Crabtree or Maclin? I'll pass on both

Recently, the NFL writers here on the Sports Network each wrote a brief blurb on who we each thought was the best prospect in the 2009 NFL Draft. You can read our choices here.

The overwhelming majority took the Mel Kiper sizzurp to the head and picked Michael Crabtree as theCrabs top dog. (Yours truly went with Baylor’s Jason Smith – but we’ll talk tackles at a later time)

Maybe I’m just a hater. Maybe I’m too much of a PAC-10 guy and just can’t stand the way the rest of the country acts like staying up late to watch quality athletics is a chore and not a love. (Hey, I don’t whine when I have to roll out of bed at 9am on a Saturday to catch UConn play Pitt, right?)

The undying truth is that I hate the spread offense. (Before you call me out, I know Bellotti runs it in Oregon. I hate it there too)

I’m a USC kinda guy. Pro-style baby!

Sure, the type of system you run in college has little to do with how you ball in the pros. But let’s be honest, the talent level from team to team in the NCAA is vastly different than the talent level in the NFL. Whenever somebody starts the “Florida Gators could beat the Detroit Lions” argument, I laugh and shake my head.

They have no idea how tough it is to be a scrub on the practice squad in the NFL.

Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin have been anointed as the receiving darlings of this big dance known as the 2009 NFL Draft. McShay and Kiper might argue over whether Matthew Stafford is the top pick, but both agree that Crabtree and Maclin are top 10 talents.

Pump your brakes and look at it without your Mel goggles on for a minute.

Yes, both men are talented athletes. I’m not going to toss out that dirty “bust” word on either of them. I’m sure both will be legit receivers at the next level.

My argument is that if you’re getting a receiver in the top 10, he’d better be more Andre Johnson than Braylon Edwards.

Crabtree was dynamic at Texas Tech, but can you truly tell how good a guy is when all he’s doing is taking two steps off the line and catching screens? How do you know he can get out of his breaks when he was running go-routes all the time? A lot of the routes he ran had nothing to do with his talent as much as it was the play calling.

Sure, he’s got good hands and can beat guys in the open field. But consider that Thomas Howard out runs most of the safeties in the Big 12 and you can see why I’m wavering.

Plus, coming up a few inches short at the combine made me do a double take. I’m not putting much stock in that height thing since Steve Smith is one of my favorite guys to watch. The fact is the Raiders need a big red zone target and at 6’3″ Crabtree looked like the guy, but at 6’1″ he looks more like Derrick Mason.

If we had no other choice at #7, I’d settle for Jeremy Maclin.

jeremy_maclinMaclin is a weapon that can be used in so many different ways. He’s a return specialist who will have an immediate impact in the NFL on special teams.

My issue with Maclin is that the guy can’t seem to stay healthy, not to mention his combine performance made me cringe. He didn’t look very comfortable running simple routes and making routine catches. Then the guy trips over the 30-yard line and thought he needed an MRI.

Marry his injuries with that ugly spread offense and I’m off the hook. Just like Crabtree, Maclin was given the ball in the open field and just needed to make guys miss.

Now he’s got legit speed, but if you think that what he did at Missouri will happen every Sunday against the big boys, then I’ve got a great quarterback named Chase Daniels you should draft too.

I know the Raiders badly need a weapon out wide for JaMarcus. I watched every game last year so I know how ugly it was.

With top notch receivers sitting out there, I must seem like the homeless guy who hasn’t eaten for a month shrugging off a dollar bill. But just humor me for a second here.

There were 22 1,000-yard receivers in the NFL in 2008. Take away Tony Gonzalez and that leaves 21 true wide receivers. Of the top 10 thousand yard guys, only Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson were selected in the top 10 in the draft. Of the rest of the top 10 receivers, only Reggie Wayne and Roddy White were first round picks.

Now tell me which of these guys played in the spread? In fact, name one receiver that played in the spread who has made a huge impact in the NFL. It’s really quiet out there in Austin right about now.

We’ve got a tight end, Zach Miller, who is going to make a Pro Bowl soon. Johnnie Lee Higgins has the look of a poor man’s Wes Welker.

So unless you can convince me that Michael Crabtree or Jeremy Maclin are going to be as dominant as Andre Johnson or will carry the Raiders to the big game like Larry Fitzgerald, then why even entertain a #7 overall.

I say get some protection for Russell in round one then snag a sleeper late like Kenny Britt , Brian Robiskie, or Ramses Barden.

But if you really want to know whose Kool-Aid I’m drinking as far as receivers go. Well, I’m drunk off that Hakeem Nicks lean.

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Tags: Andre Johnson Braylon Edwards Calvin Johnson Chase Daniels Derrick Mason Hakeem Nicks JaMarcus Russell Jason Smith Jeremy Maclin Johnnie Lee Higgins Kenny Britt Larry Johnson Matthew Stafford Mel Kiper Michael Crabtree Mike Bellotti Ramses Barden Reggie Wayne Roddy White Steve Smith Thomas Howard Todd McShay Tony Gonzalez Wes Welker Zach Miller

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