- Field Yates, ESPN Insider
The Seattle Seahawks are the latest team to show that conventional builds for players at a particular position are not absolute.
Cornerback Richard Sherman towers at 6-foot-3, and safety Kam Chancellor resembles a linebacker at 6-3 and 232 pounds. Quarterback Russell Wilson profiles on the other end of the spectrum, shy of 6 feet, which is considered a substandard stature for quarterbacks.
At wide receiver, there are three primary positions: the Z, X and slot. The Z, or flanker, plays a yard off the line of scrimmage and normally has sufficient size and good quickness to make use of the natural cushion between him and a defensive back. The X, or split end, often wins with size and speed on the perimeter. The slot player is uniquely quick and, in many cases, is tiny relative to his split end brethren.
But not always. Marques Colston -- all 6-4 of him -- has been one of the more consistent slot presences throughout his career. Golden Tate -- formerly a Seahawk -- showed he could win on the perimeter despite falling short of 6 feet.
A player who can buck the mold of the prototype can be lethal and compromising to an opponent.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson fits that mold. At 6-5, he's nightmarish to cover anywhere on the field. He also can align just about anywhere along the formation, making him a headache for which to account.
"I mean he was [extremely troublesome] to prepare for," said one AFC defensive coach who recently faced Jackson. "That guy is really freaking good. He's got strong hands and catches the ball away from his body. He plays in the slot and outside. He's a solid blocker and real tough. Also, he's a real smart player that could handle a lot of stuff like playing both the X and Z [positions]."
Tampa Bay has a glaring hole opposite Jackson in its receiving corps, fueling speculation within league circles that Texas A&M's Mike Evans could be a target for them at pick No. 7 in this week's draft.
22hMel Kiper Jr.
2dEric D. Williams