FanPost

Wide Receiver Draft Prospects...

OK, after a slow down, that wasn't fast to begin with, but damn sure interesting, I'm gonna look at the WR draft prospects. Wasn't leaning this way to begin with, but 1st rd CB prospects are unlikely to be available at #27. Everyone picking LBers, including myself, is stretching to take one in the 1st round. So, let's look at another position, which is really pretty deep in this years draft.

Both Walterfootball and Draftscout agree on the top three WR prospects.

1. Sammy Watkins*, WR, Clemson Height: 6-1. Weight: 200.

4.43 40 at the combine

ANALYSIS

STRENGTHS

Exceptional football playing speed -- can flat out fly and take the top off a defense. Has world-class track speed. Extends outside his frame and plucks the ball. Outstanding body control and agility. Tracks the ball well over his shoulder and is a natural hands-catcher who can make an average quarterback look good. Consistently turns 2-yard gains into 15-yard chunks -- possesses big-time playmaking ability and is very effective creating in the open field on bubble screens and quick-hitting short/lateral tosses. Superb run-after-the-catch ability. Good burst out of his cuts to separate. Has game-breaking return ability and is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Has a strong support structure (mother moved to Clemson following Wakins' 2012 drug arrest and he has steered clear of any trouble).

WEAKNESSES

Production results heavily from a gimmicky offense. Routes could use some more polish. Does not consistently work the middle of the field. Could improve field awareness. Is still immature and could require some time to acclimate to an NFL playbook. Could stand to improve ball security and do a better job fielding punts.

DRAFT PROJECTION

Round 1 (top 10)

BOTTOM LINE

A legitimate No. 1-caliber receiver who stepped onto the field as a true freshman and made an immediate, game-changing impact. Was slowed by injuries as a sophomore, but responded with a strong junior season and capped his career as one of the most impactful receivers in school history. Has rare speed, soft hands and the big-play ability to challenge NFL defensive backs as a rookie. A top-10 cinch.

WF

Projected Round (2014): Top-10 Pick.
2/22/14: In the lead up to the Combine, Watkins has been a hot prospect who is viewed by many to be the best wide receiver to enter the NFL since A.J. Green. The electric play-maker has also impressed evaluators with his blocking and well-rounded skill set.

2. Mike Evans**, WR, Texas A&M Height: 6-5. Weight: 225. 4.53 40.

WF

Projected Round (2014): Top-20 pick.
2/22/14: Evans had stretches of dominance during the 2013 season. He destroyed Alabama (7-279) and made a lot of difficult catches for big gains along the sideline. Evans turned in another massive performance against Auburn (11-287). For the year, the sophomore had 69 receptions for 1,394 yards with 12 touchdowns. He tailed off late in the year and was held to only eight yards on four catches by Missouri cornerback E.J. Gaines in his penultimate game.

For the NFL, Evans looks just like Vincent Jackson. Evans could be a downfield threat with his size and should also be a good possession receiver in the short to intermediate part of the field. With his size and leaping ability, he is always open. Evans has good hands and excellent body control. Just like Jackson, those attributes could overcome a lack of elite speed as a pro for Evans.

Combine

ANALYSIS

STRENGTHS

Outstanding size and length. Functionally strong to power through the jam. Boxes out defenders and is a big red-zone target. Hardwood background is evident -- outstanding leaper with "above-the-rim" skills to go over top of smaller DBs and highpoint throws. Creates late, subtle separation. Tracks and adjusts. Makes contested grabs -- attacks throws and outmuscles defenders in a crowd. Nearly unstoppable executing back-shoulder catches. Strong, reliable hands. Very strong after the catch -- slams into tacklers, is a load to bring down and leans for extra yardage. Productive playmaker -- averaged 20 yards per catch in 2013 and showed up in big games (18-566-5 vs. Alabama and Auburn). Good blocker. Physically dominant and tough. Will be a 21-year-old rookie.

WEAKNESSES

Monotone mover with pedestrian speed -- cannot separate vertically or pull away from the pack. Unsudden acceleration. Stiff hips. Will have to make a living in traffic at the next level -- will struggle to separate vs. quick-twitch NFL cornerbacks. Did not run a full route tree and could require patience learning the nuances of refined route running. Backyard element to his college success -- must become savvier instead of depending on superior size and improvisational production. Can be hotheaded and lose control of his emotions. Basketball was first love.

DRAFT PROJECTION

Rounds 1-2

BOTTOM LINE

A prep hoopster with shooting-guard size, Evans combined with Johnny Manziel to form one of the most dominant quarterback-receiver connections in the nation the last two seasons. He’s a big, physical, strong-handed, West Coast possession receiver with playmaking ability who projects as a No. 2 in the pros where he will make his money as a chain mover and red-zone target.

3. Marqise Lee*, WR, USC Height: 6-0. Weight: 190. 4.52 40

WF

Projected Round (2014): Top-25 pick.
2/22/14: Even with a rough final year at USC, Lee is projected to the top 20 and shouldn't get out of the top 25. When healthy, he is a play-maker who is extremely tough to cover.

Combine

ANALYSIS

STRENGTHS

Very good athletic ability. Is a nifty runner after the catch -- can navigate through traffic and create with the ball in his hands. Can shift into top gear and run by tacklers -- terrific acceleration and short-area burst. Fine route runner -- understands how to set up defensive backs and has an innate feel for coverage. Understands how to manipulate man and zone coverage and can create separation when he needs to uncover. Very good hand-eye coordination. Tracks the deep ball very well -- has a knack for running underneath it. Attacks the ball and plucks it out of the sky. Very good competitive, functional playing speed. Has game-breaking return ability -- exceptional vision and traffic burst.

WEAKNESSES

Average size and run strength. Does not break many tackles. Was slowed by nagging injuries, and body is not built to withstand a lot of punishment. Can do a better job securing the ball through traffic -- has shown a tendency to flag the ball. Long-term durability could become an issue.

DRAFT PROJECTION

Round 1

BOTTOM LINE

An extremely motivated, dynamic, playmaking receiver, Lee's junior season was plagued by shoulder, knee and leg injuries and a revolving door at head coach, where he cycled through three. Showed all the traits desired in a No. 1 receiver early in his career and has overcome a lot of adversity in his life to get to this point.

4. SEC,SEC,SEC, LSU,LSU,LSU. (That's for U Stu) Odell Beckham, Jr.*, WR, LSU Height: 6-0. Weight: 187. 4.43 40.

Ok here is where the rankings start to separate. WF has ODB at number 5 and DS has him at number 4.

WF

Projected Round (2014): 1-2.
2/22/14: Sources told WalterFootball.com that Beckham is grading out as a late first-round pick and he should go quickly if he somehow slips out of Round 1. Beckham is very fast and looks like a dangerous slot receiver for the NFL.

Beckham has the speed to stretch the field and has demonstrated the potential to make game-changing plays. He caught 59 passes for 1,152 yards with eight touchdowns in 2013. Against UAB, the junior returned a missed field goal 100 yards for a touchdown, returned a punt 60 yards for a score and caught five passes for 136 yards and three touchdowns. He had six receptions for 204 yards and three scores against Furman. Beckham gave Alabama a lot of problems in their matchup.

Combine Analysis, and here is something funny. they list his top end speed as a weakness, yet he has run the same 40 as their top prospect.

ANALYSIS

STRENGTHS

Quick hands and feet to slip the jam. Fluid and fast. Good balance. Sinks his hips and changes gears to create separation. Quick hands to pluck off his frame. Terrific leaping ability -- climbs the ladder to snatch throws. Creates after the catch -- shows burst and shiftiness as a runner. Has playmaking ability. Confident and competitive. Has kickoff- and punt-return experience. Productive three-year starter.

WEAKNESSES

Adequate height. Lacks elite top-end speed to separate vertically. Could stand to polish the finer points of his route running. Inconsistent making contested grabs -- can be out-muscled in a crowd. Has some concentration drops. Can improve as a blocker. Was not an impactful punt returner. Was held in check by Florida and Alabama.

DRAFT PROJECTION

Rounds 1-2

BOTTOM LINE

Talented, competitive, productive, inconsistent college split end who projects as a flanker or slot receiver in the pros, where a creative offensive coordinator can take advantage of his run-after-catch skills. Could be a productive No. 3 option with added value as a kick returner.

I think Beckham could well fall to us, and has the added benefit of being a good ST addition. But some Stu would say that's the homer in me.

And then they start to really separate.

5. Kelvin Benjamin**, WR, Florida State Height: 6-5. Weight: 234 4.61 40

WF has this guy at #4 ahead of Beckham and DS has him at #6.

Measures up as a guy who can be a playmaker, yet makes a lot of drops, and tries to catch too many balls wiith his body, instead of his hands. Personally I think this one is a 2nd round prospect.

Combine

ANALYSIS

STRENGTHS

Rare size -- is a physical mismatch vs. defensive backs and linebackers. Eats cushion and separates with long strides. Strong approach to the ball -- is not easily knocked off course and will enter the middle on crossers. Outstanding jumpball catcher -- climbs the ladder, plucks the ball at its highest point and regularly snatches it out of the air with superb body control and the grace of a ballerina. Very good separation speed. Adjusts surprisingly well for the low ball and tracks it well over his shoulder. Energetic football demeanor. Confident and competitive. Strong-handed. Uses his body well to shield the defender from the ball and can beat double coverage. Good run strength after the catch (see three tackles broken on TD run vs. Florida) and does not go down easy. Strong enough to handle defensive ends when motioned inside to chip and delivered some head-snapping, crackback blocks (see North Carolina St.). Emerged as a clutch, go-to, big-play receiver -- caught the game-winning TD in the national championship game vs. Auburn and consistently was targeted in critical situations and in the red zone. Scorched Florida CB Loucheiz Purifoy and created mismatch problems from the slot.

WEAKNESSES

Lacks elite, top-end speed and many catches are contested. Hand use could improve releasing vs. tight, press coverage. Overly grabby. Is not yet a nuanced route runner and does not sink his hips and pop in and out of his breaks. Does not shake many defenders after the catch. Will make the easy concentration drop and focus could stand to improve at the break point (three drops vs. Florida). Seeks to run before securing the ball and double-catches more than he should. Blocking effort/sustainability has room to improve on the move.

BOTTOM LINE

A monster-sized, intimidating, big-play receiver, Benjamin has the overall strength, length and wide catching radius that will demand extra coverage be rolled his way. Showed continual improvement, is still growing into the position, and possesses the traits to become a legitimate No. 1 receiver. A very intriguing mismatch weapon with ascending talent.

6. Brandin Cooks*, WR, Oregon State Height: 5-10. Weight: 186. 4.33 40 and this is why I put him here.

That's fast I don't care what you play. Is a little undersized or this guy would rate much higher.

WF

Projected Round (2014): 2-3.
2/22/14: Cooks was one of the nation's leaders in receptions and receiving yards in 2013. He was superb for quarterback Sean Mannion. Cooks recorded 128 receptions for 1,730 yards with 16 touchdowns for the season. He finished 2012 with 67 catches for 1,151 yards and five touchdowns.

Cooks is undersized, but he could be a slot receiver for the NFL. Cooks didn't get separation when matched up with Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.

Combine again I ask you, how can you run a 4.33 40 and lack elite speed at the same time. SMH

ANALYSIS

STRENGTHS

Light on his feet with terrific balance. Sinks his hips with ease and pops out of breaks to separate. Tracks and adjusts. Quick hands. Good concentration, body control and boundary awareness. Can turn a short throw into a long gain. Shows elusiveness, creativity and vision after the catch. Unafraid to play in the tall trees. Highly productive -- totaled 195 receptions for 2,881 yards (15.4-yard average) and 21 TDs in last two seasons. Confident and competitive. Has been exceptionally durable dating back to high school. Team captain. Will be a 21-year-old rookie.

WEAKNESSES

Size is just adequate -- is small-framed and lacks ideal length and bulk. Vulnerable to the jam and reroute. Relatively small catch radius. Has small hands and double-catches some throws. Lacks elite, blazing speed to run by NFL corners and safeties. Will struggle to play "above the rim" at the next level. Was not an impactful punt returner. Limited run strength. Poor blocker.

DRAFT PROJECTION

Rounds 1-2

BOTTOM LINE

Short, speedy, nifty-footed receiver who was unaffected by the departure of Steelers 2013 third-rounder Markus Wheaton, establishing himself as a playmaker in his own right by leading the nation with 133 yards per contest as a junior. Projects as a useful slot receiver with run-after-catch ability and some utility as an outside receiver.

Some others...

Allen Robinson*, WR, Penn State Height: 6-3. Weight: 204

Davante Adams**, WR, Fresno State Height: 6-2. Weight: 216.

Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt Height: 6-3. Weight: 205.

OK, I just had to put him in here, and you knew I would...

Jarvis Landry*, WR, LSU Height: 6-1. Weight: 195. 4.77 40.

Jarvis' 40 time was disappointing, but he did sorta pull his hammy at the combine. Both WF and DS have him as a 2-3rd prospect.

WF

2/22/14: Sources told WalterFootball.com that they've graded Landry as a third-round pick, but expect him to go in Round 2. Some pundits are pushing Landry as a first-round pick after Landry impressed in 2013. The junior caught 77 passes for 1,193 yards and 10 touchdowns for the season. Landry had excellent games against Georgia and TCU. He is a tough receiver with good hands.

Would love to take JL in the 3rd.

Combine

ANALYSIS

STRENGTHS

Good balance and body control. Savvy route runner -- uses stems and nods and works back to throws. Confident hands-catcher -- snatches throws off his frame. Extends and high points. Attacks throws and wins "50-50" balls. Makes some spectacular, acrobatic grabs. Good concentration and toughness over the middle. Does not go down without a fight after the catch. Willing blocker. Lined up outside and inside. Likes to compete and it shows. Has special-teams experience covering kicks. Team captain.

WEAKNESSES

Has a fairly lean frame -- could stand to bulk up and get stronger in order to combat the jam. Lacks elite explosiveness and top-end speed -- does not have an extra gear to take the top off. Average line release, acceleration and suddenness. Could struggle to separate vs. quick-twitch cornerbacks. Large percentage of catches are contested. Lacks ideal height and is not a great leaper. Started just 12 career games.

DRAFT PROJECTION

Rounds 2-3

BOTTOM LINE

Polished, quarterback-friendly, sure-handed possession receiver with a flare for the highlight-reel catch. Could be an effective No. 3 option, capable of lining up as a "Z" or slot, working short-to-intermediate and beating zone coverage.

I'll stop there. So, evaluate these choices, and make your case for your own below in the comments.

This FanPost was written by a reader and member of Canal Street Chronicles. It does not necessarily reflect the views of CSC and its staff or editors.

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