25 Days to the Draft: Cincinnati WR, Mardy Gilyard

With the Draft fast approaching, it's time to start looking at some potential players for the Patriots. I'm going to put profiles of 2 players a day- one offense, one defensive- and gain a better understanding of the players in the draft.

The Patriots had trouble with wide receiver depth last season. After a phenomenal 2007 season, we expected any receiver to do well in New England. Then we had Greg Lewis. And Joey Galloway. After striking out last off-season with receiver pick-ups, as well as adding the unfortunate injury to Wes Welker, the Patriots could be in the running for another receiver this off-season. Enter Cincinnati WR Mardy Gilyard. An accomplished receiver in college, Gilyard has the potential to be that 3rd receiver we've been looking for. While he may be a little on the skinny side, he managed to tear up the competition at the Senior Bowl and appears to be capable of playing at the next level. His versatility as a kick returner adds to his value and will definitely be looked at by the Patriots front office. Will Gilyard find a place on the Patriots, or would he end up being a smaller version of Brandon Tate?

His measurements and some quotes after the jump.

WalterFootball.com Scouting

Height: 6-0. Weight: 187.
Projected 40 Time: 4.45.
Combine 40 Time: 4.56.
Pro Day 40 Time: 4.47.
Vertical: 39. Broad: .

CBSSports.com Scouting

02/28/2010 - When it comes to first impressions in front of the national media, Mardy Gilyard made a positive, lasting impression at the NFL Scouting Combine Saturday. The former UC standout, who lost his scholarship and was out of school in 2006, recounted his story about living out of his 2002 Pontiac Grand Am and working four jobs while trying to earn his way back into school and on the team. "It took me from a kid that felt like he was full - from a kid that felt like I was everything and anything to football in Cincinnati - to someone that didn't have anything at all," Gilyard told reporters. "I was homeless in the city. I lost my scholarship. I got evicted from my house. With that all in mind, I had to find faith and myself. I had to grow up. I was a real knucklehead kid. Arrogant, cocky, immature. I had to grow up, so that helped me out a lot. I wouldn't change it for nothing." Those questions about 2006 have popped up frequently during team interviews this week, but it has been Gilyard's ability to answer them point blank that has drawn the biggest raves. But to those who have followed Gilyard's career with the Bearcats, this is the person they have grown to follow and respect. He has drawn rave reviews for speaking and owning up to his problems without teams having to pluck and pry it out of him with a series of questions. "I speak it truthfully and as gracefully as I can," Gilyard said. "I try not to sugarcoat anything. When you get caught up in sugarcoating you might slip in a lie here and there and that's not what I'm about." Between his performance at the Senior Bowl, where he had five receptions for 103 yards and a TD, and the Combine, Gilyard has tried to work on his 40 time. The only thing he will not do at the combine is lift due to a sore shoulder. - Joe Reedy, Cincinnati Enquirer

NFL.com Scouting

Gilyard is an excellent college receiver with top athleticism and above average acceleration and average speed and size for the next level. He has been extremely productive in a passing offense but will need work on making his routes more precise as well as on his release off the line. He is extremely dangerous once he has the ball in his hands and can be a threat to take it all the way with his running skills. He can short arm the ball when he hears footsteps and will need to work on his receiving skills when in traffic.

Strengths

Gilyard is a very athletic prospect who was extremely productive in college. Is a terror in the open field with the ball in his hands after catch. Has the quickness and burst to separate from defenders when running short to intermediate routes. Is a high-character guy on the field.
Weaknesses
Gilyard has adequate height but lacks the bulk you like to see in a starting receiver and isn’t a good blocker. Is quicker than fast and top end speed is only adequate – won’t blow by many pro DB’s. Hands are inconsistent. Makes too many body catches.

MockingtheDraft.com Scouting

Final Word: After a troubled past and a rough start to his career at Cincinnati that started off as a defensive back and suspension due to academic shortfalls, Gilyard broke out in 2008 as a dynamic playmaker that could do it all with the ball in his hands. His reputation coming in to the league will revolve around his ability to return kicks and punts to the house (5 TDs over the past 2 seasons) but unlike many other return specialists, Gilyard’s promise as a receiver is very high. Despite the lack of top end speed, Gilyard is a threat down the field because of his ability to make the difficult catch with a cover man draped all over him. He will do most of his damage as a short and intermediate receiving option because he can find the tight windows and make those tough catches. Once he has the ball in his hands, all bets are off as he will prove to be a threat to score every time. He has an awkward running motion and will need to strengthen his lower half before he is fully ready to contribute every down, but the intangibles are there and he is a free spirit that loves the game. He will likely be a 2nd-3rd rounder that pays immediate dividends as a returner and offers the upside as a complimentary receiver in the future.

Verdict: Gilyard provides the same services as last year's selection Brandon Tate, but without the upside. Gilyard lacks the size to be an NFL pro and will most likely end up being a return-man who also plays a 3rd receiver, or 4th on a receiver deep team. However, what you see is what you'll get- selecting Gilyard is knowing that you're going to be getting a 3rd receiver and special teams player. He'll most likely be gone by the 3rd or 4th round, which means the Patriots would have to spend a 2nd on him. Is he going to help whatever team he is drafted by? Absolutely. Is what he is going to contribute worth a 2nd round pick? I don't think so- especially when his skill set is so similar to players already on the team. Sorry Gilyard, good luck on another team!

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