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2008 NFL Draft - Denver Selects WR, Eddie Royal

This pick is primarily about one thing, and that is CHARACTER.

And even though Royal's skillset will probably make him a good choice to replace Stokely eventually in the slot, I will go out on a limb here and say that Royal could really be in line to replace a much different kind of receiver, with a much different style of play, but similar results:  Rod Smith.

You see, Royal gets it, and what the Denver staff must have seen from him is the same kind of maturity that they have seen in guys like Smith, and Foxworth.  More than anything, Denver just wants to get some players on this team that they can DEPEND on, and nothing is a better indicator of that than character.

As far as his style on the field, slot routes are ideal for Royal, and any kind of route that lets him look for the soft spot between the defenders.  While he does have a tendency to round off his routes, he shows the quickness in and out of breaks, and he doesn't telegraph his motions, which are much harder traits to unlearn.  He has good hands, but may have some trouble catching bulletts from Cutler, so if Cutler wants to get a little extra one on one work in, Royal should take him up on it.  It is impossible to give him too much cushion, and he eats it right up with his acceleration off the snap, but he is also under control, a sign that he has taken well to his coaching.  And for any corner who doesn't watch out, Royal can get behind him instantanously, and with his quick stride, he is hard to tackle with just an arm tackle.

What really surprises you about Royal is how powerful he is for a smaller guy.  You see this show up in his head fakes of all places, where he fakes the defender, plants and drives away in a single powerful motion that is very effective.  You'll also see him breaking arm tackles and driving with his legs, and his body control is very promising, with flashes of exceptional, Harrison like ability.  An underrated part of his game is his willingness and effectiveness at blocking in the running game, if he had more bulk, he could hold up even better and be an elite blocking WR, but this is one young player who should really not even consider bulking up.  For better or worse he is probably as big as he is going to get.

His KR/PR ability is really just a synthesis of the talent above, but I will mention that he has incredible patience, and the acceleration to take advantage of it.  Add to that a tenacious competitiveness, and exceptional football intelligence, and this is a player who will fill a void that Denver has had on both sides of the ball, for several years now:  He will be a dependable.  He is also one of the better WRs at uncovering when his QB is in trouble, and like Bennett does a good job of recognizing when he needs to start working his way back to the line of scrimmage to help out.

Between his leadership role in the weight room and his love of the game, his coaches all figure he is a likely candidate to be a coach someday, but in the meantime, he has his work cut out for him:  help establish a short field for the offense, and get involved in the red zone, both will be difficult tasks and the urgency of his contributions is undeniable.

But unlike our past WR picks, this is a player who has his head, and his heart, in the right spot.