A fellow blogger of ours, angelesoterica , came up with an interesting idea for a post and asked me to roll with it. There were a number of WRs taken in the 2009 draft, including our very own Darrius Heyward-Bey. I have already talked about DHB a fair amount this offseason, but I wanted to compare how he is to the rest of his 09 draft class.
The thing that sticks out to me is that there was a lot of really good receivers that came out that year. I mean seriously, wow that was an impressive year for wide receivers. It is pretty funny how things work in the NFL sometimes, such as this list which has the supposedly can't miss prospect Michael Crabtree not even in the top 5. That is exactly why we love the game so much!
It is tough to say who is the best out of this class, because there are some really great players. I know who I have as my number one but I am certain that there will be people that have a different choice. If you disagree I would love to hear your opinion on it in the comments section.
Here are my ratings:
1) Mike Wallace: The speedster from the Pittsburgh Steelers is who I have as my number one. This guy has it all. He is a player that is willing to make all the catches and has one of the most outrageous yards per catch averages that I have ever seen at 18.7 over his career. He can go over the middle and take a hit or he can fly past you on the outside for a long TD. In my opinion there are only a few better WRs than him in this league and even saying that might be understating it. His 24 TD catches is matched only by the number 2 player on this list for most in the 09 draft class. Round 3 Overall Pick 84
2) Hakeem Nicks: There are not many things that this New York Giants WR can't do, and he is the player that I debated most about putting number one on this list.. Nicks is simply a beast. He is the most powerful WR in this draft class. He punishes players trying to cover him and also has enough speed to run past them. Nicks is by far the best receiver picked in the first round of 09 (Wallace was a third rounder) and if it wasn't for Clay Matthews I would say he was the best first rounder in the whole draft. Realistically he is 1B on this list but Wallace's YPC squeaked past him for top honors. Round 1 Overall Pick 29
3) Kenny Britt: Rankings 3,4, and 5 are probably the toughest out of this top 10 list to decide on. All 3 players have battled ailments resulting in lost time which makes it especially hard to rate. I have to give the go ahead to Kenny though. The Tennessee Titan WR when healthy is straight up dominant. I thought about lowering him on the list due to his off field behavior, which at times have been completely deplorable, but I could not do it due to his outstanding physical abilities. When he has been healthy and in the right mindset he has been damn near impossible to cover. Round 1 Overall Pick 30
4) Percy Harvin: Percy is undeniably a playmaker. The Minnesota Viking WR is one of the quickest players in the league. He is a true slot receiver that is incredibly shifty and adds an element that no other receiver in my top 10 brings which is his return skills. I really wanted to put him number 3 because of his production and versatility but I am just too impressed with what Britt can do when healthy. Harvin can line up at any skill position on his team, including running back. He is an underrated blocker and really sacrifices his body like no other player on this list. Round 1 Overall Pick 22
5) Jeremy Maclin: Speed, Speed, Speed. The Philadelphia Eagle is one of my favorite players in the league. He is very fun to watch opposite of Jackson. He has everything you would want out of a WR except for size and he makes up for that with an incredible will to succeed. He catches the ball very well and is very hard to cover due to his speed. Jackson gets all the spotlight in the Eagles WR core but often times Maclin makes the same type of plays. He is a legitimate threat to take it to the house at any time. Round 1 Overall Pick 19
6) Darrius Heyward-Bey: I did my best to put my homerism aside when compiling this list. I believe that the Oakland Raider WR has the ability to move up this list in the future. The very raw WR has come a long, long way from the beginning of his career. After his first year I never thought he would make any top 10 list of mine except for the bust list. He has beaten the odds with an incredible work ethic and I no longer consider him to be a bust. His hands are still needing improvement and he still jumps when not needed, but his gains since joining the league are irrefutable. He has more potential left to meet than any other WR on this list. Round 1 Overall Pick 7
7) Michael Crabtree: This might be a little low for Crabtree but he has been a major disappointment to the 49ers. So much so that in the offseason they added Mario Manningham and Randy Moss while also using their first round pick on a WR. If that isn't an indictment of needing more from Crabtree then I don't know what is. Michael has all the things you look for in a WR at 6'1 214lbs except for his attitude. He needs to perform a whole lot better if he plans on having such an ego. His stats are similar to DHB's but his heart seems to me to be similar to the Grinch's. He has a lot of room to improve, and from watching him in college I think he probably will. Right now he is somebody I am glad that the Raiders passed on. Round 1 Overall Pick 10
8) Johnny Knox: The Chicago Bears WR was really starting to come on strong when he was folded in half like a suitcase. With his injury that he went through its tough to say if he will ever really meet his potential. He is similar to Jeremy Macklin and Percy Harvin with his speed, but he might be one of the slightest of frame WRs I have ever seen. Knox has better stats up til now than DHB does but I believe his size makes him a liability. Percy is about the same weight too so the knock could be on Harvin as well, but anybody who has watched both players play can easily tell how much stronger Harvin is than Knox. If Johnny can't improve on his strength he will never be as good as he can be. Round 5 Overall Pick 140
9) Mike Thomas: The Jacksonville Jaguar has actually had an ok career up until now, and he might actually get a boost from the Jaguars drafting Justin Blackmon to be their number 1. Mike is not a number 1 wide receiver but he does have the chance to be a solid career number 2 wide out. He had 48 catches in his rookie season of 09 but has not done much to carry that forward. At only 5'8 he is the shortest WR on this list but he is pretty stout for his size weighing 194. He has had a pretty good career for a 4th round pick and I believe will have his best year yet this upcoming season. Round 4 Overall Pick 107
10) Austin Collie: I have the Indianapolis Colt WR Austin Collie as number 10 on this list because of how good he was with Peyton Manning, but Manning can make anybody look good. Fortunately for Collie, I believe Andrew Luck might have that same innate ability to make people look better than they are. Austin has had issues with concussions that have really curtailed his career so far. If he can get his head to stop swimming he is a very talented WR that is very smart with great character. I am rooting for him to succeed but I am not certain he will be able to get his concussions under control. In my opinion even just one more of the dangerous brain injuries should spell the end to his career as a NFL football player. Round 4 Overall Pick 127
There you have it! This is my list of top 10 WRs from the 09 draft. Tell me where I am wrong if you so desire in the comments section. It was a difficult list to prepare with so many talented people selected that year. Hopefully for us Raider fans if we revisit this draft a few years down the road DHB will grade out higher than 6th, but it is no shame to be listed behind any of the top 5 anyway.
Here is the list of all the receivers taken in the 09 draft and what number overall pick they were: Darrius Heyward-bey 7, Michael Crabtree 10, Jeremy Maclin 19, Percy Harvin 22, Hakeem Nicks 29, Kenny Britt 30, Brian Robiske 36, Mohamed Massaguoi 50, Derrick Williams 82, Brandon Tate 83, Mike Wallace 84, Ramses Barden 85, Patrick Turner 87, Deon Butler 91, Juaquin Iglesias 99, Mike Thomas 107, Brian Hartline 108, Louis Murphy 124, Austin Collie 127, Johnny Knox 140, Kenny Mckinley 141, Jarret Dillard 144, Brooks Foster 160, Quinton Lawrence 175, Brandon Gibson 194, Dominique Edison 206, Demetrius Byrd 224, Manuel Johnson 229, Julian Edelman 232, Sammie Strouter 233, Marko Mitchell 243, Derek Kinder 251, Freddie Brown 252, and Tiquan Underwood 253.