In draft discussions on this site, I don't think anybody has created a greater disparity in opinions than Ted Ginn, Jr. I think that his upside could be on the level of a Steve Smith. At the same time his downside could be that of an R Jay Soward. Does he have the skills to take it to the next level, or is he just a track star who can't really play football? Well, I decided to talk to Sean over at Around the Oval to get a better idea of what Ginn is all about. Here's his scouting report. In it, Sean addresses the rumors Ginn's dad didn't want him to return in the title game, as well as whether or not Ginn can put together the additional skills beyond just game-breaking speed to make it at the next level.
Ted Ginn came to Ohio State in 2004 as the top cornerback recruit in the country. In high school, he did a little bit of everything, playing quarterback and wide receiver in addition to cornerback. While he was a cornerback early on at OSU, he was switched to the offensive side of the ball to utilize him more as a scoring threat, and it was a switch he made without complaint (at least publicly). There has been talk of him wanting to play his high school position once again in the NFL, and he has made comments that certainly make him sound willing to switch, but he will almost certainly remain at wide receiver, and I don't think that Ginn would have a problem with that. He likely expressed this interest just to show NFL teams that he would be willing to do whatever it takes to get playing time, whether as a receiver, a cornerback, or a return specialist. Ginn, I think, will do whatever the coaches ask of him, as he's done throughout his career.
His willingness to follow orders like that can be attributed in no small part to the direction of his father, Ted Ginn, Sr. The elder Ginn coached his son in high school and remains very active in his life (and in the lives of other former players of his, such as Troy Smith). This isn't to say that Ginn, Sr. is one of the stereotypical over involved parents that will march into the coach's office if they don't like how the coach is using their son. A rumor has circulated about him forbidding his son to re-enter the National Championship game after an injury. I cannot verify or disprove that rumor, but to the best of my knowledge, Ginn, Sr. has never interfered with the OSU football team. He makes sure his son stays on the straight and narrow, but whatever team drafts Ginn should not be expecting his father to be questioning play calling or anything along those lines. All Ginn, Sr. seems to have done is made sure his son is willing to take instruction from coaches, and that would be a good thing for him at the next level.
Ginn's primary strength is, of course, his speed. Just about every time he steps on the football field, he is the fastest player on it. He possesses excellent acceleration that allows him to get separation from just about any cornerback, and when he hits his top speed, hardly any player in the country can hope to keep up with him. In terms of agility, he's no Barry Sanders, but he's more than agile enough to make people miss. I don't need to tell you any of this; everyone knows he's fast, and you can see it yourself by checking out any of his highlight videos on YouTube.
Something that I don't think Ginn gets enough credit for is his work ethic. While no one has called him lazy, you don't hear stories about how much effort he puts in. But look at what he's done in his time at Ohio State; each year he's improved significantly. He came in as a defensive back recruit, yet switched to offense just before the start of his freshman season and learned the system enough to finish second on the team in receiving. When people thought he was just someone to get the ball to on gimmick plays, he became a legitimate number two receiver in his sophomore year. And when people said he didn't have the receiving skills to be the number one receiver on a championship-caliber team, he worked to get better and became just that. Ginn still has plenty of work to do on his hands and route-running, but he has shown that he is willing and able to work to improve himself, and that may end up being as valuable an asset to him as his speed at the next level.
Ginn has been given the tag of a track star playing football, and there is a bit of truth to that. That isn't to say that he doesn't have the tools to play wide receiver, just that his desire to use his speed can be a problem for him. He actually has pretty decent (but certainly not great) hands and has made some tough catches, but he drops passes he should catch because he's too eager to get running toward the end zone; he needs to work on his concentration. Other times, he will pass up a relatively certain short gain to run sideways or backwards and try to get a big gain. It's great to watch when it works, but it won't work nearly as often in the NFL, and he'll need to learn to settle for shorter, surer gains. He also needs to work on his route running and blocking. I wouldn't say he's terrible at either or incapable at getting better; it's just that he, like most college wide receivers, has to learn to work on the little things at the next level.
At the next level
Whatever team drafts Ginn will get an immediate boost in their return game. Even though his receiving skills have improved, Ginn is still at his most dynamic when returning punts and kicks. On offense, I don't think his immediate contribution will be as significant. I think he is capable of eventually becoming a go-to receiver, but early in his career, he would be better off on a team that won't be looking to him to make all the tough catches. I think he would fit best on a team that already has a possession receiver or two, thus freeing Ginn up to do what he does best: run very fast and catch the deep ball. A team that needs a big receiver that will go over the middle and never drop a ball will want to look elsewhere, but a team looking for help on special teams and for a guy that can stretch (and outrun) a defense will have trouble doing better this year than Ted Ginn.
Hopefully, this gives everyone a better idea about Ted Ginn on and off the field. Obviously this is coming from an Ohio State supporter. However, I think we're able to see both the good and the bad for a guy that could very well land in our laps come draft day. Thanks again to Sean from Around the Oval. Feel free to check them out, as well as the rest of the SB Nation network.