St. Louis Rams
Third Round, 92nd Pick
Stedman Bailey finished his college career as one of the most productive wide receivers in NCAA history despite forgoing his senior season for the NFL draft.
In a junior year for the record books, he caught 25 touchdown passes and racked up over 1,600 receiving yards on 114 receptions.
But will Bailey be able to continue his success without the help of high school and college teammate, Geno Smith? At only 5’10”, can he be anything more than a slot receiver at the next level?
|+ Tough and competitive, plays bigger than he is||- Shorter than you would like at 5'10 1/4"|
|+ Fights for yardage after the catch, great balance||- Lacks an explosive top gear, does not have deep speed|
|+ Crisp route-runner with some savvy||- Can he be more than a slot receiver in the NFL?|
|+ Good body control to adjust to passes|
Bailey may be considered undersized at 5’10.25” and 193 pounds, but he is built powerfully like a running back and has relatively long (32.75”) arms.
He is one that is more quick and precise in his movement than fast or explosive.
At the NFL Scouting Combine, he ran a 4.52-second 40-yard dash. Additionally, he recorded a 34.5” in the vertical and 9’9” in the broad jump.
While those results may be average, Bailey excelled in both the 3-Cone (4.09) and short shuttle (6.81), drills teams sometimes put more weight into than the 40.
A very competitive player on the field, Bailey looks to have the work ethic that teams will value.
He has been durable during his college career, but suffered a minor ankle injury during the second half of the Mountaineers' season.
In January 2012, he was cited for shoplifting a $5 box of over-the-counter cold medicine.
West Virginia head coach, Dana Holgorsen, runs a high-powered “Air Raid” offense. The Mountaineers employed mainly four- or five-wide receiver sets, with a heavy emphasis on passing the ball and winning through the air. In addition to the passing game, receivers were often featured in the backfield or on jet sweeps. Bailey lined up both outside and in the slot, winning battles all over the field.
Utilizing quickness and good footwork, Bailey consistently beats the jam. He lacks exceptional speed, so he must work harder than other receivers for separation. Luckily, he shows the ability to bait defenders in off-man coverage then beat them deep. He can quickly win inside position and is a perfect fit for the slot at the next level.
Bailey attacks the ball in the air. He possesses impressive body control, showing the ability to adjust to poorly thrown balls and make high-difficulty plays.
Additionally, he displays good concentration, tracking the ball well over his shoulder and demonstrating an innate awareness of the sideline.
While he is undersized, he holds his own in the air. On fade and go routes, he keeps defenders at bay with his inside arm and uses his frame to box them out.
He may be short for an NFL receiver, but long arms help give him a surprisingly wide catch radius.
One of the best route runners in this class, Bailey accelerates out of his breaks and creates separation. He is crisp, showing quick, careful feet. Whether short or deep, he flashes the ability separate with physicality at the top of his routes. He willingly crosses the middle of the field and brings the ball down in traffic.
Bailey plays with a high effort level and will work to get open. He finds holes in coverage when the play breaks down and identifies soft spots against zone defenses. The screenshots below will illustrate his knack for improvisation.
On this 3rd & 6 play in the 2011-12 Orange Bowl, Bailey is lined up wide to the left in his usual split-end position. It appears as if he is running a simple dig pattern to the hash mark. But when faced with backside pressure, he and quarterback Smith react simultaneously.
As Smith breaks the pocket and rolls to his right to avoid the rush, Bailey works to create a throwing lane deep down the middle of the field. He would get behind the safety on this play and make a sliding catch at the Clemson 45-yard line, for a gain of 25.
Though he has proven to be precise, some wary evaluators may be concerned that he played in an “Air Raid” spread offense.
Typically, Bailey displays strong, reliable hands. He plucks the ball from the air naturally, excelling when he must make plays outside his frame. Conversely, he gets himself into trouble when he lets the ball into his body and is not without the occasional focus drop.
A very impressive trait for a smaller receiver, Bailey can bring the ball down in traffic and make plays despite being hit. Though only 5’10”, he has relatively large hands that measure nearly 10 inches.
After the Catch
While not as electric as teammate Tavon Austin, Bailey excels after the catch.
He turns to face-up once he secures the reception and utilizes good vision to gain extra yardage. A combination of balance and elusiveness make him slippery with the ball in his hands. Not only is he a tough, resilient runner, he can make defenders miss and break tackles in space.
Bailey lacks dynamic speed, but is a playmaker regardless.
For a smaller receiver, Bailey is an outstanding blocker. He is very competitive and willing to get his hands dirty. In addition to showing some pop, he does a nice job of sustaining his blocks. He displays the ability to lock-on downfield and can help extend plays with his blocking.
Future Role/Scheme Versatility
One of the most productive receivers in college football, Bailey faces a tall order. His lack of prototypical size makes it unlikely that he will be viewed as a team’s primary option at the next level. Likewise, he’s not the burner that many would like from their X receiver, or split end.
Though he played primarily outside in college, Bailey could move into the slot at the next level and earn immediate playing time. His quickness, precision and toughness could make him a dangerous weapon inside.
Still, there is hope. Bailey plays bigger than he is, approaching the game with a chip on his shoulder. He shows the ability to separate at the intermediate and deep levels of the field due to crisp routes and physicality.
I believe he compares favorably to Danny Amendola of the New England Patriots.
Draft Projection: Second-Third Round
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