As with Michael Lewis, upon signing Ashley Lelie I wanted to get a scouting report to present to you. Lelie was with the Falcons last year, but any success he has had came in Denver. So I spoke with The Sports Guru over at Mile High Report, and he put together a brief summary of the highs and lows of Ashley Lelie. Lelie is a guy most of us have an established opinion on but it's always nice to hear from the proverbial horse's mouth:
The 49ers are getting a talented receiver, one that has all the physical tools. You'll soon find there was a reason he went to Hawaii. Lelie is one of the fastest runners in the league and routinely makes the circus catch look easy. It's those tricky routine catches that give Lelie fits and will have you pulling your hair out at time. At times Lelie plays awfully small for his size and he usually suffers from a case of `Gator-Arms' that he can't seem to shake.
What Lelie has in physical skills he lacks in mental toughness and desire. There is no doubt that there are times Lelie takes plays off and you'll find he is one of the worst route runners in the league. Hi cuts are soft and he rarely makes an attempt to come back to the ball on in/out routes. Lelie is known to pout and "give up" if he feels balls aren't coming his way and his refusal to go across the middle wears on his teammates.
It may seem like I am railing on Lelie, but to be honest he made several big catches for the Broncos. He was the ultimate tease, however, and every time Bronco fans thought Ashley had turned the corner he would disappear for games at a time leaving us fans to scratch our heads. Lelie always thought of himself as a #1 receiver but somewhere along the line forgot to prepare or practice like one. Mike Shanahan runs an open competition system, and the best 22 players will play, regardless of salary, period. Lelie never wanted to earn it, and thus fell out of favor in Denver. Ironically, the man who the Broncos replaced Ashley with, Javon Walker, was drafted one position below Lelie, giving you an idea of the type of talent Lelie can be. You can't measure a player's want and desire, however, and Lelie has yet to display either during his NFL career.
Based on the deal the Niners made with Lelie it seems like a low-risk/high-reward scenario for the team. If it's same ole'-same `ole with Lelie, the Niners aren't out that much money. If the light finally goes on, San Fran could have the veritable steal of free agency. Only time will tell.
So there you have it. Most of this makes sense based on Lelie's performance over the last three years. Hopefully the light will in fact go on and he will reach his tremendous potential. For tunately though, if it is in fact the same old situation, it does not hurt the 49ers future cap situation. Thanks again to The Sports Guru over at Mile High Report.