With the news that the Jaguars’ best receiver, Mike Sims-Walker, is set to hit free agency the question as to who the new #1 receiver will be is being widely discussed. It could be the recently resigned Jason Hill. One could consider Mike Thomas a candidate for the spot, but at 5’8 he’s likely a better fit as a complimentary receiver. The Jaguars have a lot of potential in Jarett Dillard if he’s able to find the field after two years of injury.
It appears likely, though, that the Jaguars will add talent to the position during the 2011 offseason. There could be options in free agency, but the Jaguars love to add talent through the draft and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them address the receiver position in that manner. Among the candidates to fill that void is Abilene Christian receiver Edmond Gates.
Edmond Gates has all the tools necessary to be a dynamic receiver in the NFL. At 6’0, 192 pounds he has the frame necessary to be a successful receiver, or even a #1 receiver, but he’ll likely have to gain some weight. His frame is a little thin and will leave him susceptible to jams off the line, although it is not something that is overly concerning to me.
Gates has more than enough athleticism to be an explosive playmaker. His 4.31 40 time is lightning fast and translates to a very fast speed in game play. His 40″ vertical and 10’11” broad jump both ranked in the top 5 among receivers and display a tremendous amount of explosion in his lower body.
His 10 yard split of 1.53 also shows that he has a lot of suddenness and quickness to his speed and that he’ll be able to accelerate quickly and get open. For comparison’s sake, DeSean Jackson of the Eagles ran a 4.35 40 time at the combine with a 1.53 split. Jackson’s vertical was 5 1/2 inches less and his broad jump was 11 inches less.
Essentially as an athlete, Gates is a slightly taller, slightly more explosive version of Jackson, although Jackson was much more polished. For all the athleticism, Gates needs to improve upon his route running and blocking before he can be anointed as a legitimate starting receiver.
Gates is most likely a mid-round prospect who could go as high as the third round in April.