Wide Receiver Rankings
1. Demaryius Thomas– Thomas is coming off a foot surgery and an offense that didn’t at all showcase his talents. Why do I have him as my top receiver you ask? Because he is the only receiver I believe capable of developing into a true number 1. Now I don’t think he is there yet, as both his hands and route running need work. But he has the size, speed, and talent to be top wideout. Despite frequently being the only receiver for the Yellow Jackets, Thomas was able to put together a very good season last year. I think in year one he might be a bit of a project, but by year two you could have a stud on your hands.
2. Dez Bryant– Bryant is one of the most overrated prospects in this draft class for me. I don’t see that top 10 (some analysts think he is a top 5 player) talent that everyone is projecting. When I think of a top 10 pick receiver I want a truly dominate player, a Larry Fitzgerald or Calvin Johnson. To me, I think Dez Bryant is at his pinnacle a Braylon Edwards or Aquan Boldin. Both quality receivers, but incomplete players. Neither is what you would term a true number 1. For me Bryant would not have gone ahead of Crabtree last season (and truly I liked Nicks better than Bryant) and that was in a pretty weak draft class. I think Bryant’s value is more suited for the mid-to-late 20’s, but pretty much assume he will go higher.
3. Golden Tate– Tate has gotten knocked down some due to his size, but he profiles as a dynamic slot receiver with excellent special teams ability. I really like Tate as a player, he plays 110% until the whistle and just simply wants to win. When he gets the ball in his hands with a little space, he has the ability to turn it into six. I have little doubt Tate will have a long and successful career in the NFL.
4. Damian Williams– I love Williams as a receiver. I realize he is not a burner and he doesn’t have the big receiver height or frame, but I think he will find big time success in the NFL. While traditionally I feel USC players get over-ranked, just because they went to USC, I feel Williams is the rare exception when a USC player is undervalued. He has helped make two overrated USC quarterbacks (Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley) look pretty good on Saturday’s these last two seasons. Williams is a fantastic route runner, who creates separation despite not having great speed. He is also one of the better receivers in this class at adjusting to poorly thrown balls, as well as picking up positive yards after the catch.
5. Arrelious Benn- Benn is a guy I’m not so sold on, but he does have the requisite height, speed, and athleticism to succeed in the NFL. His production hasn’t really matched his potential, and while some of that can be blamed on Illinois being so bad, plenty of other receivers on this list lacked quality quarterbacks to get them the ball. To me that is too much of a cop out excuse, and no reason why Benn’s numbers were so down. I question his work ethic, as well as his hands. Too many catchable balls were dropped this past season. Overall I believe Benn will go in the 2nd round, but I have serious reservations about him succeeding in the NFL.
6. Eric Decker– Decker is a sure-handed, reliable possession receiver. He’s never going to burn teams deep, but should find a starting role in the NFL. He has great hands, and is a fantastic route runner. Combine that with his size and you have a dangerous red zone weapon. Decker will quickly become a favorite target of his quarterback, and I expect him to put together a very nice career.
7. Mardy Gilyard- Gilyard has taken some hits to his draft stock this off-season, but he is a playmaker. His speed didn’t time nearly as well as teams hoped and he came in a bit smaller than expected. There are also some questions about his hands, but overall I like him as a slot receiver. His speed might not be the best, but he has great quickness and never slows down when he is running routes. His added value as a special teamer make him an early 3rd round pick for me.
8. Taylor Price– Price is a small school prospect but has shown this off-season to be a big time receiver. I think his ceiling might be a bit limited, but feel that he can immediately contribute in the NFL. He might never be a complete number 2, but he should be a very good 3rd option for his career.
9. David Reed- Reed is one of my favorite receiving prospects in this draft. He has soared this off-season with great workouts and a tremendous East-West Shrine game. Reed isn’t the biggest or fastest player in this draft, but I just have a feeling he will make a very solid impact in the NFL. His work ethic, route running, and football intelligence are all off the charts and will help him succeed in the NFL.
10. Brandon LaFell– LaFell was considered one of top receivers coming into this season, but didn’t have the type of senior campaign you’d expect from a top receiving prospect. He is a strong route runner, and does well to adjusting to the ball in the air, but might be no more than a possession receiver. He put up slow times this off-season and doesn’t have the best hands. That combined with his poor senior season knocks him down a few levels for me.