Many of the draft's top wide receivers this year are juniors.
But don't tell that to Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews or some of the other wide receivers at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
I spent most of my time today watching Matthews, who is considered a possible first-round pick and tore up the SEC last season, on the South squad, and local (River Hill High School) product Michael Campanaro from the North.
General Manager Ozzie Newsome said adding a wide receiver was a priority for the Ravens this season.
Here are my notes on both squads' wide receivers:
- Matthews is a football player. He likes to hit, he hustles, he makes savvy plays, he seems to take to coaching well.
- Matthews' most impressive play of the day began as a short slant, but then he wheeled around his defender and broke up the sideline. The defender was beaten badly and fell down as Matthews rose high to catch the ball at its peak for a big gain. It was quite a unique route and well executed.
- Watching Matthews in drills where he must break press coverage is impressive. He often seemingly turned one-on-one battles into boxing matches. He's a tall, well-built wide receiver at 6-foot-3, 206 pounds, so he won his fair share of those battles, even against bigger cornerbacks.
- Matthews doesn't have shocking athleticism or speed, but he sinks his hips well, runs good routes and gets separation on short and intermediate routes. He did fail to make a couple contested catches, however.
- Matthews finished every single play by taking the ball to the end zone. He stayed after practice to get extra work with a quarterback while everybody else left.
- Alabama's Kevin Norwood catches just about everything thrown his way. He's not that fast or sudden, but there's something to be said for reliability. He's polished.
- Texas' Mike Davis is another one of the highly-regarded wide receiver prospects. He's long at 6-foot-2, but more on the lanky side at 195 pounds. He's quick and runs good routes, but let a pass during 11-on-11 drills go right through his hands.
- Campanaro was running with the third-team offense and didn't see a ton of action. He did have one touchdown on an out-route in the red zone, which is his specialty. Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith (the head coach of the North squad) was impressed with his quickness.
- Wisconsin wide receiver Jordan Abbrederis made a pair of contested catches. He's tall at 6-foot-2, and weighs just 190 pounds, but he plays with toughness.
- I don't know if Saginaw Valley State's Jeff Janis did something to bother his defensive teammates, but he took a couple of big hits in non-tackle drills.