PROS: Has top speed and burst and able to stretch defense. Works well from the slot. Dangerous after the catch and works very well on screens. Has nice hands and will extend for the ball. Gives some effort as a blocker. Capable return that is good at making the first guy miss as a punt returner.
CONS: Undersized, and it hurts him when throws aren't on the money. Gets outmuscled in traffic. Not a factor as a blocker despite effort due to lack of size and strength. Needs to improve his route-running. Body catches too often. Dances a bit too much as a returner and will bobble some, signaling potential to muff a few.
OVERVIEW: Is a very good slot receiver that was an explosive playmaker due to his track speed. His talent for returning punts was why Spiller wasn't used there much. Only became No. 1 receiver as a senior after playing with Aaron Kelly for many years.
NFL FORECAST: I'm not sure that Ford is going to be anything more than a return specialist at the next level. Teams will love his speed and big play potential working in the slot. But he isn't a natural receiver, just really a fast guy. I think people with visions of another Wes Welker are really overestimating his receiving skills. He gets separation because his speed and burst are so good, but I think he's not going to be able to rely on that as much at the next level because teams will be more willing to jam him and better safety play. I think he can be a productive No. 3 guy and give you 30 or so catches a year, but he's not going to ever be a go-to option for a team. His true value is going to be as a return specialist. I think his skillset is much closer to Dexter Jackson than Welker, or even Mike Thomas for the Jaguars. And like Jackson, if he cannot impact on returns, then he offers limited value offensively. He can be a very good punt returner and also be able to contribute on kickoffs, although his abilities project better to punts. But I am a bit worried about his potential to muff kicks and as well as his tendency to dance too much looking for the big play, rather than settling for the nice 8-yard return. And it's concerning that as a sophomore and junior, he averaged under 10 yards per return. So I'm not ready to declare him the next Dante Hall by any means. So it wouldn't surprise me that if he's out of the league within four years simply because he isn't as good a return threat as teams were hoping, and they discover his offensive production potential is limited.
ATL FORECAST: Ford has the ability to add depth behind Douglas as a slot option. But I'm not sure he's going to be a better option than Douglas because he's not as naturally gifted a receiver and tough as Douglas is. He'd mainly be insurance in case Douglas doesn't bounce back from his knee injury. And while he can certainly add a big play element on punt returns, I'm not convinced he'd be a more reliable option than Douglas or Weems. He'd certainly be more explosive, but I'm not sure he'd be as consistently able to get 5-10 yards a clip as Weems is.
VALUE: The earliest he should go off the board is the late third to a team looking for a slot option and return specialist. But I'd be more comfortable taking him in the fourth or fifth round because I think he's more a track guy than a football player.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average,4-very good, 5-elite
AFTER CATCH: 5.0
BODY CONTROL: 2.5
Scouting Reports for the 2010 NFL Draft prospects.
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