While the West Virginia Mountaineers may have faced some struggles this season, one player who did not struggle was wide receiver Stedman Bailey. He led the nation in receiving touchdowns (25) and finished third in the country in receiving yards (1,622). Bailey may not have received as much attention as teammates Geno Smith or Tavon Austin, which could make him one of the steals in the NFL Draft.
5′ 10″ 195 lbs.
It only took two games before I fell in love with Stedman Bailey and what he can do for an offense. The first thing that I love about Bailey is his ability to catch everything thrown his way. He catches the ball with his hands instead of letting it come into his body. Bailey also has soft, strong hands that enable him to hold a tight grip on the ball and keep him from losing it when he gets hit. He does a great job grabbing bad throws, diving for passes near the ground or readjusting to grab a ball in the opposite direction. Bailey has the best hands in this class and his reliability will make him someone an NFL quarterback can trust.
Another area of Bailey’s game that I love is his route-running. He is a precise route-runner, who always finds a way to get open. Bailey has mastered every route and runs them as smooth as any player at his position. Bailey doesn’t have great speed, so he uses clean routes to make defenders bite and get open. When Bailey is drafted, coaches will fall in love with his ability to run every route they ask.
One of my favorite aspects to Bailey’s game that I think has been ignored is his ability in the end zone. While many would see a small receiver as someone who stretches the field and scores on big plays, Bailey is a gifted red-zone threat. He makes the defender bite on a route to get open as he crosses the goal line or he can reach out for a ball while keeping his feet in bounds.
One concern I have about Stedman Bailey is his height and how that will play at the next level. Bailey is only 5′ 10″ and will struggle against stronger CB’s. His size has also been a bit of a detriment when going up for a jump ball. Size may not make a football player, but it is an important thing to look at when a player transitions to the NFL.
Another concern many have about Bailey is his speed. For a small player, he doesn’t have the explosive speed you’d like to see. he ran a 4.52 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine. His size and lack of speed will hurt his draft stock as will concerns about the competition he was playing against.
In one of the deepest receiver classes in recent years, Stedman Bailey may not hear his name called as early as his talent indicates. I expect Bailey will be drafted in the later part of the 2nd Round. While he doesn’t have great size, his strong hands and great route running, will help him be an instant impact player as a rookie.
Stedman Bailey Highlights: