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2011 NFL Draft Day Two Gold: Cecil Shorts III

Just like last week, I'm profiling a position that isn't necessarily a giant need for the Titans. However, Cecil Shorts III, a receiver out of Mount Union is too good of a prospect to pass up if he lands in our laps in round 4 or 5. 

Small school products have been able to find their way onto the field and produce a lot lately. You've got Danny Woodhead and Cortland Finnegan, among others, all coming out of very small Division III colleges and producing almost immediately. You also Vladimir Ducasse and Ramses Barden who haven't made big impacts yet, but certainly have the upside to. Clearly, they haven't let their small-school inferiority complex affect their ability to succeed much. Shorts is a receiver that could follow in the footsteps of Andre Roberts from The Citadel or Barden, an absolute monster at Cal Poly, and earn a roster spot for an NFL team by flat out dominating everyone on his level. 

First of all, Shorts has some of the best hands in the draft. He catches everything, adjusts to the ball in the air well and runs solid routes. This obviously equates to an incredibly impressive stat-line. His 2010 season was one in which he recorded 70 receptions, 1,196 yards and 18 touchdowns, so he wasn't just beating these guys at in Division III, he was totally embarrassing them. 

Two flaws in Shorts' game is the lack of breakaway speed and that he really hasn't faced any major talent. The lack of speed is kind of lost on me, he's run a 4.35 and a 4.59, so I'm really not sure what his true speed is like. However if he really is somewhere in the 4.5 range, what's concerning to me is that he's also not very big so he's kind of caught in a limbo between a wide out, where his skills translate better, and a slot receiver, where he can write checks that his body can cash and still be productive, but he not a deep threat and a star like he was in college. On the flip side, we all know that it's not 40 yard dash times that count, it's game speed and Shorts' game speed is up there with the best receivers in this draft. Another factor to consider is the fact that he's so small (5-11, 205) he may have trouble at the line if he's jammed.

Overall, I really like Shorts as a late round pick. If he can be had in the sixth, the FO would be nuts to not pursue him, he could have an incredible career if he's matched up with a solid young QB that they'll hopefully have drafted about four rounds earlier. His incredible college numbers and the successes of recent small-school prospects have me convinced that Smarts would be a very nice addition to the ranks of the crowded receiver corp who can, at the very least, add some nice depth and injury insurance.