Cowboys Draft Prospects: Edmund Gates

In Edmund Gates, will teams be drafting a better version of Bears' wideout Johnny Knox?

In this, the second installment of our series on players in whom the Cowboys have shown interest, we'll take a look at Abilene Christian wide receiver Edmund Gates. Gates, as was reported by O.C.C., is scheduled to visit Valley Ranch on Monday (on the same day as the guy who we'll profile next, Hillsdale WR Andre Holmes). At Abilene Christian, Gates followed in the footsteps of current Bears wideout Johnny Knox (remember him from week two?), and has a similar skill-set - albeit one that scouts think is more advanced at the same stage of his career.

Gates compiled some impressive numbers in 2010, helping ACU to an 11-0 record by nabbing 66 balls for a tidy 1,182 yards and a whopping 13 scores. He was just the seventh player in school history to break the 1,000-yard receiving mark, and the fifth to amass 60+ catches. He leaves Abilene Christian ranked second in career receiving yards, with 2,885, third in catches (158), fourth in scoring (192 points) and first in touchdowns at 27.

As his stats suggest (he averaged 17.9 yards per reception in '10), Gates is a burner who dominated (s)lower competition; he backed that up at the Combine by turning in a blistering 4.37 forty. Then, at ACU's pro day, which was attended by scouts from 22 (!) teams, he posted a 11-foot-2 broad jump, just one inch off of Julio Jones' Combine-high mark, following that up with impressive short shuttle and 3-cone times (4.13 and 6.82, respectively). Subsequently, he has had team visits/ workouts scheduled with the Patriots, Ravens, Browns, Vikings, Chiefs and Broncos as well as the Cowboys.

Why are so many teams high on Gates? Lets take look at what some of the top evaluators have to say after the jump...

National Football Post (Wes Bunting) 18th-rated WR; 170th overall

Possesses a solid-looking frame with average overall girth through his upper and lower half. Displays a good initial burst off the line, exhibiting good forward lean into his routes and can eat up the cushion quickly. Doesn't have a ton of football experience, has more of a basketball background, but has some good family ties (Bernard Scott & Johnny Knox) and is a really gifted athlete in his own right. Runs well, possesses good straight-line speed and has the kind of wiggle to make a man miss and accelerate past defenders. Plus, he does a nice job using his hands to snatch the football. Possesses a strong set of hands and good body control in jump ball situations. Adjusts his body well, keeps his concentration and you can tell he's a former basketball player the way he attacks the football and he looks like a forward skiing to grab a rebound.

However, still has some work to do as a route runner. Is a fluid kid, but isn't real clean in and out of his breaks, even on vertical routes. Tends to round off his routes consistently and tries to simply outpace defenders when trying to separate. Struggles on sharply breaking routes as well, as he tends to gear down and collect himself before trying to work his way back toward the football. Struggles vs. press coverage as well, can be slowed off the line and doesn't do a great job using his lateral quickness or hands to fend off the press.

Impression: A gifted straight-line athlete who needs to continue to mature as a route runner. Possesses a good skill set and has come a long way in a short amount of time, but needs to work on his trade if he hopes to develop as a consistent route runner in the NFL. However, his overall athleticism will allow him to make a roster in year one and develop.

Pro Football Weekly (Nolan Nawrocki) 12th-rated WR; 75th  overall

Positives: Can flat-out fly-turns over his stride with outstanding fluidity. Bursts into routes and melts cushion-can take the top off a defense. Sudden and explosive (broad-jumped 10 feet, 11 inches at the Combine). Confident hands catcher. Tracks the deep ball. Does not break stride to catch and turns on the jets. Surprising ankle flexion and agility. Shows springs (40-inch vertical) and aggressiveness to attack the ball and snatch it out of the air. Made steady improvement over four years. Solid character.

Negatives: Overaged. Narrow-framed and lean, with short arms and thin legs. Too easily knocked off route and will have to prove he can beat the jam. Relatively raw. Does not catch in stride-ran through the gauntlet drill very cautiously. Still developing as a route runner-was not asked to execute a full route tree and could take time honing patterns and identifying coverages. Lacks run strength and does not break many tackles. Marginal blocker. Limited experience as a returner. Can be fazed by traffic. Durability has been an issue.

Summary: An average-sized, overaged, motivated late bloomer with outstanding speed and impact upside. Was simply too fast for Division II competition, though his maturity and playing mentality indicates he will not be intimidated at the next level. Has a skill set to singe defenses outside the numbers or fire from the slot and has the burst, acceleration and long speed to be tried in the return game. Will appeal to teams such as the Raiders, Bears, Bengals and Packers.

ESPN/ Scouts, Inc. (Gary Horton) 13th-rated WR; 94th overall

Separation Skills: Raw route runner. Only played one year of high school football (freshman in 2001) before transferring to Abilene Christian. Needs to improve his strength. Can be taken out of routes too easily by physical corners. Shows some tightness in his hips. Height-Weight-Speed: Adequate height with slightly lean frame. Displays legitimate vertical speed.

Ball Skills: Uses his hands and does not let the ball get into his pads often, which is somewhat surprising considering his background. Will make some difficult catches look easy at times but loses focus at other times and will drop some catchable passes. Needs to do a better job of attacking the deep ball rather than letting it drop in. But he is a confident, natural pass catcher that shows the ability to pluck the ball relatively effortlessly on the run. He shows strong hands and the ability to make tough catches in traffic, as well.

Big play ability: Is at his best with the ball in his hands in space. Can take a quick-hitter the distance. Shows very good initial burst, can accelerate out of his breaks and he displays a big-time second-gear. Needs more work as a vertical route runner and with tracking the ball, but he has the burst and top-end speed to stretch the field.

Competitiveness/ Toughness: Not afraid to go over the middle. Will make tough catch in traffic. Gives decent effort as a run blocker but lacks technique and strength in that department.

Intangibles: Over-aged prospect. Cousin is Bernard Scott (Bengals). Character baggage needs to be closely monitored. Comes from a tough upbringing. Wants to do the right but needs guidance and structure. When Edmund was six years old his father, Edward, began what would be an 18-year prison sentence for murder. Edmund was kicked off the Tyler JUCO basketball team before transferring to Abilene Christian to play football. He says 'I was out of shape' and that 'family issues' also affected his play in 2010.Separation Skills: Takes too long transitioning on double moves. Did not run many NFL-level routes and has a lot to learn about NFL route tree and reading coverages. Has very good initial burst off the line and natural separation skills. Has upside in this area but needs time and good coaching.

As with most small-school, later-round products, these grades are all over the map. As a result, its very difficult to develop a consensus. Gates started draft season as a fifth or sixth rounder, but his Combine-leading forty time as well as his superb tape have elevated him a couple of rounds. Given the location of the highest rankings, which are roughly at the bottom of the third round, I'd guess that he'll go there or in the early fourth, and that Dallas is interested in him at pick number 109 (the 13th pick in the fourth round), as pick # 71 is probably too high and, given the high level of interest in him, he's unlikely to last until their fifth round selection, at #140.

That's where I'll slot him unless I receive a lot of conflicting news to the contrary.

Next up: Hillsdale WR Andre Holmes

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