+Physical route runner
+Great run blocker
+Decent change of direction skills
-Not too fast
-Constantly traps passes against his frame
-Can’t create yards after the catch
-Not very quick
I’m not too high on USC receiver Robert Woods. I think that, for the most part, he is a product of a poor wide receiver class (the seniors are awful, the juniors are average). I feel like that, if he is a first round pick, it will be a result of the poor wide receivers from this year’s class. I’d say 2, maybe 3 wide receivers from this draft class are truly worthy of a first round pick. Woods isn’t horrible, but he’s not worthy of a first round pick.
Woods has mediocre measurables. He has average height at 6’1, poor bulk at 184lbs, and average speed for size with a 4.47 40 yard dash. That’s one of my main problems with Woods. Guys who are 6’1, skinny, and run a 4.47 40 grow on trees in the NFL. They’re all over the place. Physically, Woods doesn’t bring anything special or even above average to the table, which is a big concern for me.
Woods has excellent stats. In 2010, as a true freshman, he had 65 catches for 792 yards and 6 touchdowns. In 2011, he had 111 catches for 1292 yards and 15 touchdowns. However, I think his stats are extremely misleading. I’ve never seen a receiver who is targeted as frequently as Woods on bubble screens (something I think is underrated). Bubble screens, often to Woods, are an important part of USC’s offense (a part that I love). But bubble screens don’t tell the true story of the skill of a receiver statistically. Getting a reception on a bubble screen is pretty easy. But here is the thing with Woods; if you throw out the Arizona game (a statistical anomaly) and the 4 catches he had that went for more than 40 yards last season, you are left with a receiver who’s yards per catch is 9.1. 9.1! He makes 2-6 yard catches on bubble screens with unbelievable frequency, but they aren’t a good representation of skill. There are lots of receivers who could put up his kind of stats if they played on a team that uses as many bubble screens as USC. Yards per catch definitely isn’t everything, but, watching him play, I feel like his stats are inflated by all the easy plays he makes. But, still, Woods has good stats.
Woods has awful hands (at least by a receiver’s standards). He probably has the worst hands of any receiver in this draft class. He constantly traps passes against his frame and I’ve seen him drop plenty of passes. He also has no awareness of the sideline. However, he can make catches in traffic and has solid leaping ability When I see a receiver trapping passes against his frame, it usually means one of two things; it’s either a lack of focus (Roddy White), or the result of very, very small hands (Torrey Smith). I’m leaning toward the latter, since I can’t help but notice that Woods has better results when trapping passes against his frame. A majority of his drops are on passes he tried to catch with proper fundamentals, so I’m leaning toward the idea of small hands (which, unlike focus, cannot be changed). Regardless, Woods’ hands and tendency to trap passes against his frame are major red flags.
Woods can’t create yards after the catch. It seems odd considering that he is so frequently targeted on bubble screens, but the main reason for that is the fact that even though USC has excellent receivers, none of them are good at creating yards after the catch. The fact is, Woods has very little quickness in the open field, he takes a long time to reach top speed, he has no shiftiness or change of direction skills in the open field, and his vision is average at best. However, his above average strength and power allow him to at least create yards after contact (meaning fall forward as he gets tackled), and he has excellent balance.
Woods is an average route runner. He is very stiff, lacking suddenness in his cuts, he doesn’t incorporate many head fakes into his routes, and he isn’t a quick twitch athlete. He’s too stiff for a traditional square cut and he has to chop his feet before changing directions. However, for what he lacks in quickness he makes up for with strength. Woods is among the most physical receivers I have ever seen. He has mastered techniques such as the “push him by” technique (meaning pushing the defender as you break the stem of your route). Many of these techniques are also known as “offensive pass interference” unless you hide them well. That’s exactly what Woods does. The techniques he uses are illegal (such as rub/pick routes, which involve a wide receiver “accidentally” running into a defender covering one of his teammates similar to setting a screen in basketball), but he usually can usually make sure the ref doesn’t see it or make it look like an accident (Michael Irvin was really good with those techniques). It’s pretty fun to watch. However, in basketball, they say that “teams that press (apply full court pressure) don’t like to be pressed.” Same is true for Woods. He loves to be physical, but he hates it when a defender gets physical. More than anything, he struggles to get a clean release against press coverage (his strength is tremendous for a 180lb receiver, but he is still a 180lb receiver). Still, even though he lacks quickness, he makes up for it with his old school physicality.
Woods is an intense run blocker. He has long arms and tremendous strength relative to his size (only average strength; remember, he’s 184lbs), he plays with ideal on field intensity, he has tremendous awareness as a run blocker, and he uses ideal blocking fundamentals. I have no reason to believe his character is anything less than stellar, considering how intense he is on the field and his clean record off the field, bur he occasionally struggles to keep his composure when dealing with adversity. Woods is an above average run blocker right now and will only improve as he adds the bulk that he so desperately needs.
Ultimately, I don’t think too much of Woods. I think that he is mostly the product of a weak draft class for wide receivers. He simply doesn’t impress much on film.
NFL Comparison: Either Justin Blackmon with poor hands or Torrey Smith/Roddy White with less speed.
Grade: 88 (worthy of an early second round pick)
Projection: 96 (will be a mid to early first round pick)