Four University of Tennessee wide receivers have been NFL first-round draft choices in the last five years. Joey Clinkscales wasn't one of them.
Clinkscales, despite catching 68 passes in his final three college seasons, wasn't selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers until the ninth round of last spring's draft.
That baffles Tennessee assistant coach Kippy Brown.
"I don't know about those scouts sometimes," Brown said. "I coached Mark Clayton at Louisville. They told me he's not quite fast enough and too little, and all he did was set the NFL record for touchdown passes" with the Miami Dolphins.
Brown said Clinkscales, who is fighting for a spot on the Steelers' 45-man roster, has comparable talent to Anthony Hancock, Willie Gault, Clyde Duncan and Tim McGee, Tennessee's recent first-round draft choices.
"Pittsburgh's got a steal. There isn't any doubt he's a No. 1 draft choice," Brown said. "He's not the fastest, but he doesn't take a back seat to any of them. In a clutch situation, I'd take Clinkscales over anybody I've coached, and that includes Clayton."
The 6-foot, 195-pound Clinkscales likely will battle veterans Calvin Sweeney, Weegie Thompson, Warren Seitz and free agent Lyneal Alston for the final one or two Steelers' wide receiver jobs.
NFL scouts downgraded Clinkscales because he doesn't have sprinter's speed. He has been timed at between 4.55 and 4.65 seconds in the 40-yard dash, relatively slow for a receiver.
"Whatever speed he doesn't have, he has a tremendous amount of quickness and concentration and ball judgment," said Steeler assistant coach Tom Moore.
Brown said Clinkscales has excellent technique, good moves and runs precise pass routes. He uses them "the same way (Fred) Biletnikoff and (Steve) Largent run by people," he said.
Clinkscales, who earned his college degree, likes to compete, Brown said.