Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 10/12/11

This year the Michigan State Spartan’s most productive offensive weapon has been BJ Cunningham, and it hasn’t even been close. Standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing in at 215 pounds, Cunningham is set to shatter career marks, in receptions and yards as early as next game. There’s no doubt that Cunningham is in consideration to be on the All Big Ten team, but does the talented receiver have a shot to be drafted in the first two days of the NFL Draft?

Cunningham is 13 catches and 60 yards away from topping career highs in both categories, and we’re only five games into the season. After sharing the spotlight with Mark Dell last year, Cunningham is proving that he can be the number one receiver at the collegiate level, as quarterback Kirk Cousins has relied on him heavily this season. Cunningham is having the season of his career thus far, and the Spartans have needed every catch. Let’s take a look at some of the reason why BJ Cunningham will be a first day draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

 

Size-

With a 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame, Cunningham definitely has the body type to be an NFL receiver. He also has the strength you’d expect to go with that type of frame. He’s demonstrated this strength all season long, breaking tackles and dragging defenders. This was particularly evident last week when the senior receiver was dragging defenders for extra yards against Ohio State on national television. The ability to break tackles and fight for extra yards is coveted at the wide receiver position in the NFL, as third down conversions are critical at any level of the game.

Cunningham has the size to play at the NFL level

Hands-

Cunningham has displayed terrific hands on his way to hauling in 38 catches in just five games this season. At times it seems as though the receiver catches everything that comes his way. The most important job a wide receiver has is catching the ball; you can’t do anything with the ball unless you first make the catch. Sure hands have helped players such as current New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker, who was undrafted, rise to stardom.  Given his size and athleticism, there are many places where you can throw the ball and expect Cunningham to be able to get to it, but size and athleticism don’t make catches for you. The soft hands the Spartan receiver has displayed his whole career have been the reason he holds the school’s all-time reception record.

 

Experience and Competition-

This will be Cunningham’s fourth year playing in the Big Ten. He’s played a prominent role in the offense every year, and has improved statistically each year as well. In this, his final year of college football, Cunningham has shown that that experience has come in handy, as he’s on pace to put up career numbers once again. Michigan State’s schedule will get considerably tougher, but that shouldn’t matter, as Cunningham has played his best football against the Spartan’s stiffest competition. Against Notre Dame on the road, Cunningham caught 12 balls for 158 yards, and last week at Ohio State, Cunningham caught nine balls for 154 yards and a score. Not only did the receiver put up nice numbers against two good teams, but he did so in hostile environments.

 

NFL Comparison: Brandon Marshall-

Now this is not to say Cunningham will be as good as Marshall, but they certainly have similar size and skill sets. Marshall was taken in the fourth round of the draft out of Central Florida. At 6-foot-4 Marshall has two inches on BJ Cunningham, but both weigh similarly, with Marshall at 230 and Cunningham at 215. Both can be considered possession receivers, as they haul in many balls, but both have the ability to go deep. Although he has struggled to find the end zone with the Miami Dolphins, Marshall showed he could find pay dirt when he was with the Denver Broncos. Cunningham has shown that he too can cross the goal line, scoring nine touchdowns last year. Marshall has made a living of catching a ton of balls and breaking tackles with his big frame. Cunningham has the talent to do the same thing in the NFL if given the chance.

 

Given his size, hands, and athleticism, there shouldn’t be any question as of right now that BJ Cunningham should be drafted within the first three rounds of the NFL, but unless your name is Mel Kiper or Todd McShay, there’s a long way before you start talking about the draft. For now fans can just sit back and watch the receiver try and lead the Spartans offense to a Big Ten Title Defense as his draft stock continues to steadily rise.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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