Clemson coach Dabo Swinney knows the wide receiver position as well as anyone in college football, having been a receiver himself at Alabama, then coaching the position before ascending to the head-coaching ranks at CU. And while he's never been on an NFL staff, he's seen enough pro football to believe the position isn't coached particularly well at the game's highest level.
"I think it's the worst-coached position in the NFL. I think sometimes people just throw a guy out there and say 'Go coach these guys,' and it's a very detailed, technical position," Swinney told The Rich Eisen Show on Thursday.
While measuring which NFL positions are the best-coached is a subjective proposition, it's definitely a position that lends itself to a more immediate impact. The same holds true in college, where wide receivers tend to redshirt less often than, for instance, offensive linemen. Clemson has produced several active NFL players at the position, including 2014 first-round draft pick Sammy Watkins and Houston Texans star DeAndre Hopkins. Swinney said developing those two were very different experiences.
"We've had guys like Sammy Watkins where you get him out of the box, and there's no assembly required, and boom, you just don't screw them up. But we've taken guys like Sammy Watkins who came here with all this talent, and we've made them better and they've left as the fourth pick in the draft," Swinney said. "Then we've taken guys like (DeAndre) Hopkins, who was a basketball player, not highly recruited, very raw, 180-pound kid when he got here. He left two or three years later as a first-round draft pick."
Swinney's point, of course, is that Clemson develops wide receivers as well or better than anyone -- not the worst of timing with National Signing Day approaching in about 10 weeks and with his team unbeaten after 10 games. He noted that Clemson has had an All-ACC receiver in each of his 13 seasons at the school.
"I may screw up a defensive lineman or something, but I ain't going to screw up a wideout," he said.
More importantly, as coach of the top-ranked team in the nation, he doesn't want to screw up the Tigers' run for an ACC title and a College Football Playoff berth.
And one of the best receivers in the league will help get him there in Artavis Scott.