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NFL Draft: Player Profile - Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
John Tuvey
March 23, 2009
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Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, MarylandMeasurables:
Combine height: 6-1 5/8
Combine weight: 210 pounds
Combine 40 time: 4.30 seconds

Heyward-Bey’s final season at Maryland was actually his least productive as he caught 42 balls for 609 yards and five touchdowns, with another 220 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. For his Terrapin career Heyward-Bey recorded 138 receptions for 2,089 yards and 13 touchdowns, with 25 carries for 344 yards and two touchdowns.

Skill Set:
Four. Three. Oh. Those are the numbers that will make Heyward-Bey a first-round pick and perhaps even the first receiver off the board, and they correspond to his 40 time at the Combine. Heyward-Bey has also translated his straight-line speed onto the field as a legitimate deep threat; he is also capable of making moves at top speed, hitting a seam in the defense and going the distance. Heyward-Bey’s prototypical size also helps him win battles against opposing defenders, though more through his athleticism and leaping ability than by overpowering corners.

When given the opportunity Heyward-Bey has turned his skills into big plays, though that happened infrequently in Maryland’s run-first offense. And, like any other wideout transitioning from college to the pros, he’ll also need to polish his route-running skills. The biggest concern scouts have is that while he has flashed soft hands he’s been prone to lapses in concentration. This doesn’t seem to be a Troy Williamson-sized issue, but it has more than one scout worried that Heyward-Bey could tend more towards the bust side of his boom-or-bust potential.

Possible Destinations:
With playmakers like Michael Crabtree, Percy Harvin, and Jeremy Maclin in this class it may be tough for Heyward-Bey to be the first receiver taken; however, the Raiders pick seventh and you know how Al Davis likes speed. The Bengals one spot earlier and the Jaguars one spot later also find themselves in the market for a wideout and could be intrigued by Heyward-Bey’s speed. If he doesn’t go early he’ll likely slide, with the Jets at 17 kicking off another run of teams (the Bears, Buccaneers, Eagles, and Vikings) looking to shore up the position. The Dolphins (25), Ravens (26), Colts (27), Eagles (with the Panthers’ pick at 28), Giants (29), and Titans (30) provide enough potential landing spots that it’s difficult to see Heyward-Bey slipping out of the first round. If he does, however, cue up the same interested parties (Bengals at 38, Jaguars at 39, Raiders at 40) and toss in the Rams (35), Browns (36), and Seahawks (37) as well.

Fantasy Impact:
While rookie receivers tend to struggle with the transition, those who have had success have been in the bigger and faster mold. It’s unlikely Heyward-Bey will take the league by storm like Randy Moss did, or even Marques Colston, but he does have the speed to turn any catch into a long touchdown. His immediate fantasy value would be best served by sliding to the bottom of the first round, where he could catch on with an established offense like the Colts, Eagles, or Giants; if he’s asked to carry the Oakland, Jacksonville, or even Miami offense expectations should be subdued. Heyward-Bey will be a late pick in typical redraft leagues, with the potential to move into sleeper territory if he lands in the right situation.

Because Heyward-Bey has attributes that can’t be coached—namely, size and speed—and his shortcomings are skills that seem teachable—route-running and concentration on the football—the boom-or-bust tag seems hasty. Even if Heyward-Bey’s inaugural NFL season consists of mostly long balls and kick returns, he flashed enough playmaking skills in college and has the raw tools to work with that the future would appear to be bright. Again, ideally he’ll land in a situation where a good receivers coach can work with his talents and groom him to be a legitimate No. 1, or at least find a way to harness his speed and turn him into a productive pro receiver.

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