There's not a wealth of talent at wide receiver, but three -- Chad Jackson, Santonio Holmes and Sinorice Moss -- that stand out come from the usual places -- Florida, Ohio State and Miami
A year ago, three wide receivers were drafted in the top 10. This year, three are expected to go in the top 50.
But while NFL scouts don't know exactly what they'll find from a thin crop of talent in this year's draft, they certainly know where to look. All three of this year's top prospects come from traditional receiver factories.
"We always have great receivers come out of the University of Florida," said Gators standout Chad Jackson (6 feet 1, 213 pounds), who probably sprinted to the head of this year's class by running 4.32 in the 40-yard dash at the combine.
His stiffest competition will come from Ohio State's Santonio Holmes (5-10, 198), who said the main reason he chose to play for the Buckeyes was to "be in the class of the receivers that have played there. I really wanted to be a part of that tradition."
But Miami's Sinorice Moss (5-8, 185) can do those guys one better.
Not only does he come from the proud Hurricanes lineage, but he is a carbon copy of his older brother Santana Moss, a Pro Bowl receiver for the Washington Redskins.
"He had a tremendous impact on my career," Sinorice Moss said. "Watching my brother while he was in college and now in the NFL and working on my things to better myself. Talking to him every day. Him being able to give me different pointers on how to run different routes and the things I have to do to be successful in the NFL."
Moss said he and his older brother are "very, very competitive." But he said they don't know who is faster. They have never raced, despite being asked repeatedly to do so.
Moss said he has also been asked repeatedly about living in his brother's shadow, but he's never felt that is the case.
"He's Santana, and I'm Sinorice. Both of us play football. That's what we love to do," said Moss, who said he never thought twice about following Santana at Miami, where he caught 37 passes for 614 yards and six touchdowns last season. "I wanted to be a champion.
"The University of Miami program hands down is one of the best programs in the nation. Watching my older brother there and the guys before him, and growing up watching the University of Miami, I wanted to be a part of that family."
Moss said players like his brother, receiver Reggie Wayne and tailback Edgerrin James and Clinton Portis all come back to the school to visit or work out in the summer. He said they often gave pointers on different subjects.
"It's like a big family," Moss said. "It gives me tremendous confidence to see myself building as a football player."
Perhaps more important, Moss can thank his brother for paving the way for shorter receivers like himself.
The success of players like Santana Moss (5-10, 190) and the Carolina Panthers' Steve Smith (5-9, 185) has helped NFL teams realize that game-breakers can come in all sizes.
"They opened a lot of coaches' eyes," said Moss, who projects as a second-round or late first-round pick. "It's not even an issue about your size. If you can play football, you have the threat to go out and make plays, size doesn't matter."
Moss, who has run 4.38 in the 40-yard dash during the offseason, hopes his versatility will enhance his draft status. He was a standout "gunner" in special teams coverage and also has the ability to return kicks and punts.
Jackson's 40 time was a pleasant surprise because he is bigger than Holmes and Moss. Scouts didn't look at him as a downfield burner because he played in the slot in Florida's pass-happy offense under new coach Urban Meyer last season.
That was a benefit, because he was able to catch 88 passes for 900 yards and nine touchdowns. But he was looking forward to flashing his speed to prospective teams this spring.
"When I can showcase that, hopefully I'll blow their minds away," he said at the combine.
Holmes also is not known for his speed, despite running 4.34 in the 40-yard dash this spring. And there have been some questions about his character. But Holmes said he planned to offer the most complete package of running, catching and blocking ability.
Holmes said his role model has always been NFL legend Jerry Rice, a guy who fell to 16th in the NFL draft.
"He wasn't the fastest guy ever," Holmes said. "He's the type of guy that wouldn't let anybody outwork him. The guy that works the hardest gets the job done."
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