The wide receiver position is perhaps the one being talked about most as we head into the 2008 NFL Draft. With so much debate over who belongs at the top of the heap, many draftniks believe that the top-tier talent is very thin this year. While that may be true, there is no denying that this is a deep class in terms of talented, NFL-caliber players at the wideout position. Teams should still be able to find plenty of value in the middle rounds with guys that may not be a true No. 1 threat, but could become quality No. 2 and No. 3 options. Louisiana State University receiver Early Doucet appears to fit that bill to a "T."
Doucet entered college as one of the nation's elite prospects, regarded by some as the top receiver in the country as a high school senior. He began his career at LSU by making the Freshman All-Southeastern Conference Team in 2004, catching 18 passes for 257 yards and pair of scores in his first season. Doucet followed that up with a sophomore campaign that included 26 catches, 389 yards and five touchdowns.
As a junior in 2006, Doucet was still stuck behind two future first-round selections in receivers Dwayne Bowe (Kansas City Chiefs) and Craig Davis (San Diego Chargers). Despite that, he finished with 59 catches for 772 yards and eight touchdowns. Doucet was able to crack the All-SEC second team as well that season as a return specialist. As a senior last year, Doucet played in just nine games because of injury, but he still led the team with 57 receptions for 525 yards and five touchdowns in his first season as a starter.
Doucet obviously comes from a school that puts out quality talent on an annual basis. He was able to play with several NFL players during his time at LSU, learning from them and competing against them daily. He has got great quickness with the ball in his hands and can make people miss. Doucet possesses outstanding vision and knows how to set up blocks and get additional yardage after the catch. Those skills also help make him dangerous both on the reverse and in the return game.
While he may not have elite speed, he has a good burst, and once he gets going it's tough to catch him. At 6-foot 1/8, 209 pounds he has a solid build, and still has the frame to put on more weight if need be. He's strong and tough on the perimeter and is willing to put his body on the line catching balls over the middle. He is hard working and tenacious as a blocker, where he excels at sustaining blocks once engaged. He has good awareness when running his routes and an instinctive feel for the first-down marker. Doucet has proven to be at his best in big games, something he saw a lot of playing for the Tigers.
History has shown that when receivers that don't necessarily have great size (in terms of height) run slower than a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, they fall on draft day. Obviously Doucet's 4.54 time at the 2008 NFL Scouting Combine won't help him, nor will the fact that he ran even slower (4.59) at LSU's Pro Day. He is more quick than fast and doesn't figure to be the type of deep threat at the next level that he was in college.
Getting off the line against press coverage may be an issue for Doucet, although if he continues to get stronger that may become somewhat of a non-issue. It may have been nice for Doucet to have worked with future NFL wideouts in college, but it prevented him from having much experience as "the guy," and when he finally got the chance he didn't dazzle. Throughout his career with the Tigers he had minor injury issues before incurring a serious groin injury as a senior, which raises some questions about his durability.
Expected Draft Placement
Early on, there were people who viewed Doucet as a possible first-round choice. That doesn't seem too likely at this point, especially after his showing in the 40-yard dash. He's definitely a guy that could make an impact, perhaps even early on, but he may not develop into a No. 1 receiving threat. At this point, Doucet may go off the board sometime in mid-to-late portion of Round 2, but don't be surprised to see him fall into the early stages of the third-round.
About Francis Duffy
"Fran Duffy has been involved in sports since he was a child. A Philadelphia native, Fran is obviously a die-hard fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Flyers and Sixers. Fran is desperately waiting to see his first major championship from one of his hometown teams. He is a Broadcasting major at Temple University and has experience on the radio as well as in television production. Fran also currently works with Temple football's video-operation's team and is an avid fantasy sports player. Looking for more experience in writing, Fran joined KFFL in the spring of 2005."
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