In 2010, Josh Gordon was only a true sophomore, but he already had the body of an NFL wide receiver. In Baylor's spring game in April of that year, Josh burned one of the Bears' starting cornerbacks, hauled in a deep pass and left the defense behind him as he raced for the end zone. After the game, I was talking amongst some teammates and told them that in the fall we'll see plenty more of that from Josh Gordon.
Gordon is an absolute physical specimen. I knew just from watching him on the field in practice and during workouts that he was someone who undoubtedly possessed next-level talent. As only a true sophomore, he was built similarly to Terrell Owens. He has long arms with a wingspan of 82" inches. His hands are huge. At Baylor, the largest receiver gloves available were XXL. Gordon's hands were so big he never strapped up his gloves so he could have better hand and wrist mobility. His hands were very smooth and natural when catching the football and at his pro day workout on Tuesday this was evident -- he did not drop a pass.
Just the measurables alone, (6'3" and 224) make Gordon an intriguing NFL prospect. On top of the large physique, he also has speed. I know at his pro day he was clocked at a 4.52 forty-yard-dash but he also hurt his quad during that run. I know for a fact that at Baylor he timed in the low 4.4's and was on the verge of breaking into the high 4.3 range. Physically, he is a rare breed and this is what makes him such a tantalizing prospect for many NFL teams - former NFL scout Russ Lande wrote today that "based purely on film evaluation, Gordon is a better prospect than Brian Quick (St. Louis Rams) and Stephen Hill (New York Jets), both of whom were second-round picks in April."
Much has been made of Gordon's "character issues". In my opinion, and as a former teammate of Gordon's, I have to say that I think these character issues are overblown. Josh is a shy person and is very quiet. I will admit that I didn't get to know him very well when he was at Baylor, but he was always kind to me in any interaction I ever had with him. He was a good teammate and always worked hard at practice. He also showed a sincere willingness to want to get better at his craft. One thing I remember Josh struggling with was route-running because our receivers coach at the time, Dino Babers, wanted precise, perfect routes from Gordon. Also, In my opinion, I don't think he gave it everything he had in the weight room. Maybe my opinion of him in the weight room is unfair, but that's my two cents.
I can assure you that Gordon is not the type of person to get into trouble with the law, it's just not his personality. He's not violent or aggressive off of the field. Yes, he did struggle with marijuana at Baylor but it seems as if he has moved on from that and learned his lesson. Also, I'd just like to state that the coaching staff at Baylor wanted to give Gordon another chance, but the university demanded that he be released from the program. In the grand scheme of things, it's not a crazy revelation that a football player smoked some marijuana.
During the 2010 season, Gordon had 42 catches for 714 yards and 7 touchdowns. Against the 2011 TCU Rose Bowl winning team (which had a great defense), Gordon hauled in a 53-yard touchdown. Against Rice he had a 46-yard touchdown. His best game was against Kansas when he had 4 catches, 161 yards, and 2 touchdowns - including a 94-yard touchdown on a screen pass where he easily outran the entire secondary. Another notable game was when he had 7 catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns against Kansas State.
Even though he only did it for one year, the production in 2010 as a true sophomore was excellent. A popular opinion among many people associated with Baylor football was that Josh Gordon had more talent and ability than 2012 first round draft pick Kendall Wright. Unfortunately for Baylor fans, they really only got to see one season of Gordon's talent. Imagine what Gordon might have been able to do with another year of catching passes from RG3? Gordon's sophomore production likely would have led to an even better 2011 season and his draft stock would have soared in Baylor's high-octane offense.
Because of the sky-high potential, Gordon adds some intrigue to the 2012 NFL Supplemental Draft, taking place today. At his pro day workout on Tuesday, several teams were represented, including the Seahawks.
NFL Best Case:
Gordon is someone who could eventually be a Pro Bowl player. I compare his game to Terrell Owens. He is deceptively fast and has the ability to hit the home run. He is also extremely talented with the ball in his hands and creating yards after the catch. He is tough to bring down and it usually requires multiple hits and defenders to tackle him. He uses his body well to block the defender and has the ability to get up and snag the ball at its highest point. Not in the immediate future, but eventually I think Gordon can be a #1 receiver. Had he stayed at Baylor, I think he would have been their #1 receiver this past year, even ahead of Kendall Wright. In today's NFL, I think he could develop to be a player similar to Brandon Marshall.
NFL Worst Case:
I can't see Gordon being a complete bust. I think he'll remain in the league for at least a while because of his physical ability and high potential. But even in a worst case scenario, I think the worst he could do is be a member of a team's 53 man roster and be a backup. I can't foresee his perceived "character issues" being a reason he would be out of the NFL. Maybe I'm naive, but I sincerely believe he is a good guy and his days of trouble are in the past.
What I Think Will Actually Happen:
I think Gordon will be a contributing receiver for any NFL team. I see him as being someone like Laurent Robinson. A guy who plays in the league for a few years and has up and down years as far as production goes. I think it's safe to predict he'll have highlight moments in the NFL but he also might have moments where you forget he's on the field.
Seahawks Outlook on Gordon:
With the Seahawks identity being a physical, run-first offense, I can't see the Hawks really going aggressively after Josh Gordon. I think the Seahawks will end up placing a very conservative 5th round bid for him, just in case he falls and maybe the Hawks can get lucky and land someone with his caliber of talent at a premium discount rate.
In the Seahawks offense, I think Gordon would be able to contribute on the outside. If the Hawks got Gordon, then I think big Mike Williams could immediately kiss his time as a Seahawk goodbye. Gordon would, in my opinion, quickly take Mike's spot opposite of Sidney Rice. He is far more athletic than Williams and has the edge in speed, elusiveness, hands, and of course, youth.
By now I should have learned my lesson to not even try to predict what the Pete Carroll regime will do. After all, nobody had the Hawks taking Bruce Irvin with the 15th overall pick. All the things that Irvin has, Gordon also has: speed, upside, potential and "character issues". I'd be shocked if the Hawks bid aggressively for Gordon, but then again maybe I should never be shocked at what Pete Carroll might do, after Seattle's last few drafts.