How many of you have ever heard a saying that goes something like this: 'The best things come in small packages'. I'm sure most of you have come across this idiom before, and can tangibly attest to the relative truth in its meaning from previous experiences. Perhaps you've opened a small gift-wrapped package before with little expectations, only to find a key or a diamond ring neatly tucked inside. Of course, those gifts were certainly indicative of a much larger reality. In the case of the key, one would expect to use it to start the engine of a car or to open the door of a home. While the ring would represent a greater level of love and commitment that you hadn't possibly known before.
Steve Smith, arguably the greatest Panther of all time, is also a prime example of this concept. How many of you can genuinely say that you were psyched when the Panthers picked him in the third round of the 2001 NFL Draft? I'll freely admit that his 5' 9" stature gave me doubts as to what he could actually do at the pro level, but those suspicions were immediately allayed when he returned a kickoff for a touchdown in his very first game as a Panther. The rest is history.
WR Michael Avila definitely has an uphill climb ahead of him if he wants to follow a similar path as #89, but he has the size to do it. See you on the other side for a closer look at one of the Panthers latest UDFA acquisitions.
As you can see, their measurables are very much alike in some areas but quite different in others. The biggest takeaway I get from looking at those raw numbers is that Avila may have as much or more straight line speed as Smitty, but he doesn't have near the explosion.
On a side note, every time I compare one of these prospects to Smith, I always have to do a double take when I look at his three cone time of 7.44. Frankly, it's horrible. In fact, a solid three cone time of 6.95 was only good enough for fifteenth place among wide receivers at this year's 2012 NFL Combine. Furthermore, the fifteenth place time among linebackers at the same event was 7.26. I always think that something must have been off during the timing of Smitty's three cone drill, but who knows, maybe it's perfectly accurate. The moral of this tangent should be clearly evident: None of us can ever trust the numbers.
Michael Avila's production at San Jose State was practically non-existent. The following tables confirm this fact quite convincingly.
|2007||San Jose State||WAC||FR||WR||0||0||0||2||-2||-1.0||0||2||-2||-1.0||0|
|2008||San Jose State||WAC||FR||WR||18||152||8.4||0||4||5||1.3||0||22||157||7.1||0|
|2009||San Jose State||WAC||SO||WR||9||43||4.8||0||2||3||1.5||0||11||46||4.2||0|
|2011||San Jose State||WAC||SR||WR||4||52||13.0||0||0||0||0||4||52||13.0||0|
|Career||San Jose State||31||247||8.0||0||8||6||0.8||0||39||253||6.5||0|
|Kick Ret||Punt Ret|
|2007||San Jose State||WAC||FR||WR||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|2008||San Jose State||WAC||FR||WR||0||0||0||4||29||7.3||0|
|2009||San Jose State||WAC||SO||WR||5||87||17.4||0||3||6||2.0||0|
|2011||San Jose State||WAC||SR||WR||10||216||21.6||0||0||0||0|
|Career||San Jose State||15||303||20.2||0||7||35||5.0||0|
After tearing his MCL during his junior season, Avila was ready to make an impact in his final college season, but it wasn't to be. In his own words, he felt like he was "never given a fair shot. Period". If ever there was a time to make the most of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, this would be it, and he passed the first test by getting an invite to this week's mini-camp. In fact, Avila is the only player(out of 32) from last month's three-day tryout session to receive such an honor thus far. Of course, the fact that he attended the same high school as Rivera certainly never hurt his chances in the first place, but it shouldn't be a factor going forward. In addition to standing out as a receiver, Avila will need to flash on special teams as a punt returner in order to take the next step with the Panthers. Indeed, if he ever wanted to see a real life picture of what it takes for a small guy like himself to become a superstar in the NFL, he won't need to look any further than the practice field, where the rules and regulations will be on full display as usual.