Wideouts expected to dominate first round of NFL draft - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Wideouts expected to dominate first round of NFL draft

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Posted: Tuesday, April 20, 2004 6:53 am | Updated: 5:52 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Roy Williams considered the question, whether he thought he should be the top wide receiver taken in this year’s NFL draft.

But even the confident University of Texas star couldn’t say with certainty — not this year.

"I would like to be the No. 1 receiver," Williams said. "I would like to be the No. 1 overall pick. But this draft is so good (at receiver); you have so many great players to choose from."

As many as six or seven receivers could end up being first-round picks, almost all of them a blend of size and speed that could usher in a new wave of superstars.

The depth at the position was lessened Monday when USC’s Mike Williams was, at least for now, barred from the draft because of a court ruling in the case of Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett, who was challenging NFL rules regarding early entry into the league.

But Roy Williams, Pittsburgh’s Larry Fitzgerald, Washington’s Reggie Williams, LSU’s Michael Clayton, Wisconsin’s Lee Evans and Ohio State’s Michael Jenkins all could be taken in the first round.

There have been great receiving classes before. In 1988, Michael Irvin, Sterling Sharpe and Tim Brown came into the league. In 1978, Wes Chandler, James Lofton and John Jefferson were drafted. In both cases, the trios produced multiple Pro Bowl appearances.

Most NFL types are hesitant to proclaim certain greatness, but they do marvel at the depth of the group.

"The first-rounder guys are first-rounder guys, but when you start looking at the second and third rounds you’re going to get some good football players who are going to help your football team right away," Jets coach Herman Edwards said.

That’s what the Cardinals and coach Dennis Green are looking for. The question is when.

The volume at the position — Oklahoma State’s Rashaun Woods is another good prospect — means Arizona could wait until the first pick of the second round and still get a good wideout. They could then spend the No. 3 overall pick on someone else, like Miami safety Sean Taylor.

"If potentially great players are there (at 3), regardless of needs, you have to look at those players first," said Rod Graves, Cardinals vice president of football operations. "But the fact of the matter is, if those receivers will be taken early, that will push other better players down (at other positions)."

There is little question that the Cardinals will grab Fitzgerald if he remains on the draft board after the first two picks.

Fitzgerald has known Green since Fitzgerald was 8 years old. Fitzgerald served as a ballboy for Green’s Minnesota Vikings from age 12 to 17 and learned under Vikings receivers Cris Carter and Randy Moss.

But it isn’t just personal ties drawing Green to Fitzgerald.

Many draftniks rank Fitzgerald as the best receiver available, and many agree with Green that Fitzgerald is the best player in the draft, period.

"There’s been a lot said about my relationship with Larry Fitzgerald and it is a very strong bond," Green said. "But I also have 30 years in coaching in the NFL and I respect the system."

That system says the receiver-starved Raiders get to choose before Arizona at No. 2. That’s where the depth might help the Cardinals, since Oakland owner Al Davis is said to be fond of Roy Williams and might grab him after Eli Manning goes No. 1.

"I’d be happy to go anywhere," Fitzgerald said. "This is a dream come true."

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