Mardy Gilyard – Cincinnati
Scout: David Syvertsen
Pro Potential: Nate Burleson – Seattle Seahawks
Acceleration/Burst/Quickness: High effort with his early steps. Can stop and go well, can reach top speed with his first few steps. Appears to be faster than he is because of how quick he moves on the field.
Agility/Leaping Ability: Incredibly agile, very loose from the hips on down. Can adjust his body with ease when leaping for the ball. Appears to struggle with body control at times but he makes plays with his body in awkward positions with consistency.
Blocking: Does not get a strong push and defensive backs can get off him easily. But the effort downfield to throw that extra block to spring a back free in to the open field is always there. Team player.
Body Control/Body Adjustment: His ability to adjust at the very last second to the placement of the ball is perhaps the most impressive part of his game. Fully capable of turning his body 180 degrees at full speed and keeping his feet. Nimble body never seems to be fully balanced, but he somehow keeps his feet under him.
Concentration/Hands: Sees the ball in every time. Does not always catch the ball with his hands, likes to trap it with his body too often. Has shown the tendency to drop easy passes. Likes to start moving before he has control of the ball. Eyes remain on an even keel when moving at full speed.
Release: Uses his quickness to avoid the jam. But if a good press corner can get their hands on him, Gilyard will have to fight for too long to free himself up. Can make himself small and slippery.
Route Running: Did not consistently run a diverse route tree at Cincinnati, but he showed he can get open with his ability to cut on a dime. Tricks defensive backs with his head fakes and double moves. Loose lower half allows him to really sell a fake.
Separation: Can free himself from a lone defender with ease. Very good change of direction and sells his fakes well. Struggles to get open downfield because of a lack of top end speed. Could turn out to be a move-the-chains target.
Size/Length/Hand Size: Very thin frame, especially his lower half. Average length and hand size. Does not need to add a lot of weight, but he could use some more strength coming from his base.
Speed: Does not have the extra gear in space, can be caught from behind by defensive backs. Does play fast when he needs to though. Can set a cover man up by adjusting his speed downfield. Deceptive.
Vision/Run After the Catch: Can see lanes and blocks transpire before they occur. Outstanding with the ball in his hands. Breaks a lot of tackles not based on power, but the ability to alter his body at the last second. Can make himself small and slippery to tacklers.
Final Word: After a troubled past and a rough start to his career at Cincinnati that started off as a defensive back and suspension due to academic shortfalls, Gilyard broke out in 2008 as a dynamic playmaker that could do it all with the ball in his hands. His reputation coming in to the league will revolve around his ability to return kicks and punts to the house (5 TDs over the past 2 seasons) but unlike many other return specialists, Gilyard’s promise as a receiver is very high. Despite the lack of top end speed, Gilyard is a threat down the field because of his ability to make the difficult catch with a cover man draped all over him. He will do most of his damage as a short and intermediate receiving option because he can find the tight windows and make those tough catches. Once he has the ball in his hands, all bets are off as he will prove to be a threat to score every time. He has an awkward running motion and will need to strengthen his lower half before he is fully ready to contribute every down, but the intangibles are there and he is a free spirit that loves the game. He will likely be a 2nd-3rd rounder that pays immediate dividends as a returner and offers the upside as a complimentary receiver in the future.