Michigan's Junior Hemingway, buried on most draft boards, has a believer in ESPN's Todd McShay
This year's NFL Draft pool is deep with big-bodied receivers, several of whom project as first-round selections.
That could hurt a player such as Junior Hemingway, a former Michigan football receiver who posted pedestrian numbers while battling injury and illness throughout his career. There also are questions about his measurables, particularly his speed.
That means Hemingway is buried by most draft experts. Others project him to go undrafted all together. One, though, believes he can make it in the league.
ESPN draft guru Todd McShay said in a teleconference Thursday afternoon that Hemingway "has a chance to hang around (in the NFL) for several years."
Melanie Maxwell I AnnArbor.com
"He's built like a running back and uses that size to get out of jams."
Hemingway is 6-foot-1, 222 pounds, and used that frame to become a virtuoso on jump balls last year, often beating more athletic corners to underthrown balls.
The Conway, S.C., native finished with 34 catches for 699 yards and four touchdowns last season, which are all career highs but modest relative to other big-time receivers. He averaged 20.6 yards per catch, though, which was third in the country.
McShay said NFL clubs valued speed over size in receivers for several years, but that one of the league's latest trends is to invest in bigger wideouts. This class is loaded with them, too, with players such as Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd, Alshon Jeffery and Rueben Randle expected to be taken early.
Hemingway is of that mold, but he's far from that kind of class. McShay ranks him the 39th receiver and notes he could struggle on shorter routes at the next level.
"He’s not very sudden, not very explosive, won't provide many home runs and will struggle to separate on intermediate routes," McShay said.
But, there also is some interest in his potential, evidenced by his invitation to next week's NFL Combine. He'll be joined by former teammates David Molk and Mike Martin.
A strong showing, especially in the speed drills, could improve his stock significantly.