was among the group.
Recommended link: Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times writes on Woods’ pursuit of the Southern Cal receptions record.
Key stat: Left Southern Cal as the all-time leader in receptions (252).
Workout stat: Timed 7.51 in the 3-cone drill, which is high compared to some others (e.g. Markus Wheaton clocked 6.80).
Steve Muench of Scouts Inc.: “One scout told me, when we talked about the way the receiver class was shaping up the week of the Senior Bowl, that Woods is a late first-round talent that could turn into a steal if he slips into the second. The tape shows a player with the potential to develop into an excellent No. 2. At 6003 and 201 pounds, he has the burst to separate underneath and produce after the catch. While he doesn’t have the second gear to run by NFL corners, he ran a respectable 4.51 at the Combine and he’s fast enough to challenge downfield in certain matchups. In terms of what he needs to work on, he can catch the ball a little more consistently and it’s important that he get stronger so physical corners can’t reroute him. There are big-picture concerns worth mentioning as well. His numbers dipped considerably last year and that kind of drop in production can raise red flags with front offices. It’s important not to make too much of it in this case. Yes, WR Marqise Lee eclipsed Woods as the focal point of the passing attack but that doesn’t mean that Woods’ play dropped off. Lee may have been the first receiver off the board this year if he were eligible and Southern Cal’s play-calling appeared to reflect its desire to feature the talented true sophomore. A bigger concern are reports about the consistency of his work ethic and whether or not teams can trust him to do what it takes to realize his upside. Teams that don’t have strong leadership in place may shy away with that in mind.”