2012 NFL Draft Position Breakdown: Wide Receivers
We are going to continue out break down of positions today with the wide receiver group this year. If you want to check out the offensive lineman edition then just click HERE. We really haven’t done a great deal with the receiving core this year. We have Holmes and Kerley and obviously we brought in Chaz Schilens as a project we hope develops. Chaz has a lot of ability in the blocking game and a lot of pace to get behind defenders. Two things we are looking at as a team who will run the ball first and use some play action for a big play. Still, I’m a little uncomfortable with the core as it is. Will we go early or late? Maybe we take one in the middle. It depends on position and value.
Here however are my top 20 draft eligible wide receivers for 2012:
1) Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State (Top 10 selection)
Just is the cream of the crop this year when it comes to receiving threats. He could go top 5, I think he definitely goes top 10 so as such he won’t be a Jet. He’s not an elite receiver in the mould of A.J Green as he doesn’t have that speed. However he runs good routes, boxes out defenders, beats press coverage, is physical and catches the ball away from his body. He’ll be a very good wide receiver for years to come, will he be elite? I have my doubts.
2) Michael Floyd, Notre Dame (Top 20 Selection)
I’ve had the privilege to watch Michael Floyd over the past few years at Notre Dame and the moment he stepped foot on the field for the first time, you could bet he would be a first round selection. He is a very physical receiver who really goes after the football. He has excellent body control, gets in and out of his routes quickly. He has a short area quickness that defenders have to respect which means that although he doesn’t have elite speed, his moves off the line get him behind coverage units. Some character concerns with DUI arrests.
3) Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech (First/Second Round Selection)
Before Stephen tore up the draft with his speed, his catching ability and every other drill imaginable, we were tooting his horn. He is an excellent blocker on the outside coming from that Tech option offence where he was asked to block as often as he was asked to catch. He has elite speed and although some drops plagues portions of his season, he has much better hands. He would be a little prospect in the mould of Darius Heyward-Bay, however if a team puts in the work on route running. They will reap the rewards in one or two years.
4) Kendall Wright, Baylor (First/Second Round Selection)
A few people had some serious concerns after Wright’s 40 time at the combine. However if you watch him, he possesses a lot more game speed than a lot of players. He will get down the field in a flash. He played his college ball from the slot and from the outside (senior season) and has a lot of talent catching the football. My concern is that he doesn’t look that fluid in and out of his breaks in his routes. I think he has a ton of talent but I don’t think he has the upside of Hill which is why I rank him behind him.
5) Rueben Randle, LSU, (Second/Third Round Selection)
Ruben is a guy that I really like, he wasn’t as productive as he could have been if he had a Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III throwing him the ball so he is a little underrated heading into the draft. He showcases nice downfield speed with long strides, he gets out of his breaks well and although he isn’t the crispest of route runners, he does a nice job turning the corner around and making some acrobatic plays on the ball in the air. Tracks the ball over his shoulder well.
Join me after the jump for my remaining 15
6) Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina (Second/Third Round Selection)
Alshon is a guy that people seem to really love or don’t rate at all. I’m surprisingly somewhere in the middle. He has good hands, good body control, his routes look crisp and he looks corners off his routes well. However he takes a little time to get going, he doesn’t show a great burst off the line and unlike Randle who gets up to full speed as soon as he is in stride. I’ve never been that impressed with Alshon’s second gear. There is a lot to like about Jeffery and I wouldn’t mind selecting him to see how he develops.
7) Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers (Second/Third Round Selection)
A lot of people really like Sanu and it is easy to see why. He doesn’t have that elite speed and he doesn’t do anything at an elite level. However he pretty much does everything pretty well, he blocks well on the outside and plays to the whistle. The one thing that I really like about Sanu is that although he isn’t the quickest player off the line, he is one of the quickest players getting out of his breaks. Which helps create separation, it’s one of the main reasons why he put up such impressive numbers in 2011.
8) Nick Toon, Wisconsin (Third Round Selection)
A lot of people love Nick for family ties to the Jets, I like a lot about Nick but he’s not close to being an elite receiver. However he looks to be a reliable #2 target for any team, he’s at his best when using his size and strength in some short inward routes that allow him to use his short area quickness. Because of his short area quickness, he was very successful at Wisconsin running crossing routes, as he doesn’t have the speed to maintain separation; his initial burst and quickness gives him an edge in 10-15 yard type routes.
9) Joe Adams, Arkansas (Third Round/Fourth round Selection)
I was really disappointed with Joe at the combine because he just looked a little sluggish, a little nonchalant about the whole thing. However game film always trump combine. He shows a nice burst off the line and has very nice straight line speed. Using some faints and stutters to really throw corners and easily gets behind the defence. His problem is similar to a former Jet, he lets the ball come into his body too much, doesn’t go up and get the ball but rather waits on it too much. In College, those passes still find their way into your hands, in the NFL they find their way into defensive backs hands.
10) Marvin McNutt, Iowa (Third Round/Fourth Round Selection)
Marvin is a guy that I really like, he is in my mind a similar version of Cotchery. He’s not going to jump off the tape at you like a Floyd or Blackmon will. However he will be a guy that you are glad you have on the roster. He has excellent hands, he runs good crisp routes and does a very nice job making his breaks. He also is an above average run blocker on the outside and is one tough football player. As I said with the Offensive lineman, Iowa players are guys that I generally like.
11) Tommy Streeter, Miami (Third Round/Fourth Round Selection)
I think Tommy is a great prospect who has a lot to like about his game. He has excellent size and speed combination. He is a very quick player once he gets going and does a nice job tracking and making a play on the football. He has long arms and big hands and a toughness to go over the middle and take some contact. He is not the most polished route runner out there and he does have a tendency to allow the ball into his body. He lets the ball hit him in the chest plate which means that some passes that should be completed fall incomplete.
12) Devon Wylie, Fresno State (Third Round/Fourth Round Selection)
Devon is a guy that will excel as a slot receiver which is why the Jets probably shouldn’t be interested as he is very much a Kerley type player. He has excellent short area quickness and speed at the inside position. He uses his breaks and head faints to look off defensive backs and create separation. Does a nice job of recognising and sitting down in coverage. Some concerns persist with his size at just 5-9 and 183-184lb’s.
13) Jarius Wright, Arkansas (Fourth/Fifth Round Selection)
For information on Jarius, just see Devon Wylie. They are pretty much the same player, with the same skill set as far as I can see. Jarius looks a little thicker and a little tougher so may be able to work from the outside. His future is inside however.
14) Brian Quick, Appalachian State (Fourth/Fifth Round Selection)
I know a lot of people who absolutely love this year and I am not surprised at all. At 6’3 and 215 lb’s he has excellent size. He is a physical player who can adjust to the ball easily while it is in the air. He tracks the ball well over his shoulder. He has excellent length which helps him keep clean off the line, he shows some nice burst off the line but won’t really separate down the field as he doesn’t possess that type of speed. I like Brian as a developmental prospect going forward.
15) B.J Cunningham, Michigan State (Fourth/Fifth Round Selection)
A very good football player who uses his physical shape to box out defenders and makes plays on football. Doesn't have that elite speed or quicknes that you would like from a wide receiver. However he is an intelligent player and he knows where to sit down in coverage to make the best play on the football. He creates some extra yards after the catch and does a nice job catching the ball away from his body. Has strong hands and good length to keep himself clean in press but does a much better job when his man is playing off him.
16) Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma (Fourth/Fifth Round Selection)
One of the most productive wide receivers in college football over the last couple of years, I actually wanted to put him a lot higher (honestly I just forgot). He doesn't have the size or strength to be effective on the outside and won't be able to beat NFL press coverage often, as he will be bumped from his route. However as a slot receiver he could be the dark horse in this draft. He possesses three great traits for a slot receiver. He has excellent short area quickness, route running ability and excels with his timing. He is intelligent enough to know when to sit down in both man and zone coverage, and he is one of the most reliable pass catchers in NCAA. Some team who needs a slot receiver will get a guy here who could become one of the most valuable QB weapons for years to come.
17) Juron Criner, Arizona (Fourth/Fifth Round Selection)
Criner doesn't have break away speed and some rumours about his health hurt his stock (I think they were over-played) and in college with the no huddle Arizona offence, he barely saw any press coverage at all. He isn't a game changer and doesn't possess the speed or quickness off the line that a lot of players in this draft do. However he is a possession guy. He was singled out as one of the most difficult players to cover at the Senior Bowl by the North defensive backs because of his ability to make the catch no matter what.
18) DeVier Posey, Ohio State, (Fifth Round Selection)
Posey was being considered as a great talent at one point at Ohio State, however he never really made the next step. I contemplated leaving him off this list completely as although he can make some plays down the field and he does track the ball well. There is a lot not to like about him. The route running should be a lot more polished from Ohio State, and he has a tendancy to drift off his routes which will be a problem with timing in the NFL. He doesn't catch the ball away from his body, like Streeter he allows it to come into his chest far too often and he doesn't look at all comfortable playing with any defenders in his face. He has the size to play outside, however against press coverage he will severly struggle.
19) Chris Givens, Wake Forrect (Fifth/Sixth Round Selection)
Body control and ability to re-adjust to the football are the two main attributes that I like with Chris. He isn't a lightning fast guy and he doesn't have the physical measurements as a lot of these guys do. However he tackled on 1,300+ yards last year and he did so with his ability to go up and make plays and get his body in the right position to come down with the football He has pace with a nice secound gear, he does struggle off the line and gets bumped from his routes far too often. However if you want a little dark horse. Here is your man.
20) Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M (Fourth-Sixth Round Selection)
Jeff should be a hell of a lot higher but his name just popped into my head as I was finishing this off. If Fuller had come out after his Junior season, he's probably going in the second or third round. Now after a really disappointing senior season. He could be a bargain. For some strange reason, Jeff seemed to lose his concentration in 2011. He was rougher out of his breaks than he has ever been, he had crocodile arms at points and dropped far too many passes. He is a physical receiver with great size and good quickness (at least as a Junior). I don't know what happened to Jeff in 2012. He still had 800 odd yards and 6 touchdowns, but after a Junior campaign where he had 1000+ yard and 12 touchdowns, he took a step back
Let me just say that I am positive that I have forgotten several players here. All the way through I kept remembering other guys. I haven't put in the likes of Marvin Jones, A.J Jenkins (Who should definitely be in there), T.Y Hilton, Eric Page, Dwight Jones, Greg Childs and 10-15 others. So apologies if I haven't put in the players you wanted to see, but all these guys came to me way after.