With the 2006 NFL season soon to come to an end within a matter of only weeks with the crowning of a new Super Bowl champion the focus is already starting to shift towards the NFL Draft in April. There have already been numerous headlines and announcements of juniors who have decided to not return for their senior season. Ohio State wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. figures to be one of many offensive prospects to hear his name called early in the draft.
Ginn even recently stated to the Associated Press, "I always wanted to play for the Browns if possible, but if not, just go where I can go."
Ginn grew up playing high school football for his father, Ted Ginn Sr., who coached his Glenville (Ohio) team. During that time, he played numerous positions on the offensive side of the ball, such as quarterback, wide receiver and running back while returning on special teams. To say that Ginn could play a little defense, too, would be an understatement. Ginn not only accomplished earning the USA Today Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2003 as a defensive back but also was quite the accomplished track star.
This is further proof of his innate and amazing speed as he became the national champion in the 110 high hurdles as a junior. As a senior he won the state title for a second consecutive year and turned in his best time of 10.5 seconds in the 100-meter dash.
Due to his accomplishments and overall athletic abilities, Ginn was originally recruited to play on the defensive side of the ball for Ohio State. Ginn did not possess a dominant physical presence, and still doesn't at 6-foot-0, 180 pounds, but was viewed as an elite defensive back with excellent recovery speed.
As a freshman, Ginn would go on to spend the majority of his time in the preseason learning the defense while working out and conditioning himself to play on defense. However, previous to the start of the season Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel decided to move him to the wide receiver position and to feature him as a return man on special teams because of his superb speed. It was definitely one of the best decisions made by the head coach as Ginn averaged 25.6 yards per return on punt returns, which led the nation. Ginn proved his coach right by scoring on returns of 60, 65, 67 and 82 yards, establishing a new Ohio State single-season record.
In the three years, Ginn played at Ohio State his production has improved each season on offense. In 2004, he had 25 receptions for 359 yards and two touchdowns. In 2005, he more than doubled his production with 51 receptions for 803 yards and four touchdowns. In 2006, he had similar production with 59 receptions for 781 yards but increased his scoring production with nine touchdowns. This is the kind of maturation that leaves NFL scouts, general managers and coaches drooling.
For as good as Ginn has been on offense he has been just as equally or more dangerous on special teams. One of the names you will hear mentioned in the same class as him is Devin Hester, who is currently the featured return man for the Chicago Bears. Where Ginn differs from him is having the opportunity to have more of a significant impact in games from playing on offense.
Obviously, the biggest strength Ginn possesses is his blazing speed. His kind of speed is dangerous at any level, and he is a threat to score each time he touches the ball. Initially, he will more than likely be used as a kickoff and punt returner, where he has been brilliant in the past, until he can be worked further into the offense.
To make Ginn even more dangerous, his initial acceleration and quickness are both in the elite status. Ginn is projected at 4.35 in the 40-yard dash. Being able to routinely take long strides so swiftly often enables him to simply run right past defenders. His above-average balance and spin moves regularly help him to avoid having to take the big hit from defenders. When in the open field he reads his blocks very quickly, and remains patient in setting them up as well, which is critical to special teams returns.
With the ball Ginn uses his angles very well and with the speed that he has can easily make defenders hesitate or leave them with the hope tackling him with only one arm. Ginn runs with a stable center of gravity and steadiness, which rarely leads to him losing or running out of control.
Ginn still is not fully developed or polished as a wide receiver, especially since he will be forgoing his senior season. He still has time to develop his overall consistency, however. For this reason, we feel perhaps staying in school may have been in his best interest on the field.
Ginn will sometimes have tendencies to catch the ball more with his body instead of his hands, which can be corrected with some mechanical practice. He must improve on his route running and try not to exceed his style of play due to his overall lack of size. Due to his somewhat small stature he will constantly be tested as a rookie by cornerbacks trying to jam him at the line of scrimmage.
If Ginn tries to run parallel in the NFL like he often did in college he will quickly find out that everyone in the NFL can run fast. While this often paid dividends for him in college, he won't be able to have the same kind of success if he is always trying to break the long one on each catch.
With Ginn's ability to change the outcome or swing the momentum of a game as a return man he will be a hot commodity in the draft this year. Some experts had Ginn rated as high as the second best wide receiver in the entire draft class, although we feel that is a bit of a stretch.
Whichever team decides to select Ginn will need to remain patient as he develops and shouldn't look for him to contribute heavily on offense for a few seasons. His overall speed should help raise his stock since everyone is always looking for someone who is a game-breaker and has unlimited potential.
A lot of Ginn's success will more than likely depend on what team he is drafted by. As long as his new NFL team is willing to wait and not throw him into the fire as a receiver, he should be able to focus on changing games as a return specialist. At any rate, he appears to be a player who will likely fall into the "third-year breakout" rule.
If he is gradually worked into a system where he can be a complimentary receiver or backup while he polishes and refines his skills, he could eventually flourish into a Pro Bowl-caliber player. This, however, may be several years from now due to the learning curve he faces.
Ginn sprained his ankle and will be wearing a protective boot, which might prohibit him from working out or participating at the 2007 NFL Scouting Combine. This will probably cause his stock to drop with some teams. While teams at the top of the draft would like to call out his name they will more than likely choose a player that is less of a risk and needs less time to develop.
Look for Ginn's name to be called somewhere in the late stages of the first round. Of course, a lot can happen between now and next April, but Ginn isn't likely to be drafted much higher than the No. 22 overall (Dallas Cowboys).
Other potential landing spots for him, barring a team enamored with him trading up for his services, would be the Kansas City Chiefs (No. 23), New England Patriots (No. 24) and New York Jets (No. 25). Of these teams, Dallas would probably be the best fit. He would have time to learn as a wideout behind Terry Glenn and, presumably, Terrell Owens. The Cowboys surely need a dynamic returner, no offense to Miles Austin, and Ginn fits that role.