The word constantly associated with Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey is speed.
And for good reason.
He turned in the fastest 40-time of any player at the Scouting Combine, running a 4.30.
That, along with his size (6-foot-2), has draft junkies drooling.
But there are also critics, who say he isn't polished as a receiver and might take several years to adjust to the NFL.
"He's not a finished product," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen told The Baltimore Sun. "I think he's 60 percent of what he's going to be. I think there's a lot of room for improvement because of that work ethic. I'm very confident that in time, he'll be one of the top receivers."
MTC's draft guru Scott Wright from draftcountdown.com had a similar assessment, saying Heyward-Bey has a world of potential but a high bust factor as well.
At Maryland, Heyward-Bey finished his career second all-time in receiving yards, third in receptions and tied for third in touchdown catches.
To gain better insight on his career with the Terps, we called on reporter Patrick Stevens from The Washington Times.
Q: What are Heyward-Bey's strengths that make him a top-rated wide receiver prospect?
A: Heyward-Bey's most coveted skill was and remains speed, and it obviously is what attracted him a lot of attention at the combine. He was primarily a track guy in high school, and his football exploits pretty much amounted to his quarterback throwing it as far as he could and Heyward-Bey outrunning whatever unfortunate defensive back was stuck covering him. Heyward-Bey's college highlight reel (video below) is littered with moments in which he used his size and speed to do things many other guys cannot.
Q: What are some things about him that concern NFL scouts?
A: No one is going to pretend Heyward-Bey is a polished product, and he still has work to do as a route-runner. And although college stats don't always translate to the professional level, it has to be a bit unsettling that Heyward-Bey managed only 42 receptions last fall. Some of that is play-calling. Some of that is opponents' coverage decisions. And some of that is simply an inability to get open as much as you'd think someone as fast as Heyward-Bey would. If Heyward-Bey can learn how to change direction as quickly as he runs in a straight line (and he's better than he was three years ago), though, a lot of concerns would be alleviated.
Q: Describe Heyward-Bey's personality. What was he like with the media, his coaches and teammates?
A: Heyward-Bey is an engaging guy, someone with a love for movies (a big fan of Michael Bay) and a winning smile. He's also smart enough to realize people are all-too-eager to exploit him and made certain to maintain a healthy distance with a lot of people outside the Maryland program while he was on campus (read more on this here). Heyward-Bey was routinely praised by coaches and teammates for his work ethic.
Q: What was Heyward-Bey's signature moment at Maryland?
A: It was probably as a redshirt freshman, when he caught touchdown passes of 65 and 96 yards in a 14-13 defeat of Miami. Both were long throws from Sam Hollenbach, and Heyward-Bey simply outran cornerbacks from a vaunted program to carry Maryland to an unlikely victory.
As for this past season, Heyward-Bey turned a couple screen passes (in losses at Middle Tennessee and Virginia Tech) into long touchdowns and also had a 76-yard run to spark a second-half comeback at Clemson. But the Miami game was probably what will be remembered the most.
Q: Do you have a story or anecdote about Heyward-Bey from having covered him that might be of interest to our readers? Maybe something people might not know about him?
A: The thing that always struck me about Heyward-Bey was just how he carried himself --- and a lot of that stems from his friendship with Kansas City receiver Devard Darling, who was with Baltimore when Heyward-Bey played at a high school not far from the Ravens' practice complex. That translated into dealings with the media; he usually rewarded well-thought questions with well-thought answers, and provided empty stock replies to boring questions that clearly didn't require much mental exertion from reporters. It was a common reminder of how perceptive Heyward-Bey is, and there's no question it's a trait that serves him well on several levels.
Links, projections, mocks, etc.
According to The Sun, the Eagles, Ravens and Dolphins have held private workouts with Heyward-Bey.
NFL.com's Mike Mayock has Heyward-Bey ranked as his fourth-best receiver.
SI.com's Don Banks has the Chargers taking Heyward-Bey with the 16th pick.
NFL.com's Bucky Brooks ranks Heyward-Bey fourth among wide receivers.
Scott Wright of draftcountdown.com has the Bears taking Heyward-Bey with the 18th pick.
The National Football Post has Heyward-Bey falling to the Raiders at No. 40.
Steve Wyche of NFL.com has the Ravens taking Heyward-Bey at No. 26.
Scouts, Inc. ranks Heyward-Bey its 25th-best prospect overall.
Chris Steuber of Scout.com has the Vikings taking Heyward-Bey at No. 22.