In 1995, a little known receiver broke into the NFL as an undrafted free agent. It was no wonder he went overlooked in all seven rounds, after all, he was 5-foot 10-inches, had less-than-impressive speed and came out of division I-AA Hofstra University.
Clearly it wasn’t the physical attributes that separated Wayne Chrebet from the rest of the pack, it was the fact that he played with more heart and more precision than a lot of the guys in the league. You want a receiver who will go across the middle? Chrebet’s your man. You want a guy who will hold on to a ball if it’s anywhere in his reach? Again, Chrebet’s your man. You want a guy who will run a receiving route to a “T”? You get the point.
But Chrebet is gone. He retired following the 2005 season, due to a head injury, as the New York Jets’ second all-time leader in receptions. This means one thing: there are some small shoes to fill (literally). It’s not too easy finding a guy who will do all the things Chrebet did – but I found him.
For the last three years I’ve watched Dave Anderson tear through Mountain West Conference defenses. I’ve seen the 5-foot 11-inch (a generous measurement) receiver go over the middle and I’ve seen him catch balls he probably shouldn’t have. As far as his routes, they’re the best part of his game. I haven’t seen too many college receivers run such perfect routes. And I’m not the only one.
“(Dave’s) as good as we’ve ever had,” said CSU offensive coordinator Dan Hammerschmidt. “He’s a natural route runner. He has the ability to get open without running a 4.3 (in the 40-yard dash).”
To go across the middle of the field, where all the nasty linebackers patrol like lions over their domain, it takes a special receiver, a tough receiver. Chrebet was that kind of guy. And Anderson will be, given the chance.
“You’ve gotta be a tough guy to make a lot of the catches he’s made,” Hammerschmidt said. “He’s such a tough sucker.”
Toughness aside, the question still remains: Does Anderson have what it takes to be an NFL receiver?
Hammerschmidt, who has coached at the collegiate level since 1986, has no doubt about Anderson’s ability. The first name that came to mind when asked who Anderson compares to: Ricky Proehl. The second was Chrebet.
“I coached against Ricky Proehl when I was a (defensive backs) coach at Duke and he played for Wake Forest,” Hammerschmidt said. “I think Dave’s every bit as good.”
If that’s the case, Anderson would make a good pick. Proehl has more than 8,800 receiving yards for his career with 54 touchdowns.
While I haven’t seen any mock drafts with Anderson’s name listed, I think it would be a big mistake to pass him up.
If they want a replacement for Chrebet, with the 211th pick in the 2006 NFL draft, the New York Jets should select Dave Anderson.
Scott Bondy is the associate managing editor for sports and special sections.