By Don Stokes Senior Writer Mid West/Football Reporters Online
As we are well aware there have been those Wide Receivers who have all of the natural ability in the world but for some unknown reason do not adjust to the pro game or are allowed to grow in the right system for their talent set. Some of these young men in this group will have long careers or become consistent NFL Pro Bowl players. Maybe one will receive a yellow jacket to Canton. But in reality in a few seasons some will be looking for other job occupations. Here is my top 40 list. Enjoy.
1. Justin Blackman WR Oklahoma State University
Born 1/9/1990 6’1 207lbs,
40 time 4.48 reps: 14 R-Jr.
Considered by most to be the very best wide receiver of this draft, Justin Blackman is the first non- QB in 12 seasons and the first WR to earn the honor on the Big 12 Offensive Player of the year in 2012. During the 2011 year Blackman finished the 2011 regular season with 113 catches for 1,337 yards and 15 touchdowns. After becoming the Fiesta Bowl MVP Blackman made his declaration to the 2012 NFL Draft. Has great physical presence of the line that can be worked in the slot formation but would be better suited outside. He will also not be outworked for a pass because Blackman has the hands that most NFL wide outs would kill to have. He has the un-coachable ability to catch the deep pass over either shoulder with ease although at times too often relies on catching passes with pads and chest. Not pure breakaway speed but very agile and strong after the catch. He’ll probably be the fourth or fifth player chosen overall in the draft.
2. Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame 6’3 220lbs
40 time 4.42 reps: 16 Sr.
Buyers beware because this is a wide receiver that has either Hall of fame potential or could flame out after a few seasons. With his overall talent Michael Floyd is regarded as one of the best WR prospect of this class. Floyd, who has had issues with driving while impaired in his past which caused a recent school imposed five month suspension from ND began his 2011 season on schedule and on time. Floyd played all 13 games for the 8-5 Irish in 2011 and finished with 100 receptions for 1147 yards and 9 TD. He’s a good stop and drop in a zone type WR who would do better in a “West Coast” type offense. Not blessed with pure speed but can separate from most defensive backs Michael Floyd has all of the physical skills one would covert as a first rounder. But with three different alcohol related arrests during his college career a NFL GM should wonder is he worth a first rounder top 10 type money or not?
3. Kendall Wright WR Baylor 5’10 190lbs
40 time 4.61 reps: 14 Sr.
Every NFL club wants that burner on the outside who can make the game changing reception. If you’re that NFL GM then Kendall Wright could be that difference maker for your club. Although limited by size (5’10) and weight (190lbs) Kendall Wright makes up for it with explosiveness, heart and desire. A four year starter at Baylor University, Wright receiving numbers improved each season from 50 catches with 649 yards as a freshman to 108 catches and a career high in yardage with 1,663 with 14 TD as a senior in 2011. Quick, explosive and will go get any pass. Kendall tends to snatch throws out of very tight windows for his QB. Can make the acrobatic circus catch seem routine, Wright has a knack of finding open spots on the field which will make him a QB’s best friend at the next level but can drop the easiest throws. He should go during round one.
4. Ruben Randle WR LSU 6’3 210lbs
40 time 4.55 reps: 15 Jr.
You’re playing the BCS Championship game in your home state of Louisiana. Your team, the LSU Tigers is playing for the national championship vs. the University of Alabama and your QB throws for the ungodly total of 53 yards for the entire game, a 21-0 Alabama whitewash. After starting LSU QB’s Jordan Jefferson struggled against the Crimson tide stout defense Junior WR Ruben Randle had made his decision. He indeed would enter upcoming 2012 NFL Draft. Despite a season long revolving door at QB (Lee-Jefferson-Lee-Jefferson) Randle set career highs in catches (53) yards (917) and touchdowns with 8. He’s become a very smooth runner who understands how to “set up” the opposing DB with shoulders dips. He does a good job getting inside of a DB and uses his long arms and hands well, although does lets the ball hit him in the chest too often. Can run the deep route well but could use his hands and arms a bit more often for separation.
5. Stephen Hill WR Georgia Tech 6’4 214lbs
40 time 4.36 reps: 14 Jr.
With just 49 total receptions during his entire college career with Georgia Tech WR Stephen Hill had to perform very well in Indianapolis in February. He didn’t disappoint. Hill ran one of the fastest 40 times of any player during the Combine and caught just about all that was thrown to him. Hill had but 28 receptions in 2011 for the 8-5 Yellow Jackets but had an eye whopping 29.3 yards per catch (820 yards) with 5 TD’s. Hill has good but not great hands but can be counted on to make at least one great head scratching WOW reception per game. He may have trouble with the more physical CB because he tends to run high with little deception. His size (6’4) and speed (4.36) will make most NFL player personnel in the war room excited if Hill is available. Just be careful of Combine warriors and remember he’s a little raw.
6. Alshon Jeffery WR South Carolina 6’3 216lbs
40 time 4.56 reps 19 Jr.
With his overall talent Alshon Jeffrey should be closer to the top of the charts regarding the elite WR in this draft. Jeffrey, who had a fantastic 2010 season with 88 catches and 1,517 yards with dropped to 49 and 762 in 2011. The TD total was basically the same (9 in 2010, 8 in 2011) but it wasn’t the drop in productivity that was the issue: Surprising it was his weight. To his credit Jeffrey showed up at the NFL Combine at a more reasonable 216 lbs down from 230 (some reports had him at 250lbs). Jeffrey displays quickness which most NFL corners will be able to run stride for stride with but has a slight burst when the ball is in the air. His route running at the Combine lacked quality but this is possibly because the Game Cocks passing game relied too often on simplistic passing. Alshon Jeffrey should be ranked much closer to number one than number 10 but when NFL scouts are more concerned about your weight rather than your skills set they are questioning your work ethic.
7. Chris Givens WR Wake Forest 5’11 198lbs
40 Time 4.35 reps: 19 R-Jr.
A former track star with a 4.35 time will always get the pro scouts interested for sure. That’s the case for Chris Givens, who after just 80 catches and 1,143 yards during his first two seasons for the Demon Deacons exploded for 83 receptions with 1,330 yards in 2011. Chris Givens has a few things in his favor…..Speed, quickness, elusiveness and a good blocker. With all of these great things then what’s the negative? Unfortunately it’s a pretty big one. His hands are of question. Givens is deceptive to the drops but can make the greatest of catches. With his size and quickness it would suit him in a West Coast type system as a slot receiver. If he is your number 2 receiver Givens should be big with on the yards after the catch statistic.
8. Mohamed Sanu WR Rutgers 6’2 215
40 Time 4.67 reps: 19 Jr.
Sometimes the NFL Combine doesn’t work well for every player all the time. Such was the case for Rutgers University standout Mohamed Sanu. After the Combine Sanu made the comment that he wasn’t at his best physically and it showed. Mohamed ran a shocking 4.67 which was a stunner to say the least. Later, a better 4.41 at his Pro Day at Rutgers brought his stock closer to the level it should have been before February’s showing in Indianapolis. After his 115 reception 1.206 yard 2011 season with the Scarlet Knights Mohamed made the decision to enter the 2012 NFL Draft in April. He’s one of the few juniors in this draft that most agree is NFL ready. But after his poor showing in the Combine a second or third round pick is where Mohamed Sanu will most possible fall to.
9. Nick Toon WR Wisconsin 6’3 218 lbs
40 Time 4.54 reps: 18 R-Sr.
As most young men know it’s hard to follow in a successful dad’s footsteps. So consider the issue when you’re Nick Toon WR from the University of Wisconsin, the son of Al Toon former Wisconsin Badger WR and 3 time All Pro with the New York Jets there are rather large shoes to fill. Of course the comparisons are inevitable. Nick made the tough decision to follow in his father’s footsteps and attend the same University that his dad made his mark. Nick bounced back from his injury plagued 2010 season (9 games 36 rec. 459 yards.) to more “Toon” like numbers with 64 catches and 926 yards with 10 touchdowns in 2011. Nick has a slight hop step to help him create space during his routes. He also has strong, durable hands but at times can drop the most simplistic passes usually during most important time of the game.
10. Juron Criner WR Arizona 6’4 215lbs
40 Time 4.68 reps: 17 Sr.
After a fantastic 2010 season in which Juron Criner with 82 receptions 1,233 yards and 11 touchdowns and was voted All Pac 10 (now Pac 12) Juron was mentioned with the elite WR in the country. Maybe it’s time to leave for the next level perhaps? He didn’t and returned to Arizona for his senior season. In 2011 Juron missed a couple of games and the numbers although good (75 catches) and despite being a product of a “spread offense” his yards (956) took a dip. The TD total remained the same (11) as in 2010. Then at the Combine Juron didn’t have the great performance he needed to improve his draft status. He ran a poor 40 of 4.68. But let’s focus on good things about Juron. His hands are considered his strongest asset. Criner has great concentration and can make most difficult grabs. He may have missed his chance for a larger pay day by staying for his senior year.
11. Dwight Jones WR North Carolina 6’3 230 lbs
40 Time 4.55 reps: 14 Sr.
A physical specimen at receiver Dwight Jones (85 receptions 1,196 yards 12 TD’s in 2011) shouldn’t be rank at number 11. But as all know there are a lot of physical specimens in this country that are doing other things besides playing professional football. Unless Dwight Jones takes this opportunity seriously, he may be joining them. Jones needs to be a bit more responsible in his choices and remember many young men will take his chance in training camp. Dwight has good but not great speed and he should spend a bit more time watching videos of different pass coverage he would face at the next level. Jones is what one would call a chest catcher because he tends not to rely on his hands. But once he gets his hands on the ball it’s off to the races. He’ll need a patient WR coach.
12. Brian Quick WR Appalachian St. 6’4 220lbs
40 Time 4.55 reps: 15 R-Sr.
WOW! Has times changed for the better. A skill player from Appalachian State is considered in the upper tier of his position. It appears to be the case for Brian Quick. A big intriguing wide out, Quick who didn’t run a lot of multiple routes in college and may also needed a lot of video to get a grasp of an NFL route tree. In 2011 Brian caught 71 passes for 1,096 yards with 11 touchdowns. Most of the routes Quick ran for the Mountaineers were of the vertical nature. He will surely be the first FCS player drafted this season. Despite limited playing time Quick has some of the better hands and long arms in this class. He’s very good timing his jumps at the right point, outreaching most DB’s. Brian should be available in the third round.
13. Joe Adams WR Arkansas 5’11 179lbs
40 Time 4.55 reps: 19 Sr.
One of the few in this draft who can score any time he touches the ball, whether it is via punt returns or catches WR Joe Adams is a play maker. He had his best season in 2011 with 54 receptions 652 yards and 3 touchdowns for the Razorbacks. Add the 5 non-receiving touchdowns (4 punt returns and a rushing TD) one can see Adams as a specialist than a starting wide out in the NFL. This may be the way Joe will make a living at the next level. He’s a bit unpolished as a wide receiver with too many receptions for negative yardage but he has that explosive burst that most coaches love to see on special teams. At this point he’d be a reach in the earlier rounds and he’ll probably fall to the fourth or fifth.
14. Marvin Jones WR California 6’2 199lbs
40 Time 4.46 reps 22 Sr.
The king of the NFL Combine workout reps (along with Missouri’s WR Jerrell Jackson) and a bit bulky WR Marvin Jones appears to be a high risk, high reward option. The senior closed out his career at Cal with highs in receptions with 62 and yards with 846. Marvin is a physical WR who is prone to penalties must understand the NFL style of play. Extending your arms on a defensive back (see Michael Irvin) on push offs when balls are in flight is a sure way to kill a drive. Some of the positives regarding Jones are his hands and footwork which will help creating space. Marvin was second team All Pac 10 in 2011 and may come to the next level with a chip on his shoulder. That’s not necessary a bad thing.
15. Jarius Wright WR Arkansas 5’10 182lbs
40 Time 4.42 reps 11 Sr.
How do you lead you team in receptions and still not be considered the best WR prospect on your team? If your name is Jarius Wright it appears to be the case. Although Wright had the fastest Hog time and he did lead the SEC in receiving in 2011 with 63 grabs 1,029 yards and 11 TD’s, his body frame is somewhat lacking. His hands are smaller than you would like as your go to guy. He’s is a very good route runner who knows where the weak spots in a defense and will exploit them. Despite his frame he’s very quick and plays with fearlessness and has no concerns about over the middle receptions. Jarius is just the type of guy who could be a great slot type WR for any team. But you have to wonder if Wright can have a prolonged career because of the hits he may be exposed to. He’d be a good pick up in the third or fourth round.
16. Tommy Streeter WR Miami (Fl) 6’4 219lbs
40 Time 4.40 reps: 17 R-Jr.
Idea size and speed for a NFL wide receiver Tommy Streeter is a physical specimen to say the least. The question is why after just one standout season (46 catches 811 yards) would you not remain in school for the 2012 year and possibly become a top 10 NFL draft choice in 2013? Coming into the 2011 season Streeter had just 5 total receptions for the ‘Canes but finally the faith the coaching staff has had in him paid off. Although physical ready to play at the next level, Tommy route running is something to be desired and would have benefited with an additional season in college. With long arms he should win just about every jump ball situation which should make him a strong red zone threat. His hands are good but Streeter tends to catch most passes with his chest. By making the decision to leave early he is another player who could’ve had a much bigger pay day in 2013 if he’d just be patient.
17. A J Jenkins WR Illinois 6’0 190
40 Time 4.39 reps: 12 Sr.
This is a type of player you want to succeed. After a solid college career WR A J Jenkins is ready to test his skills set at the NFL level. Jenkins does many things well but not great. With his smallish size he won’t be a first or second day draft choice. But it doesn’t mean A J is not as good as many of the top WR in this draft. He followed up a good 2010 with a great 2011 with 90 catches and 1,276 yards and being named to the All Big 10 team. Deceivingly fast but not a burner A J can become a somewhat slash-type deep threat if placed in a West coast type system. Jenkins is blessed with hands that many ahead of him would love to have and rarely put the ball on the ground. At the next level A J Jenkins will become a great number three slot receiver and should have a long NFL career. Well worth a third round choice.
18. DeVier Posey WR Ohio State 6’2 211lbs
40 Time 4.50 reps: 14 Sr.
Those darn youthful indiscretions. We’re all guilty of them in one form or another at one time in our lives. Editor’s note: One day in the future ask me about the moped, wheelchair and the goat…. just not at the present time. Most of us don’t have our indiscretions exposed in public like Buckeye WR DeVier Posey who made the bad decision to exchange his school gift of a golden buckeye pant pin for tattoos. Then Posey once more made another dumb mistake for getting over paid regarding a summer job. Before these issues DeVier was an up and coming talent catching 113 passes in 2009-2010. He was suspended until November 19th and played but 2 regular season games plus the Gator Bowl against Florida. Posey’s totals for 2011 were a paltry 12 receptions 162 yards with 2 Touchdowns. Not exactly in the upper tier of senior WR but there are many still positives to his game. DeVier is a very good route runner and has no fear over the middle. His hands are inconsistent but he can come up with the big play when needed. Posey may have learned a valuable lesson about youthful indiscretions. Sometimes they come back to bite you.
19. Ty Hilton WR Florida International 5’10 183lbs
40 Time 4.37 reps: 11 Sr.
We can call this story “The Strange Case of Ty Hilton”. Here is a young man who burst upon the college football scene with a bang. He had one of the greatest freshman seasons in FIU history (or NCCA history) with 41 receptions 1,013 yards (24.7 avg.) with 7 touchdowns in 2008. He even had a play named after him called “The Hilton Heave”. It was thought the sky’s the limit with his speed and it would be no telling how Ty Hilton would rip up the Sun Belt Conference for years to come. That didn’t happen but still Ty became a solid receiver for the next couple of years with his 2011 totals being 72 receptions and 1,038 yards If I could use one word to describe WR Ty Hilton it would be wiry. He can beat most defensive backs downfield on post patterns but may have issues at the next level with the more physical DB’s because of his lack of size. Hilton could become a fantastic contributor on punt and kick-off returns.
20. Eric Page WR Toledo 5’9 186lbs
40 Time 4.60 reps: 15 Jr.
Anytime someone catches 306 passes in just three seasons one must say that is pretty impressive. But one must also remember great productivity in the college doesn’t mean great productivity at the pro level so it appears WR Eric Wright formerly of the Toledo Rockets has plenty to prove. He began with 82 catches in his freshman year and then as a sophomore the catches rose to 99. Finally in his junior season he caught the incredible amount of 125 receptions with 1,182 yards. Unfortunately his average per catch has dropped each subsequent season from 14.4 to 11.2 and finally 2011’s 9.5 mark. With Eric Wright his hands are not the issue. It’s his speed which is dearly lacking. At the Combine his day wasn’t exactly a four star moment. His 40 time was in the lower tier of the candidates which is not good for a smaller sized wide receiver. To his credit Page did improve his time at his Pro Day he ran a more respectable 4.53.
21. Greg Childs WR Arkansas 6’3 217lbs
40 Time 4.40 reps: 19 Sr.
Talk about your dumb luck! How do you go from one of the elite wide outs in 2010 to being ranked number twenty in my list? Injuries that’s all. Being one of three receivers from the same school in this draft Razorback WR Greg Childs is worth the risk. His totals from 2011 were low with 21 receptions 240 yards and 0 TD’s. At 6’3 physically he’s a scouts dream. Defensive backs will have a difficult time jamming him at the line. Not great speed can go get it when the ball is in flight. He’d be a nice pick in the later rounds for a smart team.
22. Rishard Matthews WR Nevada 6’0 217lbs
40 Time 4.62 reps 20 Sr.
After just two seasons with the Wolf pack Rishard Matthews is headed to the NFL draft. Matthews spent time at the JC level and in 2011 led the WAC in both receptions (91) and yards (1,364). A poor showing at the Combine raised many questions about his game. Rishard had a nice bounce back during his Pro Day with a better 4.44 day. He has nice hands and could possibly have a good career as a fourth wide receiver or star on the punt team.
23. Chris Owusu WR Stanford 6’2 200
40 Time 4.36 reps: 19 Sr.
Another talented WR who like many at this point of my list might be drafted higher but for the injury bug. Once again concussions have dogged Chris Owusu. His 2011 totals of 35 catches 376 yards and 2 TD’s didn’t help his status. With his missed time it didn’t exactly help QB Andrew Luck’s Heisman chances. During the Combine he may have helped his cause with posting one of the fastest times posted at 4.36 (along with GT WR Stephen Hill). Having strength at the point of attack against DB’s along with good route running and solid passing catching ability will make many teams give him a hard look at NFL training camps via the FA route.
24. Ryan Broyles WR Oklahoma 5’10 192lbs
40 Time 4.52 reps: 21 R-Sr.
This is the type of slot receiver today’s NFL is made for. Although slight in size, WR Ryan Broyles makes up for it with great hands and toughness. From his freshman campaign thru his senior year Ryan has been the go-to receiver for QB Landry Jones. His college numbers jump out at you with 349 catches and 45 touchdowns. He seems to have learned a valuable lesson from an earlier dumb mistake costing a year (using a stolen key to get free gas…..with these current prices maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea) of illegibility. His 2011 totals were 83 catches for 1,157 yards and 10 touchdowns. With his size being an issue Ryan can be pushed around by larger DB at the next level.
25. Devon Wylie WR Fresno State 5’9 187lbs
40 Time 4.39 reps: 17 R-Sr.
With just 40 receptions during his career at Fresno State and an injury in 2010, WR Devon Wylie had a bounce back 2011 with 56 receptions 716 yards and a touchdown. Wylie had one of the fastest 40 times in the Combine with a 4.39 clip. Quickness off the break is what comes to mind when observing Devon. During his time at Fresno State he was never truly a full time starter. With his elusiveness Wylie probably would be suited to an offense that can it him the ball quickly on bubble screens. He also can contribute on special teams. Wylie is a very competent tackler.
26. Marvin McNutt WR Iowa 6’3 215lbs
40 Time 4.54 reps: 19 R-Sr.
After 82 catches 1,315 yards and 12 touchdowns during his final season at Iowa, Marvin McNutt is focused to become the next great NFL receiver from The University of Iowa. That’s kind of a joke because currently there are no wide receivers from Iowa in the National Football League. Hopefully Marvin can break that streak. With his 6’3 height McNutt would fit into what most pro coaching staffs would drool over. He can make most catches and will battle for the ball with his jumping ability. Unfortunately he does suffer from the drops at times. Despite that little issue Marvin still may be picked by the second or third day of the draft.
28. Junior Hemmingway WR Michigan 6’1 225lbs
40 Time 4.53 reps: 21 R-Sr.
It’s tough to show your skills at a position when your QB is a dynamic playmaking athlete who runs more often than he throws downfield. Such is the case when you’re WR Junior Hemmingway and your QB is the electric Denard Robinson. Despite those challenges in 2011 Hemmingway still put up quality numbers with 34 receptions 699 yards with 4 touchdowns. When you play in a run heavy spread option you’re not going to get many touches on the receiver end. Junior’s 34 catches happen to have led the Wolverines in 2011. While his speed isn’t going to win many foot races it is still receiver friendly for the next level. Creating separation from pro DB’s could be an on-going issue.
29. Jeff Fuller WR Texas AM 6’4 223lbs
40 Time N/A reps: 17 Sr.
There are moments in our lives when we should strike when the fire is hot. That may have been the case for WR Jeff Fuller. A large 6’4 prototypical WR type size and frame with NFL lineage (his dad, Jeff Fuller Sr. played DB for the 49ers) he may have missed a great opportunity in not leaving a year early. A good 2010 (72 catches 1,066 yards and 12 TD) was followed by an injury plagued (70 receptions 828 yards with 6 TD) 2011. A foot injury during the Senior Bowl limited Jeff’s participation at the Combine to only bench reps. In 2010 Fuller may have been a second rounder but now with both his speed and hands in question he may free fall to the final round.
30. B.J. Cunningham WR Michigan State 6’2 215lbs
40 Time 4.59 reps: 12 Sr.
Although he grades out as not the fastest wide out B.J. Cunningham may get some attention come the draft. Overall Cunningham had a nice career with the Spartans finishing as MSU leader in both receptions and yards. His 2011 season was B.J.’s best with 79 catches 1,306 yards and 12 touchdowns. Cunningham isn’t going to impress with his speed but does his best work over the middle. With so many talented wide receivers available it will be hard for B.J. to hear his name called on draft day.
31. Marquis Maze WR Alabama 5’8 186lbs
40 Time 4.51 reps N/A R-Sr.
32. LaVon Brazill WR Ohio University 5’11 190lbs
40 time 4.48 reps 11 R-Sr.
33. Travis Benjamin WR Miami 5’11 172lbs
40 Time 4.36 reps 14 Sr.
34. TJ Graham WR North Carolina State 5’11 188lbs
40 time 4.41 reps 8 Sr.
35. Danny Coate WR Virginia Tech 6’0 200lbs
40 Time 4.50 reps 12 R-Sr.
36. Tim Benford WR Tenn Tech 5’11 172lbs
40 Time 4.59 reps 15 Sr.
37. Lance Lewis WR East Carolina 6’1 209lbs
40 Time 4.50 reps N/A Sr.
38. Brandon Carswell WR USC 6’1 201lbs
40 Time 4.47 reps 18 R-Sr.
39. Patrick Edwards WR Houston 5’9 172lbs
40 Time 4.49 reps N/A R-Sr.
40. Kashif Moore WR UConn 5’9 180lbs
40 Time 4.42 reps 19 R-Sr.