Out, but not Down

All eyes now turn to the playmakers as Head Scout Brent Sobleski focuses his attention on the top prospects among the wide receiver class.    A position where multiple issues can be found among a multitude of potential draftees throughout the rankings.  This time Brent gives his top twenty-five overall, once again accompanied by extended comments for all his rankings.

Wide Receivers

Rank Full Name School Rnd Comments
1 Dez Bryant Oklahoma St. 1 After missing almost the entire season, Bryant still possesses the skill set to be considered the top wide receiver prospect and a potential top ten selection.  His mistake which lead to an NCAA rules violation and suspension was simple and stupid. His size, explosive on field presence and physicality is top notch.  If he answers questions candidly in team interviews and shines in workouts, his status should not be affected.
2 Golden Tate Notre Dame 1 A fantastic junior campaign skyrocketed Tate’s stock as he displayed arguably the best set of hands in the nation.  Also with his running back history, he is one of the top prospects in regards to yards after catch.  The Biletnikoff Award winner should be a first round target despite not having ideal number one or two receiver measureables.  He is still growing and learning as a wide receiver which results in a high upside.
3 Damian Williams USC 1 Suffering through inconsistency at the quarterback position, Williams did not put together the campaign many expected entering this season.   He still finished with 70 receptions for 1010 yards and 6 touchdowns.  He even missed a game due to a tweaked ankle.  Williams has the ability to stretch the field and adjusts on the ball as well as any other.
4 Brandon LaFell LSU 2 Physical prospect often compared to his former teammate, Dwayne Bowe.  LaFell never truly stood out as a number one target with the Tigers, but has the size and hands to potentially develop into a team’s leading receiver.  Particularly, this wide receiver uses his body to shield the ball from defenders well.
5 DeMaryius Thomas Georgia Tech 2-3 Outstanding physical prospect in need of technique refinement.  Thomas was never asked to run crisp routes or even faced much double coverage because of Tech’s vaunted running attack.   His ability to body off and highpoint defenders is as good as any in this class.  The recent injury should be of some concern, but does not appear to be a long term issue.
6 Jeremy Williams Tulane 2 With his production and natural ability, Williams has the potential of sliding into the draft’s top forty selections.   He uses his hands and adjusts to ball quite well.   If he can become more consistent and physical at the line of scrimmage against cornerbacks, he could become a solid starter in the NFL.
7 Arrelious Benn Illinois 2 Entering the season, Benn was considered a top twenty selection by most accounts.   He can be physically intimidating presence on the island at 6-feet-2-inches tall and 220 pounds.  He consistently makes the tough catch over the middle and plays very physical.  Questions continue to be raised about his overall speed, quickness, attitude, and lack of production before declaring.
8 Dexter McCluster Mississippi 2-3 Dynamic presence since the day he walked on campus for the Rebels.  Dexter McCluster is the first player in SEC history to run for a 1000 yards and accumulate 500 yards receiving in the same season.   While he did excel as a running back, his stature and open field ability make him an ideal slot receiver candidate.  No player was more spectacular at the Senior Bowl, and if a team can look past McCluster’s slight, yet chiseled, frame then they will certainly have an explosive playmaker to use in a plethora of manners.
9 Mardy Gilyard Cincinnati 2-3 Much like the prospect ranked directly above Gilyard, this former BearCat has less than ideal size and a very thin frame.   This wide receiver was Cincinnati’s top receiver and came up biggest when his team called upon someone to make a play.   As a route runner, Gilyard has to improve admitting he was not asked to sell his routes while in Cincinnati.   He also doubles as one of the better return men in this class.
10 Dezmon Briscoe Kansas 2-3 An early entrant to this year’s draft, Briscoe was very effective controlling the middle of the field with stick and crossing routes for Kansas.   He is also elusive after the catch. His concentration would lapse at times dropping balls his big mitts should have easily ensnared.   Briscoe will also gator arm some passes in tight areas as well.  Overall, his production, athletic ability, and size make him an enticing target in the early rounds.
11 Jordan Shipley Texas 3 Shipley is tailor made to become a slot receiver in the NFL.   He does not possess great top end speed, but his quickness in short bursts is very impressive.  Even on a team often loaded with talent, this wide receiver was the only consistently effective target for the ‘Horns this past season.   While he is not an ideal X or Y receiving prospect, he showed the heart and tenacity to carry the load in Texas’ passing attack.   Another whose overall value is helped by his effectiveness as a return man.
12 Jacoby Ford Clemson 3 Track speed with relatively good production at the college level.   Ford will amaze with his Olympic level quickness.  He has yet to really impress with his route running and abilities to do the little things as a wide receiver.  A team will fall in love with his speed and hope to develop him further as a target.
13 Taylor Price Ohio 3 At times Price’s talent and speed was stuck in the proverbial mud due to Coach Solich’s prevalent rushing attack.  Once the staff realized they had weapons on the outside, Ohio became one of the top deep threat offenses in the nation.   Price went on to become the school’s all time leading receiver.  His quickness in and out of his routes is very impressive along with his legit low 4.3 (even high 4.2) speed.  If he can prove to be more consistent using his body, high pointing balls, and with his concentration; Taylor Price could become a steal in this range.
14 Carlton Mitchell South Florida 3-4 Very talented athlete that never fully developed as a consistent threat.  Mitchell does leave USF as one of the school’s all time receivers, but that may have more to do with the program’s short history and not the wide receiver’s true production.   Carlton Mitchell has great measureables and good straight line speed to build upon and develop.
15 Eric Decker Minnesota 3-4 A foot injury derailed a wonderful career and may have knocked Decker down a round or two as April nears.  Otherwise this big target would have been considered the top possession receiver in this class and has the size and consistency to play in the league for a very long time once he is cleared medically.
16 Danario Alexander Missouri 3-5 An unfortunate injury recently will certainly hurt Alexander’s stock.   He may have had a shot to be a late second to third round talent previously.   Now it will be interesting where he lands.   His ranking will stay consistent here until further medicals become public.     Depending on his history, it is an interesting case to see where this year’s NCAA  leading receiver will finally land.
17 Antonio Brown C. Michigan 4 Brown will make his mark predominantly as a return man at the next level, where he can be very explosive and has been one of the best in the nation since his freshman campaign.   Often overlooked due to the prolific quarterback throwing him the ball, Brown may have been the best player in the MAC this year and has some potential as a slot receiver with his after the catch ability (though he will have to develop in his route running).
18 Andre Roberts Citadel 4 Little jitterbug of a wide receiver that is very quick off the line, beats the jam consistently, and has soft hands.
19 Riley Cooper
Florida 4-5 Nice sized and reliable target that will have some troubles separating at the next level.
20 Shay Hodge Mississippi 5 From a physical standpoint, Hodge does not necessarily stand out.  When watching him on film and at the Senior Bowl, he has solid grasp for route running and was always a reliable target.
21 Joe Webb UAB 5 Outstanding dual threat quarterback making a transition back to wide receiver, a position where he had also started for Alabama-Birmingham at one point in time.  Webb has fantastic size and upside.   He led all quarterbacks in the nation in rushing as a senior.   He will simply have to improve on his feel for the position.
22 David Gettis Baylor 5 Long and lean prospect that entered Baylor as a two sport star in football and track.   Continued to improve each season for the Bears but never put up impressive numbers.
23 Mike Williams Syracuse 5-6 Like a few others in this draft class, eventually a team will take a chance.  Williams has first round talent and produced at a high level when on the field.   He possesses fantastic natural ability.  Quitting the team multiple times is definitely a major red flag no matter the circumstances.
24 Marcus Easley Connecticut 6 Former quarterback that came into his own as a senior.  Easley was one of the Big East’s most dangerous targets.  And with his size and improved reliability catching the football, he could develop into a nice prospect.
25 Naaman Roosevelt Buffalo 6 Could have been considered much higher if not for a late season injury.   Roosevelt is Buffalo’s all time leading receiver and always put up numbers.