I think it's a near certainty that Kenny Britt is going to declare for the NFL Draft in January.
I say this having had the pleasure of watching him develop on the banks during the past three seasons. Britt, quite simply, is a monster on the field. I don't like throwing that level of hyperbole around, but it's absolutely fitting in this case.
Physically, Britt looks the part. He is listed at 6'4 and 215 lbs on the team's official roster, and those numbers don't appear to be exaggerated. He is muscular, and has a lanky frame that reminds me of the NFL's Plaxico Burress. Speed-wise, I'd estimate Britt to be somewhere in the 4.5 range or so on the field, with good acceleration and leaping ability. He has decent-to-good hands, which some observers have incorrectly knocked due to poor play by quarterback Mike Teel at points.
I think it's Britt's style of play that is the real attraction. He's a menacing figure at the line of scrimmage. What 5'9, 180 lbs when soaking wet CB wants to play bump and run against him? The only CBs who have fared well against Britt during the past few years were physical man corners like Mike Mickens and Mike Jenkins. On the field, Britt is a bull in a china shop. He knows that he's a load to cover downfield, and is sure to take full advantage of it. Britt's game really brings to mind an early Keyshawn Johnson, another downfield threat not afraid to throw impose his will on defenders. He'll go after defensive backs and is not afraid to get his hands dirty.
My favorite part of Britt's game, one that I think that people who don't follow Rutgers football don't properly appreciate, is that he's absolutely incredible at catching "bad" throws. Kenny Britt has bailed out Mike Teel on errant bombs down the sideline more times than I can count. Britt has a long wingspan, a good vertical leap, and most importantly, great field awareness. Combined with his size and ability to get open downfield, it all adds up to a receiver who can bail out his quarterback time and time again. That's an asset that should not be discounted.
I understand that the "consensus" right now in the football scouting community is that Britt is approximately a second round pick. 2009 is considered to have a very deep junior class at wide receiver. However, it is my belief that, solely based on his play on the field, Britt not only warrants a first-round selection in the upcoming draft; but he should go quite early in the first round. Britt is overlooked a bit playing for a team that went 7-5 this year and didn't really have its bearings together early in the season. He has done nothing but produce since emerging late in 2006. Unlike many of the other big name receivers, Britt plays in a pro-style scheme that does not inflate his production. Indeed, Britt has been the frequent target of opposing defenses' attention in 2008. Once NFL Scouts sit down and take a look at his game tape, he is going to warrant a first round grade.
What could be a potential red flag for Britt? It is not exactly a secret that he (along with tackle Anthony Davis) was suspended for the Norfolk State game this year for a team rules violation. During his first fall camp as a freshman, Britt reportedly was not cleared by the NCAA clearinghouse to play until the 2006 season had nearly started.
There's one other thing:
Was suspended for one game this season for violating team rules, is not a great practice player and comes from a high-maintenance, big-ego, emotional superstar mold. Will make some easy drops and needs to become a more consistent catcher, yet when Britt wants to turn it on like he did against West Virginia and when matched up against Connecticut CB Darius Butler, he has shown he can be dominant. A long-strider who eats ground quickly, Britt is big, exceptionally strong and physical and can power off the line and beat the jam. He is built to play a big man’s game and has a wide catching radius. Looks every bit the part and has been the one bright spot on an average offense. Has the physical skill set to be a better pro than college player.
ESPN's Todd McShay seems to have been talking to the same people.
Kenny Britt, Rutgers (6-4, 215) | Grade: 86
Biggest asset: Big, physical target
Biggest concern: Prima donna
Status: Good as gone
All I can say is that, as an observer, I haven't seen it on the field. I've seen antics from the likes of Terrell Owens and Jeremy Shockey on the gridiron, and Britt isn't even in the same galaxy as those two. Isn't it the tendency of every big name wide receiver portrayed as a prima donna? If Britt does have somewhat of an attitude problem, not many details about it have leaked to the press. Was the subtext of this Tom Luicci column from November that Britt was once at a point where he needed to mature? I don't think anyone considers Britt to be a rotten apple though; far from it.
In summary, I give Kenny Britt my highest possible recommendation. Players like Ray Rice, Brian Leonard, and Jeremy Zuttah have all been high draft picks out of Rutgers in recent memory, but Britt is entirely in his own class when it comes to pro potential. There are few, if any, flaws in his game. He is going to be a tremendous, tremendous pro football player. I now find myself torn between my hope and expectation that Britt will go very high in next year's NFL Draft, and my desire for Britt to take a short ride up the turnpike and find stardom with the New York Giants.