Last week we took a look at the running back position. This week we turn our attention to the wide receivers. And any look at the receiver position has to begin in Lubbock, Texas. After two years spent not worrying about anyone not named “Michael Crabtree” it is time to once again take a deep dive into the Texas Tech wide receiving core.
First we need a crash course on the wide receiver alphabet soup. Generally speaking, the following X, Y, Z and H designations hold true for other teams as well, which we will take a look at later this week. Keep in mind there are no hard and fast rules, but here is a review of the basics.
X (Split End) - The X receiver lines up on the outside and is positioned on the line of scrimmage. Hence the name split end. In the Tech offense, the X receiver is almost always on the left side of the formation.
H (Slot) - The H receiver, slotback or slot receiver typically lines up inside of the X receiver, but off the line of scrimmage. Sometimes they are referred to as H-backs (a tight end/fullback off the line of scrimmage) depending on where they lineup.
Y (Slot) - The Y or slot receiver lines on inside of the flanker along the line of scrimmage. In some cases this is also the tight end.
Z (Flanker) - The Z or flanker position is the other outside wide receiver and lines up off the line of scrimmage, thus providing the Z with the advantage of avoiding the jam from the cornerback. Ever wonder why Michael Crabtree seemed to always be open on the quick slant? That is the reason.
||L. Leong 18-206-3
E. Britton 35-577-6
|D. Lewis 76-913-3
T. Swnidell 46-561-2
|E. Morris 74-771-9
||M. Crabtree 97-1165-19
L. Leong 18-206-3
||E. Britton 48-631-4
G. Walker 30-353-2
L.A. Reed 16-189-0
|D. Amendola 109-1245-6
||E. Morris 75-767-9
||M. Crabtree 97-1165-20
||J. Hicks 25-334-2
T. Walker 21-214-2
L.A. Reed 12-157-2
|R. Johnson 89-871-11
G. Walker 23-264-0
|D. Amendola 47-482-5
E. Morris 25-347-1
|J. Filani 91-1300-13
E. Britton 10-131-1
||J. Hicks 65 850 10
||R. Johnson 67-951-4
||D. Amendola 34-395-3
||J. Filani 65-1007-8
||J. Hicks 76 1177 13
||T. Haverty 77-1019-6
||N. Glover 62-660-1
||C. Fuller 43-505-0
J. Filani 18-310-2
||N. Glover 77-1081-9
J. Hicks 32-498-5
|M. Peters 78-975-12
||W. Welker 97-1099-9
||C. Francis 75-1177-9
Obviously Crabtree's gaudy numbers stick out. Digging a little deeper, five of the six double-digit touchdown performances have come from the Z or X position. And seven of the nine 1000-yard receivers have also come from the Z or X position. Once again speaking generally, the outside receiver potions have displayed the most upside.
Projected Fall Depth Chart
Projected Starter: Edward Britton or Lyle Leong
Back-ups: Rashard Hawk and Adrian Reese
Analysis: Although his undisclosed absence this spring is a concern, I feel strongly about Lyle Leong starting at one of the outside receiver spots. The question becomes is it at the X or Z? This answer probably has less to do with Leong than it does with Edward Britton and Alex Torres. Two years ago there was a question on who would fill the shoes of the departed Joel Filani. Would it be Britton or a dude named Michael Crabtree? The rest, as they say, is history. Britton has the talent to be a deep ball threat, but he just hasn't quite put it all together. Is this the year he does? If he puts the pieces together it likely pushes Leong over to the Z spot. One other notable is former tight end Adrian Reese who is moving to split end. Reese is 6-foot-7 and will see some jump balls in the red zone, whch could impact Britton's touchdown output. However I don't see Reese as an every-down receiver.
Projected Starter: Tramain Swindall
Back-ups: Adam James (TE), Cornelius Douglas and Eric Ward
Analysis: Tramain Swindall seems to be a lock for the spot vacated by Eric Morris. And this alone places him in the discussion. Tight ends, like Reese last year, typically line-up at the Y spot. But Adam James plays behind Swindall and I'm pretty sure this is just done to confuse me.
Starter: Detron Lewis
Back-ups: Austin Zouzalik 6-1 181 Fr-RS and Eric Ward
Analysis: Lewis has the ability to put up good numbers in the Tech offense. He was a sexy pick of many last spring, ourselves included, but he didn't reach the end zone enough for fantasy owners in the fall. That should change in 2009. Lewis will be no worse than the Red Raiders' second-leading receiver in number of catches. Zouzalik has been called the fastest Tech wide receiver on the roster, and he and Cornelius Douglas could get some "Wildcat" looks this fall.
Projected Starter: Lyle Leong or Alex Toress 6-2 195 So
Back-ups: Jacoby Franks and Eric Ward
Analysis: Past history suggests that whoever takes over the Z spot will appear in a whole lot of ESPN highlight reels. And I'm pegging Leong as the starter and top Tech fantasy pick. Leong is also an former high school teammate of quarterback Tyler Potts. Toress was the buzz of the spring, emerging from an unknown commodity to someone that we now want to know a hell of a lot about (what does he eat for breakfast? who's his Psych professor?) heading into the season. Despite Torres' emergence I still give the edge to Leong this fall. True freshman Eric Ward was third in the rotation this spring, and he should develop into a stud at some point in his career.
Cut to the chase, whom should I draft?
Like in 2006, if you are looking for a safe choice you're going with the one the inside guys. In this case it is Detron Lewis. However, the bigger upside is with one of the outside receivers. If you like to take shots downfield like me, I highly recommend drafting Lyle Leong. Although we do need to keep a close eye on him once fall camp opens. If you are feeling really daring then Alex Torres or Edward Britton are also options. And for those in keeper leagues Eric Ward is a must-have.
While there is no replacement for Crabtree, Tech wide receivers still hold value on draft day. Like in 2006, you're just going to have to take a leap of faith.