Draft: Blocking WR's Deserve Special Consideration

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Dec 2, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29), led by Dez Bryant (88), runs with the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a mystery to me why any college wide receiver with aspirations of the NFL, would neglect blocking as an unimportant part of their position.

Texas A&M WR Mike Evans has professed himself as the best WR in the draft, and the best blocking WR.  Why?  He takes pride in it, and the proof is on tape.

Effective blocking isn’t a God given talent, but a learned, developed skill.  It’s about proper technique and will.  Almost any WR who desires to do it soundly, can learn.

Lazy, poor blocking receivers come in all shapes and sizes.  The same is true with tenacious, relentless blockers.  Some choose to mix it up, some prance around it.

They are rarely at a size mismatch against their defending counterparts.  Some are, but not so vastly as to prevent them from attacking with desire.

Anquan Bolden, Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall, Steve Smith…all vicious blockers who understand part of their job is to clear the way for runners and help the team win.

In the majority of long runs, it’s highly typical to notice a WR locked up on a defender. It’s often the difference between 7 yard gains and first downs, or even TD’s.

Collegiate receivers with mediocre blocking effort, need to wise up to NFL reality. They’ll be valued below tenacious blockers of equal primary receiving skills.

When evaluating tape of this deep receiver class and ranking them by rounds, blocking is one of the main variables I assess to sort out players.

I typically judge on these 4 blocking subcategories:  willingness to engage, blocking technique, consistent effort over the game, and overall effectiveness.

Examples of this evaluation process can be seen with 2 WR’s I view as middle round prospects…LSU’s Jarvis Landry and Wake Forest’s Michael Campanaro.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Jarvis Landry Michael Campanaro NFL Draft

  • Juz Saying

    Josh Huff a Beast in The Slot!

  • BradAustin

    Big fan of Josh Huff as well…great call! Aside from his quality receiving skills, that kid goes at it and hammers defenders when blocking. Drafted him several times in the middle rounds of my simulator mock drafts. I’d be extremely happy if we added Huff.

  • SmartThinking

    Most Division 1 university coaches in big programs don’t place any emphasis on WR’s doing anything other than a) burning up the field and b) catching what’s thrown at them. College football passing is a lot more wide open, too. Also, I think it’s a major adjustment for just about all college rookies in the NFL. They come out of college thinking they have speed and then, wham, welcome to pro football!

    All players are asked to do so much more in the pros. I think back to last year and just how raw Williams and Escobar were … and they were round two draft picks who should have both started from game one. It’s still a push if Escobar will stick precisely because of his lack of blocking skills. Now, I know he’s not a WR.

    But, Williams is. And my biggest knock against the kid last season was his lack of focus and his dependence on his innate skills over being taught. He directly was the cause of two Dallas losses and heavily contributed to another, pretty much because he didn’t know his routes and keys.

    Here’s my question: college coaches know what is expected of rookies at all positions in the NFL. If college is supposed to be the training ground for the bigs, then why don’t more college coaches spend the time and effort to train these kids in all the fundamentals the pros expect of them, correct tackling especially?

  • Maniac

    did I miss part of the article? I was hoping to find the other parts of the game for the top 3 round receivers and a sleeper or two to compare for draft day evaluations. Did you have info on that, Brad?