Devin Gardner to Receiver: Good Idea

Submitted by Ace on March 22nd, 2012 at 2:05 PM

Walker, Gardner, Avant (L to R)

After yesterday's one-two gut punch of basketball news, let's talk football, shall we? The story that will likely dominate the spring is the potential move of quarterback Devin Gardner to wide receiver, at least part-time. Gardner, in case you didn't see Brian's UV yesterday, showed some pretty serious skills at receiver when camping as a high schooler. He's also 6'5", athletic, blessed with hands large enough to make the catch above, and familiar with the offense. Meanwhile, Michigan's two known quantities at receiver are Roy Roundtree, whose production plummeted last year when QB OH NOES wasn't a regular part of the playbook, and Jeremy Gallon, who looks quite promising but is also listed at 5'8".

Gardner taking some snaps at receiver is a good idea then, right? I certainly think so, but I've heard several arguments to the contrary. Allow me to present them, then do my best to crush them.

Argument 1—Gardner shouldn't play receiver because if he's hurt at wideout and Denard gets inevitably dinged (or hurt himself, God forbid) we're totally screwed.

This is the argument I've seen the most, and the mentality behind it is one I absolutely hate. Yes, I'm aware that Michigan has just three scholarship QBs on the roster. That is the reality for this year and it's not an optimal one. Denard Robinson has been known to get knocked around on occasion, sometimes requiring a backup cameo. He's a running quarterback. Injuries happen.

But it takes a large leap from "Michigan is thin at QB" to "Gardner can't play wideout because injury doomsday scenario." First of all, if Denard gets hurt, that's a doomsday scenario in and of itself. If Gardner is hurt at the same time, well, the football gods hate Michigan. Does the slim chance of this worst-case scenario happening mean Michigan shouldn't play one of their best athletes at a position in dire need of help when he otherwise wouldn't see the field? No.

Simply put, college coaches cannot operate under the assumption that the worst will happen. That's the same line of thinking that made coaches doubt the viability of the forward pass (remember, only three things can happen when you throw, and two of them are bad) and causes the Zooks of the coaching world to punt on 4th-and-3 from the opponent's 38. Brady Hoke has proven that he's got some serious cajones, and that's generally regarded as a fantastic trait in a head coach. This is not how he operates.

Also, redshirt freshman Russell Bellomy may very well be an equally viable backup option as Gardner, or at least at the point where the dropoff between the two backups isn't large enough to justify keeping Gardner on the bench when he could be contributing at wideout. Which brings me to the next argument...

Argument 2—Gardner shouldn't play receiver because it'll take away from his practice reps at quarterback and he won't develop.

This one holds more water than the first argument, but I still don't agree with it. Gardner is already splitting backup reps at QB with Bellomy, and unless you think Gardner needs a ton of "mental reps," I don't think it hurts to have him spending his non-throwing practice time running routes and catching passes.

It's not like Gardner is switching sides of the ball. In fact, playing receiver can help with his quarterback play; running routes can hone timing, understanding of schemes, and keep him sharp and ready to see the field.

This year's NFL draft will provide a great example of a player who went through a very similar mid-career situation. Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill was a three-star dual-threat QB in the 2007 class, redshirting in his first season. As a redshirt freshman, he battled for the starting QB job but ultimately fell behind two other players. At 6'4", 220 pounds, Tannehill was moved to receiver in fall camp by head coach Mike Sherman. All he did was catch 55 passes for 844 yards and five TDs.

The next year, Tannehill again competed to start at quarterback, but lost out to Jerrod Johnson. As the primary backup, A&M could've handed him a headset, but instead they threw him back out there at receiver. Tannehill had 46 receptions for 609 yards and four TDs while also appearing in three games at QB in mop-up duty. As a junior, Tannehill started the season as a receiver but earned the starting nod as a quarterback partway through the year, completing 65% of his passes and throwing 13 TDs to just six interceptions. After a strong senior season as the full-time starter at QB, Tannehill is expected to go in the top 12 in this year's NFL draft. If playing receiver stunted his development as a quarterback, it wasn't enough to merit keeping the team's best receiver off the field.

Argument 3—The dumbest argument ever.

Sorry to put you on blast, Eric Lloyd, but I can't let this just slide on by:

Just no. If I seriously have to argue this point, and I hope I don't for 99.9% of you out there, I'll keep it short. Denard Robinson is about to be a senior in his second year under the current system, coming off an All-Big Ten season that followed up one of the most productive years by a quarterback in the history of college football. Whether or not he's going to be a quarterback at the next level, it's by far the most optimal position to play him at in college.

Devin Gardner has attempted 17 career passes—10 against Bowling Green in a 2010 curb-stomping—and has spent his entire career as a backup quarterback. If he's better at this point in his career than Denard, he hasn't made that apparent to anyone who would have the best idea about whether or not that was the case. End of argument that hopefully never needed to be made.

Michigan can explore the opportunity of sticking a 6'5" playmaker on the field at a position of huge need, or they can keep Devin Gardner on the bench for fear that the worst thing ever will happen. Unless you're the type to keep a fully-stocked bunker in case of the nuclear holocaust, the choice here is rather apparent.



March 22nd, 2012 at 3:02 PM ^

I don't think it's crazy to guard against unlikely catastrophe.  The somewhat clumsy analogy that I'll use is this:  You ("you" as in "a person") would probably enter into a bet in which you had a 99% chance of making a dollar and a 1% chance of losing a dollar.  But what about a bet in which you had a 99% chance of making a dollar and a 1% chance of being shot in the head? 

This being said, I do not want to claim too much ability to thwart the will of the Angry BLANK Hating God, as do not wish to tempt its wrath, and I humbly bow before its awesome power.  Troy Woolfolk's busted ankle will always live in my memory.   


March 22nd, 2012 at 3:07 PM ^

I get what you're saying about expected outcomes (ah, Stats memories...), and I don't disagree that the coaches have to think this stuff through.  My only point is that on the risk side of the equation, we're looking at a scenario where DOOM only arises when three events occur in a particular order, you have to look at the likelihood of that outcome, and say, "yeah, we can deal with that."

Besides, it isn't like Devin is either (a) going to be running crossing patterns in front of Ray Lewis, or (b) sitting in the bubble wrap waiting for Denard to drop. He's still going to practice, and work out, and walk around campus. Hell, Troy Woolfolk and Antonio Bass both asploded without being touched. Risk is everywhere, so why not try to grab maximum reward if the risk is acceptable.


March 22nd, 2012 at 3:16 PM ^

I just question (and I mean that in the most literal sense) whether the risk is acceptable.  It's easy for me to imagine Gardner stretching out his 6'5" frame to catch a pass and getting drilled by a safety while he's defenseless.  It might well be worth the risk, though. 


March 22nd, 2012 at 3:28 PM ^

I'll be holding my breath, too. But a few years back, Michigan lined up our best defender (and the heart of the defense) up at wide receiver, and even had him field punts.  Given his high profile, sending him back as a sitting duck on punts or sending him down the middle could have gotten him blown up.  Instead, he won the Heisman.

Devin is an athletic freak, and you don't waste that. If you can use him, you use him.


March 22nd, 2012 at 3:21 PM ^

Is fairly likely.  It happens every year.  If said hurt WR is Devin Gardner...well that depends somewhat on how much he plays and what his role is.  But he can get hurt in non-contact situations or blocking like you said.  It doesn't have to be a concussion-hit or in the middle of the field.  The chances do increase with live playing though, as compared to wearing a red-jersey in practice.  Backup QBs rarely get hurt, but WRs do.

El Jeffe

March 22nd, 2012 at 8:48 PM ^

We're gonna need at least one for instance on that. I'd barely buy that it "happens every year," in the sense we mean here. In other words, you'd have to ask not whether any WR and any QB on a team were hurt at the same time, but rather whether, say, the starting QB and the star WR were hurt at the same time.

As for it being "fairly likely," I think you done just pulled that out of your arse.

turd ferguson

March 22nd, 2012 at 2:50 PM ^

I agree with most of what you've written (including the conclusion), but this is condescending and in boring lockstep with what Brian has already said.  I want Denard to stay at QB, too, but Eric Lloyd's "move Denard to WR" idea uses many of the same arguments as this one, is a perfectly reasonable idea to discuss in the offseason, and definitely doesn't warrant you calling him out by name (and photo) as an idiot on a widely read site.

I've made this point before, but one of the things that frustrates me about this site is that it's extremely rare for any of the non-Brian writers to publicly disagree with anything that Brian writes.  I happen to agree with you guys on this point, but it would make for interesting reading if we were to get debates every now and then instead of just dismissive diatribes.


March 22nd, 2012 at 2:57 PM ^

What you're saying is fair—the tone is a bit condescending in spots, though I feel that's entirely warranted when it comes to the argument that Denard shouldn't be a QB. And yes, in this case I do agree with Brian.

However, this is also, I believe, the first real opinion post I've had here since I took the job—I was a little busy during football and basketball season. If you listened to the podcast, I think you heard that I'm not always 100% in lockstep with Brian. While I largely agree with his big-picture views on things, I certainly don't read everything he writes while nodding in approval. I posted my reaction to Michigan winning the B1G hoops title specifically because Brian's reaction was wildly different from my own.

That said, I'm not going to post a counterpoint that I don't believe in simply to provide an opposing view—I'm not going to argue for the sake of argument, because I think that's rather hack-ish. There's a reason I don't watch Around the Horn. In this case, I had the opportunity to write an opinion piece on a subject with two sides that I feel strongly about. Brian wrote a paragraph about it. I think this adds to the discussion.

turd ferguson

March 22nd, 2012 at 3:11 PM ^

Thanks for responding.  I should clarify a couple of things.  First of all, I think the tone here is out of character for you -- I definitely don't think that you're a dick in your writing.  Secondly, my paragraph about the lack of debate/dissent wasn't really targeted at you.  It's a more general observation about the site that was especially odd in the pre-Hoke era.  I agree that debate for the sake of debate is annoying; agreement for the sake of agreement is really boring, though.


March 22nd, 2012 at 3:15 PM ^

Not a problem, and I appreciate when people voice their opinions, critical or otherwise. If my tone comes off as dickish, it's usually an attempt at humor/sarcasm/hyperbole falling flat on its face. Or someone is calling for Denard to play a position other than quarterback; in that case, I'm intentionally being dickish.


March 22nd, 2012 at 2:57 PM ^


You could take what Al Borges said as truth -

Are you experimenting with Devin Gardner at other positions?

“We’re doing what we did a year ago, pretty much. We’re giong to play the best 11 guys. Devin’s the backup quarterback right now. He’s number two, and we’re going to do what we have to do to get the best 11 on the field. Nothing’s changed in that perspective, so we pretty much have the same mentality that we had.” 

from the presser.

Also from the same day -

Is he open to all of this?

“Oh yeah. Yeah. He wants to play.”

Are you concerned that giving him looks at other positions will disrupt his growth as a quarterback?

“Nope. Nope. Not at all. Smart kid, he’ll be fine.” 


Sure, you can argue with what the coaches are planning, and open discussion is always a good practice for reasonable human beings, but you would have to see Denard slide before it even became a discussion of merit.  Just think it through - after an 11-2 season with a BCS victory, the coaches decide to replace the starting senior quarterback with his inexperienced junior back up.  Move the senior quarterback to wide reciever (because he projects there in the NFL?) and roll the dice with a brutal road schedule.  No thanks, I'll take my chances with an experienced senior next year.

El Jeffe

March 22nd, 2012 at 8:54 PM ^

Wouldn't you want to test your theory--that the non-Brian writers rarely disagree with Brian--on a point that is not so transparently and flagrantly ludicrous as the idea that Denard should not play QB?

We've collectively been over this a million times. If Devin had shown himself to be senior-year Vince Young, then we probably wouldn't be having this conversation. But he hasn't and isn't. There is no earthly reason other than "because I'm a moron" to make the case that Devin should start in place of Denard.

The fact that Ace agrees with Brian on this says nothing about Ace's ability to think independently. It says everything about the fact that the argument with which he is disagreeing is fucking idiotic, off-season or not.


March 22nd, 2012 at 3:03 PM ^

"if Denard gets hurt, that's a doomsday scenario in and of itself."

Garnder is a decent QB.  Let's remember that last year some people thought he should start while Denard moved to WR because Devin is a better fit in the offense and needed to see the field.  The coaches openly said that Gardner does some things as a passer better than Denard (similar things said by the previous staff too.)  A 5-star backup QB in his 3rd year having to step in for Denard is not doomsday, as we saw last year. 

The chances of 2 QBs getting hurt are indeed slim.  But the chances of a starting QB like Denard and a WR getting hurt - not slim at all.  This happened last year and pretty much every year.  Part of the reason 2 QBs don't get hurt often is that the backup isn't playing!  I obviously can't give you precise math, but the probability of Bellomy playing meaningful snaps more than doubles if Gardner is at WR -- because the probability of Gardner getting hurt doubles.  With Denard, it's not IF he'll get hurt but when.  The chances that Garnder can step in when that happens decrease significantly if he is at WR. 

The worst case scenario here is not Bellomy at QB, it's a walk-on.  That is unlikely but it is possible.

I think he should move to WR because the potential benefits outweight the risks - but let's not act like there's no risk involved in the decision.  If Devin and Denard are both playing there is only 1 scholarship QB available on the bench.  With potential injuries, suspensions, attrition, etc. it's a significant risk to take.  I hope Hoke takes it though.



March 22nd, 2012 at 4:10 PM ^

There is another reason that IMO DG to WR is fairly risk-free: because DG has literally done nothing in his career to merit the "Start Devin not Denard rabble rabble" chorus. DG, other than a 5 star rating 3 years ago, has literally not shown anything terrific in his (granted, very limited) time on the field, or in spring practice.  I'm not trashing DG at all, perhaps he is awesome at QB and only needs the opportunity to show it. But in fact, there is literally nothing other than Rivals rating coming out of HS to confirm that DG is better as a backup than Bellamy.


March 22nd, 2012 at 4:22 PM ^

I am not saying this as a knock on Devin.  The kid has barely played college football, and may very well develop into Vince Young.  But, from what we have seen so far - again, incredibly limited sample size running an offense where he was asked to plug in for Denard - there is no reason to believe that he is any better than Bellamy as a back-up QB.

At WR, Devin brings something to the table that no other WR on our roster can - a big, physical, fast presence that will create match-up problems for shorter (and even some taller) CBs. 



March 22nd, 2012 at 4:28 PM ^

Devin won the backup QB job last year, so, that's some evidence he is better than Bellomy. {Yes, he red-shirted, but I didn't get the sense that the coaches viewed this as any sort of sacrifice to the team.}

I realize I brought it up, but the point was just to say that Devin is an at least decent QB.  I agree with Ace, and most people, that the 'Devin Gardner should start at QB' argument is silly.  'Not as good as Denard' is not the same thing as awful.

What Devin has shown as a QB is a)relative competance in limited action b)public confidence voiced from the coaches and c) positive reports from players and 'insiders' faith.



March 22nd, 2012 at 3:04 PM ^

I'm sure the coaches have faith in russell bellomy if denard goes down. and its not like gardner is going full time receiver. have faith in the coaches. I've been saying everywhere. mark my words. bellomy will be starting at qb next year.


March 22nd, 2012 at 3:08 PM ^

I agree with everything you've said, ACE. You also might want to include Kain Colter in that Tannehill part, since he was pretty nasty as a WR last year and will be Northwestern's starter this year. He was pretty good as NU's back up as well. He's a prime example of getting two of your best players on the field at the same time.

Regarding those people who say that Denard should move to WR because that's where he's best suited for the NFL, I'd have to disagree for two reasons. First, it's not what's best for Michigan. Denard wins us games at QB, and while his throwing might not be great, it's good enough to win football games. He's your best player and you're putting the ball into your best player's hand every offensive play. The other reason is that he wants to play there.

Now, regarding Gardner moving to WR. It might be what's best for him. Now, I'll let the coaches decide who is the starting QB after this year, but if Gardner thrives at the WR position and the coaches like what Bellomy does as a back up, wouldn't it make sense for Gardner to stay at WR? Plus, with his size and athleticism, he might be best suited for that position anyway, for Michigan and beyond. I'm not saying that the coaches will take the opportunity to play QB away from Gardner, I'm just saying that he might do well at WR. Ultimately, it's their decision.

I might be a bit biased on Gardner because of SSS, but I want to see more of him doing positive things for the team. Last year, I wanted to see more of him running the ball too instead of handing it off to Denard or Fitz. This might be a way of letting him make plays. He's got the one thing that we're lacking at the skill positions: size. We should give him the opportunity to do something with it.


March 22nd, 2012 at 3:13 PM ^

Just to advance the discussion.

While we can agree that Gardner is a special athlete who will help no matter what, is he really significantly better than Roundtree/Robinson/Jackson/or the Freshman?  He has no real experience at the position afterall.  Maybe the gain at WR is being overstated and the risk of hurting your top backup isn't worth that.


March 22nd, 2012 at 3:22 PM ^

But in that case, I can't imagine him spending much time at WR.  They're going to give him some run in Spring ball, and if he doesn't excel/doesn't help/doesn't like it/whatever, he'll be back holding the clipboard (or lining up in the Fritz) in the fall.

As I said to Ace yesterday, this isn't John L. Smith getting Drew Stanton's knee all torn up the year before he took the reins by having him cover punts in a bowl game (note: LOLSpartyNoooo). The coaches may be less risk-averse than some, but they aren't face-slappingly insane.


March 22nd, 2012 at 3:14 PM ^

Specifically he said that Bellomy would be taking snaps away from Denard and some from Devin in spring practice because that was when they could afford the time to take a look at him and evaluate him. 

I hate to be repetitive about Borges's presser, but when asked about moving Devin he did not say "Yeah... practices are closed for a reason". The first word was not "yeah". It was not a word. It was a sound that started with a N sound headed toward nah never got there and finished with a ow. It was followed by the comment on closed practices to indicate that further questions about the details of practice were closed. Anyone who believes that Borges expressed a generally positive response to putting Devin on the field as a regular WR (as opposed to special situations) needs to go watch that presser again. 

"Are you experimenting with Devin at other spots?" 

He replies with a slight negative shake of his head "We're doing what we did a year ago pretty much... Devin is the backup quarterback... We're going to do what we have to do to get the best 11 guys on the field. Nothings changed from that persective. We pretty much have the same mentality that we've had". He evidences a slight negative head shake at other moments during that response.

Contrast that to his response to the first question about the center position. You see a slight head nod at a couple of points and a clearly articulated "yeah we do".



March 22nd, 2012 at 3:15 PM ^

Personally, I love the idea of lining Gardner up at WR. Not only would it keep him involved & loose should Denard get dinged, it puts another playmaker on the field. With his athleticism and grasp of the offense already, you'd think he'd be ready to go right away (with some minor position coaching). Why have him just burning eligibility on the bench?

The odds of both Denard & Gardner being hurt at the same time is a situation I'd be willing to roll the dice on.


March 22nd, 2012 at 3:19 PM ^

I really wanted to see DG get a real shot to start last year.  I understand that 99.9% of the fanbase wants to go with the for sure thing, but Denard struggled a lot until the nebraska and ohio games.   IMO devin is a much better "quarterback".  Now I didnt say he plays the position that denard plays any better.  Let me rephrase so I dont get screamed at, DG is a better quarterback by definition of a quarterback.  Put DG under center and run a pro-style with Fitz getting the touches montee ball gets and I think we're a better team.  Watch Devin's film throwing the ball and it will frustrate the hell out of you come fall when denard throws another 1:1 tds to interception like season.  


March 22nd, 2012 at 3:30 PM ^

This was one point I wanted to make in the post but didn't—what evidence is actually out there that Gardner is any better a passer than Denard? If you're basing your opinion on high school film, I'm not seeing what you're seeing. If you're basing your opinion on Gardner's performances in college games and spring games, not only is there almost nothing to go on, but he hasn't exactly torn it up when he's seen the field. He looked downright scattershot in the last couple spring games. He still has a wonky sidearm throwing motion that largely negates the advantage of being 6'5".

I'm not saying Gardner isn't necessarily a good quarterback. To argue that the facts point to that, however, I think is basing an opinion on information that just isn't there.


March 22nd, 2012 at 4:26 PM ^

that there has been a terrific improvement the second year a QB is in Borges' system.  I think we started to see the real Denard towards the end of the season, when he started understanding the system better and that we will see 2 or 3 td passes for every interception this year.  Having a huge target can help that significantly.  I also disagree with people who suggest Denard does not have a strong arm.  It may not be as strong as a Tom Brady or Matthew Stafford, but he looks to me to have more than adequate arm strength.

He made a dramatic improvement from his first year in RR's system to his second year, and I would not be surprised to see an equally dramatic improvement from year 1 to year 2 in Borges' system.  Everyone says he is a tremendously hard working player.

Blue in Seattle

March 22nd, 2012 at 5:35 PM ^

I'm not sure it was Magnus, but one of the insiders who watched spring practice with Brian last year provided a long description about seeing Denard be very frustrated about his passing, and that Devin was looking better in the same drills and that they were seeing equal time with all receivers, such that it wasn't a clear two's against one's thing.  This is through fuzzy memory, but what sticks is the description of Denard being so dejected after one play sequence that he walked to the sideline with his head down and when Devin stuck his hand out for as a "don't worry man" gesture Denard ignored it and walked by him.  Devin and Denard are room mates, and this of course was a very UN-Denard-like move.

Certainly the sample size is small for Devin in real playing time from last year, but I do remember a couple plays against B1G teams where Devin dropped back for a pass, stepped up to escape the pass ruch and delivered the ball with a very Pro Style quality that was not a frequent thing from Denard until maybe the last two games of the season.

What everyone forgets in the season long discussion of Denard vs Devin, is that Borges stated multiple times that "removing 1000+ yards of offense from the field is not an option"  And would follow that up with, "I have to shape the offense to suit his talents".

My conclusion is that Denard being such a stellar runner has stunted his growth as a passer, and probably has never had a true passing mentor until Borges.  Now that Borges is saying, "Denard is my clear #1, is very football smart, and just needs to hone his leadership and footwork" tells me that Denard is going to make a first year to second year jump in performance as a passer.  And of course is still made of DiLithium.

I do agree with you that coincidental injuries to Denard and Devin on the same play is pretty low chance, and anything that gets the best players playing is clearly what this coaching staff is going to do. 


Also Spring Practice seems to be when this coaching staff experiments with a lot of stuff that doesn't work out, but does let them get it on film to be studied by them and the players all the way until Fall Camp.

I think it's a mistake to think Devin isn't the #2 QB and providing a lot of competition.  But it's also a mistake to not try and get him on the field at the same time as Denard.


March 22nd, 2012 at 3:22 PM ^

Any DB staring at a six-fiver spilt out is focusing solely on finding a way to stop the completion, not how am I going to cut him in half. Now, that may be more the mindset of the safeties, but you can tailor routes to limit that possibility - like outs, posts, flags, cornet routes, etc. and avoid sending him on curls and crossing drags.
And again, Devin is a really big and strong athlete.

Sons of Louis Elbel

March 22nd, 2012 at 3:25 PM ^

It's our thinness at WR that really decides this, IMO. If we had, e.g. Manningham or Braylon or Terrell or whomever out there, I think we'd all feel differently about the risk involved in having DG at WR.


March 22nd, 2012 at 3:36 PM ^

Bad idea.  Ace, you talk about Devin losing practice reps, but he'd be losing very needed game reps.  He needs time to advance his QB game on the field, rather than watching the 3rd string QB learn the ropes.

Tannehill is used as comparison, but as Ace notes, Tannehill was a middling recruit.  Let's not forget that Devin was a 5* recruit, the #1 dual-threat QB in the nation.  Further, Tannehill had a red shirt year and RR might have taken that away from Devin (sure hope not).

I'd love to see Devin get some reps at WR, but not (as they say) on the reg.  Let him be a weapon, but he's still a QB...and should be allowed to grow into a dangerous one, just as Denard (for all his, oops another interception, flaws) is doing.


March 22nd, 2012 at 3:41 PM ^

Other examples of recent-to-fairly-recent dual threat QBs switching to WR would include Anquan Bolden and, going a bit farther back, I believe Hines Ward was originally a QB before switching to WR his So. or Jr. year.  They both made the switch full-time and permanently, and both had quite a bit of success.  Obviously citing a few successful examples from history doesn't mean it's a sure thing if DG makes the move, but between those two examples, and the Tannehill example, I am very excited at this potential (probable?) position switch and think the rewards far outweigh the risks.  Plus, watch his WR camp video that Brian posted.  How can you not be excited?

EDIT: Thought of another good example - Marvin McNutt.  He even has a similar body type to DG.  Would love to have a weapon like that split out wide every play.


March 22nd, 2012 at 4:03 PM ^

My only comment on using Denard as a WR is this.....when you run a gimmick play to put him out wide, make the defense respect that by at least ONCE throwing him the ball.  Imagine a deep route with Denard burning a safety. Even better (and sadly improbable) would be a bubble screen to Denard where he's out in space against two DBs with blockers. 

It makes no sense for Denard to play WR full time, but if you put him out there for those gadget plays, at least use him as a WR and not just a guy taking a handoff.


March 22nd, 2012 at 4:08 PM ^

I think the bigger issue isn't whether Gardner would be a good option at WR (from an athletic standpoint he clearly is a good option), but if he would be willing to make the move, and more importantly, make it work.  I know we love to talk about kids just buying in and doing what coaches tell them, but realistically you have to convince him this is a good move for him going forward.  Because if I'm Devin and the coaches say that they want me at WR, they are implicitly saying that I'd be behind Morris and/or Bellomy next year, which would be a heavy dose of reality for a high 4*/5* kid.  And you don't know how he'll respond, but conciously and subconciously, if he is lining up at a position he's not played in years and basically being told that is your new home.  I mean, you don't move a guy to WR for a year and then make him your starting QB the next, or at least you don't do that in this offense.  

Personally, I am all for getting the best 11 on the field, but I also hate the "situational WR" role because it (1) is a dead giveaway to the defense on the types of plays you plan on running, and (2) with such limited practice time, it feels like a waste for an offense that is already hamstrung a bit by the limitations of Denard.  I think Devin will see the field as a WR before it is all said and done, but I hope he isn't moved there permanently because he's still the best bridge the team has between Denard and the Morris era, and for a kid who has suffered through a regime change as jarring as the ones RVB and Martin did, I'd hate to see him not get a chance to play the position he was brought in to occupy.