So much attention (deservedly so) on the draft potential of West Virginia Mountaineers stars Geno Smith and Tavon Austin, both of whom promise to be first round picks in the NFL draft.
The “other” Mountaineers star receiver, Stedman Bailey, has gotten far less attention in terms of draft prospectus. It is mostly due in large part to the high level of uncertainties with projecting draft picks into the third round where Bailey is expected to be selected.
Bailey, who was the leading FBS touchdown receiver with 25 scores, will be a solid possession receiver at the next level. Bailey’s less than impressive 40-yard dash is a big part of his slide to the third round, but any GM worth their salt will surely recognize Bailey’s game speed and realize that he could be a big piece for a team with major holes in the receiving corps.
The real question is, who are the teams that are likely to pick-up Bailey?
Let’s start with the obvious teams, those that have a need for multiple wide receivers: St. Louis Rams, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, and the Carolina Panthers. Of that list, Bailey has held a private workout with the Panthers who appear to be interested in both Mountaineers receivers.
The Rams need to find anyone to catch passes from Sam Bradford after letting Danny Amendola leave. The Vikings are in the same boat with Percy Harvin out of the picture and a bunch of no-names left on the roster. In Carolina, the Panthers need to find one or two guys to replace the ever-slipping veteran Steve Smith.
The team that makes the most sense for Bailey however is the New England Patriots.
The Patriots, Amendola’s new team, need to find more receivers after losing the phenomenal Wes Welker and the disappointing Brandon Lloyd. Outside of Amendola and Julian Edelman, the Patriots have massive holes at wide receiver. Bailey is just the value pick that Bill Belichick covets in later rounds. Bailey would be a perfect compliment on the outside to the Patriots strong tight end play over the middle.
Of course, there are no guarantees in the NFL draft and Bailey might wind up on a team that needs a receiver, but at a lower priority than other positions. Teams like that would include the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, and Detroit Lions amongst others.
Still, if pressed to pick the most likely suitor for Bailey, I would say the Patriots are the favorite to select the WVU great.