Stedman Bailey: WR, Redshirt Junior
2012 Stats: 114 Receptions, 1622 Yards, 25 Touchdowns.
As the runner up for the Biletnikoff Award this past season, Stedman Bailey demonstrated that he has all the tools needed to be a force in the NFL. With outstanding hands, superb route running, and a relentless work ethic, Bailey will be an asset to the team that ultimately drafts him. Bailey also displays fantastic body control and times deep routes extremely well. With a 14.2 YAC this past season, Bailey demonstrated that he is a physical wide receiver, often stiff-arming and lowering his shoulder to gain tough extra yards. Stedman does not shy away from contact, and often looks to dish out punishment with the ball in his hands. One of my favorite plays from Bailey came against the sPitt Panthers in 2011:
While Bailey excels at most things wide receiver, he does lack the prototypical height typical in the NFL. At 5'10", Bailey is considered short for a true outside threat. In addition, he doesn't display great leaping ability. At this year's combine, Bailey ran a 4.52 40, which some may say isn't elite speed. That may be, but that's still pretty quick. I, for one, didn't see Bailey get tracked down from behind too often in college. Bailey suffered from an ankle injury for part of the 2012 season, which may bring up durability questions in the NFL. However, with what he lacks in height and break-away speed, he makes up for with sure hands and precision route running.
At WVU, Bailey was one of the primary targets of his former high school teammate Geno Smith. When Dana Holgorsen brought his Air-Raid offense to Morgantown Bailey quickly became a touchdown machine and fan favorite. Bailey leaves West Virginia as its career TD receptions leader with 39. In three seasons, that's a lot of production.
Bailey's best performance was undoubtedly the 2012 Baylor game in which he tallied 13 catches for 303 yards and 5 touchdowns. Included in that game was this 87 yard beauty:
During the struggles of the WVU football team this season, there was an internet rumor circulating that a rift between Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey had developed. People speculated that the deterioration of that combo had lead to a downtrodden locker room. However, these two have been teammates and friends since high school, and appear to remain friends leading to the draft. This is evident since news of Geno Smith taking Stedman to the NFL Draft began circulating recently. These two can each take a little credit for the other's success, and it's great to see teammates stick together even after their time on the field has come to an end.
Here's a look at Stedman Bailey's Biletnikoff-worthy season: