Analyzing the Wide Receiver ClassPosted: February 22, 2012
This year’s WR class is absolutely loaded with elite talent and phenomenal depth. Every type of WR is represented and there will be a lot of WRs taken early in the draft. After the jump see my analysis of this year’s WR class
- This year’s draft class features one elite WR prospect in Justin Blackmon. Blackmon has had two monster years in a row at Oklahoma State and compares favorably to a guy like Brandon Marshall or Vincent Jackson. While he likely won’t be in the top five WR’s, he seems to project as one of the top 10 to top 15 WR’s in the league once he fully develops. A couple areas of weakness for Blackmon are inconsistent hands and he does not attack the ball while it is in the air. If he can improve on those traits, he should reach his full potential. Some possible landing spots for Blackmon are No. 2 to the Rams, No. 3 to the Vikings, No. 4 to the Browns, No. 5 to the Bucs, No. 6 to the Redskins, or No. 7 to the Jaguars. All 6 of those teams have needs at WR (the Rams, Redskins, Browns, and Jaguars have major needs) and could look to take an elite WR like Blackmon.
The Next Tier
- This year’s biggest strength is the next tier of WRs that fall just short of being considered an elite prospect. I have Michael Floyd, Mohamed Sanu, and Alshon Jeffery rated as top 25 prospects with Kendall Wright, Nick Toon, Tommy Streeter, Juron Criner, and Rueben Randle rated as borderline first to second round prospects. Floyd is a big guy with a great size and speed combination. He has to improve his route running but he should become a legitimate number 1 WR in the NFL. Sanu is a jack of all trades guy who can run every route, catch every pass, and is a great blocker. He also brings the versatility of having experience in the Wildcat formation. For Jeffery, he is absolutely massive (maybe even too big) and has great hands but needs to prove himself at the combine. Wright is a shifty, fast, and small WR who put up monster numbers at Baylor this year. However, his size, or lack thereof, could keep him out of the first round. Toon, Streeter, Randle, and Criner are all pretty similar. Criner is a little bigger than the rest but he is not a proven route runner. Streeter is the best route runner of the group and Randle has the most speed.
- This year’s class features some pretty impressive speed. Stephen Hill, Joe Adams, T.Y. Hilton, Jarius Wright, Kendall Wright (already mentioned), and Marquis Maze are the fastest of the bunch. However, Hill is not your typical burner. He is a legitimate 6’4” and over 220 pounds and will likely run in the 4.4’s. He averaged 30 yards per catch on 30 receptions at Georgia Tech and has the upside to be a dominant #1 WR. The others are all your typical burners who are undersized (all of them are under 6’). Out of this group, my favorite prospect is Joe Adams who I think could be the next Antonio Brown. However, the best value is Jarius Wright who is very, very similar to Kendall Wright but is currently projected to go in the 4th to 5th round.
- Perhaps the strength of this draft class, the slot WR’s are incredibly impressive. The best of the bunch is Ryan Broyles but Marvin Jones, Tim Benford, Eric Page, Gerell Robinson, and a couple of the guys already mentions (Kendall Wright, Joe Adams, Jarius Wright). Broyles is the NCAA’s leader for receptions in a career and at one point had a first round grade. However, due to an injury, he is currently a 3rd round prospect. Jones is a fantastic route runner and has great hands. Benford is a small school sleeper prospect who could be a major steal.
- Now here is where this draft class is absolutely epic. Blackmon, Floyd, Sanu, Jeffery, Toon, Criner, Randle, Jones, Hill, McNutt, Givens, Quick, Cunningham, Jenkins, and Fuller are all very good redzone threats. I already talked about some of the guys so now I will talk about some of the guys I have not talked about. Dwight Jones is a huge prospect (6’5”) and has good hands and leaping abilities. He is inconsistent but as a redzone guy, he could be great. Marvin McNutt is also big (6’3”) and is more versatile than Jones. Givens is 6’5” and has good speed and is an excellent leaper. He has a wide ranging stock from the late first round to the early fourth round. I think his best value is in the third round. Quick, Cunningham, Jenkins, and Fuller are all mid round prospects who have great size and good leaping abilities.
- With all the star power in this class, some good prospects are bound to fall. Some of my favorites are Tim Benford, Gerell Robinson, Jarret Boykin, Marquis Maze, Greg Childs, and T.J. Graham. I already talked about Benford and Robinson so now I will talk about the other guys. Boykin is a big prospect (around 6”3”) that is good at everything but not great at anything. In the 6th or 7th round, I think he is a major steal. Childs came into the year as a 1st or 2nd round prospect but had a disappointing year. However, he has immense upside and again, in the latter rounds of the draft, he could become a major steal.
WR’s who need a good combine
- Alshon Jeffery, Dwight Jones, Mohammed Sanu, and Juron Criner all need good combines to cement their status. Jeffery needs to come in to the combine in shape (as in under 240 pounds) and must run in the low 4.6’s or 4.5’s to cement himself as a first round prospect. Jones needs to show that he has some speed. Sanu’s only flaw is that he supposedly does not have good straight line speed (I don’t agree with this as I have seen him run at a combine where he ran a 4.47) but he needs to run in the 4.4’s to erase any doubts about his speed. Criner needs to show that he can run routes and run in the 4.4’s or low 4.5’s to cement himself as a late first or early second round prospect.