Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Solving Our Problems: Limas Sweed

Limas Sweed is widely considered one of the top wide receivers available in the draft, along with Malcolm Kelly, DeSean Jackson and Devin Thomas. And its no surprise why, either, as he stands 6'4" and weighs 212 pounds. He has the prototypical body for a wide receiver, has the speed you want (he ran a 4.48 forty at the Combine) and produced big numbers the three years he was healthy.

In his first three years at Texas, Sweed caught 105 passes for 1609 yards and 17 touchdowns. His first touchdown at Texas was a catch to beat Ohio State the year that Texas won the National Title, and he considered to show a knack for making the big play, until his senior year was cut short after only 6 games due to a wrist injury that he had all season. His numbers were clearly effected, as he only caught 19 passes for 306 yards and 3 touchdowns.

After undergoing surgery to fix his wrist, Sweed seems to be back to 100%. He showed that he still has the speed, acceleration and strength that served him so well at Texas during workouts at the Combine and the Texas Pro Day. Sweed isn't just a physical specimen though. He has soft hands and combines them with his strength to hang onto passes despite having defenders draped all over him. He isn't afraid to go across the middle, and can easily over power corners that try to jam him. If the corner plays back, he uses his speed to eat up the cushion and blow right by. He also can change direction quickly, and is particularly adept at running the comeback route, a skill that would serve him well with the Vikings.

Aside from the comebacker, Sweed isn't known for his route running. He has a tendency to get caught up in hand battles with corners down field instead of running his route and also cuts his routes short at times. He isn't smooth going into or coming out of his breaks because he doesn't drop his hips as low as he needs to. Sweed also has some problems when jammed because he sometimes seems to forget his goal is to get past it, rather than overpower the corner. His ability to stay focused on the task at hand (running his route, getting off the line) isn't what you would want it to be and also manifests itself in dropped passes, as he'll try to start running before securing the ball.

At 24 years old, Sweed's ability to concentrate and his route running might still improve. He has a great work ethic and was considered a leader by the Longhorns. That being said, I'm not sure he's worth the risk. Problems with on field concentration are particularly worrisome, in my opinion, especially for receivers, who have the highest first round bust rate of any position. He has all the other skills, but so did a lot of receivers chosen in the first round who never panned out.

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