The Next Wes Welker?
By Matt Zenitz
The Ravens are a team that needs help at wide receiver and in the return game, but could they actually fill both voids with just one selection in this month's NFL draft?
Joe Adams (Arkansas), T.Y. Hilton (FIU) and Devon Wylie (Fresno State) are all talented returners that also have the potential to be weapons out of the slot in an NFL passing game.
Of those players, though, Wylie, who has been frequently compared with New England Patriots Pro Bowler Wes Welker, is particularly intriguing.
A relative unknown before this past season, Wylie, finally healthy after battling injuries for much of the previous four years, had a breakout senior season, both as a receiver and as a punt returner, and followed that up with an impressive showing at the East-West Shrine game and then an even more impressive showing at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
The undersized, but speedy and elusive, 5-foot-9, 187-pound Wylie finished the 2011 season with 56 catches for 716 yards and one touchdown. He added two more touchdowns on punt returns.
At the combine, Wylie posted one of the fastest 40-yard dash times among receivers (4.39).
Of Wylie's ability as a returner, NFL.com wrote that he's "very decisive [with] the speed to make one cut and get up field to take it the distance."
But it's as a receiver that Wylie has people even more intrigued.
Following Fresno State's Pro Day during the latter part of March, NFL.com wrote of Wylie: "He's a little water bug type guy that's going to be hard to cover because he's got such great speed. He's a lot like Wes Welker."
Even before that, though, NFL.com wrote of Wylie: "As a receiver, he is very quick off the ball and gets into his route immediately. He understands how to use his quick feet to overcome his size and get off the line. He is a good route runner who can get open at the top of routes due to his acceleration and ability to break on a dime. He is a consummate deep threat and could be effective running quick screens and getting yards after the catch at the next level."
Wylie will likely come off the board somewhere during the middle rounds, possibly even as early as round three.
Check him out for yourself. Here are clips of Wylie from his matchup with Nebraska, ranked 10th at the time, during the early part of the 2011 season.
Fresno State lost the game, 42-29, but Wylie finished with four catches for 50 yards, one carry for 5 yards and five punt returns for 110 yards and a touchdown.
Posted April 10, 2012