Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Who is Kevin Ogletree?

maryland_ogletree002bGiven that there is a story every training camp about a player who everyone is buzzing about (Beau Morgan, Danny Amendola, Richmond Flowers, Lynn Scott - I guess usually the guy is white) I usually wait before I spend too much time getting to know the guy. The fact is, every year there is a guy - and usually he is gone as soon as he arrives. It is just too tough to emerge from nowhere to the roster in the NFL. For every time it is done, there are 50 times it is not done.

But, I think it is time we get to know Kevin Ogletree. Ogletree was a name that was no bigger than Jesse Holley on August 1, but here on September 1 it would seem he is a very strong finalist for the Cowboys roster. In fact, some have already said he is on the final 53.

So, how does a guy come out of nowhere and make his way on to the team?

I wanted to take a look and see what we had missed the first time around, and why a player with this much upside did not get taken in the 256 picks in the 2009 NFL Draft. Because looking back, it is tough to understand. When there are 35 Wide Receivers taken, and this guy is not one of them, you certainly wonder what everyone was thinking.

First, I wanted to review what "Our Lads Guide to the NFL Draft" had on him:
Kevin Ogletree - 6'0, 196 - 4.40 40

Junior Entry. Two-Year Starter. Good Athlete with rare speed. Team's leading Receiver. Good body control. Can improve his route running. May not play as fast as timed. Majored in under and crossing routes as a role player in the Cavs offense. No hold up on the line. Uses his quickness against jam coverage. Good lateral quickness. Gets back on his route if he's jammed inside. Catches the ball into his body as much as he catches it in his hands. Played with an inconsistent Quarterback in 2008 which may be part of the problem. Has made the difficult catch. Average run after catch ability. Good football intelligence. Can find the open spots in zone and make on the field adjustments. Already graduated from Virginia. Willing to inline block. Good effort on downfield blocking. Good Worker. Slender Build with an injury history. Tore his anterior cruciate ligament as a junior. Fourth/Fifth Round.

It should be noted that Mohamed Massaquoi is rated immediately above him in the rankings as another 4th or 5th rounder (the Our Lads Guide is printed right after the NFL Combine) and he ended up as the 2nd round pick of the Cleveland Browns. So, two guys with very similar scouting reports - one jumps up 3 rounds, and another falls 3 rounds. Why? I promise you - in the years I have followed the NFL Draft, you just never know.

Charean Williams wrote about Ogletree after this weekend's 49ers Game:
Before training camp started, Ogletree might have been the 10th of the team’s 11 receivers. He was a longshot, with only Michael Irvin’s reality-TV winner Jesse Holley a longer longshot.

Despite running a 4.46-second 40-yard dash — faster than expected — at the combine and having a 31-inch arm span and a hand span of 9 inches and having 117 receptions for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns in his career at Virginia, Ogletree went undrafted.

"It was tough on me when I didn’t get drafted," Ogletree said. "I don’t think I had the reputation if you will, just coming from my four years at Virginia, … but now is the time I earn that respect."

He signed with the Cowboys because Cowboys tight ends coach John Garrett was his position coach in Ogletree’s first two seasons at Virginia. Now it appears he has a stronghold on the fifth receiver spot, likely ending the Isaiah Stanback project.

Stanback, a former college quarterback turned NFL receiver when the Cowboys made him a fourth-round pick in 2007, has had more injuries than catches in two seasons. He lost a fumble in the fourth quarter at the Dallas 30-yard line that allowed the 49ers to tie the game 13-13 and could have sealed his fate.

Ogletree hasn’t fumbled his chance.

"He caught our eye right from the beginning of the first rookie mini-camp," Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. "He’s a guy who picked up things well. He’s a mature guy for being such a young guy. He has a long way to go, but he’s working the right way, and he’s really made a good impression."

John Garrett? Wow. Now he is known for more around here than going toe-to-toe with Martellus Bennett on Hard Knocks. You just never know how those connections from around the football world will come back to put guys together on draft weekend. Didn't Sean Payton's connection at Eastern Illinois once help the Cowboys get Tony Romo to sign here on draft weekend of 2003?

So, he played sparingly in 2005. In 2006, played reasonably well. Missed all of 2007 with a blown ACL, and bounced back with a full 2008 where he played with an offense that struggled, a QB who threw 8 TD's and 16 INT's, and a team that went 5-7.

It appears this is all about the decision between Isaiah Stanback and Kevin Ogletree. Stanback has had an eternity (by NFL standards) to show he can develop into something. His raw physical tools make everyone nervous that the second he is released, he shows up on another NFL roster and starts making plays in the big leagues. But, when do you move on? Do the Cowboys want a player who can only return kicks? Because I have no faith in Stanback running pass routes and taking hits.

Ogletree, on the other hand, appears to be a reliable pass catcher. And that might be all he is. But, it looks like they are leaning his way, only because they feel like this might be a diamond in the rough.

These are the types of difficult decisions that teams have to make the first few days of September.

Here is Video of Ogletree's NFL Combine Workout

And here is Kevin's Highlight Film from UVA:

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