After compiling 87 catches for 1,286 yards and 13 touchdowns during his collegiate career at Ohio State, you can count on Anthony Gonzalez to be picked no later than the second round in the 2007 NFL Draft.
As a high school athlete, Gonzalez stood out on both offense and defense. During his junior season he earned MVP honors while winning the state championship at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland. He finished his high school career at with 71 catches for 1,873 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also earned Co-Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press.
In 2003, he redshirted and as a freshman in 2004 he caught eight passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns. In 2005, Gonzalez steadily increased his production by hauling in 28 catches for 373 yards and three scores. In 2006, he enjoyed his best season by having 51 catches for 734 yards and eight touchdowns.
The philosophy major surprised many by announcing he would enter the 2007 NFL Draft and not return for his senior season. At his press conference he said that his decision was the most difficult thing he ever had to do in his life. The soon to be professional athlete is looking forward to his football career and life afterwards as well. The sky may be the limit for this youngster that has been sleeping in an altitude simulation environment for over the last year, which aids him in recovery times from game to game.
Gonzalez is especially crisp at route-running on short and medium routes. A player known for his intelligence, one aspect he is commonly noted for is his ability to find gaps and holes in coverage. He excels at catching the ball away from his body by using his hands and adjusting very well to passes out of reach. Gonzalez has good overall speed, wastes little motion and turns up the field as fast as anyone after the catch. Gonzalez's ability to come back to the play to help his quarterback and gain yardage after initial contact likely makes him a quality possession receiver. His initial quickness and lateral movement helps him attain separation from defenders. Gonzalez prides himself on having a strong work ethic, consistency and not just being a good wide receiver but a good football player. Gonzalez has no character issues or arrest record.
Gonzalez, who measures at 6-foot, 195 pounds, doesn't have great size. The biggest knock on him is that he sometimes struggles against press coverage and he can be dominated by physical defensive backs. He is fast enough to take the right angles on his blocks but sometimes lacks the strength to sustain them. While he had a productive college career, some have questioned his ability to be a featured receiver and view him more as a complimentary player at the next level. The fact that he was the "other" receiver next to Ted Ginn Jr. could be why some scouts don't project him to be picked until the second round.
At the NFL Combine, Gonzalez officially ran the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds and completed 16 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press at his Pro Day. While these numbers aren't exactly staggering or overly impressive he has still managed to raise a few eyebrows. In particular the New England Patriots have been rumored to be enamored with him. The Patriots have the 24th and 28th picks in the first round, which may be too high for Gonzalez. Most prognosticators rank as the seventh best wide receiver in this draft. The Patriots don't have a second round pick in the draft this year and may elect to trade down to draft Gonzalez along with acquiring additional picks. With competition such as Calvin Johnson of Georgia Tech, Ted Ginn Jr. of Ohio State, Dwayne Jarrett of USC, Dwayne Bowe of LSU, Sidney Rice of South Carolina and Robert Meachem of Tennessee, it is simply a stretch to see Gonzalez sneaking into the first round.
In reference to Gonzalez, Cincinnati Bengals receivers coach Mike Sheppard said: "He was the best interview at the combine."
His style has been compared to wide receivers Reggie Brown (Philadelphia Eagles), Kevin Curtis (Philadelphia Eagles) and Devery Henderson (New Orleans Saints).
Gonzalez could very well end up playing in his hometown for the Cleveland Browns, who own the 36th pick in the draft, or for the Cincinnati Bengals, who have the 49th pick. Other potential landing spots include the Oakland Raiders (33rd pick), Chicago Bears (37th pick), Atlanta Falcons (39th pick and 44th pick), San Francisco 49ers (42nd pick), Green Bay Packers (47th pick), Dallas Cowboys (53rd pick), Kansas City Chiefs (54th pick) and the Denver Broncos (56th pick). All of the previously mentioned teams have a need at the position and can always use a return specialist as well.
The 2007 wide receiver class is loaded with an unusual amount of depth compared to past years. Look and listen for Gonzalez to be drafted anywhere from the beginning-to-middle of the second round.
About Mike McGowen
Mike joined the KFFL team as a contributor in 2005.
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