When the later rounds of the NFL draft roll around, every team is going to be looking to snag the sleeper pick of 2014. Teams needing an offensive weapon in those rounds may need to look no further than Willie Snead IV, wide receiver from Ball State University. A handful of you have probably heard his name before, but coming from a mid-major football conference, he hasn’t received the media attention that he deserves.
It shocks me sometimes when college football fans say they have never heard of Snead. With the numbers that he put up in 2013, the entire nation should be aware of who he is, and where he’s from. Last season, he had 1,516 receiving yards, putting him 3rd in the nation in overall receiving yards, ahead of notable receivers: Sammy Watkins, Odell Beckham Jr. and Mike Evans. In addition to that, he was tied for 4th in receiving touchdowns (15). With that impressive stat line, you would think that he’d be projected to go in the first three rounds, but that’s not the case.
There has been some debate about whether Snead should have declared for the draft this year or played out his final year of eligibility at Ball State. People thought that if given another year playing at the college level, Snead could improve his statistics even more, and ultimately improve his chances of getting drafted in a higher round. Contrary to that opinion, Snead made the right decision. Realistically, Snead wasn’t going to improve his numbers any more than he did in his 2013 season. The reason for this is simple: Keith Wenning (Ball State’s Quarterback) had already declared for the draft this year as well. It’s no secret that having a good QB is vital to a WRs success, and even though Snead is talented, there would be only so much he could do with a young, inexperienced QB.
CBSsports.com has Snead going undrafted and they rank him the 45th best wide receiver in the draft. That’s absolutely ridiculous to me. Most likely, Snead won’t go undrafted. A team will probably see his potential and take him in the 6th or 7th round. The biggest reason why Snead doesn’t have a higher draft stock is his lack of jaw-dropping athleticism that much of his competition showcased at the combine.
It’s safe to say that Snead really didn’t catch the eye of any scouts at his combine. It wasn’t that he did awful, it’s just that his combine results didn’t really match up with his 2013 stats. He ran a 4.62 40 yard dash, which puts him near the bottom of the list for wide receivers at that category. However, he did improve that 40 yard dash time to 4.56 at his Pro Day. He had a 33.5 inch vertical, which puts him just below average of what other receivers jumped. He only got 11 reps at the bench press, which again, puts him below average compared to other receivers.
Some say Snead is at a disadvantage because of his size. At only 5’11” and 195 pounds, he’s a smaller wide receiver. Because of this, he has to find a way to make up for his smaller stature, which he does. Snead finds ways to demolish his competition with his physicality. He battles for balls thrown in the air and a good chunk of the time he comes down with them. Snead made some incredible catches in his 2013 season, especially when you consider his size.
One of my favorite attributes about Snead is his consistency. Snead was able to find the endzone in every game in 2013 except for three. He scored multiple touchdowns five times. He was able to make at least five catches in every single game, and there were many games where Snead was getting nine or more receptions. It’s much more valuable to have a receiver that can consistently gain yardage and get receptions than it is to have one who can come up with a big play once every few games. Snead always finds a way to get the job done.
It’s been rumored that Snead has been working out with the San Diego Chargers, but I’m not sure that’s the best spot for him. Snead will probably end up as a slot man in the NFL, simply because he isn’t very big. If Snead went to San Diego, he would just be a backup to Eddie Royal. Snead deserves to be given the opportunity to shine his rookie season and being on the Chargers wouldn’t really give him the opportunity to do this.
I’m very curious to see where Snead actually goes in the draft, and how he performs his rookie season. When I watch Snead play, I see a ton of natural talent. It’s just unfortunate that he isn’t three inches taller. Still, he makes the most of his size and exceeds expectations for a mid-major receiver. Whichever team takes a chance on him in the later rounds could very well end up with one of the biggest steals of the 2014 NFL draft.