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Quickness Part 4: In Search Of A New Slot Receiver


Since my last piece, I've learned a few things. First, I learned that some restaurants in Japan serve beer by the liter (and that drinking those has lasting effects on your mental state). Additionally, nothing beats a Japanese yakiniku (grilled meat) all-you-can-eat restaurant.

More importantly, I learned that people love to debate Tony Romo, as evidenced by the explosion of discussion on the matter. This post isn't about Tony Romo (does anyone really care how quick he is?), but rather his teammates, who will hopefully have helped him out by next year's cycle of Romo-mania.

As some of you may have heard, the Cowboys are in the market for a slot receiver this offseason. Playing the slot requires elite change-of-direction skills (as well as savvy - for which there is no metric), so that's what we'll be looking for here. Many of these names you probably haven't heard. Most of them you've likely never seen on film. Take the jump, and see how these young guys stack up to our two stars.

Please take a moment to sort this table however you like.

Player 40yd Dash 10yd Split 20yd Split Short Shuttle SS - 10yd 5yd Avg Max 10yd Max 20yd Max 40yd
Miles Austin 4.47 1.56 2.64 4.14 2.58 1.29 1.75 2.83 4.66
Dez Bryant 4.52 1.53 2.51 4.46 2.93 1.465 1.91 2.89 4.90
Kevin Ogletree 4.36 1.5 2.51 4.08 2.58 1.29 1.73 2.73 4.59
Andre Holmes 4.51 1.61 2.6 4.31 2.7 1.35 1.82 2.81 4.72
Raymond Radway 4.42 1.66 2.54 4.02 2.36 1.18 1.67 2.55 4.43
Dwayne Harris 4.53 1.58 2.58 4.21 2.63 1.315 1.78 2.78 4.73
Cole Beasley 4.49 1.57 2.66 4.4 2.83 1.415 1.87 2.96 4.79
Tim Benford 4.54 1.57 2.58 4.35 2.78 1.39 1.85 2.86 4.82
Donavon Kemp 4.4 1.45 2.49 4.23 2.78 1.39 1.81 2.85 4.76
Danny Coale 4.37 1.53 2.59 4.09 2.56 1.28 1.73 2.79 4.57

First of all: Dez Bryant. I don't know what happened at the combine, but I've heard he wasn't wearing the right shoes. Clearly, he's faster on the field than his recorded times, but these numbers are what we have and we'll go with them for sake of completion.

Also, Saalim Hakim. He has reportedly incredible speed, but none of that was ever officially measured at either a pro day or a combine. He took the express track to professional football (even if it was through the back door) and seems to be here based solely on athleticism and heritage - though it'd certainly be nice to see how that athleticism compares to the rest of the guys in camp. Teddy Williams is the same story (though he's been moved back to defensive back for now). Onto the guys we can actually measure...

Cole Beasley was turning heads in mini camp and OTAs as a prototypical slot receiver. There was some concern, however, that he was reliant on technique and intuition more than athleticism in college, and that his athleticism will not be enough to carry him in the NFL. There appears to be some merit to these arguments, as he graded out among the worst in change of direction on our team.

Danny Coale, on the other hand, has not had much time to impress due to a broken foot. It appears that when he returns, however, he will prove to be an amazing athlete and, hopefully, a capable receiver. The closer you look at this guy, the more you find to like about him.

Raymond Radway, another of our raw project players, shows up on this chart with a grade that justifies his roster aspirations. With his height and length, coupled with straight line speed and change of direction, he can potentially be the inside-outside threat that Miles Austin is now. By the way, Miles turned 28 on June 30th, and isn't getting any younger.

Finally, don't sleep on Ogletree's athleticism. Though it may not have translated as well in years past, Ogletree looks to have taken a big step forward this offseason, and also improved his strength. He has the quickness to play inside, and the size and strength to be a playmaker after the catch. In no way should Ogletree making the roster as the third receiver be considered a failure by the Cowboys. Different isn't always better, and better isn't always different. It's more likely that an experienced, young receiver will make strides toward being a complete NFL receiver than an undrafted free agent in his first or second year, with lesser athleticism, to have a similar impact.

Just for fun, if I had to pick six receivers today (assume that none of them will make the practice squad), they would be:

Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Kevin Ogletree, Danny Coale, Andre Holmes, Raymond Radway

Isn't it great that it's so hard to choose?

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