2012 NFL Draft: Potential Vs. Polish at WR Position

Is there a prize for how many P's you can get into a title, in caps? I'd at least be in the running for that.

But seriously, the reason for this post is to have a discussion about two sides of the coin when it comes to draft prospects, namely at the wide receiver (WR) position, since that's high on the list of needs for the 49ers.

On one hand, you've got a guy like Stephen Hill - a player who's got a lot of raw potential with his size and speed. His college production was almost nonexistent in Georgia Tech's run-first offense, but the guy has undeniable tools. You can't teach speed, height, catch radius, etc.

Then there's guys like say Marvin Jones - a prospect who runs good routes, is reliable, smart, seems like he's ready to step right in and contribute...but he's not nearly as tall and not as fast as Hill...and he never will be.

It's a floor/ceiling type of argument. One guy could come in and play from day 1 and be a solid contributor to the team...but may never be a truly dominating type player like a Calvin Johnson or Vincent Jackson. The 49ers are currently made up of a few players at the WR position who already seem to fit this mold.

Michael Crabtree should improve further, but I don't see him posting 1,200 yard receiving seasons or a dozen touchdowns per year. He's crafty and has good hands, but he can't routinely beat defensive backs because they can key in on the few things he's good at knowing he won't run by them with speed, for instance.

After the jump, I ramble on a bit more.

In a guy like Hill, he's got the measurables to be special if he can work on his craft and hone his technique. Maybe he never will...maybe he won't take his job seriously enough or just doesn't have the concentration or hand-eye coordination to ever be a truly dangerous receiver every down...but he could be.

With the "polished" guy, you can almost bet he never will be that stud #1 WR, but you have a pretty good idea that he won't bust and be out of the league...because he already does enough things right.

So which guy do the 49ers need? It's been ages since we had a WR who struck fear into the hearts of defensive coordinators. Sure, a good system, well-executed can gain a lot of yards for even the average receiver...but we haven't seen that and I don't think Jim Harbaugh is a gain-a-ton-of-passing-yards-any-way-we-can type of coach.

But the team also hasn't even had a reliable producer in ages. Even average NFL receivers can put up 900 yards and several touchdowns. The 49ers WR landscape has changed every year in terms of personnel and they've yet to have anyone come close to decent numbers receiving.

Is it a function of...dysfunction? Of the coordinators, the systems, the style of playcalling...or is it the fact that we need a truly reliable receiver? Or is it that we need an elite athlete at the position, a guy capable of beating the defense on every play?

If you're the GM, which type of receiver do you take? Or is there a guy who's a bit of both?

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