Let's take a moment to learn a little bit about Kevin Marion, the undrafted rookie free agent WR/KR who was impressive during recent OTA sessions. Why? Why the hell not.
Let's start with his senior year at Wake Forest, when Marion set a Demon Deacon career record for most kickoff returns. He led the ACC in kickoff returns with an outstanding 31.3 yards per return average. I was impressed to read that he had four returns of 80+ yards, including a 98 yard TD return against North Carolina that you can see just below:
OMG! I had no idea there were 11 Ricardo Colcloughs on the UNC KR coverage unit
NFL Draft Scout had him ranked as only the 184th of 338 WRs in this year's draft class. During his pre-draft workouts, he posted a 4.37 (low mark) 40 yard dash time and a high of 4.56. If you haven't read my notes on the most recent OTA sessions from yesterday (based largely on Dale Lolley's thoughts), you may have missed that Kevin Marion was catching everything thrown his way yesterday. That probably won't matter much, as he'll likely only earn a spot on this team if he can show enough as a KR to merit being kept. That said, he is more seasoned than Jeremy Bloom as a pass catcher, so he may be able to set himself apart from Bloom with his pass-catching abilities.
Marion's unassuming status as a WR in this year's draft class is largely because he wasn't thrown the ball that often. Let's take a look at his numbers receiving at Wake.
2007: 13 Games, 18 receptions, 192 yards, 10.67 average, 0 TDs, 14.8 yards/game
2006: 12 games, 10 receptions, 117 yards, 11.7 average, 0 TDs, 9.8 yards/game
2005: 8 games, 3 receptions, 67 yards, 22.33 average, 1 TD, 8.4 yards/game
2004: 11 games, 14 receptions, 172 yards, 12.29 average, 1 TD, 15.6 yards/game
Marion was actually used more as a rushing option in Wake Forest's spread-type offense. Perhaps this was because he only played one season of organized football in high school before arriving at Wake. In 2007, he had 21 rushes for 78 yards; in 2006 he had 23 rushes for 210 yards; in 2005 he had 6 rushes for 89 yards; and in 2004 as a freshmen, he had 18 rushes for 115 yards.
So, clearly, the Wake Forest coaching staff wanted to get the ball in this guy's hands in a variety of different ways each game, either as a KR, a WR, or a rusher. To label him as a true WR, at least during his college career, would be a misnomer. Why were the coaches interested in getting him the ball? Well, perhaps it was because he was a stud in high school as a track athlete.
Marion was a two-time All-American track athlete at Dixie Hollins HS in St. Petersburg, Florida. He set a state record in the long jump as a junior with a 25'5" jump, breaking a 16-year old record. That event was clearly his forte, as he won a national indoor championship in the long jump. He also posted a 10.21 time in the 100-yard dash, which is not all that far off from a world-class time.
Marion, pictured second from right, was a high school track standout in Florida.
And finally, from the looks of it, he's a class-act guy who's no slouch in the classroom. Wake Forest is no joke academically, and Marion earned his degree as a Sociology Major.
Best of luck Mr. Marion making the Pittsburgh Steelers roster. You're officially flying under the radar, but if Coach Tomlin is a man of his word, you will at the very least, have an opportunity to earn a spot this summer in Latrobe.