After missing out on T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Devery Henderson in free agency, the Buccaneers are, or should be, looking for another playmaking WR to go opposite Antonio Bryant. The draft could be a place for the Bucs to land their long-term playmaker. WR is one of the deeper and stronger positions in this draft, with Michael Crabtree, Jeremy Maclin, and Percy Harvin considered to be first round players and Derrick Williams, Hakeem Nicks, and Brian Robiskie as other projected first day guys. Another guy who is getting alot of love as a first or second round player after the combine is Darrius Heyward-Bey. Scouts have been buzzing over Heyward-Bey after his WR combine-best 4.30 40 yard dash time, fluid route running, and soft hands... a surprise for a guy considered by many to be somewhat of a project. He could be available for the Bucs in the late first round or if they traded out of the first round altogether (which is my hope at this point).
Testudo Times was kind enough to provide me with the following info on Heyward-Bey:
He's a bit of a puzzling guy, because he's an athletic freak but the production has never been quite what anyone expected. We always thought he'd be the top WR in the ACC in his junior year, and it just never happened. Maryland's offense is run-heavy, so that could be it. The quarterbacks have been average at best the entire time he's been here, so that could factor in. But it's always seemed like he's never quite reached his potential. It's not that his intangibles are poor - he's a hard worker, Friedgen loved him like a son, and he's a consummate team player. For whatever reason, things never quite completely clicked.
If it was the QBs or the offense, you're getting a steal. He has freakish speed, good size, and a great attitude. He's pretty strong and can win jump balls regularly. He's a type of guy who can take a short hook route all the way, or beat his man downfield on a deep route. Definitely a very good big play threat, but his game isn't really one-dimensional - he has all the tools to be an elite some day. But there's always that asking you if he'll ever actually get there. If his college production was better, he'd probably be in the top 10, though.
The crew over at Mocking the Draft offered the following scouting report on DH-B:
Darrius Heyward-Bey6'2, 206 pounds | Maryland | Wide receiver
Strengths: Heyward-Bey is probably the best vertical threat among the wide receivers in this class. Easily breaks press coverage. He uses his strength to be beat the jam and break away from defenders. At times, he can make difficult catches look easy. Tall with long arms. Solid after the catch setting up his blockers. Very good leaper and knows how to reach the ball at the high point.
Weaknesses: At this point in his career, Heyward-Bey is still more of a track athlete than a wide receiver. He's not the best route runner and will need to be coached heavily in this area. Wasn't really asked to go across the middle while at Maryland so his toughness is somewhat questionable. Unreliable as a blocker.
Final word: Big and strong, Heyward-Bey certainly looks the part of a top receiver. However, outside of the Miami game his freshman year, Heyward-Bey never really dominated like elite wide receivers do. Had only four career 100-yard games. Had less than 50 yards receiving in seven games his junior year. In Heyward-Bey's defense, Maryland never had a decent quarterback during his three years in school. Will test much better than he plays.
Round projection: 2
All in all, he's got the physical tools to become a solid NFL WR. Problem is, and it's something that can't be overlooked and is something I think is vitally important to consider, he struggled to find consistent productivity in college, especially in the ACC, which he should've dominated. He was clearly the biggest offensive weapon on the Terps team, so why did he struggle to pile up the stats? Bad QB play? Poor offensive scheme? Just not that good? I don't think it's the latter, but for whatever reason he didn't put up dominant numbers you would expect from an elite WR. His college numbers are:
All in all, he's got impressive physical tools and certainly has the speed to be a playmaker in the NFL, but the question is whether he will fully utilize those tools. What do you think? Worth a look from our Bucs?