This year’s class of wide receivers is the deepest that I’ve seen since I started scouting and covering the NFL Draft. The league is a passing league, which puts a premium on having guys who can get open and make plays. I will give you my top guys in this class. When scouting WR’s, I look for: Natural hands and the ability and habit of snatching the ball out of the air with their hands away from their body, sharp route running, which along with speed and quickness, creates separation, and gives the QB a target to throw to. The ability to go up and high point the football, along with efficiency in the red zone is big. There is a medley of talents, some play outside, some inside, and the ones who can do both set themselves apart from the rest.
1. Sammy Watkins Clemson 6’1 211 lbs Jr. Grade: 1st Round 40 time: 4.43
Bench Press: 16 reps 3 cone: 6.95 Vertical Leap: 34 inches Broad Jump: 10’5
Career Stats: 240 receptions 3,391 yards 14.1 ypc 27 TD 60 KR 1,376 22.9 avg 1 TD
Watkins is a elite athlete, that when he gets the ball in his hands, he’s a legit threat to score from anywhere on the field. A receiver with running back skills after the catch, great quickness , agility and he is very tough, doesn’t shy away from contact. He has very good hands, snatches the ball out of the air. He is very comfortable using his hands away from his body. He ran a 4.43 40 at the combine, but plays faster on the field in pads. Corners play off coverage and forces them to turn and bail because he can easily run right by them.
Watkins also has experience as a kick returner, you can also get him the ball as a running back as well. His only weakness right now is route running. He played in a spread gimmick offense that didn’t require him running the routes used in the NFL. If he works hard at his craft, masters the routes, he could be on his way to an All-Pro career.
2. Marqise Lee USC 6’0 192lbs Jr. Grade: 1st round
40 time: 4.52 Bench Press: NA 3 cone: NA Vertical Leap: 38 inches Broad Jump: 10’6
Career Stats: 248 receptions 3,655 yards 29 TD 50 KR 1,305 yards 2 TD
Lee enters this 2014 NFL Draft as the most polished and pro ready wide receiver in this class. He is the best route runner, can win outside, or lineup in the slot, go across the middle, take hits and make plays. Lee ran a 4.52 40 at the combine, and plenty of people dropped him on their boards, but go watch this kids film, he has football speed folks. Explosive in and out of his breaks, good run after the catch ability, and is a deep threat. Lee also is one of the best kick returners in this draft.
His three years in that pro system makes him ready to come in and play right away, and produce. Lee was nicked up plenty during his junior year and I do have slight questions about his durability. Also when watching him on film, he occasionally loses concentration and drops easy passes.
3. Kelvin Benjamin Florida St. 6’5 240lbs Grade: 1st Round
40 time: 4.61 Bench Press: NA 3 cone: 7.33 Vertical Jump: 32.5 inches Broad Jump: 9’9
Career Stats: 84 receptions 1,506 yards 17.9 ypc 19 TD
A big play WR, with a flex tight end’s size, Benjamin is a very intriguing prospect, with big play ability. He has deceptive speed, uses his size and long arms to beat press coverage and gets behind defenders. Eats up the cushion when DB’s are playing off or in cover 3. Had his best game as a college player vs Florida , who has three prospects at cornerback who will most likely be picked in the first 100 picks of the draft. He lined up left, right, and inside, taking turns abusing all three of them.
He has only 28 college games under his belt, is still raw and learning to be more sharp as a route runner, but the talent is there. Tracks the ball in the air very well, inside the red zone, he is a mismatch nightmare because of his height, long arms, and ability to jump and high point the football. My biggest concern is loss of concentration, he drops a lot of easy footballs, if he fixes that, along with polishing up his route running, he could be the best WR from this class.
4. Jordan Matthews Vanderbilt 6’3 212 lbs Sr. Grade: Late 1st Round
40 time: 4.46 Bench Press: 21 reps 3 cone: 6.95 Vertical Leap: 35.5 inches Broad Jump: 10’0
Career Stats: 262 receptions 3,759 yards 14.3 ypc 24 TD
Matthews is the SEC’s all time leader in receptions and receiving yards. He is a four year player, with three years worth of starting experience, and it shows when you watch him on film. He is a good route runner, precise in and out of his breaks, reads whether it’s man or zone coverage, and runs his routes accordingly. Matthews uses his big body and height to his advantage, shields off defenders to catch passes in traffic and up high. Was very effective playing inside, almost as well as outside. Not a guy who makes guys miss much after the catch, but he does have good speed, I haven’t seen him caught from behind on film. Allows the ball to get to his body to often and will drop passes that shouldn’t be dropped.
5. Mike Evans Texas A&M 6’5 231 lbs rSo. Grade: Late 1st Round
40 time: 4.51 Bench Press: 12 reps 3 cone: 7.08 Vertical Leap: 37 inches Broad Jump: NA
Career Stats: 151 receptions 2,499 yards 17 TD
A basketball player turned football player, Mike Evans is a prospect that is physically gifted, but still raw and learning the game. I really like his toughness and competitiveness, he goes up and fights for the ball, snatches it out of the air. Confident hands catcher, his basketball background is evident when you watch him play. He uses his arms to push off to often, makes it too obvious, but as he gets the proper coaching, they will teach him the tricks of the trade.
Right now he is two route runner who only lined up on the right side of the offense, no experience playing inside or on the left side of the field. He has some serious work to do on running routes, he isn’t a quick guy, doesn’t create much separation. He struggled versus press man coverage against the two best corner’s he faced, Duke’s Cockrell and LSU’s Patterson.
6. Odell Beckham Jr. Louisiana St. 5’11 198 lbs Jr. Grade: Late First Round
40 time: 4.43 Bench Press: 7 3 cone: 6.69 Vertical Leap: 38.5 inches Broad Jump: 10’2
Career Stats: 141 receptions 2,305 yards 16.3 ypc 12 TD 58 PR 538 yards 9.3 avg. 2 TD 40 KR 1,005 yards 25.1 avg
An elite, pedigreed athlete, who’s athleticism translates to the football field. His father Odell Sr. , played running back for LSU from 90-92 and his mother was a track star during the same period of time. You can’t hide from the DNA, Beckham Jr. is blessed with elite speed, agility, and quickness that he uses to run sharp routes, create separation and make plays on the football field. After catching the football, he is very good at making moves and getting extra yards. His leaping ability, long arms, and huge hands allow him to play much bigger then his actual size. He routinely goes up and makes the spectacular catches.
Playing for Cam Cameron this past season in that pro style offense is a plus, he is experienced running the pro route tree. He uses quick moves to get off of the line, but also struggles when CB’s get their hands on him, he needs to get stronger so he can get off of the jam at the next level. Will drop the easy pass on occasion. Adds instant value to the return game, both kicks and punts.
7. Brandin Cooks Oregon St. 5’10 189 lbs Jr. Grade: Late First Round
40 time: 4.33 Bench Press: 16 reps 3 cone: 6.76 Vertical Leap: 36 inches Broad Jump: 10’0
Career Stats: 226 receptions 3,272 yards 14.5 ypc 24 TD
His 40 time, 3 cone, and 20 yard shuttle times, solidified what I saw on film. Great speed and quickness creates separation and get open outside and in the slot. He is a damn good route runner, explosive and under control in and out of his cuts. Cooks eats up the cushion when corners play off coverage, causing them to turn their hips and retreat, leaving them open for the comeback route.
Has the ability to take a short pass the distance. Cooks has trouble getting off of the jam at the line of scrimmage vs cornerbacks with long arms and good feet. His lack of size hurts him in the red zone. I think he can come in and play in the slot, and be a terror because of top level speed and quickness.
8. Allen Robinson Penn St. 6’2 220 lbs Jr. Grade: Late 1st- Early 2nd round
40 time: 4.60 Bench Press: NA 3 cone: 7.00 Vertical Leap: 39 inches Broad Jump: 10’7
Career Stats: 177 receptions 2,479 yards 17 TD
Good height, weight, speed, combination. Not blazing fast, but gets open because of his sharp route running. Played in a pro system and excelled under Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien. Played outside, but spent plenty of time in the slot. has the makings of a good possession receiver. Has good leaping ability, can go up and get the ball. Decent RAC ability. Needs to learn to use his size to his advantage more often and trust his hands, he catches the ball with his body in situations in which it’s not needed.
9. Jarvis Landry Louisiana State 5’11 205 lbs Jr. Grade: 2nd Round
40 time: 4.77 Bench Press: 12 reps 3 cone: NA Vertical Leap: 28.5 inches Broad Jump: 9’1
Career Stats: 137 receptions 1,809 yards 13.2 ypc 15 TD
Landry ran a 4.77 40 at the combine, while pulling up with an hamstring injury, and many have dropped him on their boards. He never was a burner in the first place and if you actually watched his film, he uses technique, and craftiness to get open. He did about 85% of his damage in the slot, and that’s where he will play in the NFL. His great hands, toughness and physicality is made for the slot. He drops nothing, constantly makes the tough contested catch, has a wide catch radius, bailed his qb out on many occasions reeling in bad passes.
Not a guy who will win outside at the NFL level, doesn’t threaten the defense vertically. Landry won’t test well in shorts and t-shirt, but this kid can play. He’ll block, he’ll cover kicks on special teams and make tackles. If a team allows him to play towards his strengths, they will get production.
10. Davante Adams Fresno St. 6’1 212 lbs rSo Grade: Mid to Late 2nd Round
40 time: 4.56 Bench Press: 14 reps 3 cone: 6.82 Vertical Leap: 39.5 inches Broad Jump: 10’3
Career Stats: 233 receptions 3,031 yards 38 TD
Adams put up good numbers in a dink and dunk, pass happy offense at Fresno St. He caught plenty of bubble screens, and showed some good run after catch ability. He is a big time red zone threat, he had a good connection with QB Derek Carr on the fade and back shoulder throw. He can really go up and snatch the ball, had a 39.5 inch vertical leap. Held his own versus USC in the bowl game, got open deep frequently, only to have Carr miss him. His limited ability as a route runner due to college offense. Will have to learn to run routes effectively to get open consistently in the NFL. He has good physical tools, with the right coaching he could be a nice number two WR.
11. Robert Herron Wyoming 5’9 193 lbs Sr. Grade: 3rd Round
40 time: 4.48 Bench Press: 18 reps 3 cone: 6.84 Vertical Leap: 35.5 inches Broad Jump: 10’5
Career Stats: 152 receptions 2,025 yards 13.3 ypc 20 TD
Herron is a kid that stood out to me watching him kill the DB’s during one on one’s at the Senior Bowl, which also made me go watch plenty of his tape and I came away very impressed. A guy who has the skill set and build to play in the slot in the NFL, he also flashed some long, breakaway speed when in the open field. He is very quick, shifty, and is a crafty route runner. Averaged 21 yards per catch during his junior season.
Had issues getting off of the line vs press man coverage. His lack of height makes him easy to take away in the red zone. Will need to be able to return and cover kicks early in his career to get on the field.
12. Martavis Bryant Clemson 6’4 211 lbs Jr. Grade: 3rd Round
40 time: 4.42 Bench Press: 16 reps 3 cone: 7.18 Vertical Leap: 39 inches Broad Jump: 10’4
Career Stats: 61 receptions 1,354 yards 22.2 ypc 13 TD
Like Clemson head coach Dabo Sweeney said, Bryant is as physically talented as Sammy Watkins, the only difference in the mental. His measurables, the height, weight, speed, leaping ability all add up. It’s the reason why he averaged 22 yards per catch, in limited playing time. He finally as a junior was able to get on the field and stay on it. His presence made it impossible to double team Watkins on the other side.
Bryant has top end speed, really stretches the field, and can go up and get the ball. Because of his height and big body, he was a very good target for the back shoulder throws down the field. A threat to catch the jump ball in the red zone. Has ran after the catch ability, when in the open field, he isn’t getting caught from behind. Like his teammate, he didn’t run a full route tree because of their offense, but if he puts in the work he has a chance to be really good. Needs to work on his hands, doesn’t always catch the ball cleanly, and body catches the ball to often.
13. Donte Moncrief Ole Miss 6’2 221 lbs Jr. Grade: 3rd Round
40 time: 4.40 Bench Press: 13 reps 3 cone: 7.02 Vertical Leap: 39.5 Broad Jump: 11’0
Career Stats: 156 receptions 2,371 yards 20 TD
Moncrief is a big body receiver, with great physical tools, as shown by his combine numbers, and in flashes on the football field. He is a talent that needs to be taught how to use his size and speed to his advantage, how to get off of the line consistently and dominate. He has the speed to consistently get behind the defense and make big plays, he also can take the short pass the distance. With his height and elite leaping ability, it makes him a great red zone threat, in 2012 he scored 10 TD’s.
He has the physical traits to be able to do damage inside, but struggles catching the ball in traffic. He also get jammed at the line to easily and often. He at times drops the easy pass as well. Moncrief is a boom or bust guy, if you can coach him up, and he is willing to work hard, you could have a player on your hands.
14. Jared Abbrederis Wisconsin 6’1 195 lbs rSr. Grade: Mid to Late 3rd Round
40 time: 4.50 Bench Press: 4 3 cone: 6.80 Vertical Leap: 30.5 inches Broad Jump: 9’9
Career Stats: 202 receptions 3,140 yards 23 TD 55 PR 587 yards 10.7 avg 1 TD 31 KR 800 yards 25.8 avg
A former walk on quarterback, Abbrederis changed positions, worked his behind off and has made himself into a nice prospect at wide receiver and dependable guy in the return game. He runs his routes under control, very sharp, gets out of his breaks smoothly. Sure handed. He has deceptive speed, was the Badgers’ deep threat during his sophomore and junior years, averaging 17 yards per catch.
He needs to work on his strength, has a hard time getting off of the line vs the bigger more athletic defenders. Not a guy who is going to go up and get the ball. Very dependable kick and punt returner, doesn’t turn it over and has big play capability.
15. Paul Richardson Colorado 6’0 175 lbs rJr. Grade: 4th Round
40 time: 4.40 Bench Press: NA 3 cone: 7.09 Vertical Leap: 38 inches Broad Jump: 10’4
Career Stats: 156 receptions 2,412 yards 21 TD
Richardson is arguably the best deep threat in the draft, but he is also a one trick pony, a poor man’s DeSean Jackson. Cornerbacks get out of their backpedal, turn, and bail early because of his speed. The comeback routes were available because of the threat of him beating his man deep. Gives you nothing in the middle of the field, durability is a concern because of his rail thing body. Tore his ACL in 2012, sat out the season. Drops passes when contested and in traffic. Lack of strength, struggles when CB’s put their hands on him at the line of scrimmage.
16. Josh Huff Oregon 5’11 206 lbs Sr. Grade: 4th Round
40 time: 4.51 Bench Press: 14 reps 3 cone: NA Vertical Leap: 35.5 inches Broad Jump: 9’8
Career Stats: 144 receptions 2,366 yards 24 TD 43 KR 988 yards 23.o avg
Lined up inside at the slot and did a majority of his damage there. Has a strong frame, reminds me of Eric Moulds, willing to go inside and make catches. Reads coverage well, sits down in zones and makes himself available to the QB. Catches the ball with his body more then with his hands, had limited experience vs press coverage in college, but showed some ability to improve at the Senior Bowl in a short period of time. Has experience running kicks and covering punts and kicks, which is very valuable for a guy who won’t start from the jump.
17. De’Anthony Thomas Oregon 5’9 174 lbs Jr. Grade: Late 4th-Early 5th Round
40 time: 4.50 Bench Press: 8 reps 3 cone: NA Vertical Leap: 32 inches Broad Jump: 10’4
Career Stats: 243 carries 1,890 yards 7.8 avg 26 TD 113 receptions 1,296 yards 15 TD 73 KR 1,885 yards 25.8 avg 4 TD 16 PR 274 yards 17.1 avg 1 TD
Played running back at Oregon in the gimmick spread offense, but won’t sniff RB on a full time basis in the NFL. He will have to play the slot, and be a return specialist. A track guy, who is faster on the football field with the ball in his hands. Has the ability to make cuts and breaks at top speed. Dangerous return guy with Pro Bowl capability, 5 touchdowns on returns. Durability is an issue, will have to get stronger, the NFL is a different animal and he had issues in 13′ staying on the field.
18. Dri Archer Kent St. 5’8 173 lbs rSr Grade: Late 4th-Early 5th Round
40 time: 4.28 Bench Press: 20 reps 3 cone: 6.86 Vertical Leap: 38 inches Broad Jump: 10’2
Career Stats: 325 carries 2,342 yards 7.2 ypc 24 TD 99 receptions 1,194 yards 12 TD 51 KR 1,436 yards 28.2 avg 4 TD
The most dangerous weapon in the MAC conference, Archer is a prospect who played running back at Kent St. , but also lined up at wide receiver, and was an elite kick returner. He won’t play running back in the NFL, durability is a major concern, his touches were reduced by more then 100 from 12′ to 13′due to being nicked up. Big time burst,quickness and agility on the field, has the potential to make plays in the passing game from the slot, but on a limited basis.
19. Devin Street Pittsburgh 6’3 198 lbs rSr. Grade: 5th Round
40 time: 4.55 Bench Press: NA 3 cone: 6.89 Vertical Leap: 37 inches Broad Jump: 10’4
Career Stats: 202 receptions 2,901 14.4 ypc 16 TD
A 5th year senior with 3 years of starting experience and Pitt’s all time leading receiver. Experienced slot WR with good height, needs to add weight and strength to his frame in order to take the toll of playing inside in the NFL. Was a decent red zone threat with the ability to go up and snatch the ball out of the air. Has to work on getting a clean release off of the line of scrimmage on a consistent basis, along with becoming a sharp route runner.
20. Bruce Ellington South Carolina 5’9 197 lbs rJr. Grade: 5th
40 time: 4.45 Bench Press: 15 reps 3 cone: 6.69 Vertical Jump: 39.5 inches Broad Jump: 10’0
Career Stats: 106 receptions 1,586 yards 15.0 ypc 16 TD 43 KR 977 yards 22.7 avg
A slot wide receiver prospect who also doubled as the starting point guard on the basketball team. Very tough and competitive, has no fear playing in the middle of the field, worked for the most part from the slot. For a guy his size, he has a knack for the end zone, 15 TD’s in just 89 receptions over his last two seasons. Big time athlete, his numbers from the combine match what you see on film. Adds value as a kick returner. Didn’t face much press man coverage due to he being lined up inside. Lack of experience running the full route tree because of his college offense.
Another five to look out for: Mike Davis Texas, Allen Hurns Miami, Jalen Saunders Oklahoma, Brandon Coleman Rutgers, Jeff Janis Saginaw Valley
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