With the Green Bay Packers bringing Randall Cobb back into the fold just before he hit free agency this year and returning two wide receivers who basically had lost rookie years (Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis), one might assume that the receiver position will not be a focus for Ted Thompson in the 2015 NFL Draft. It's possible that one might be right.
Certainly, the likelihood that the Packers draft a wideout in rounds one or two is minimal at this point, but looking into rounds three and beyond, you can never truly predict what Thompson will do. With that in mind, here's a look at one of APC's favorite day-two receiver prospects: Tre McBride.
Why does that name sound familiar?
It might be because APC talked to McBride at length during this year's Scouting Combine, where McBride was impressive in physical drills. He ran a 4.41-second forty-yard dash, which also featured the second-fastest 10-yard split time of any wide receiver at 1.51 seconds. McBride also posted very solid numbers in other drills, including a 38-inch vertical and a broad jump over 10 feet. His short shuttle time of 4.08 seconds was very good as well, as he beat all but four other wideouts in that drill.
Okay, good tools. What about his production in college?
McBride has numbers on his side, though. In 11 games for William & Mary in 2014, McBride caught 64 passes for 809 yards (a 12.6-yard average) with four touchdowns. He also served as the team's primary kick returner and split time returning punts as well. That receiving line almost duplicated his 2013 season, in which he hauled in 61 receptions for 803 yards and five scores. His best year was actually his sophomore year in 2012, when he caught 55 balls but went for 897 yards and ten touchdowns.
Hold on. He racks up good stats against FCS competition, but that's not top-level college football.
As Lee Corso would say, "Not so fast, my friend!" Each year, William & Mary plays an FBS team from a power conference; in the three games that McBride participated in on offense, he had very good performances. Here are his stat lines from those games:
Virginia Tech (8/30/2014): 4 catches, 62 yards (long of 43, only Tribe player with more than two receptions)
West Virginia (8/31/2013): 3 catches, 108 yards (long of 40)
Maryland (9/1/2012): 6 catches, 97 yards (long of 31)
Not bad, huh?
Okay, now we're talking. How to his skills translate to the field?
One thing McBride noted when he spoke to us at the Combine is that he has played all over the field - split wide, in the slot, and in motion. He also noted that one of his strengths is making contested catches. Though he has a 6-foot frame, his jumping ability and strength at the point of the catch are skills that make it seem like he plays bigger than that.
The first two plays in the highlight video from his West Virginia game are below, and demonstrate exactly those abilities to come up with 50/50 balls.
Does he bring anything else to the table?
He sure does. He was his conference's special teams player of the year as a junior for his work as a kick returner, so he can contribute on special teams early at the NFL level. He also has a knack for making highlight-reel catches when the ball is not thrown in an ideal location (though that's not something he would have to deal with as much if he ended up receiving passes from Aaron Rodgers).
Here, don't believe me? Check out this highlight video, which comes with the requisite terrible music in the background.
What's the verdict?
Because of how deep this year's wide receiver class is, McBride is probably a third-round pick. Though he has played well against FBS teams, the fact remains that most of his body of work was against FCS competition and that likely hurts him a bit. That tape is impressive though, and then he went and backed it up with excellent measurements at the Combine. He can play outside or in the slot, and he would be a potential special teams contributor as well. All in all, what's not to like?
If McBride remains on the board when Ted Thompson is picking at 94th overall in the third round, I would hope and expect that he would be very much in consideration at that time, regardless of the perceived depth that the team already has at the position.