Drew Morgan is white and a receiver, but that doesn't make him a 'white receiver'
ST. PETERSBURG — We’re preparing for the draft again, so it’s time for lazy comparisons from non-football people who think they know football.
Former Arkansas receiver Drew Morgan, who is on hand for the East-West Shrine Game, is a white guy playing a traditionally black position. While white wideouts aren’t necessarily as rare in the NFL as white cornerbacks, they’re rare nonetheless.
According to the analysts at CBSSports.com, Morgan is a long shot to get chosen and not even in the Top 100 among players at his position. Because he’s a bit undersized (6-foot, 193) and not the kind of explosive athlete we see catching passes at the professional level, it’s likely that the best he can hope for at this point is a practice squad.
However, the same thing was said about the likes of Wes Welker, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan.
Welker, Amendola and Hogan all went undrafted, while Edelman was an anonymous seventh-round pick. Each has had tremendous success with the New England Patriots, although playing with future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady certainly helps.
Additionally, all of them are white, which is why Morgan is compared to them. Welker made five straight Pro Bowls in New England. Amendola has an 85-catch season under his belt with the then-St. Louis Rams. Edelman once caught 105 with the Patriots. Hogan tied for the league lead this year — his first in Foxboro — with 17.9 yards per catch.
Crisp route runner. Sure hands. Best working out of the slot. Feisty. Fearless. Seemingly every white receiver is described this way.
Here’s what you don’t hear about them, though: Blazing speed. Red-zone target. Matchup nightmare. Can take the top off a defense. Catches the 50-50 balls. Those are the notes only scribbled when breaking down black wideouts.
Despite the fact that Morgan was more productive in Fayetteville than fellow Razorback pass catchers Keon Hatcher and Dominique Reed, Hatcher and Reed — both black — are graded higher by many talent evaluators. It doesn’t matter that Morgan was Brandon Allen’s favorite target in 2015, just like he was for Austin Allen this year.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, himself a former white defensive back, thinks it’s simply too easy to make comparisons along color lines.
“Are there stereotypes out there? Yeah,” he told Saturday Down South on Tuesday at the East practice. “But I think, at the same time, the bottom line is still proving yourself on the field. Any coach or general manager who puts that ahead of an honest evaluation is probably not going to last that long. So at the end of the day, if you’re a good football player, you can play in the NFL.”
While Morgan earned the respect of his own locker room, he was the subject of his fair share of racially charged comments from black opponents.
“You could take it negatively, or you could take it positively,” he said. “It’s however way you see it. I don’t see it as anything wrong. It’s the NFL. The majority of the players are not white. It’s not a bad thing nor a good thing, but I take it as a compliment. ‘You play pretty good for a white boy.’ ‘Thanks, man.’ I joke around. I do it like that.”
That being said, Morgan is telling teams in St. Petersburg that he’s most comfortable in the slot. He’s feisty and fearless, too.
(Oops. Sorry about that, Drew. See how easy that was?)
- Former Auburn wide receiver Tony Stevens left the practice field early in the session. Naturally, everyone in attendance assumed he came up lame with some sort of injury. However, he returned to action after a short absence and went full speed the rest of the way. More than likely, it was nothing more than a minor equipment issue for the one-time Tiger.
- Former Vanderbilt offensive tackle William Holden has looked good more often than not throughout team activities, although he had a bad habit that needed to be fixed during positional drills. While he was striking effectively with his hands, he kept dropping them too quickly. “Keep your hands up” was constantly repeated to him by the East’s offensive line coach.
- Former Ole Miss wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo came up with the highlight of the day among skill-position players. During 11-on-11 drills, he made a leaping catch near the right sideline on a pass thrown well above and behind him. He didn’t have a perfect day, though. Just like Monday, he again penalized himself with push-ups every time he made a mistake.
- Former Mississippi State linebacker Richie Brown isn’t going to impress scouts with his measurables, but his instincts have been on point through two practices. In 9-on-7 drills, he had a nose for the football and consistently filled his gap properly. In 11-on-11 action, he was credited with a diving interception on a ball that was batted at the line of scrimmage.
- Continuing what we saw Monday, former Florida defensive tackle Joey Ivie IV was a tough assignment for centers and guards on the other side of the ball. He put violent hands on display and managed to get penetration on a regular basis. However, his one-time Gators teammate, Bryan Cox Jr., had another rough day. He looks the part but doesn’t play like it.
- Morgan was talking to a scout from the Cleveland Browns after Tuesday’s workout. Brown caught the attention of the Atlanta Falcons. Adeboyejo was interviewed on camera by the official website for the Philadelphia Eagles. Former Arkansas offensive tackle Dan Skipper spent some time with a representative of the Miami Dolphins.
* Saturday Down South will be in attendance all week for the East-West Shrine Game, so look for more updates on your favorite SEC alumni.