It’s just over a week until the 2009 NFL draft for Cal Poly superstar Ramses Barden. After several seasons as the Mustangs go-to man down the stretch, the next level of superstardom awaits. So in a draft pool that’s not exactly bursting at the seams with receivers, it’s hard not to ask where he will end up.
It’s likely that there will only be a few wide receivers selected in the first round in this year’s draft. The top prospects include Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech), Jeremy Maclin (Missouri), Darrius Heyward-Bey (Maryland), Percy Harvin (Florida) and Hakeem Nicks (North Carolina). And it’s not even an easy task in deciding how many of these top performers will go in the first round.
If we can maybe assume that at least three of those top prospects will go in the first round, we need to look at what NFL teams are in desperate need of some hands on the offensive side of the ball to determine where Barden could end up.
So let’s look at what we’re dealing with. The top five teams that seem to desperately need a solid receiver more than anything else are Chicago, Baltimore, Tennessee, New York (Giants), and Oakland. Chicago recently acquired pro-bowler Jay Cutler, instantly turning them into a threat through the air. But they clearly lack any receiving talent except for Devin Hester. Baltimore may have found a sold franchise quarterback in Joe Flacco, but he has few options to throw to in passing situations. Tennessee has established itself as a powerhouse team with veteran quarterback Kerry Collins under center, but again he has very few receiving options, a matter that once fixed could possibly make them a Superbowl team. The New York Giants recently released receiver Plaxico Burress, leaving quarterback Eli Manning with only Steve Smith as a go-to man. And finally, Oakland is in need of several things to make them a playoff team, but clearly a talented receiver is the one thing they lack the most on the offensive side of the ball.
So is Barden likely to show up at one of these teams’ training camps come spring? It’s tough to say. If the teams listed above use their first round picks to cure their receiver problem, they’re most likely going to go after one of the top prospects mentioned at the beginning of this column. So maybe its safe to say that Barden will end up with a
team whose second or third need is a receiver, somewhere around one of the first few rounds.
If I had to make my prediction I’d say Barden ends up on a team like Chicago or Dallas. As I said before, Chicago clearly needs several receivers to help the newly developed passing situation in the Bears’ camp, and Dallas needs some third or fourth go-to guys in their passing game. Both teams don’t have first round picks, so it’s fair to say that maybe Barden could end up in one of those places in the second or third round.
Barden recently participated in the 2009 Scouting Combine, alongside a few dozen other wide receivers. Most of the other receivers were from Division I schools, which could possibly pose a threat to Barden as NFL teams may think he hasn’t lined up against many talented defenses.
One of the most valued wide-receiver abilities at the combine is speed. Barden posted a 4.58 (seconds) 40-yard dash. This wasn’t exactly near the top of the list, but his height and NCAA stats were thought to make up for it.
However, since the combine Barden has been clocked in at an impressive 4.51 at Cal Poly’s pro day. Working with USC quarterback Mark Sanchez has definitely made him more visible, so the combination of Barden’s improved speed and visibility have led several draft websites to claim he may go as high as the late second round.
So as you can see it’s difficult to say where Barden will end up. That’s why they have people that get paid to figure this stuff out. One thing I do know for certain is that it’s not a common occurrence that a Cal Poly football player goes pro, so no matter where he ends up, anywhere will do.
Tyler Jauch is a political science sophomore and a Mustang Daily sports columnist.