NFC West: Marcus Maxwell

Larry Fitzgerald's arrival with the Arizona Cardinals via the 2004 NFL draft serves as the starting point for the latest item looking at recent NFC West choices.

Fitzgerald already has 613 receptions, far more than any other NFC West receiver over the last seven seasons.

In fact, the wide receivers with the most receptions for the Cardinals' division rivals during the same time period -- Torry Holt (St. Louis), Bobby Engram (Seattle) and Arnaz Battle (San Francisco) -- have long since moved on. I ran across Engram in the 49ers' main lobby Wednesday; he's a quality control coach with the team.

History tells us receivers carry more risk than some other positions. For every Fitzgerald, there seems to be a Koren Robinson, David Terrell or Troy Williamson -- high picks that never came close to realizing their potential. Mike Williams' revival with Seattle last season was an exception.

The charts break down every receiver NFC West teams have drafted since 2004. Will the St. Louis Rams add Julio Jones to their list of drafted wideouts?

As in the past, I'll preface each chart with thoughts from the teams' perspectives.

Immediate needs don't matter so much when front-line talent is available ...

Time to start finding replacements for veterans who might not fit into our plans (Terrell Owens for the 49ers, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt for the Rams) ...

These guys might not start, but every team needs secondary options in the passing game ...

We're getting late enough in the draft to consider grabbing a receiver while a few with decent potential remain on the board ...

Time to fill out the roster and hope we find depth for special teams ...
2005 NFL Draft Round Players on Active Rosters Total Players Percent on Active Rosters
1
27 32 84.4%
2
25 32 78.1%
3
26 37 70.3%
4
23 35 65.7%
5
14 38 36.8%
6
18 40 45.0%
7
16 41 39.0%
Totals 149 255 58.4%

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The quadriceps injury threatening Chris Spencer's future with the Seahawks sent me back through his 2005 draft class.

The first six players NFC West teams selected that year have not met expectations: quarterback Alex Smith (49ers), cornerback-turned-safety Antrel Rolle (Cardinals), tackle Alex Barron (Rams), Spencer, guard David Baas (49ers) and running back J.J. Arrington (Cardinals).

The next four players NFC West players selected -- Lofa Tatupu (Seahawks), Ron Bartell (Rams), Frank Gore (49ers) and Oshiomogho Atogwe (Rams) -- have either achieved Pro Bowl status or become front-line starters.

The Seahawks, Rams and 49ers each have four members of their 2005 draft classes on their active rosters. The Cardinals have two.

Even with Spencer out, the Seahawks arguably had the best 2005 draft of any team in the division, landing Tatupu, Leroy Hill, Ray Willis and Spencer.

The Rams found four current starters in Barron, Bartell, Atogwe and third-rounder Richie Incognito.

The 49ers found Gore and right tackle Adam Snyder, while Baas and Smith could wind up starting this season.

The Cardinals have only Rolle and backup guard Elton Brown to show for that 2005 class.

Tatupu and Gore are the only Pro Bowl players from the 2005 NFC West draft class.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

A first-round scenario to consider when the NFL draft begins Saturday: The Lions draft Matthew Stafford, the Rams take a tackle, the Chiefs address their defensive line and the Seahawks draft Aaron Curry. Under that scenario, might Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree fall to the 49ers at No. 10? And if he did, would the 49ers take him?

The possibility came to mind as I looked at 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan and the receivers his teams have drafted since 1994. The names, listed in the chart by overall selection, shed light on McCloughan's philosophy.

Draft Rd. Pick McCloughan's Team Receiver
College Conference
2001
1 9 Seahawks
Koren Robinson N.C. St.
ACC
1996
2 56 Packers Derrick Mayes
Notre Dame
Independent
2007
3 76 49ers Jason Hill
Wash. St. Pac-10
2000 3 80
Seahawks Darrell Jackson
Florida
SEC
1999
3 82 Seahawks Karsten Bailey
Auburn SEC
2006 3 84
49ers Brandon Williams
Wisconsin
Big Ten
1995 3 90
Packers Antonio Freeman
Virginia Tech
ACC
2001
5 140 Seahawks Alex Bannister
E.Kentucky
Ohio Valley (I-AA)
1994
5 146 Packer Terry Mickens Florida A&M
MEAC (I-AA)
1998
5 150 Packers Corey Bradford
Jackson St.
SWAC (I-AA)
2004
5 157 Seahawks D.J. Hackett
Colorado Big 12
1994
6 169 Packers Jay Kearney
W.Virginia
Big East
1995
6
173 Packers Charlie Simmons
Georgia Tech
ACC
2008
6 174 49ers Josh Morgan
Virginia Tech ACC
2005
5 174 49ers Rasheed Marshall
W.Virginia
Big East
2000
6 175 Seahawks James Williams
Marshall
C-USA
1994
6
181 Packers Bill Schroeder
Wisc.-LaCrosse WIAC (II)
1999
7 213 Packers Donald Driver
Alcorn ST.
SWAC (I-AA)
1997
7 213 Packers Chris Miller
USC
Pac-10
2005
7 223 49ers Marcus Maxwell
Oregon
Pac-10
2003
7 224 Seahawks Taco Wallace
Kansas St.
Big 12

McCloughan's mentor in Green Bay, Ron Wolf, shied away from drafting receivers early. He perceived the position as a risky one.

If we look at McCloughan's history, which overlapped Wolf's tenure in Green Bay, we see his teams drafted only one receiver -- Koren Robinson at No. 9 in 2001 -- among the top 55 overall selections since 1994. McCloughan's teams have drafted five receivers between the 76th and 90th choices, zero in the fourth round and 10 between the 140th and 181st choices.

While the 49ers might be tempted to take Crabtree at No. 10, history says McCloughan might target the position in other rounds. The 49ers hold the following picks: 10, 43, 74, 111, 146, 171, 184, 219 and 244. McCloughan's history suggests he might look for a receiver at 74 and then at 146 or later. Taking Crabtree, Jeremy Maclin or another receiver at No. 10 would go against the most firmly established precedent.

DraftRoundPickTeamRookie WRStartsRec.Yds. TD
2003254ARIAnquan Boldin161011,3778
200413ARILarry Fitzgerald 16587808
2003117ARIBryant Johnson8354381
20025149ARIJason McAddley8253621
20057226ARILeRon McCoy4181911
20034124SFBrandon Lloyd 1142122
20034106STLShaun McDonald110620
20075142ARISteve Breaston08920
2004131SFRashaun Woods071601
20076197SEACourtney Taylor05380
2003374STLKevin Curtis14130
2007376SFJason Hill0160
20055174SFRasheed Marshall01-10
20076210SEAJordan Kent0000
20077249STLDerek Stanley0000
2006384SFBrandon Williams0000
20065144STLMarques Hagans0000
20067218ARITodd Watkins0000
20067249SEABen Obomanu0000
20056192STLDante Ridgeway0000
20057223SFMarcus Maxwell0000
2004377SFDerrick Hamilton0000
20045157SEAD.J. Hackett0000
20036197SFArnaz Battle0000
20037224SEATaco Wallace0000
2002395STLEric Crouch0000

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

I put together this chart as a companion to the earlier entry on rookie receivers. This shows rookie stats for every receiver NFC West teams have drafted since 2002. Eighteen of the 26 started zero games as rookies. Only four reached 20 receptions as rookies. Arizona has been the only team to draft productive rookie receivers with any consistency.

A quick look at the NFC West's rookie receivers and their likely prospects for 2008:
  • Arizona: Injury problems prevented third-round choice Early Doucet from seriously challenging for the No. 3 job vacated by Bryant Johnson. Doucet should play in a reserve role. Undrafted free agent Lance Long appears headed for the practice squad if he doesn't earn one of the final roster spots. Long has impressed in camp.
  • San Francisco: Sixth-round choice Josh Morgan has been the surprise of camp. He could figure into the rotation if the 49ers continue to suffer from injuries. Undrafted free agent Cam Colvin appears headed for the practice squad.
  • St. Louis: Second-round choice Donnie Avery and fourth-rounder Keenan Burton should play more than most rookies at the position. Avery adds value as a return specialist. Undrafted free agent Matt Caddell has one catch for 5 yards during preseason.
  • Seattle: Undrafted free agent Michael Bumpus has played well enough to land on the practice squad if, as expected, he misses the cut.
The receiver position in general has confounded NFL teams. John Clayton explored some of the reasons in a previous column. As Clayton discovered, NFL teams have developed only six Pro Bowl receivers since 2001.

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