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Cliff Russell's 40 time: 4.27


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That's all I really wanted to say -- and maybe that's all that needs to be said. He still needs some coaching to round out his rough edges, but when he does that, watch out . . .

From USA Today . . .

The fastest player to ever perform for the Utes, boasting a 4.27 timing in the 40-yard dash…As strong as he is fast, he started the last three years at flanker, catching 124 passes for 1862 yards (15.0 avg) and ten touchdowns…His 124 receptions and 1862 yards rank sixth on the school's career-record lists.

The rest of his draft profile can be accessed in the link that follows.

4.27 . . . sheesh . . .

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/nfl/2002draft/wrs/cliffordrussell.htm

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straight line speed is not as impressive as his quickness out of his stance and his 'football' speed with the ball in his hands.

I can remember other players like Johnny Lam Jones of the Jets and James Jett that were track guys and came into the NFL burning up the astroturf.

Unfortunately, they never rounded out their games enough to be consistent pass catchers at this level. Defensive backs figured out they only had one speed and one move and were defensible down the field.

If speed alone were the be all and end all then Jerry Rice, Art Monk, Cris Carter and Steve Largent wouldn' t be HOF receivers. :)

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I think Russell makes sense as a pick once the Redskins failed to move up for Stallworth. There was a comment in TSN that if Spurrier got ahold of Stallworth he would have turned him into a legend. The thought is that Stallworth is similar in may regards to the Florida receivers, but, unlike the Florida receivers Spurrier's had, Stallworth has the physcial traits to excel in the NFL and the way Spurrier seems to get more out of his receivers than NFL teams can would have boded well for Stallworth here.

Russell is a poor man's Stallworth. An inch shorter, a few pounds lighter and perhaps not quite as fast, though, that depends where you read. Russell will be a measuring stick for Spurrier's ability to coach because Russell may be the most physically gifted receiver Spurrier has coached at the receiver position, just as Ramsey is the most physically gifted player he's coached at the QB position. What he wrings out of these guys will go a long way to determining our success down the road.

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Seen Russell in high school and college and he is no poor man's Stallworth. Body catches a lot and doesn't have real solid WR skills. Probably due to lack of reps since he was injured frequently and wasn't a true WR in high school. Doesn't have the open field running ability that Stallworth or Hakim have IMO. He's no bum, but I think people are getting their hopes up too fast for this guy. I think he'll turn out to be a good player if given the time and coaching, but I won't expect much from him this year. I say this because despite all his ability, he didn't produce a lot of big plays in his career (low rec and rush avg, lack of TDs)

Of note, I read this about one of his games:

Oregon - Facing one of the Pac-10 Conference's top cornerbacks, Rashad Bauman, he torched the defender for 100 yards on 7 receptions.

That would be the Redskins other 3rd round pick, Rashad "I wish I was a little bit taller" Bauman :)

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JB,

Don't mistake what I said to indicate I was puffing Russell up. He was a third-round pick for a reason and largely that reason is he was hurt some and he is reported not to have great pass catching technique. Stallworth is a lot further along on the scale of readiness than is Russell.

But, Russell is a guy with physical gifts similar to Stallworth's. Spurrier will be responsible for teaching him how to be a wide receiver as he has taught his Florida receivers over the year. Again, the biggest compliment I've heard given Spurrier was from an NFL GM (I think Big E in Giant country) who said when Spurrier's receivers hit the NFL they are already polished in the skills of playing the position.

They properly stem routes before planting into a cut. They use proper hand position coming out of breaks and they understand the importance of precision route running. Spurrier's receivers have done well on the college level because, essentially, they are playing with professional receiver technique and they are largely as talented as those they go up against. But, when they hit the pros, they are still very good form players, but, they have tended to lack the explosive traits physically to become a dominating receiver.

Russell lacks all of the polish Spurrier puts on his receivers, but, he does have explosive physical traits. He may totally fail at the NFL level for the reasons you stated, in that he's not a shifty or overly quick runner and like Albert Connell, he's more straight-line fast than football fast. But, in Russell Spurrier has a guy similar to his Florida guys in terms of body size. He also has physical tools to work with. Given Spurrier's history, I think he can make a player out of an athlete in Russell and that will go a long way toward making the Redskins successful.

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excellent points Art. I have also heard scouts and NFL people say that despite their lack of success, Florida WRs run tight, crisp routes and know the position well. Let's hope Russell learns these traits and uses it with his physical skills to be a producer for the Skins. Naturally I'm pulling for the guy, he's from Hawaii like me :)

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