Wide Receiver is quickly becoming a desperately thin position with the Colts, with Pierre Garcon turning down contracts and reports that Reggie Wayne is waiting to join Peyton Manning. Who better to look at than a guy who has been a productive receiver in college for four years, had a monster senior season, yet is still flying under the radar. That receiver is Michigan State's B.J. Cunningham.
If you had just watched Cunningham play against Notre Dame, you'd have seen all you needed to to tell how good this guy is. The last three seasons he's caught 26 passes, just against the Irish, 333 yards and a touchdown. His 12 catch, 158 yards this year at ND was one I'd like to forget (although the Irish won), but would be perfectly happy if he ended up with the blue horseshoe on his helmet.
Cunningham is one of the many big, strong receivers in the this draft, who has that knack to go up and grab the ball. He measured in at 6'1", 211 pounds, and he's built. Over his career he had 218 catches for 3086 yards and 25 touchdowns, all impressive numbers. He really turned it up in his senior year too, catching 79 for 1305 yards and 12 TDs. In fact, he scored nine of his 12 TDs in his final four games of the season, culminating in a three TD effort in the Big Ten Championship game against Wisconsin. To be fair, however, one of those TDs he didn't actually catch the pass, but took a lateral from Keith Nichol for the score, one of the more memorable plays from the college football season last year.
So why is Cunningham flying under the radar, being projected as a third round pick? He's not quick by any stretch of the imagination, and has trouble getting by defenders. He actually ran ok in the 40 this weekend with a 4.59 time, which will probably help his stock a bit. He also had a pro-level QB throwing to him in Kirk Cousins, so it certainly could have helped his production as well. He had some issues dropping passes at the East-West Shrine game too, which isn't a positive sign.
After the jump we have what some draft sites have to say about Cunningham, as well as all his measurements from the Combine and the audio from his media time.
A taller receiver who despite his weight, looks a bit leggy getting off the line and into his route, not quite as compact as his frame would lead you to believe. However does have a physical element to his game after the catch and when asked to go get the football... Isn't real dynamic of an athlete and it takes him a bit to build speed.
Cunningham has been a highly regarded prospect. He has size for the position is a very polished, well-rounded receiver. He has been durable and has started since arriving on campus, making him a third-round value and possibly ascending if he validates his speed during the postseason.
Teams looking for a dynamic outside receiver should look elsewhere. Cunningham is a crafty, physical receiver that could be successful working the underneath routes from the slot. Cunningham is undervalued and over analyzed but the productivity is there.
Combine Media Session (5:38)
I like Cunningham as long as the Colts don't reach for him. He was extremely productive in college, and can certainly be used in short yardage situations, as well as in the red zone. He's not going to be able to get behind the defense, but he might not need to. I think he'd be a good pick in Round 4 for the Colts.
For a complete list of prospects and profiles, check out our 2012 Draft Profiles Page.