The wide receiver position may be perceived as a weakness on the offensive side of the ball. However, I’ll convince you that this unit may be as strong as it has been in recent years. First, let’s take a look at the projected depth chart. This assumes that we’ll be lining up in a spread formation moreso than a pro-style, which is what we should do considering our quarterbacks.
|Jeremy Gallon||Drew Dileo|
Freshmen likely to redshirt: None
On the outside, Roy Roundtree returns after a disappointing redshirt junior season. He has shown us in the past what he is capable of in terms of production after nearing 1,000 yards as a sophomore. However, that yardage came primarily from the slot position. Roundtree is poised to have a bigger year and become one of our downfield targets. He is a much more balanced receiver now who has always been a good route runner. If he can overcome the minor setback he had in camp this year with his knee, he should have a solid year on the outside. On the outside, we’ll have a position battle with Jeremy Jackson and Jerald Robinson. Jackson has played more over the years then Robinson, but in terms of being a downfield threat, Robinson is more explosive. Despite that, Jackson is considered a reliable receiver with great hands and instincts. Both should produce some throughout the season. I would not expect any eye popping stats from either of those guys although I’m sure we’ll see a few big plays from them throughout the season. I do, at this time, expect Jackson to get the nod week one as he has more playing experience. Behind these guys is the duo of true freshmen. Chesson is a speed guy who is still pretty skinny. However, he’s likely already bigger than Roy Roundtree. He could provide a downfield threat when needed. Amarah Darboh is a monster at the wide receiver position. He reported to camp at 6’2” 218 pounds and has been said to run a 40 in the mid-to-upper 4.5’s. If this is true, he could be a sleeper at this position and we may see him often down the road. Both guys still need to learn the offense and we’ll have to find out just how reliable they will be at this level. However this is a good combination of young talent.
In the slot is where I think we’ll see a lot of production come from in the passing game. Jeremy Gallon may be the best overall receiver on this team. His only downfall is being 5’8”. He plays much bigger than his size and has a knack for using his strong frame to get in position to haul in passes in jump ball situations. He likely has the best hands on the team and may have the best lateral quickness of any of the receivers as well. I expect a huge year from Gallon as being Robinson’s quick-go-to-guy. In the slot, Gallon should be able to get open early and often. I expect a big, big year from Gallon and it wouldn’t shock me if he was our leading receiver this year. His backup, Drew Dileo, is not much different than Gallon. Gallon may be a bit quicker and a bit stronger, but Dileo also has great hands and a high football IQ understanding the art of route running. Dileo is also a guy who may be able to lineup on the outside for quick screens, slants and curls. I expect him to have a solid year as well.
Now to the wildcard; Mr. Devin Gardner. We all know Gardner. We think we know what he can do at quarterback. However his spring game performance lacked a lot to be desired. He struggled in the spring game and simply did not look comfortable. However he was going against our number one defense most of the time. With that said, he is one of our best players in terms of athleticism. To get the best 11 guys on the field, he and Denard Robinson must be on the field together. Devin has speed, he has size and he has athletic ability unmatched by any of our current wide receivers. However what kind of route runner is he? Well, I have no clue what kind of route runner he is but being a quarterback he likely has a better understanding of the wide receiver position then a running back would. What kind of hands does he have? I remember watching film prior to his senior year at Inkster where he was making current Michigan State corner Mylan Hicks look silly. Devin was catching everything whether it was really high, really low or right in his chest. Gardner really is a wild card here and having seen the development of Russell Bellomy, I am very comfortable with Gardner getting 10+ snaps per game on offense.
Glimpse of the future:
Jaron Dukes – He would be Jeremy Jackson and Jerald Robinson all clumped up into one
Csont’e York – Typical pro-style receiver with good size and hands. Not a speedster.
LaQuon Treadwell – Simply an explosive player. Nice size, nice speed and great hands.