Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Get to Know 'Em: Anthony Gonzalez

March Madness is over. Baseball's spring jewel, Opening Day, was yesterday. Which means that, aside there being baseball to watch every day (which I'm unbelievable excited about), it's time to start focusing on the NFL Draft. Like everyone else, I'm interested in who the Vikings' take with the #7 overall pick, but what really interests me is who they might take with their second rounder. So, over the next week or so, I'm going to take a look at those players who'll still be around for the Purple to add with the 41st overall pick, starting with Anthony Gonzalez, a senior wide receiver out of Ohio State.

At 6'0 and 193 lbs, Gonzalez doesn't have the height or bulk necessary for a first round pick. His size also lead to problems with physical corners and getting off the line when bumped. Gonzalez also does not have the experience as a #1 receiver, that you'd like to see, as he lined up opposite Ted Ginn, Jr, meaning he rarely saw double coverage while in college. What he does have, however, is an understanding of how to run routes. Everything I've read about him has emphasized that Gonzalez is a precise route runner, something that will fit in well in Brad Childress' West Coast Offense.

What makes Gonzalez different than your average possession receiver is his speed. The 4.44 forty he turned in at the combine was the 15th fastest time by a wide receiver, faster than the times turned in by Sidney Rice, Dwayne Jarrett and Dwayne Bowe. Gonzalez has also shown the work ethic and continual improvement necessary for success in the NFL. His stats improved each year, and he went above and beyond the normal routine by purchasing and sleeping in an altitude tent this past season to improve his conditioning. And his grades suggest a player smart enough to grasp a complicated offense (so he'll have no trouble with Childress'...Oh Snap!).

Gonzalez looks like he might be a diamond in the rough, and while he will not be Randy Moss, he has the potential to be a quality receiver for the Vikings for a long time. If the Vikings end up using their first round pick on a defensive player, Gonzalez would be a great way for them to address their lack of depth at receiver in the second round.

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