It was somewhat of a surprise that the Bengals went after two wide receivers in the first four rounds with Coast Carolina's Jerome Simpson and Florida's Andre Caldwell. I asked Michael who runs the Alligator Army blog for the Florida Gators, what should we expect from Bubba Caldwell.
Do not listen to the analysts when they break down Andre Caldwell. Why? Andre Caldwell exists only on box scores and injury reports.
Bubba Caldwell is the guy the Bengals drafted. He is the guy I saw for four years in Gainesville, who went from just being a fast dude to a crafty receiver who could go over the middle and beat coverage long. I am biased because he is a Tampa guy and played in the same youth football league I was in. But for a third round pick, not only did the Bengals get a steal, but they got a player who is ready for the pros right now.
Caldwell's advantage is not his speed or his hands. It is his experience playing different roles. We don't know yet what the effects of the spread offense are on a NFL receiver. It's not the 'pro style' offense that you can break down easily, but how many guys line up at flanker, in the backfield, in the slot, or on the edge? Caldwell would do all of that in one series.
Durability is a concern as Caldwell struggled with a strained knee during the start of the season. Looking at his game log, the three games he missed were between games when the Gators rarely played him. Take out those two games and his yards per game goes from 76 to 93. When healthy, Caldwell can be a game changer. Tim Tebow's performance against South Carolina was tremendous (seven TDs), but Caldwell's 11 catches for 148 and a TD catch wasn't bad either. He also had six catches for 73 and a score in the wild Kentucky game, Caldwell's first game at 100 percent strength. Caldwell finished with 56 catches for 761 yards in 10 games.
Look at last year. Caldwell had only one game with triple digits in receiving yards, but he had 57 catches in 14 games including eight catches against Georgia, Vanderbilt, and Florida State. Against Alabama and LSU, it was five catches in each. Caldwell can be a possession guy who is too fast to be tracked across the middle or out wide where he will beat one-on-one coverage. (You know he ran a 4.37 forty right? And here's him running a 4.5 forty in a 66-yard TD run against FSU in 2006.) Plus, he did play against SEC defenses, and I think the folks in Ohio know it's hard to be successful against that.
There is one more thing to add. Since, "character issues," is always thrown around draft time, it's important to note there is none of that with Caldwell. When he first came to UF he was one of the super athletes Ron Zook recruited who never went to class and was allowed to do what ever he wanted. Thankfully Zook was sent to a place where 8-5 records make him eligible for Sainthood not the electric chair. Caldwell broke his leg the next season, took a medical redshirt, and became an elder statesman in the Urban Meyer regime. He was run blocking, going across the middle, doing the little things. He also started going to class and he graduated in December. He will be a great pro. But, please, call him Bubba.