Small-school star Gates could be big time in NFL

Edmund Gates might be small-school, but he has the potential to be big-time in the NFL.

As if the Abilene Christian wide receiver’s performance at the NFL Scouting Combine last month hadn’t done enough for his draft stock, Gates put on a show once again in front of representatives from 22 teams at the school’s pro day on Monday held outdoors on FieldTurf.

The conditions were windy, but that didn’t stop Gates from wowing the crowd.

Gates (6 feet, 189 pounds) stood on his impressive combine 40-yard dash time of 4.37 seconds — which was tied for tops in Indy among receivers — but re-did the broad jump, posting an 11-foot-2 mark better than his 10-11 jump at the combine, which was second among receivers. Gates also had a 4.13 short shuttle and a 6.82 3-cone drill.

During his individual workout, Gates was outstanding, looking more advanced than Bears WR Johnny Knox, another Abilene Christian alum who was named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2009 and has done pretty well for himself overall in the NFL.

Gates is every bit as good as Knox, probably better based on what we’ve seen of him. The fact that 22 teams showed up to watch Gates work out tells you how good he is. It’s not like he was just an OK starter at a small school; he was a star. And he has backed it up in workouts. Knox’s success also gives credence to Gates’ ability.

Knox was a fifth rounder. I’d say Gates is a third or fourth rounder. A team like New England has a great advantage because they’ve got two third-round picks. Somebody with two picks in those rounds can afford to take a little bit of a gamble on a player who has played lesser competition.

In this case, that decision could lead to a big payoff.