ESPN.com evaluation: WR Taylor Stubblefield

Originally Published: January 28, 2005
Scouts, Inc.

Editor's note: Practice notes will be updated daily and a final report will be completed on Friday, Jan. 28.

Taylor Stubblefield is an experienced and polished receiver. He played inside and outside at Purdue but his best fit in the NFL will be as a sub-package slot receiver. He will always be limited by his below-average size and speed, and he'll have a lot more trouble separating at the next level. However, he is quick, savvy, sure-handed and polished.

If Stubblefield can prove to scouts at the Senior Bowl that he's capable of breaking the press and gaining separation, he will do wonders for his draft stock. Right now he's a mid-round prospect that projects as a No. 3 or No. 4 slot receiver in the NFL.

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Taylor Stubblefield 23Purdue21WR
PLAYERAGESCHOOLNO.POSITION

Height5-11 -- Below average height.
Weight172 -- Marginal bulk and overall size will cost him on draft day.
Speed4.65 in the 40-yard dash. Lack of ideal speed is a huge concern.
IntelligenceIs a smart player with a great feel for the game.
ToughnessIs tough. Not afraid to go over the middle.
Strength/FlexFlexible athlete. Lack of strength could be problem in the NFL.
DurabilityNever suffered a major football injury.
CharacterA hard-working, high-character player.
ProductionProductive Big 10 receiver had 309 career receptions.

WR SPECIFICS
Hands
A
Exceptional hands. Catches away from his body and on the run. Good in traffic.
Adjust to Ball
B+
Only lacks acceleration to deep ball. Finds it quickly, adjusts to it and catches everything.
Instincts
A
Uncanny feel for the game. Gets open and does a terrific job of finding the ball in the air.
Patterns
A
Crisp with terrific body control. Separates versus man and zone coverage. Is a natural.
Receive Long
C
Makes occasional play vertically. Won't provide as much in NFL due to lack of size and speed.
Receive Short
A-
Only thing missing is size. Crisp routes, gets open quickly and catches everything.
Running Ability
C-
Gets upfield and gets what is available. Lacks explosive speed. Not overly elusive.
Blocker
B
Undersized but gives a great effort and is technically sound.
React in Crowd
B
Tough. Will go over the middle and fight for the ball. Not going to win a lot of jump balls.
Release
C+
Adequate but will have more trouble in NFL versus bigger and stronger DBs.

PRACTICE NOTES
Monday (1/24/05): Stubblefield has a terrific feel for the passing game. He is a smooth route runner with great body control. He doesn't gear down prior to breaking and he shows decent burst out of his cuts. He does a very good job of coming back to the ball and his hands are outstanding. The problem, however, is that Stubblefield is limited by his below average size and speed. When working against defensive backs at the East-West Shrine game he was quick enough to consistently gain separation, but that clearly isn't going to be the case against much bigger, stronger and faster cornerbacks here at the Senior Bowl. Stubblefield was decent today but when drills get more physical as the week progresses, his weaknesses may begin to stand out more.

Tuesday (1/25/05): Stubblefield remains the model of consistency. He won't drive defenders off much in man-coverage. His lack of size and top-end speed will always limit him. He also lacks acceleration when trying to track down the deep ball, which became extremely evident on a vertical fade route that he couldn't catch up to in the corner of the end zone this morning. However, Stubblefield still has value as a third or fourth round pick. He is outstanding versus zone coverage because of his great feel for finding soft spots. His hands are outstanding, he "plucks on the run" and does a very good job of concentrating in traffic.

Wednesday (1/26/05): Stubblefield has made himself a lot of money during this week's Senior Bowl. His lack of size and speed will keep him out of the top two rounds of the upcoming draft and will limit his potential as an NFL receiver, but he has proven against good DB competition this week that he is going to be a productive WR in the NFL. He has always found ways to overcome his lack of ideal "measurables" and he continues to do it this week. He has a rare feel for recognizing coverage and finding ways to get open. He does a terrific job of finding soft spots in zone coverage and he also uses his subtle moves, sharp cuts, quick leans and excellent overall body control to gain separation against bigger and faster cornerbacks in man-to-man coverage. Stubblefield isn't afraid to go over the middle, catches the ball extremely well in coverage and is a tough receiver that will take a hit and hold onto the football.

Thursday (1/27/05): It was an uneventful afternoon for Stubblefield. Made a couple good catches in the intermediate zone during team drills. Continues to show very consistent route running skills and reliable hands.

SUMMARY
This was a big week for Stubblefield from a legitimacy standpoint. Everyone knows how productive he was in Purdue's wide open passing attack and scouts also saw him dominate just mediocre talent in the East-West Shrine game. However, by coming out this week and providing as much consistency and playmaking ability against some of the elite defensive backs in this year's draft, Stubblefield might have earned himself a spot late on Day 1. Stubblefield's upside in the NFL will always be limited by his lack of size and speed. He'll never be a No. 1 or No. 2 starter on the perimeter, he has very little upside as a special teams player and, at best, he can develop into a chain-moving possession guy from the slot. However, what Stubblefield did prove this week is that he is quick and instinctive enough to separate versus elite cover corners. In doing so he proved that there is a place for him in the NFL. His recognition skills, hands, toughness and technique are outstanding. He works hard as a blocker and he isn't afraid to work the middle of the field and take a hit while holding onto the football. If nothing else, Stubblefield improved from a mid-to-late round prospect to now being considered a fringe Day 1 guy.


FINAL GRADE
B+

Ed.'s note: Final grades are reflection of players' performance at 2005 Senior Bowl practices.

Other Senior Bowl evaluations: QB Jason Campbell | QB Charlie Frye | RB J.J. Arrington
RB Kay-Jay Harris | RB Darren Sproles | RB Carnell Williams | WR Mark Clayton
WR Matt Jones | WR Roddy White | DB Ronald Bartell | DB Bryant McFadden

For more information on the 2005 Senior Bowl, go to the official site.

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