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Cowboys Draft '10, Part Four: The Small Shall Inherit the Ball

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Super athlete.  Rare quickness, speed and acceleration.  Great ability to adjust to the ball.  Can jump through the rafters.  Nice, soft hands.  Excellent catching range.  Will make the acrobatic reception.  Quick into and out of his breaks. Changes gears well and has an extra gear nobody else on the field can match.  Competes hard in games... a true game breaker."

-- Joel Buchsbaum, 1996 Draft Preview, on Terry Glenn

Terry Glenn measured just 5'10" and 184 lbs. at his combine.  He didn't impress the scouts with his strength.  He did however, run a 4.38 40.  And that extraordinary speed made him.  That extra gear helped him fly past secondaries.  Glenn could get behind coverage from his first practice until the day his knee crumbled twelve years later. 

Go back to those four qualities I outlined in Part Three.  Speed.  Quickness.  Strength.  Catching skills.  Now, look at the many prospects who are deficient in one of those categories.  We can pretty much eliminate players with suspect hands.  But what of the guy who is small, and not strong?  Or somebody who lacks a top gear?

He's still a prospect, if his speed can compensate for his lack of size.  Look at mighty mites like Steve Smith, Eddie Royal and DeSean Jackson.  They may not be tall, or have bulk, but all of them can run.  Smith has a remarkably strong lower body, which makes him hard to tackle.  All are play makers.

Consider, in addition, receivers who don't have top end speed.  Guys like Patrick Crayton.  He's not going to catch the 60 yard bomb, but he's going to be on the field on 3rd downs because he does the other things well.  He blocks.  He runs tight routes.  He has the quickness to get separation, the hands to catch anything thrown his way and the guts to go over the middle. 

This combination makes him a first down maker out of the slot and a valuable receiver in Dallas' three receiver packages. 

A deficiency will likely drop a guy out of the top round.  Smith was drafted in the 3rd.  Royal and Jackson dropped to the 2nd, likely because they were short.   Crayton's lack of speed dropped him out of the draft.  The same is true of Wes Welker, who lacked height and ran a 4.65 at Texas Tech's pro day.

When you read through reviews guys who don't fit the Michael Irvin profile, ask yourself, are they football players?  Can they compensate one shortcoming with other skills?  Do you see them on the field on third down?  Can they earn their keep on special teams while they learn their crafts, the way Sam Hurd and Miles Austin did?  Not just as returners, but can they cover kicks?   Austin made some splashes as a kickoff returner but he and Hurd stuck because they covered kickoffs and played as gunners on the punt coverage teams. 

Being short or being a bit slow won't knock you off the Cowboys' board, but you need a lot of heart, and a lot of other skills as well.