DRAFT 2008: WIDE RECEIVERS

Limas Sweed and Malcolm Kelly went to different schools, but they are friends who come from the same area of Texas. On April 25, they could be among the first wide receivers selected from a 2008 NFL Draft class many analysts consider deep at the position.

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Sweed, Kelly Among Deep Wide Receiver Class in 2008 NFL Draft

INDIANAPOLIS - They come from the same area of the same state. They play the same position, and are big, physical players. They have been friends for several seasons – and rivals, too.

Soon, Limas Sweed and Malcolm Kelly could share another bond:

Their draft status.

Sweed, who played collegiately at the University of Texas, and Kelly – who played at Oklahoma – each is considered among the top prospects in a deep wide receiver class, and each is considered a potential first-round selection in the April 25-26 2008 NFL Draft.

"I can remember when he came into the University of Texas (on a recruiting trip) to play wide receiver, actually the same position as me," said Sweed, who – like Kelly – is from east Texas and is considered by some the top available receiver. "From then on, we stayed in touch.

"Before the OU game, he'd call and talk a little trash. I'd call and talk a little trash."

Which of the two will have bragging rights on Draft Day remains to be seen, as does what wide receiver will be selected first this year.

That's because although the class is considered by many analysts among the deepest at the position in recent memory, there is little consensus when it has come to ranking the top available wide receivers.

Some analysts place Sweed atop the list, while others consider DeSean Jackson of California, Devin Thomas of Michigan State or Kelly the top receiver. Three other players – James Hardy of Indiana, Mario Manningham of Michigan and Early Doucet of Louisiana State – have been ranked in various orders in or near the first round.

"I think it's pretty deep," Buffalo Bills Head Coach Dick Jauron said of the wide receiver class during the recent NFL Owners Meetings. "I don't know how many great players there are. You never know that. I think it has depth to it.

"I think you're going to get a good receiver down the line, a little deeper than what I would consider normal."

The proliferation of multiple-receiver, pass-oriented offenses in college football has produced more NFL-ready receivers, said San Francisco 49ers General Manager Scot McCloughan.

"A lot of these college offenses are going to three- and four-receiver sets and guys have a lot of production," McCloughan said. "You look at the kids who are "Y's" and they'll have over 100 catches and 1,000 yards. So you're getting a football player that's more ready to play as a receiver because they've had so much production at the college level.

"It'll be a good group again."

Of the players generally considered to be the top receivers available – Sweed, Thomas, Jackson, Kelley, Hardy, Manningham and Doucet – only Sweed and Doucet are seniors.

"I think going into Oklahoma, you go in to win national championships," Kelly said of his decision to forego his senior season after catching 49 passes for 821 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior. "We never did get that accomplished, but just some kind of championships. We did win two Big 12 championships back-to-back, so I accomplished most of the stuff I wanted to accomplish in college. The game just slowed down a whole lot, so I felt like it was that time, and I felt I was physically ready to make the move."

Sweed, like Kelly, had a standout junior season, catching 46 passes for 801 yards and 12 touchdowns. He finished his career with 124 receptions for 1,915 yards and 20 touchdown in college, catching 19 for 306 yards and three touchdowns as a senior before a wrist injury ended his season with seven games remaining.

"Things happen and that's life, you know?" Sweed said. "I would say it's a minor setback for a major comeback."

Sweed, who said at the NFL Scouting Combine in February that "the wrist is 100 percent healed," attended the Senior Bowl in January, but did not play in the game after the injury was aggravated in practice.

"I'd go back there and compete again," Sweed said. "A lot of people thought that I re-injured my wrist. The only thing that happened was at that time I only had 10 percent range of motion out of 100 percent. And the doctor advised me not to go . . . 'It may hurt your draft status or whatever.' At that time, I didn't really care. I hadn't played football in over five or six months, so I was eager to get out there and play.

"I wanted to show: A) that I could get open, and B) that I could run by guys; but also that I am a tough guy willing to compete – because I felt like coaches at the University of Texas, they knew that every day I come out there and compete.

"The NFL coaches, they never had a chance to meet me, so I wanted to come in and leave an impression on them that I'm here and I'm going to compete."

Breaking Down the Top Wide Receivers

Unlike many positions, there is little consensus among analysts and observers about the top wide receivers in the 2008 NFL Draft. Few mock drafts have a receiver being selected in the Top 10, but at least seven receivers have been projected by some to have first-round potential. Devin Thomas of Michigan State is an early-entry junior whose stock rose in the eyes of many analysts with a solid performance at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. Several publications rank him at the top of the class. Limas Sweed of Texas missed the last seven games of his college career, but is still generally considered a solid late first-round selection, and many analysts believe California junior DeSean Jackson a potential first-rounder who could make an impact both as a returner and a receiver. Malcolm Kelly of Oklahoma ran slower in the 40-yard dash at Oklahoma's "Pro Day" than many expected, but most analysts still consider him a late first-round selection.

Wide Receivers on the Colts' Roster

Marvin Harrison, 13th NFL season; Reggie Wayne, eighth NFL season; Anthony Gonzalez, second NFL season; Roy Hall, second NFL season; Devin Aromashodu, 2nd NFL season; Courtney Roby, third NFL season; Onrea Jones, first NFL season.

THE WIDE RECEIVERS

A look at the wide receiver position in the 2008 NFL Draft. Rankings and projected rounds are based on several national draft publications and in no way reflect the opinions of Colts personnel.

Rank, Player, Ht., Wt., School, Projected Round WIDE RECEIVER

1, Limas Sweed, 6-4, 216, Texas, 1

2, DeSean Jackson, 5-10, 169, California*, 1

3, Devin Thomas 6-2, 215, Michigan State*, 1

4, Malcolm Kelly, 6-4, 224, Oklahoma*, 1

5, James Hardy, 6-5, 217, Indiana*, 1-2

6, Mario Manningham, 6-0, 181, Michigan*, 1-2

7, Early Doucet, 6-0, 209, LSU, 1-2

8, Lavelle Hawkins, 5-11, 187, California, 2-3

9, Andre Caldwell, 6-0, 204, Florida, 2-3

10, Adarius Bowman, 6-3, 223, Oklahoma State, 2-3

11, Jordy Nelson, 6-2, 217, Kansas State, 2-3

12, Donnie Avery, 5-10, 190, Houston, 3-4

13, Earl Bennett, 5-11, 208, Vanderbilt*, 3-4

14, Eddie Royal, 5-9, 184, Virginia Tech, 2-3

15, D.J. Hall, 6-2, 193, Alabama, 4-5

16, Keenan Burton, 6-2, 195, Kentucky, 4-5

17, Harry Douglas, 5-10, 178, Louisville, 4-5

18, Adrian Arrington, 6-2, 203, Michigan, 4-5

19, William Franklin, 6-0, 214, Missouri, 4-5

20, Dorien Bryant, 5-9, 175, Purdue, 5-6

21, Marcus Monk, 6-4, 222, Arkansas, 5-6

22, Steve Johnson, 6-1, 210, Kentucky, 5-6

23, Davone Bess, 5-10, 196, Hawaii, 5-6

24, Dexter Jackson, 5-10, 188, Appalachian State, 5-6

25, Mario Urruttia, 6-6, 220, Louisville*, 6-7

26, Jason Rivers, 6-1, 200, Hawaii, 7

27, Paul Hubbard, 6-2, 221, Wisconsin, 7

28, Marcus Henry, 6-4, 210, Kansas, 7

29, Ernie Wheelwright, 6-4, 215, Minnesota, 7

30, Darius Reynaud, 5-9, 201, West Virginia, 7

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