Eddie Royal at #42, however, was a total shock and largely disappointing. There is a lot about this kid to find intriguing. He's small, but bulky. He's got world class speed. He's a tough kid that's not afraid to run across the middle of the field. He's a good blocker--something Shanahan undoubtedly liked. He fills an immediate need on special teams in the return game. He has the speed to stretch the field and the hands to make the big catch. He's seemingly everything that Denver needs in a receiver to overcome the inadequacies of last year's 7-9 team.
So what's not to like? Well, you've come to the right place. I've grown up in a Hokie family my whole life and don't miss too many Hokie's games. Consequently, I've seen the veritable library of Eddie Royal footage. I know precisely what Denver's getting. Here are my two big concerns:
- Durability. I know this has been parroted in the media and I'm not at all concerned about his toe injury or his concussion. Its these two words that terrify me: compartment syndrome. This is a vascular condition that causes your ankles to swell abnormally when your heart rate increases. Its very painful and often chronic. Correcting this condition is extremely difficult and complete correction is virtually impossible. This is based on an explanation offered by a close friend who was discharged from the military because of the same condition. I sure hope Denver has done their homework on this one.
- Beamer Ball. VA Tech is the best in the business at special teams execution. They consistently have an explosive kick return game and punt blocking unit. Some of you may remember DeAngelo Hall was among the nations best kick returners for the Hokies before he entered the league. Understand, a lot of this has to do with the scheme and the coach. Royal has some good experience in a return specialist role, but being a serviceable kick returner for the Hokies doesn't insinuate that you're the next Devin Hester.
- Playing Speed. Eddie Royal showed us world class speed at the combine. If you watch him on film, however, he doesn't play as fast as that time would indicate. In fact, Eddie Royal is not a very 'quick' player on the field. Royal's straight-line speed is every bit as fast as his 4.39 40-time indicates, but he doesn't play with elite quickness when making plays.
For all these reasons, I am little weary about this pick. I sure hope Royal proves me wrong! For #42 value, I think I'd be more comfortable with Dexter or DeSean Jackson. Both players are probably purely kick return specialists, but at least you are getting a distinctive talent in a needed role. With Royal, I think Denver was trying to get a first round talent, when really there was a reason many thought he'd still be waiting to hear his number called on Sunday.
I'll be back with more draft coverage tomorrow.