Miami Dolphins Draft Board: Ranking the Wide Receivers

Would Keenan Allen or another WR be the best fit for the Miami Dolphins? - Jed Jacobsohn

There is a great chance the Miami Dolphins will select a Wide Receiver in the first two rounds in April. Which rookie would be the best fit for Miami and their West Coast Offense? Here's a look at the top WRs and how they rank.

Many probably know my opinions on the rookie receives through my comments, but this will be the first time I provide a complete breakdown of the top receivers in this draft class and how I'd rank them. I won't necessarily be ranking them as the best receivers, but the best receivers for Miami's West Coast Offense. First I will go over a summary of my opinions on each player and then I will provide them a ranking after each is complete.

Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee: Very good, borderline elite speed. He has high 40 times without pads, but he doesn't look like the fastest player on the field. Very good off the line with quickness and double moves. Does a very good job of using his body to block defenders and will use his arms to fight off defenders while running his routes. Solid route runner who and catches the ball well away from his body, but does occasionally catch it against his body. Does a good job of being aggressive with the ball and can get it at its highest point. Not the most dynamic runner without the ball, but he is deadly with the ball in his hands. He has the vision you'd expect from a RB. He's not a strong receiver, but he's not afraid of contact and can attack the inside of the field just as well as he can outside

DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson: Does a good job getting off the line with a mixture of speed and strength. He catches the ball with his body a bit too much, but he is tough to bring down. When he does catch the ball away from his body, he does a very good job of reeling in the catch and using his body control. He has been and will continue to be a WR that will make the tough catches along the sideline and drag his feed in-bounds. He kind of reminds me of a young Terrell Owens with his combination of strength and speed. He's not as lethal as Patterson when he has the ball in his hands, but he is still a headache for defenses because he runs hard and will run through a few defenders.

Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech: He has good height for the position and is very quick off the line. He doesn't seem to be physical off the line, but he gets up to speed quickly enough that if he gets behind a CB playing close to the line, he'll get downfield before the safety can provide help over the top. Yet his route running and quickness through breaks is good enough that if you give him a cushion, he will get open quickly on shorter routes. I look to his game against Texas A&M and I see that no matter if the CB played up close or soft coverage, Patton was able to use his double moves to cause the CB to freeze. Unfortunately, even with the close coverage, the Aggies' CBs didn't do a good job of actually getting their hands on him. He has good body control and can make the tough catches, but he seems to lose balance a little too often after he makes the catch.

Justin Hunter, Tennessee: Elite size and speed. Nobody can get behind a defense faster than Hunter. He has the athletic ability of Stephen Hill, but he's not nearly as raw and he has better hands. His hands were solid in 2011, but he had a streak of dropped passes in 2012. He has is a good leaper and gets the ball high before most CBs ever have a chance at it. He doesn't use his arms as well to fight off CBs as well as Patterson nor is he as shifty with the ball in his hands, but he does a good job of making a single move and then exploding by the defense. He could do better to fight off press coverage, but he has all the attributes to be an explosive player in the NFL. Many don't like him because of injury problems (missed no time in 2012) with his ACL, but he didn't appear to lose any of that explosive speed this past season.

Keenan Allen, California: I think he may the most balanced WR in the draft. He has height like Hunter and is fast, but lacks the elite speed Hunter has. He is a solid route runner and has good moves to get off the line, but he tends to catch a lot of his passes with his body. He is not as shifty as Patterson with the ball in his hands nor is he as physical as Hopkins, but he has a nice mixture of agility and physical strength to be a threat with the ball in his hand. I think he may be in the best position to contribute immediately, but his ceiling may not be as high as someone as Hunter.

Tavon Austin, West Virginia: Very good speed and gets up to top speed quickly. Has the shiftiness to make people miss, but he seems better suited for the slot. I haven't seen enough of him fighting CBs to get off the line to make me very comfortable with his ability to get off the line in press coverage. WVU did a good job of getting Austin the ball when he was in space, but he'll need to create that space at the next level. He may have a hard time working the outside in the NFL with his small size and lack of strength, especially if he can't continuously beat press coverage.

Terrence Williams, Baylor: Like Patterson, he uses his hands very well to fight off CBs. Not one of the stronger route runners, but he has a very good mixture of size, speed, and catching ability. He's similar to Allen in that he has a variety of abilities that make him a solid WR, but he's just not as adept with his routes.

Robert Woods, USC: He may be the best route runner in the draft class. He has adequate speed and quickness, but neither are close to being elite. When you combine his speed and route running though, he still does a good job of separating from the CB. He does a good job of finding the soft spots in zone and making himself open for the QB. His hands can be good, but they seem inconsistent. Similar to his hands, he shows the ability to use his hands to fight off press, but it isn't consistent enough. Unless he becomes more consistent fighting off CBs, he may have trouble creating separation. He also doesn't seem to go up to get the ball at it's highest, but seems to content to let the ball come to him.

Now here is how I would rank them from best to worst as how they would fit in Miami's offense.

1) Cordarrelle Patterson

2) Keenan Allen

3) Justin Hunter

4) DeAndre Hopkins

5) Quinton Patton

6) Robert Woods

7) Terrence Williams

8) Tavon Austin

The difficult part of my rankings was deciding between Hunter and Hopkins. Both of them are very good receivers and can be studs in the NFL, but I give Hunter just a slight advantage because of his ceiling. Really though, I could've listed them as 3a and 3b. It was that close.

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