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The wide receiver class for the 2018 NFL Draft is underwhelmingly thin

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Could the Miami Dolphins find a replacement for Jarvis Landry in the draft? Don’t count on it.

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Alabama vs Clemson Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

If the Miami Dolphins think they can replace Jarvis Landry through the 2018 NFL Draft, they’ll be disappointed. With a plethora of middle round talent, Miami will have to take a long, hard look at any receiver in the first or second round — even then, they won’t find the next Julio Jones.

This class is one of the worst in recent years, and with the failed experiment of DeVante Parker, taking a risk on a receiver who isn’t a proven talent seems like the definition of insanity. We saw that with Ted Ginn Jr. who was an elite athlete but never considered an elite receiver coming out of Ohio State, and never lived up to his hype. Eight years later, we saw it again with Parker who battled injuries in college and, alas, can’t stay healthy in the pros.

Are there talented guys in the receiver class? Yes, but none of them scream “special”, and Miami has too many holes to take a risk on a player who won't be vital to the team’s success.

Nonetheless, we preview what the class can offer the Dolphins.

Deontay Burnett

USC
5-11, 170

His best shot at having a successful NFL career will be as a slot receiver. His frame it too thin to be a threat on the outside, but he has the speed and quickness to burn defenders on the inside, along with good hands to provide his quarterback a reliable target.

NCAA Football: Southern California at Colorado
USC Trojans wide receiver Deontay Burnett (80) scores a touchdown as Colorado Buffaloes defensive back Afolabi Laguda (1) tackles in the first half at Folsom Field.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

DaeSean Hamilton

Penn State
6-1, 206

He doesn't have a ton of explosion nor top end speed, but he does a lot of little things right. He’s tactically smart by using all parts of the field to put himself in position to make a play. Hamilton uses his strong body to shield defenders on contested throws, and has a good vertical leap to battle with strong corners. While his speed isn’t eye-popping, he has a lot of quickness in space which can cause problems for corners who give space when playing in zone schemes. He’ll have a chance to compete for the second or third wideout spot for a team.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Penn State vs Washington
Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton (5) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Washington Huskies in the 2017 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Auden Tate

Florida State
6-5, 225

Tate flashes the ability to use his big body as a weapon against defenders. He runs solid routes but struggles to consistently create separation and he doesn’t possess great speed or explosion — he’s more of a long strider. He’ll use his frame to work his way back to the quarterback, but he needs to focus on beating his man with his feet rather than his body — NFL defenders will eat him up alive if he tries to use his body as his only weapon. His ceiling remains unknown, but his physique and wide catch radius will attract a lot of teams. Tate may have a higher ceiling at tight end if he can add bulk, since his he’s already big but not very fast.

NCAA Football: Independence Bowl-Southern Mississippi vs Florida State
Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Auden Tate (18) catches a touchdown pass against Southern Miss Golden Eagles defensive back Cornell Armstrong (3) during the second half in the 2017 Independence Bowl at Independence Stadium.
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Carrington

Utah
6-2, 198

Carrington has the talent to be a starter in the NFL. However, off the field issues may drive teams away from taking a chance on Carrington. According to Our Lads, Carrington has a list of dirty laundry.

Dismissed from Oregon 7/15/17. Suspended for National Championship Game. Failed NCAA Drug Test for Marijuana. July 1st Carrington was charged with a DUI. This wasn’t Carrington’s first brush with trouble in his career as he was suspended for failing a drug test, charged with an open container and even accused of pushing a fan down outside the stadium after a game.

Carrington will need to bulk as his upper body is far too lean. While he’s a great athlete who can contort his body and make terrific catches at its highest point, he lacks explosiveness. If he polishes his route running, he could compete for a starting role and make a solid No. 2 wide receiver for a team. Buyer beware.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Utah
Utah Utes wide receiver Darren Carrington II (9) catches a touchdown pass against UCLA Bruins defensive back Adarius Pickett (6) during the first half at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Miller

Memphis
5-11, 190

Miller is a hard worker who has reliable hands and runs routes with 100 percent effort. He’s agility and quickness makes guys miss, but his top speed remains questionable. Miller seems to lack that second gear that can outrun defenses, but he can be reliable in the slot at the very least. He uses too much of his body secure catches, rather than using his hands to snatch the ball out of the air. That won’t fly in the NFL, as body- catching will lead to turnovers and dropped balls. His 40-time could help his stock tremendously.

NCAA Football: Memphis at Tulsa
Memphis Tigers wide reciver Anthony Miller (3) makes the catch during the second quarter against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Chapman Stadium.
David D. Stacy-USA TODAY Sports

Equanimeous St. Brown

Notre Dame
6-4, 205

A big, physical receiver who has a chance to blossom into a solid wide receiver if he’s polished by a coaching staff. His route running is poor at times, and lacks sharp footwork to beat bigger corners. He’s not a freak athlete by any means, but his galloping speed and ability to win 50-50 balls is a valuable asset to a team. He’s no where near where Mike Evans was when he came out of Texas A&M, but his similar body gives him a chance to develop into an NFL receiver. Playing without a quarterback at Notre Dame really hurt his college career and draft stock, preventing teams from knowing exactly what they have in St. Brown.

NCAA Football: Miami (Ohio) at Notre Dame
Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (6) catches a pass and runs with the ball as Miami (Oh) Redhawks defensive back Heath Harding (24) defends in the first half of the game at Notre Dame Stadium.
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Gallup

Colorado State
6-1, 195

Gallup is a receiver who could sneak into the second round of the draft with an impressive combine workout. Gallup has a ton of potential but didn’t quite reach his peak at Colorado State. He has a strong physique and equally strong hands that can make tough contested catches — he showed that against Alabama’s star studded defense. Gallup’s sharp cuts and shiftiness allows him to run crisp routes and make defenders miss in open space. While he possesses a lot of NFL traits, he isn’t very lanky and won’t be able to out-jump the more athletic corners. Gallup’s ideal situation would be as a strong No. 2 possession receiver who can gain yards after the catch.

NCAA Football: Colorado State at Alabama
Colorado State Rams wide receiver Michael Gallup (4) catches a pass as Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Levi Wallace (39) defends at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Simmie Cobbs Jr.

Indiana
6-4, 220

Cobbs has a big frame that will give corners a problem at the next level, but he must find consistency in his performance. His top-end speed is average, but he has great footwork and quickness to beat defenses. There are plays where Cobbs looks like an NFL talent and secures tough catches. But then there are also plays where he’ll get caught in between catching against his body rather than using his hands, resulting in drops. Cobbs flashes excellent ability and talent, but there weren’t enough games where he imposed his will (other than against Ohio State). His routes were simplistic; he’ll need to show he’s more diverse at the combine. There weren’t too many deep balls or 50-50 catches, leaving his home run ability questionable.

NCAA Football: Indiana at Maryland
Indiana Hoosiers wide receiver Simmie Cobbs Jr. (1) catches a first quarter touchdown pass against the Maryland Terrapins at Maryland Stadium.
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Allen Lazard

Iowa State
6-4, 223

Lazard isn’t a smooth runner and doesn't possess explosive speed coaches look for, but he’s a reliable possession receiver who has some of the best hands in the draft. Like many others on this list, Lazard isn’t going to dazzle with any freakish talent, but he’s strong enough to break tackles and gain yards after the catch. He may struggle to create separation with fast corners in the NFL, but he has the potential to be a starting receiver who will become a quarterback’s best friend.

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Kansas State
Iowa State Cyclones wide receiver Allen Lazard (5) tries to get away from Kansas State Wildcats defensive back Elijah Walker (7) in the first half at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Dante Pettis

Washington
6-1, 192

Pettis is an explosive athlete who broke the NCAA record for punt return touchdowns. While he has speed and quickness to beat corners, he needs to use his frame and be more physical. His hands are decent, but there were a few examples of him double catching balls. He also uses his body on a few too many catches, risking the chance of drops. He’ll have a chance to be a go-to receiver for a team if he can be more physical, but he needs to polish his game as a receiver, rather than an athlete playing receiver. Worst case scenario: Ted Ginn Jr. 2.0.

NCAA Football: Oregon at Washington
Washington Huskies wide receiver Dante Pettis (8) celebrates after catching a touchdown pass against the Oregon Ducks during the third quarter at Husky Stadium.
Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Antonio Callaway

Florida
5-11, 198

Callaway is a well built playmaker who is a threat to take it to the house if given space. He does an excellent job of making tough catches by using his hands, but most of his catches were in space and uncontested. Callaway lacks a leaping ability to snatch 50-50 balls, has occasional concentration drops, and lacks a consistent effort when running routes. He also comes with numerous off field issues that ended his career with the University of Florida prematurely. He’s a terrific talent and arguably elite athlete who was a headache during his time at Florida. He’ll need guidance and maturity if he is to make it in the NFL.

NCAA Football: Outback Bowl-Florida vs Iowa
Florida Gators wide receiver Antonio Callaway (81) catches the ball in front of Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back Brandon Snyder (37) in the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium.
Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

James Washington

Oklahoma State
6-0, 205

Washington is a thick receiver who has afterburners that can leave a defense in the dust. He’s an average athlete who runs his routes a bit stiffly, and isn’t going to dance around a defense in space once he catches the ball. He may have trouble creating separation early in his career at the next level. He needs to learn how to use his body to shield off defenders on short throws, rather than letting them stick a hand out and knock the ball away. Oklahoma State’s offense was very generous toward his stats and overall production. He’ll need to adjust to bigger, faster corners in the NFL, and learn how to use his body to battle for 50-50 balls.

NCAA Football: Camping World Bowl-Oklahoma State vs Virginia Tech
Oklahoma State Cowboys wide receiver James Washington (28) makes a catch in front of Virginia Tech Hokies safety Reggie Floyd (21) for a touchdown during the second half in the 2017 Camping World Bowl at Camping World Stadium.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Deon Cain

Clemson
6-1, 205

Cain isn’t former Clemson star DeAndre Hopkins, but there’s no questioning Cain’s big-time talent. His elite leaping ability and body contorting allows Cain to win most deep balls, even if throws are inaccurately made. He’s shown the ability to make outstanding leaping catches. His high number of concentration drops in short pass plays are concerning, but if he hangs on, he’s a threat to make people miss for a big play. Cain’s hands are good, but his fair share of contact drops raise the question: just how good are they? According to Pro Football Focus, Cain’s drop rate of 13.6 percent ranks No. 133 in the draft class. He needs to have a strong combine to solidify his early first-round status.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama
Clemson Tigers wide receiver Deon Cain (8) runs the ball during the second quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Courtland Sutton

SMU
6-4, 220

Sutton has prototypical size and speed for a wide receiver, but lacks an explosive burst from the snap. His acceleration is a bit delayed, but he has decent speed once he hits his second gear. Sutton does an impressive job of using his hands to catch the ball -- you’ll rarely see him use his pads or body. He needs to polish his creation of separation; he was stuck to the corner on press-man coverage a few times last season. By no means is Sutton an elite athlete, but he has enough athleticism to make defenders miss at the next level. The level of talent he faced while attending SMU is questionable which will raise questions about how he’ll stack up against elite talent. He vanished against TCU and was flagged for offensive pass interference on his last target of the game. Some think Sutton can go as high as 13th overall — that would be a giant reach.

NCAA Football: Southern Methodist at Navy
Southern Methodist Mustangs wide receiver Courtland Sutton (16) catches a pass for a touchdown in front of Navy Midshipmen cornerback Elijah Merchant (14) during the third quarter at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

D.J. Moore

Maryland
5-11, 215

Moore is tough as nails and will let you know about it. The Big Ten wide receiver of the year set a school record with 80 receptions while dealing four different quarterbacks. Moore’s ability to make a play after the catch is what stands out most. Perhaps one of the most underrated prospects in the draft, Moore’s strength and speed may give him a shot as a No. 1 wide receiver for a team. He’s not going to be able to win every 50-50 ball given his height, but he does have a bit of Steve Smith Sr. in him; he knows how to use his body and strength to track deep balls and make contested catches. He can be deadly in the slot if used correctly, with strong hands and acceleration/misdirection speed. Keep your eyes on Moore as the combine approaches; he’ll likely see his stock skyrocket.

NCAA Football: Towson at Maryland
Maryland Terrapins wide receiver DJ Moore (1) scores his second touchdown against the Towson Tigers defense at Maryland Stadium.
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Christian Kirk

Texas A&M
5-11, 200

Kirk has elite speed and showed maturity as a route runner with great cutting ability. He’s athletic, but has a limited vertical leap which raises questions of the amount of jump balls he can against defenders. He lacks change of pace acceleration and only makes people miss by using speed. Kirk has a strong, compact upper body that swallows balls thrown his way. His size, speed and toughness will cause mismatches against smaller corners. He’s not a franchise-changing receiver, but he should have a successful NFL career as a safety valve for a quarterback.

NCAA Football: Belk Bowl-Wake Forest vs Texas A&M
Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Christian Kirk (3) runs the ball in the third quarter against Wake Forest Demon Deacons defensive back Coby Davis (20) in the 2017 Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium.
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Calvin Ridley

Alabama
6-1, 190

Ridley has a chance to be the only No. 1 wide receiver out of this class. His speed, playmaking, vision and catching ability all checks NFL standards. He finds ways to create separation and locate the ball, before contorting his body to make the catch. He’s still a bit raw as both an athlete and wide receiver, but with great coaching, Ridley can be a go-to playmaker for an organization. He’s not Julio Jones, A.J. Green or other freak athletes, but if he can add bulk, he’ll win a lot of battles on the outside — and make a quarterback look good while doing so. He must play more physical on shorter routes, or he runs the risk of becoming a one-tick pony. Ridley didn’t burst onto the college scene the way many would’ve hoped for, but don't underestimate the natural talent he has to offer the NFL.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia
Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Calvin Ridley (3) against the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2018 CFP national championship college football game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports