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Robert Woods Flying Under the Radar Heading into NFL Draft

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Robert Woods Flying Under the Radar Heading into NFL Draft

USC wide receiver Robert Woods. Photo by Brian Carriveau of CheeseheadTV.com.

For a player who had 111 receptions for over 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2011, you wouldn't think wide receiver Robert Woods would be flying under the radar, but somehow he is.

You'd think a player with such a high level of production at a major college program like USC would be considered top 10 draft choice. The strange thing is, there's no major injury or off-field concerns dropping his draft stock.

Most of the the things holding Woods back have been––to an extent––outside his control.

For one, USC was overrated this past season. Woods was assumed to be surrounded by national championship caliber talent, and that just wasn't the case. The Trojans finished the season a disappointing 7-6 despite coming into the season ranked No. 1 by the Associated Press.

"We had a rough year," said Woods at the NFL Combine. "We all kept thinking positive, after every loss. We still had faith in our team that we could still get to a bowl game and win every game. Our whole thing was, 'OK, let's just win the last four or the last three.' Unfortunately, we lost them at the end, but we still had a positive outlook."

On top of the letdown from a team perspective, Woods became the No. 2 receiving option for quarterback Matt Barkley in 2012, playing second-fiddle to Marqise Lee.

It was almost hard to fathom that a player like Woods who came into the season with 175 college receptions as a freshman and sophomore would be considered an afterthought in the passing game.

But Woods didn't tumble down the depth chart to just anybody. Lee materialized as the go-to receiver for Barkley in 2012, and all he did was becoming the Biletnikoff Award winner given to the nation's most outstanding receiver by hauling in 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns.

A year from now, barring unforeseen circumstances, Lee will very likely be considered the top wide receiver in the 2014 NFL Draft class.

Following USC's bowl game loss to Georgia Tech when he made public his intention to declare for the NFL Draft, Woods expressed frustration with not getting the ball as much as he was accustomed to and received some negative attention in the media.

"I would say that whole phrase in that interview got mis-worded," said Woods. "I had said that if Coach Kiffin's game plan was to get me to come back, then he probably would have got me the ball more. But his game plan wasn't to get me the ball; his game plan was to win football games, and he did that."

Despite playing a secondary role in the receiving game last season, it's not as if Woods wasn't productive. He still made 76 receptions for 846 yards and 11 touchdowns. Most receivers would kill for those kind of numbers.

Woods finished his three-year college career with 250 catches for 2,933 yards and 32 receiving touchdowns, good enough to become USC's all-time leader in receptions with one year of eligibility left unused.

And so Woods enters the NFL Draft looking to emerge from Lee's shadow to potentially become a No. 1 receiving option once again.

At 6-0 and 201 lbs. and possessing 4.51 speed in the 40-yard dash, Woods compares himself to Indianapolis Colts wideout Reggie Wayne.

"He's smaller, one type of receiver," said Woods. "He's not like a Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald, but he's making plays all around the field, and I can see myself similar to him."

It's possible the Packers could be looking for a Reggie Wayne of their own this draft, now that Greg Jennings has departed via free agency and Donald Driver has retired.

When Green Bay is on the clock with the 26th draft pick in the first round, they'll have to weigh the value of adding another weapon at the disposal of quarterback Aaron Rodgers against the downside of adding a player to a still-crowded position, even with the losses of Jennings and Driver.

Woods may very well develop into a No. 1 target in the NFL, but he'd be hard pressed to be anything more than No. 4 in his rookie year behind Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones.

Another factor working in Woods' favor is his experience as a return specialist. He has 55 career kickoff returns, taking one for a touchdown his freshman season, and 30 largely nondescript punt returns.

If the Packers want to give Cobb a reprieve from his return duties, Woods could make sense as an alternative.

"I feel like if I know the playbook early and study," said Woods," I can come in right away and make an impact."

Brian Carriveau is the author of "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (13) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Lee Krohn's picture

Robert Woods sounds like a Packer name. maybe 3 or fourth round

Jamie's picture

Looks like a mix between DeSean Jackson and Jarrett Boykins. Not against taking him...just not sure I would take him in the 1st or 2nd, and pretty sure he'll be gone before our 3rd. He may not even make it to our 2nd.

al's picture

we need a really phyiscal player not so much stats like de monster that guys tough guy !

cow42's picture

before drafting this guy... or anyone like this guy, the Packers should read this...

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/04/21/3356349_p2/bob-mcginn-packers-need...

Kevin VG's picture

I just read the article. Not sure why you posted this under Woods. Drafting 4 players that are undersized over 2 years doesn't mean we are sporting a team that is entirely undersized.
Now I'm all for drafting a D-lineman with our first pick since we need to start grooming Pickett's replacement. But Woods offers some great skills that might be very useful on offense and in the future. Woods is a good route runner (I've read on several sites) but more importantly is that he can return kicks. Boykin looked good in a small sample size so he might have the inside track to that. Regardless who is returning kicks, I just don't want Cobb back there and risk injury. And Woods will have less pressure on day 1 since he will be a 4 receiving option and can be brought along slowly. Who knows if Nelson, Jones or Cobb will be with the Packers after their current contracts are up. Grooming Woods makes a lot of sense. I just don't think he makes it to our second pick.

cow42's picture

"Drafting 4 players that are undersized over 2 years doesn’t mean we are sporting a team that is entirely undersized."

27th in the league in average wt. per player.

get the little guys later.
get some beef.
stop getting pushed around.
where woods will be picked - the Packers should be looking at trench players.

Kevin VG's picture

Agree with you that we need to beef up both sides of the line. I personally would think the Frederick in the second round would bring an element of nastiness to our O-line. So I would like to see us go DL with the first pick and OL with second. But as I read the above article, I can't help but think that a WR early this draft may be needed for return game/future purposes and I like Woods early. So I wouldn't be disappointed if we drafted Woods at all, despite agreeing that we need to get bigger in the trenches.

wiazcat's picture

I would like to get fredricks in the second. If we don't get a big body on the d-lune in the first. I wouldn't be upset with a TE or Franklin fir UCLA. A running game should help the o-line as well as keeping Rodgers upright.
Everyone is saying Harris but there is a reason why he was released by both Jacksonville and Pittsburg. I hope they don't draft a WR early because they have way to many other holes.

Stroh's picture

Not really knew. But agree... Been saying all offseason the Packer need to get bigger and faster, especially on D. I've been on the Jolly bandwagon for awile, and said he brought a toughness and physicality that was sorely lacking. Since missing out on McClendon and Canty it has convinced me that Thompson/McCarthy are well aware of it also.

If Jolly is anything like he was and Bishop returns that 2 players that bring real good size and an aggressive/physical element to the D. Of the DL in this draft Syl Williams, Hankins and Short have something laking on the DL. But at the same time, Jolly brings as much or more if he can make it back. Perry is another physical player that was missing last year and adding that element to the secondary would also change the D remarkably!

hayward4president's picture

If we drafted a wr in rd 1 I'd punch TT in the face .

Kyanna's picture

Now I'm not saying Packers should draft him or anything...but I just gotta say DANG HE'S FINE!

madmanJack's picture

show me a correlation between average body weight and winning and then maybe i buy into the Packers being too small.

madmanJack's picture

draft the BPA and if you aren't thrilled with whats there trade back.

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