Draft Target: Robert Woods

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Almost any evaluation of USC wide out Robert Woods is going to have a lot of positives, but a lot of those compliments of his game will come with a qualifier that reads “when healthy” which in and of itself is a red flag.

Woods followed up a prolific college career with a very decorated three years at USC.  He was Matt Barkley’s favorite target as a freshman and sophomore, and still managed to produce decent numbers despite his arthroscopic ankle surgery prior to his junior season.

The angle is the biggest question mark with Woods, as he clearly wasn’t as dominant last season as he previously was, but “when healthy” he looks like a top ten prospect.  At some point in the Draft, a team will decide that the risk of selecting an injury concern no longer outweighs the reward of getting a potential franchise receiver.

At 6′ 0″ and 201 pounds, Woods possesses decent size and an elite skill set that could make him a household name over the next decade.

He has the speed and agility to create separation, even against top notch competition, and then a large catch radius that makes life easy on teh quarterback.  His routes and timing are among the best in this class and he can be kind of a bully, when necessary, if it comes  fending off a cornerback for the football.

He works really hard to make plays in traffic coming across the middle of the field and especially in the end zone.  Very good awareness and timing allows him to come up with the football, and get his feet in bounds,  when it seems there is no room for error.  He can lay out, high point the football, or tap the toes to make jaw dropping catches at times.

After the catch, Woods has a no-nonsense style of play, and he gets himself turned upfield quickly to try and maximize his yardage.  Unfortunately, he sometimes gets turned up field too quickly and gets ahead of himself resulting in a dropped pass.  It isn’t the only reason Woods drops passes, and he does more of that than one would like to see, but it seems to be a pattern.

Woods is a well rounded receiver, who blocks quite well and has experience as a return man, and could really be an impressive specimen should he add some bulk and get some high quality NFL coaching.

If it weren’t for the ankle, I would say that Woods is a sure-fire first round pick, so the Vikings need to rely on Head Trainer Eric Sugarman and his evaluation to see where he lands on their draft board.  Should he somehow manage to still be available when they are making a choice in the second round, I can’t imagine he wouldn’t be a very serious consideration.