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Mailbag: Battle For The 5th WR Spot?


I've been wondering how Simi Fehoko looked during the OTAs. We have a good idea who our top four wide receivers are going to be, barring injury, but is Simi Fehoko being overlooked as a possible fifth or sixth receiver? Can he compete against Noah Brown and contribute on special teams? — JAY ARROWOOD / FALLING WATERS, WV

David: I actually think Fehoko has been one of the most-discussed prospects of this draft class, and for good reason. You can't coach that blend of size and speed. I thought he struggled a little bit, to be honest with you, but it did seem like he was finding a groove as the spring wrapped up. I absolutely think he'll be in the mix to win the fifth or maybe the sixth receiver job. But he's got to earn it. At the end of the day, he's a fifth-round draft pick, and I don't think the front office will have any problem moving on if they don't see something from him during training camp.

Jonny: Fehoko's size is pretty apparent. You just have to look at him and you start to imagine him moving the chains with hard-earned catches. That said, he did not look all that fast on the field for OTAs and minicamp, at least from my vantage point. He didn't separate from defenders and they were right there to remind him when he was targeted. I don't want to count him out though; there's nothing alarming about a receiver playing NFL players for the first time ever and looking out of sorts. He'll have a bigger sample size in training camp. Noah Brown probably has the edge over him, but that doesn't guarantee anything.

Just a question that continues to baffle me. I have read many articles about players and coaches and it seems that some of the coaches have that schoolyard mentality of "I am going to pick you because I know you," meaning some of today's coaches will not give a younger player much attention if they didn't draft with them or haven't worked with them. Please help me understand. — BRUCE HOLDEN / GLEN BURNIE, MD

David: It's a funny irony that the highest level of football isn't always about pure ability. There are politics and relationships to consider, as well. Obviously, if a player has a certain level of talent, he's going to get on the field. Coaches can't afford to sit guys who are undeniably better than everyone else. But in those instances where it's close, I find that coaches lean toward the guys they trust, or the guys they think fit their plans a little bit better. In some respect I guess it's just like any other workplace, with managers leaning toward the people they like or trust. But it can be frustrating to watch from the outside.

Jonny: You're right, and there are degrees of this that are bad coaching/management and there are degrees of it that are just human nature. It's the most common tiebreaker. If you think about the last job you had and think about a co-worker who was good at their job, and you're asked if they should get hired at you're new job versus someone whose work you're less familiar with, you'll probably go for your old co-worker. But don't get me wrong: That doesn't mean you made the right decision. A lot of incompetence and a lot of unfairness and a lack of diversity of skills come from that logic. The best coaches are going to challenge that urge to some degree.

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