WR – Darrius Heyward-Bey, Maryland
At some point in the first few rounds, the Buccaneers are going to have to take a real game breaking playmaker on the offensive side of the ball. Last years signing of Antonio Bryant by ousted GM Bruce Allen was a coup in my opinion. We paid him pennies for what he produced on the field. Subsequently, we were forced to franchise Bryant and with only a one year contract for him, he will be forced once again to produce if he wants to get a long term deal going into next season. The Bucs also brought back WR Michael Clayton on a multi-year deal. Clayton brings valuable blocking and suspect hands to the middle of the field. At one point in time, Clayton looked like the next Hines Ward, and hopefully he can get back to half that level this season. After those two guys though, the Bucs are fairly thin at WR. Maurice Stovall, Paris Warren and Dexter Jackson (last years 2nd round pick) are the remaning WR’s on the roster. I do not have any grandiose expectations for any of those players.
Heyward-Bey, a former track runner, was the fastest receiver at the combine running a blistering 4.30 in the 40 yard dash. He also put up an impressive 16 reps in the bench press, a 38.5 inch vertical jump and was near the top of receivers in the broad jump, the 3 cone drill and the 30 yard shuttle. While combine studs don’t always translate to the NFL, Heyward-Bey had 42 catches for 600 yards for a terrible Terrapins team.
A field stretching receiver should be near the top of the Bucs wish list, especially with a move to a downfield throwing, vertical offense, and Heyward-Bey certainly fits that bill.
NFL.com Draft Profile
For all of the hype surrounding this year’s other playmakers, no other receiver in the 2009 draft can match Heyward-Bey’s combination of size and speed. Whether that combination will ever translate into his becoming Pro Bowl-caliber playmaker, however, is the significant boom or bust gamble teams will be forced to make on draft day. Had an arm span of 33 5/8 inches and a hand span of 9 inches at the combine.