Welcome back to The B&G Report. Last time we dove into the 5 possible mid round running back fits for the Skins. Now with the Draft only days away, the pressure is on and it’s time to look at the rest of the position groups. Today we take a look at the WR position. Players like DJ Moore, Calvin Ridley, Courtland Sutton, Christian Kirk, DJ Chark and Equanimeous St. Brown are the current group of pass catchers the media has focused on, they are viewed as the cream of the crop at this position this year. Scouts view this years pass catchers as B level prospects, as opposed to previous drafts. The previously mentioned receivers are slated as Fringe 1st Rounders-3rd Round talent. In saying that, there are are a few who could go early in round one, based on team needs that is. Selecting a wide receiver earlier than than Round 4th, seems to like a luxury Washington can’t afford based in their own needs. The recent signing of Richardson and using a 1st round pick on Josh Doctson, showed their commitment to upgrading the position. After signing former Seattle speedster Paul Richardson, the Redskins brass believes they’ve improved the position. Although I really like Richardson’s upside, finding another mid round playmaking WR should be a priority. This year in particular, three pass catchers with potential have gone under the radar for one reason or another. The focus needs to shift to Mid-Late Rounds playmakers at wide receiver. Focusing on depth and finding another Jamison Crowder type is a need. Fans continue to argue that the Redskins don’t need a slot receiver. The truth is Crowder disappointed as a Punt Returner in 2017, as well as showing potential durability concerns. A long term solution is needed. Furthermore, Crowder will be a free agent in 2019. Although I like Crowder’s skill set, he isn’t worth the $8-10 million a year he’ll surely get in the open market with another decent season. I for one, don’t have as much confidence in the former Duke pass catcher as other Skins fans seem to have. Personally I’d like more size/speed and explosion from the slot. The depth of mid round talent this year, can’t be overlooked. Having extra draft picks this year can pay huge divends. Now let’s take a look at three prospects that could make some noise on the next level!
USC Deontay Burnett 6’0 186 lbs.
After watching film on Burnett, it’s hard to believe he’s not being discussed as a fringe 1st-2nd round prospect. Instead he could slip all the way to round 4. The former Trojan finished 2017 with 86receptions for 1114 yards and 9 touchdowns with a 13.0 yard per catch average. He also adds a dimension as a punt returner, although the Trojans sparingly used him in that role. Burnett was simply too valuable to be used in that role and risk a potential injury. So why the later round projection for the USC playmaker? At a slight 186 pounds teams fear he can’t hold up on the next level. Additionally some talent evaluators believe projected Number One Overall pick, QB Sam Darnold was a big reason for Burnett’s success at USC. What I see from the film is Burnett gains separation effortlessly at times. The issue with some scouts is his reported 4.6 second forty timed speed and a label as a limited Slot receiver. These evaluations have dropped him on teams boards. What I see is a playmaker that sacrifics his body to make the play and help his team at any cost. Burnett displays a vicious stiff arm for a receiver his size. He’s tough and will take a slant up the middle, has a decent understanding of route concepts and can take the top off the defense when he gets behind a DB. This kid is going to be some teams mid round steal. If available in the 4th-5th round, the Redskins should turn in their draft card without hesitation.
Dante Pettis Washington 6’1 192 lbs
Dante Pettis was one of college footballs most electrifying players over the last two years. The Washington receiver became the NCAA’s All Time Leader in Punt Returns for touchdowns with 9. The Husky is a dangerous punt returner, who will instantly become a teams Day 1 returner on the next level. His receiving numbers were pedestrian, averaging 750 receiving yards over the last two seasons at Washington. He did accumulate 22 touchdown in a two year span though, which is impressive. He needs serious work on his basic route concepts, in order to see the filed as a teams slot or X receiver. He has a ridiculous double move and a superb jump cut moves. Pettis breaks more leg tackles on his punt returns, since Devin Hester. His level of competition in the Pac-12 is a hindrance and could be viewed s a drawback to prospect evaluators. I’ve read a variety of opinions on Pettis and many think he won’t be more than a decent punt returner in the NFL. I see a play maker that has the size and the body type to be developed as a dangerous third down option. If Pettis sets your team up with good field position in the return game and picks up 3-4 first downs with 30+ receiving yards a game, he’s done his job. He’s another fringe 3rd-4th round receiver who can be developed over a season or two and become at teams ace in hole. Although talented, the team that drafts him needs to be patient. His strength is as a returner, so thats’ where he needs to start. Although the Redskins do not currently have a vetran receiver to help with Pettis’s development, Wide Receiver Coach Ike Hillard is decent. If the Redskins have a chance to pick up Pettis in the 4th round, his addition would drastically improve one of the NFL worst Special Teams unit over the last 10 years. He also would add more speed to the Redskins receiving core.
Dark Horse Sleeper
Antonio Callaway Florida 5’11 198
Describing former Florida WR Antonio Callaway in one word would simply be “explosive”. Although he ran a decent 4.41 second Forty time at the NFL Combine, his timed speed doesn’t come close to telling the level of his explosion and athletic ability that the former Gator possesses. So why have we not heard Callaway’s names mentioned as a 1st Round Top Receiver? Well that story lies off the field unfortunately. Calling this prospect Tyreek Hill 2.0 would be a accurate, considering his ability to separate from DB’s. Alas, the comparisons is more based on their connection off the field.
During Callaway’s 2015 freshman season, he was charged with Sexual Assault against a fellow Florida student. The case was later dropped and he was suspended from Florida. He returned with a fire and posted 678 receiving yards with only 35 receptions, but an even more impressive 19.4 YPC average. The former Gator started fast, but finished slow in 2016 statistically (721reception yards). Florida wasn’t a very good team, but Calloway was one of their bright spots. The Florida pass catcher started to draw double coverage, week after week after showing he was a deep threat and the only weapon Florida really had. Calloway’s success, sadly didn’t last.
In 2017 Calloway was charged with marijuana possession and in a separate incident, accused of using stolen credit cards along with multiple other Florida Football players. All were kicked of the team. In Callaways’s case, he’d never play a down again for the Gators. At this point multiple teams took Callaway off their boards. Still scouts and NFL brass alike believe, he has Tyreek Hill type potential. I think a better comp might be former NFL and Gator WR/RB Percy Harvin. Similar Harvin, Callaway also lined up in the backfield and was a big play waiting to happen at Florida. The issue was and is Callaway’s rap sheet, which NFL teams don’t want to deal with. I usually remove a player like this off my board entirely, but an article I recently read gave me pause.
Current Agent Mel Bratton, who also played running back of Miami in the 1980’s, took the Florida pass catcher under his wing. Bratton is respected member of the pro scouting community and most notably, worked as a Pro Scout for Atlanta, Washington and St Louis. Bratton vouched for the young man and has been working with him since 2017. He even moved Calloway in with his family. Bratton describes Calloway as a quiet, but extremely motivated kid, who hung around a bad group of guys for a time. The NFL scouting community agrees that the former Gator pass catcher would be a Day 1 pick, if not for his off the field history. As a GM, I’d also be skeptical of investing an early round pick on Callaway. This kid is a true boom or bust prospect, but his bust potential would strictly be based on his ability to keep his nose clean. With the Sua Cravens trade, the Redskins netted themselves a second 5th round draft pick. Calloway would be a low risk, high reward option with one of those picks. Some experts believe Calloway could go as early as Round 3, but with his checkered past that would be a surprise. The Redskins need to make a move and take a chance on a playmaker such as Callaway this year. It would be no guarantee he would even make the team, but if drating Callaway has a Tyreek Hill effect on Alex Smith and this offense, this new look Redskins passing game with Jordan Reed (if healthy), Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson, Jamison Crowder and Antonio Callaway could be dynamic!
Thanks for checking out another B&G Report Draft Edition! With the NFL Draft only days away, the evaluations and Draft Day predictions will be coming like a whirlwind! Stay Tuned!