- Tom Luginbill, RecruitingNation
Every program would like to have wide receivers with speed and height, but plenty of Division I playmakers lacking those traits make up for it in other areas. If a player doesn't have great speed or size, he must have great quickness the ability to separate from a defender in one-on-one situations is critical.
There are a lot of wide receivers who have good speed but can't separate. On the flipside, there are a lot of possession guys who lack great speed but have both quickness and the ability to burst out of the cut and can separate from tight coverage as a result.
Getting open is the first part of the equation, but catching the ball is the most important part. Wide receivers in today's game must be physical enough to get off the jam, be a presence over the middle and be able to catch the ball in traffic. When coaches look at wide receiver measurables, good hands and the ability to extend their arms to snatch the ball away from their body are sometimes just as important as speed. If you can't catch the ball consistently, you can't play.
Size has become more advantageous in today's game. Good wide receivers with excellent height cause great matchup problems for cornerbacks, especially in the red zone. The ability to make plays on the jump ball or adjust to poorly thrown balls is a must for wide receivers who possess great size. There is nothing worse than a 6-foot-3 receiver who plays like he is 5-10.
The days of the "smurf"-type receivers being in vogue are gone. Now "smurfs" must be difference makers in the return game and extremely tough, and most "smurfs" are better suited as slot receivers. If he is to play inside, he must be physically tough and have the ability to separate, get open and make the first down. He must also be smart and savvy and know how to adjust routes and read defenses on the move.
However, until a receiver makes the transition from high school to college, it is hard to project whether he will fit in as an inside slot guy or an outside vertical threat.
Size and speed mean little for elite WRs if they can't make the catch.