A guy that has gotten a lot of ink from you guys is Ramses Barden. The 49ers have indicated they want to get a pair of receivers this offseason and they already landed Brandon Jones of the Titans. Given how much time has gone by in free agency, it's a safe bet to assume the 49ers will grab a wide receiver through the draft.
Given the needs at other positions, I don't see them going high for a wide receiver, meaning no Jeremy Maclin or Percy Harvin (if they suit your tastes). There are some quality names going in the second round, but how many of those receivers roll out at 6'6, 229 lbs? Ramses Barden is a monster of a receiver and right now could be sitting around in the third round or later. I think one of the reasons I'm a fan of big guys like that is there potential ability to be great red zone threats and all around jump-ball type guys. There's no guarantee it would play out that way, but it's certainly something worth considering.
As I've never actually seen Barden play, outside of the Senior Bowl, I've had to do some research across the Internet to get an idea of what he brings to the table. If you've seen more of him at Cal Poly, feel free to throw out your two cents.
As stated, Ramses Barden stands 6'6, 229 lbs. For some quick measurables, Barden ran an official 4.61 40 and did 17 reps on the bench press, good for a top ten finish. As for his college stats at Cal Poly:
Obviously size is a big strength for Barden. He's been able to utilize that size to set numerous college records. Slightly less discussed is his hand size. At the Senior Bowl (he was the first Cal Poly player invited in school history), his hands measured bigger than anybody else at 11 inches (I wonder what that measurement includes?). With mitts like that, he better be able to hold onto the ball.
It sounds like he really utilizes his size to make up for a lack of separation ability. Of course, when you're 6'6 you hopefully have the ability to out-leap the DB covering you. Furthermore, with that kind of size, it sounds like he has no problem getting physical with defenders, and more importantly, is willing to go across the middle. Show me a wide receiver afraid of going across the middle and I'll show you a receiver I probably don't want.
The main rap against him is of course, the fact that he played in Division I-AA at Cal Poly (go Mustangs!). This problem is two-fold. First, it's a lower level of competition and people are often quick to discount the player's performance at that level. It's a cliche, but it's true: At the I-AA level, Ramses Barden was a man among boys. He broke Jerry Rice's record at any level for consecutive games with a TD catch, and also tied Randy Moss's single season record.
Guys like Randy Moss and Steve McNair spent plenty of time at the I-AA level and turned out perfectly fine. I'm not saying that means Barden will as well, but I do not buy into the discount issue. You have to produce against the competition in front of you and nothing more. Barden did that.
The real issue would be what I've consistently seen lately, which is that he lacked concentration and seemed to get bored due to the lower level of competition. It's not surprising, given how productive he became, but it's still something to keep in mind. Is he in fact able to "turn it on" against the higher level of competition coming up in the NFL?
Another issue is his route running. This is a guess more than anything, but I wonder how much of that is due to coming from a small school? It wouldn't surprise me that the coaching staff might not be quite at the level of the big time programs, and a player's skills might suffer. Any thoughts on that?
The result of all that is that his route running leaves a little something to be desired. According to the folks at Scouts Inc, he particularly needs to work on getting in and out of breaks in routes. Coaching can improve that, but I'd imagine there would need to be some need for discipline on the part of the player. I mentioned the concentration issue, but that could have just as much to do with the competition level.
So what does all this mean for his NFL career? If he was getting promoted as a potential first round pick, he'd be qualified as a high risk/high return type of player. If he doesn't go until the 3rd round or later, suddenly that risk isn't so high. As the saying goes, you can't teach 6'6. That kind of size, combined with relatively low financial risk means plenty of second chances if Barden doesn't make an impact right away.
Any prediction I make would be a mere guess. I want to think he will succeed due to his size, but we don't enough about what's going on in his head at this point. Maybe he'll be a hard worker who learns to properly run routes. Or, maybe he's out of the league in 3 years. Who knows. Any thoughts on indicators of success for small school wide receivers?
This video is from this past season in a game in which Barden had 12 receptions. The footage reminds me of either a high school game, or some of Randy Moss's games at Marshall. Oh, and one major difference between Moss and Barden is the speed of Moss. He had (and still has) absolutely no problems getting behind the secondary.