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Niners Nation Scouting Report: Eddie Royal, WR, Virginia Tech

So I was scratching my head over what to write about today to carry us into the weekend.  This is certainly a random enough player for some of us.  For others, Eddie Royal's name has come up as a possible sleeper wide receiver/returner.  MM mentioned Royal as part of his unscientific look at wide receivers, and said, "Very, very intriguing."  Well let's take it a step further and check out what the Scouts have to say:

Strengths: Explodes off the ball, creates space by driving corners back and can get open quickly. Changes directions quickly, runs adequate routes and can separate from man coverage . . . Runs hard, is a balanced runner that can bounce of arm tackles and flashes the ability to pick up yards after contact. Shows a second gear when tracking the ball downfield and flashes the ability to make over-the-shoulder catches . . . Is a dangerous kickoff as well as punt return man and can make an immediate impact on special teams . . . Feisty and physical; won't back down from a challenge.

The return game is what is primarily mentioned in conjunction with Royal.  Matt Barrows was curious as to whether the signing of Allen Rossum would preclude the 49ers from drafting a return specialist like Royal.  The question is what can Royal bring in the receiving game if Rossum is a long-term answer in the return game.

Weaknesses: Is short, doesn't have great bulk and can get pushed around by bigger corners. Rounds cuts off at times and isn't a precise route-runner at this point. Sustained a slight concussion in 2004, missed 2005 spring practices with compartment syndrome in left leg, slowed by a sprained toe in 2006 and durability is a concern.

Over at ESPN, Royal is flagged with a B for Bulk/Size and a D for Durability.  You have to wonder if the small size has led to the injuries or if that is just an easy, but incorrect, assumption to make.  

Overall: Royal's lack of size and injury history should raise some red flags. However, he has the speed, elusiveness and athletic ability to develop into a dangerous No. 3 or No. 4 slot-receiver in the NFL and he has added value in the return game. Royal should come off the board in the third-to-fourth round range of the 2008 draft.

If Royal were snagged in the third or fourth round as the scouts are projecting, I'd certainly have no problem with that.  Of course does that mean you skip out on the higher tier of receivers in the first two rounds and roll the dice that a guy like Eddie Royal is there later in the draft?  Of course a speedy guy without good route-running abilities sounds an awful lot like Ashley Lelie.  Maybe Mike Martz can work with him.  Personally, I'd rather grab a receiver with one of the first two picks and stock up on depth elsewhere later in the draft.