Sunday, February 23, 2014
Deep receiver class available for Bolts
By Eric D. Williams
If you were up early this morning and checking out the NFL Network's coverage of the NFL scouting combine, watching the draft prospects at receiver perform on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium was impressive.
Clemson's Sammy Watkins, Oregon State's Brandin Cooks and Texas A&M's Mike Evans likely cemented spots in the first round with blazing-fast times in the 40-yard dash. Watkins ran the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds, while Cooks clocked a receiver-best 4.33 and Mike Evans -- at 6-5 and 231 pounds, ran a 4.53-second, 40-yard time.
The trio's production in college, coupled with the fast times at the NFL scouting combine, makes it hard to believe that either one of those players will be available when San Diego selects at No. 25 overall.
However, several other receivers turned in fast times that could be available in the later rounds for the Chargers, as they look to add another explosive playmaker on offense. Three players to keep an eye on are Pittsburg State's John Brown, LSU's Odell Beckham and Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews.
Brown is a Miami native, and at 5-10 and 179 pounds he finished his senior season with 63 receptions for 973 yards and eight touchdowns, earning AP Little All-American honors at Division II Pittsburg State. Brown has explosive ability as a return man, but also catches the ball well and runs polished routes.
Beckham could move up to first-round consideration after running an official 4.43, 40-yard time. At 5-11 and 198 pounds, Beckham was a first-team, All-SEC selection as an all-purpose player. Beckham broke the LSU single-season all-purpose yardage record with 2,315 yards in 2013.
At 6-3 and 212 pounds, Matthews ended his career at Vanderbilt as SEC's all-time leader in career receptions (262) and receiving yards (3,759). Some questioned his top-end speed heading into the combine. But Mathews answered those critics by running a respectable 4.46-second, 40-yard time. Matthews is a big target and smooth route runner who could help San Diego move the chains as a reliable third-down and red-zone target.