Draft Analysis: Andre Caldwell, WR, Florida Gators

by Bryce McRae on April 12, 2008 @ 03:57:50 PDT

 


One of the top receivers coming out of high school, wideout Andre Caldwell enjoyed a solid career at the University of Florida. His stats were not great as he had just 761 yards and seven touchdowns in his final year, but that doesn't paint the whole picture of his skills. He finished his career with 185 receptions, which set a Florida school record. He also has exceptional versatility that could come from working as a quarterback earlier in his career. He was the only player on the team's active roster to catch a pass, throw a pass, carry the ball and return a kickoff. Perhaps his best quality is his playmaking ability. One example of that ability came when he scored the winning touchdown in the 2008 Senior Bowl on a reverse.

All told, he finished his five-year career with 185 receptions for 2,349 yards and 16 touchdowns. For that, Caldwell was recognized for his contribution by being named to the 2007 All-SEC Third Team in his final season and is one of the top receiving prospects in this year's draft.

Positives

A big part of his playmaking is his speed. He ran a 4.35 40-yard dash as the 2008 NFL Scouting Combine, which doesn't do justice to his burst off the line. He gets great acceleration in creating separation from defenders. This is most important in his ability work in the open field. He is at his most dangerous working off of screen or hitch passes that give him the openings to make guys miss, though he willing to lower his shoulder and fight for extra yardage.

Another of Caldwell's positives is his awareness on the playing field. He has long arms that help him pick out balls along the sidelines and his footwork is great working in those situations, as is his balance. His ability to recognize opposing coverage and adapt to them quickly is something that might have developed from his previous work as a high school quarterback. Wherever it comes from, he is great at picking up on soft spots in the defense, which only makes his fluid route-running that much more dangerous.

In addition, Caldwell has above-average physical tools. He stands at 6-foot 1/4 and weighs 204 pounds with room to add more bulk. He is a tenacious blocker, though his technique needs some refinement. Caldwell is also an intelligent player who can line up all over the field and familiarize himself with everyone's assignments. That, coupled with his experience at both quarterback and in the return game, makes him perhaps the most versatile receiver in the '08 draft class.

Negatives

Injuries have been an issue for Caldwell. He missed most of the 2005 season with a fractured right femur and was bothered by a sprained right knee medial collateral ligament (MCL) during his final year as he spent time on the sidelines in two games. He returned to face the University of Auburn but went down immediately with a strained hamstring. If he wants to stand up to the beating he will take in the next level, Caldwell may need to add some bulk to his frame.

Caldwell could also use some bulk to help with his blocking. He gets after guys well down the field but can't sustain his blocks when taken on in one-to-one situations. Not only would this strength help Caldwell in his blocking, but it would also help him when fighting for balls on short routes and working across the middle. He had a tendency to be phased out when in tight situations and could use the bulk to help him battle for the ball, something he is more than willing to do. Press coverage too often was able to disrupt his routes. Increased strength might also help him with his catching as he tends to bring the ball into his body too often.

Expected Draft Placement

The first five yards are where it all seems to go right or wrong for Caldwell. If he makes it past there without any disruption, he is a solid threat to find a soft spot in the defense and pick up whatever kind of yards are needed. He might not have the best physical tools in the draft, but he is one of the top playmakers at the position because of this. His ability to work in pressure situations (see the Senior Bowl) and intelligence are what makes him stand out from the other receivers. Any team looking for a talented receiver in the mid-to-late stages of the second round could take a chance on him. This could be the Philadelphia Eagles midway through the round, which have need of a wide receiver. The Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts or Dallas Cowboys could also target him at the end of the second round. He could slip into the earlier portion of the third round, but odds are he will be selected on Day 1.

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About Bryce McRae

Bryce McRae is a Managing Editor with KFFL and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1999. He joined KFFL as a volunteer writer in March 2005 before becoming a Hot off the Wire Analyst in March 2006. He began working in his current capacity in September 2008. His work has appeared on fantasy sports sites such as Yahoo! and CBS Sportsline as well as in print. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a B.A. in History and U.S. Studies.

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