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Safe Pick: Draft analyst says USC WR Michael Pittman will outperform many receivers taken before him

Almost forgotten in the 2014 wide receiver class are players like Kelvin Benjamin, who was the 28th overall pick. Marqise Lee, Paul Richardson and Cody Latimer were second-round picks, while Josh Huff was a third-round pick.

Although the ’14 class is littered with potential Hall of Fame receivers, it also had its fair share of Jordan Matthews’ and Donte Moncrief’s – good-but-not-great players who didn’t quite live up to expectations.

But what makes that particular receiver class special is the number of Pro Bowl-type WRs who did not crack the top-15.

Sammy Watkins was the fourth pick of the draft and was taken by Buffalo. Mike Evans went three picks later to Tampa Bay. And Odell Beckham just missed the top 10, falling to the New York Giants at pick No. 12.

But Brandin Cooks (20th to New Orleans), Davante Adams (53rd to Green Bay), Allen Robinson (61st to Jacksonville) and Jarvis Landry (2nd to Miami) have all enjoyed major success in their pro careers.

The similarities between the 2014 and 2020 WR classes are plentiful.

Like 2014, the 2020 class has a “big three” of Jerry Jeudy (Alabama), CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma) and Henry Ruggs III (Alabama).

After those three, there are a few dozen WR candidates who could be next in line to be drafted.

According to NFL draft analyst Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports, USC wide receiver Michael Pittman will outplay many of the receivers drafted ahead of him. Wilson currently ranks Pittman as his 10th-best receiver.

“Pittman rounds out our top 10 but a year from now we could be talking about him in the same way we talked about Terry McLaurin, A.J. Brown or D.K. Metcalf after the 2019 season. None were first-round picks, but they all outplayed Marquise Brown and N’Keal Harry, the two first-rounders from the ’19 class.”

At 6-foot-4, 223 pounds, Pittman is one of the biggest receivers in the draft. He ran a 4.52-second 40-yard dash at the Combine, and he had good production last season at USC during a sometimes-fluid QB situation. He can line up on the outside or inside, and Wilson said he’s expected to contribute on special teams.

“Pittman, who could last until the third round, would’ve been one of the first wideouts drafted a year ago,” Wilson writes in his report on potential draft surprises. “At 6-foot-4, he’s a contested-catch machine who high-points the ball as well as anyone in college football. He also ran a 4.5 at the combine, and while he didn’t regularly run away from defenders, he regularly made plays, from the routine to the acrobatic.”

Receiving & Rushing Table
Receiving Rushing Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos G Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
*2016 USC Pac-12 FR WR 9 6 82 13.7 0 0 0 0 6 82 13.7 0
*2017 USC Pac-12 SO WR 9 23 404 17.6 2 0 0 0 23 404 17.6 2
2018 USC Pac-12 JR WR 10 41 758 18.5 6 1 9 9.0 0 42 767 18.3 6
*2019 USC Pac-12 SR WR 13 101 1275 12.6 11 0 0 0 101 1275 12.6 11
Career USC 171 2519 14.7 19 1 9 9.0 0 172 2528 14.7 19

Jake Rigdon (jake@sydwriting.com) covers the NFL draft for Fanspeak and the On The Clock, which is the only NFL draft simulator that allows you to customize and use your own big board while giving you control over trades.



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