I plan on doing a few of these posts leading up to the draft, and the first one will be on what projects to be a fairly decent WR class. There are, in my opinion, 4 guys that project to possibly being "Number 1" types, and a host of other guys that can be solid #2's or contribute from the slot. I'll give my top 5, followed by some mid-round guys, and finish up with a late-round sleeper or two (I'm sure some of you will know the sleeper picks, so please don't kill me for not finding some D3 guy like Garcon).
I'm listing heights, weights, and projected 40 time ranges, followed by a short description and player comparison, and a link to a highlight video (so long as I can find one). Keep in mind, the player comparison's do not reflect how good I think they are, just the height/weight/speed similarities and overall style they play with.
Let's get to it!
MY TOP 5 WR'S
- Dez Bryant, Okla St: 6'2, 210 lbs, speed: 4.5 - 4.6 range. Bryant is pretty much the consensus top WR in this class, and it's hard to argue against it. He's got good size, terrific ball skills, and has very good ability after the catch. He projects to being a number 1, but doesn't have the blazing speed of "elite" WR's such as the Johnsons or Moss, and he's one tier down from Fitzgerald in the jump-ball category(he is a similar player, however). Player Comparison: Marques Colston Video Link
- Brandon LaFell, LSU: 6'3, 209 lbs, speed: 4.45 - 4.55 range. LaFell has really jumped up my board since I started researching him more in depth. He's a big, rangy receiver with good speed and good hands. He's not great after the catch, but he's got the ability to get open down the field and make plays in one-on-one coverage. Player Comparison: Miles Austin Video Link
- Damian Williams, USC: 6'1, 190, speed: 4.4 - 4.5 range. The selling point on Damian Williams is elite-level route running, one of the most important (yet highly underrated) skills for a WR. He's got good speed and very reliable hands, and he's one of the most dangerous guys in this class after the catch. He's one of my favorite WR's in this draft (I had him at the top of my board for a while), but the small build coupled with "slightly slower than elite" speed drops him a bit. I still think he projects as a true go-to guy, though. Player Comparison: Reggie Wayne Video Link
- Arrelious Benn, Illinois: 6'2, 214 lbs, speed: 4.4 - 4.5 range. Benn is a very intriguing prospect, because he has a ton of talent, but struggled with drops last season. Some can blame Juice Williams for that, but it's still a big red flag for a WR. He does possess great triangle numbers (height/weight/speed) and has shown the potential to be a good-to-great receiver. But he definitely has to correct those drop issues if he wants to have any success in the NFL. Player Comparison: Roddy White Video Link
- Golden Tate, ND: 5'11, 195, speed: 4.4 - 4.5 range. Tate is the only guy in the top 5 that I don't project as having Elite #1 WR potential (key word being potential). He's small and not incredibly fast, but he is a good route runner, has very good quickness, and does serious damage after the catch. He'll be a dangerous weapon for a team with a big possession-type WR across from him. Player Comparison: Santonio Holmes Video Link
BEST OF THE REST
There are plenty more WR's in this class that worth a look in the middle rounds. Guys like Jeremy Williams (6'0 205 from Tulane), Jordan Shipley (6'0, 195 from Texas), Mardy Gilyard (6'0 170 from Cincinnati), and Demaryius Thomas (6'3, 229 from Georgia Tech) are all projected between rounds 2 and 4, and they all bring different skill sets to the party. Dezmon Briscoe (6'3 200 from Kansas), Eric Decker (6'2 215 from Minnesota), and Riley Cooper (6'3 214 from Florida) could be steals later in the draft. Dexter McCluster (5'8 165 from Ole Miss) is a RB/WR hybrid similar to Percy Harvin, but his size/speed combo puts him in Darren Sproles-land (i.e. returner and 3rd down threat). Mike Williams (6'2 205 from Syracuse) is the wild card of this group, because he arguably has 1st round talent, but allegations of him quitting on his team throw up a big red flag.
It's certainly a deep class of WR's, and there's the potential (again, key word) for this class to match the 1996 WR class (Keyshawn, Marvin Harrison, and TO to name a few). My top 4 all have a chance to be stars, in my opinion, and guys like Tate, Shipley, and Gilyard could all be key contributors on good teams.
I have 3 WR's that I label as "sleepers" because A) they can be had in the middle-to-late rounds, B) they are not hyped by the media at all, really, and C) they bring an interesting skill set to the table that can be utilized by a good offensive mind.
The first guy is Danario Alexander (6'5 221 from Mizzou). He was used in the same way Jeremy Maclin was, but is a very different player. He's not nearly as fast, but he still was dangerous on screens due to his deceptive quickness and ability to break tackles with his big frame. He'll need to be taught how to run better routes, because Mizzou's goofy spread ran very few pro pass patters, but he's got huge upside due to his size and ability with the ball in his hands.
The second guy is Jacoby Ford (5'9 181 from Clemson). He was CJ Spiller's running mate at Clemson, and was incredibly dangerous on screens, reverses, and in the return game. He has elite speed, but his small frame will limit him as an every down WR. Fun player to watch, though, that's for sure.
The third guy is Freddie Barnes (6'2 206 from Bowling Green... where?). He produced on a Michael Crabtree level for a team without much talent at all, but he didn't play against NFL-level talent either. He has good hands and always seems to get open though, and somebody is gonna take a shot at him in the later rounds based just off of his numbers alone.
Thanks for reading, and feel free to
rip me a new one discuss this WR class in the comments.