Stedman Bailey I West Virginia I WR I 5010 I 191 I Junior
40 Time (E): 4.48
Overview: How one gets overlooked with the numbers posted by Stedman Bailey is beyond me. Bailey was overshadowed by Tavon Austin and Geno Smith at WVU despite his enormous production. In the same way, Bailey has went relatively unnoticed in the pre-draft process and it’s likely that he won’t garner much media attention as he isn’t likely to blow anyone away with his height/weight/speed at the Combine. What Bailey lacks from a physical tools standpoint he more than makes up for with his overall ability as a pass catcher. I have been on record banging the table for this guy as a first round prospect and I will continue until he actually is.
Size/Speed: At 5-foot-10, Bailey isn’t going to jump off the page with his size despite having a solid build. Bailey could check in at the 195 pound mark in Indy and looks all of that. He plays physical in the run game and has outstanding body control to make up for his lack of size and leaping ability. Bailey won’t record an eye popping 40 time but he has no problem getting behind the defense. He has a knack of altering speeds in and out of breaks which is second to none in this draft. Plays with a suddenness to his game despite not being an explosive athlete.
Hands: You could make the argument that Bailey has the best hands in the draft. Rarely see a ball on the ground when it comes Bailey’s way (1 in the 9 games that I evaluated). He’s a natural plucker of the football and rarely lets the ball into his body. Stands out with his concentration on tough catches and making sideline grabs while keeping feet in-bounds. Most impressive is Bailey’s ability to adjust to the football in the air and use his body/strength to leverage the defender. Bailey could make an immediate impact in the NFL because of his reliable hands as he will be a guy that earns the trust of his QB immediately.
Route Running/Release: As good as his hands are, his route running may be better. He is so refined and precise on the routes that he runs that he makes up for his lack of elite long speed. Sets up his route so well with his ability to vary speeds, stemming the defender, and suddenness in and out of breaks. Sharp breaking route runner with excellent footwork and body control. Bailey is strong enough with good enough feet to avoid being re-routed.
YAC/Blocking: Bailey isn’t going to be a guy that turns a short pass into a big gain but will get the tough yards and can break tackles with suddenness and strength. Sudden athlete with the ability to make you miss when you think you have him dead to rights. More than capable blocker that will do the little things that often go unnoticed.
Body Control: Rare ability to control his body in air for a collegiate receiver. He’s not a great leaper but wins jump ball situations with his ability to find space and use his strength. Big time knack for sideline catches as he regularly was getting two feet in bounds. While many will point to his size as a major deterrent for him playing on the outside at the next level, his body control and route running should win the day in the eyes of NFL talent evaluators. Tracks the ball downfield and over the shoulder as well as anyone in the draft. His spatial awareness and eye tracking rival that of Markus Wheaton, who I’m very on high on as well.
Bottom Line: If you couldn’t tell by the scouting report, I’m banging the table for this kid. He’s a guy with slot receiver size that plays at a high level on the outside. For those chalking him up in the slot, you couldn’t be any more wrong. His feel for the position is rare and borders on elite for a collegiate receiver. While he may not blaze the 40 at the Combine, I never saw anyone catch him from behind and he was routinely behind the defense. There’s a long list of pretty good corners that couldn’t stop Bailey (worked over Tharold Simon in 2011, Carrington Byndom in 2012, etc). This guy is a major steal in my book if he makes it out of day one and there will be teams regret not taking him over some of the other receivers in the draft including his teammate Tavon Austin. He carries a first round grade for me and might wind up a steal of the draft.