Doesn't project to contribute as a special teams returner
Summary: Bailey was a dominant force this year. The junior was one of the most productive receivers in the nation and torched defenses throughout the season. He led West Virginia in receiving with 114 receptions for 1,622 yards and 25 touchdowns. While fellow wide out Tavon Austin and quarterback Geno Smith received all the headlines, Bailey was maybe the most consistent player on the Mountaineers defense.
Bailey had good performances against some of the quality teams in the Big XII. He had 13 catches for 303 yards and five touchdowns against Baylor, plus went for over 200 yards versus both Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. Bailey finished the year well against Kansas and Syracuse, too. He made the wise decision to skip his senior year and declare for the 2013 NFL Draft since both Austin and Smith are entering the draft as well.
Bailey was a big-play receiver for the Mountaineers and their potent passing attack in 2011. He thrived against LSU's incredible secondary comprised of Tyrann Mathieu, Morris Claiborne, Eric Reid and Brandon Taylor. Bailey caught eight passes for 115 yards and a touchdown versus the Tigers' stellar defensive backs. He caught 72 passes for 1,279 yards and 12 touchdowns as sophomore and hauled in 24 passes for 317 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman.
Former teammate Keith Tandy told WalterFootball.com that Bailey is an excellent route-runner who has great hands. Running routes well is going to be his bread-and-butter in the NFL. He doesn't look like a burner speed mismatch like Austin and isn't a big receiver. Bailey is just a good technician who is intelligent enough to use his abilities to get separation via his quick route running. That being said, he has shown the ability to break off some long touchdowns, so defenses can't cover him lightly.
Bailey would probably be best in the NFL as a third receiver who primarily works out of the slot. With the amount of teams that primarily operate out of three-receiver sets, that would make Bailey a potential starter for those organizations. He could be underrated because of his teammates, and it wouldn't be surprising if Bailey turns into a second-day pick who teams regret passing on years from now.
Player Comparison: Ike Hilliard Bailey has a similar style of play to the former Giant and Buccaneer. Hilliard (5-11, 210) is slightly bigger and was a first-rounder; Bailey is very unlikely to go that high, but he could turn into a solid pro like him. Hilliard, like Bailey, was massively productive. Hilliard wasn't a size or speed mismatch in the NFL, but he was a solid pro because he had good hands, quickness, route-running and was intelligent. Bailey could follow that path.
NFL Matches: Kansas City, Buffalo, New York Jets, Miami, Minnesota, New England, Green Bay
There are a lot of teams that could consider Bailey on the second day of the 2013 NFL Draft. The Chiefs could take Smith with their first pick and will need to get him help at receiver. Dwayne Bowe is likely to be on his way out of Kansas Cit,y and it would help Smith to give him a receiver who he already has well-developed chemistry with.
Buffalo needs a complement to Stevie Johnson. The Jets could use more talent at receiver. Plus, Santonio Holmes could flame out at any time.
Miami enters the offseason with the worst receiving corps in the NFL. The Dolphins could use multiple picks on receivers, and Bailey could be a nice wide out for Ryan Tannehill. Minnesota badly needs receiving help for Christian Ponder. If the Vikings get rid of Percy Harvin, Bailey would be a nice replacement.
The Patriots have an aging receiving corps, and Bailey would be a good understudy to Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd. The Packers are likely to loose Greg Jennings this offseason, and Bailey would fit the Green Bay offense well.