|John A. Bowersmith/Associated Press|
|Justin Blackmon is considered to be the best wide receiver in the draft and is expected to go in the top 10.|
We have seen a run on wide receivers in the early stages of free agency. I believe there were two reasons for this:
Here is how I rate the top receivers in the draft after viewing tape on them:
1. Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State: Easily the best WR in the draft, a smooth athlete who is strong and physical in his routes. He has excellent hands. He shows the ability to make plays after the catch because of his strength. He doesn't play with the top speed or suddenness of elite receivers like Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson. I rated Dez Bryant higher on raw talent. Blackmon is a receiver who should be in the Nos. 5-10 range in the first round. One player he reminds me of is Michael Irvin. The ex-Cowboy Hall of Famer was a physical receiver who lacked the elite speed in college, but obviously became a great pro receiver.
2. Michael Floyd, Notre Dame: He is another big, physical receiver who has very good hands. He shows the ability to adjust and make the difficult catch. Has some quickness and strength as a runner. He has the ability to put his foot in the ground and make sharp cuts on routes. He ran a limited route tree in college and showed some stiffness in the routes he did run. He had trouble running away from tight coverage and didn't win on deep routes despite running a 4.43 at the combine. Catches the ball better than Dwayne Bowe, who was a late-first round pick. That is where I see Floyd's value as well.
3. Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech: Boom or bust type. Ran fast at the combine (4.31) and shows big-time speed on tape when he is running a straight go route. When he has to run an out cut, he is not explosive off the ball the way he is when running the go route. In his workout at Georgia Tech, he showed the ability to be smooth in his routes. He seems to be improving in his ability to run routes based on his workout. His hands were inconsistent in the five games I watched. He dropped some balls, but I saw him make a great one-handed catch and show excellent concentration on a deep ball. For me, Hill is a hard guy to put into the first round off the tape. The workout at Georgia Tech was a first-round workout, though. If you believe in him, you take him in the first. At worst, he will be a second-round pick.
4. Kendall Wright, Baylor: I believe his best position will be as a slot receiver. He is quick off the ball and also quick in and out of his breaks. Despite his size, he was hard to press and would be even more effective from the slot or in motion in beating the press. He has some ability to make people miss after he catches the ball. He had a very limited route tree in college, but I don't see a route he can't run in the NFL. My two biggest issues in the six games I watched were his inconsistent hands and his lack of consistent separation on deep routes. In comparing him to other players taken late in the first round, I thought Santonio Holmes, Percy Harvin and Mark Clayton were better prospects. I see him as a very late first-rounder if you can reconcile his hands.
5. Rueben Randle, LSU: Another receiver with good size who is physical. He has very good hands. He shows some strength as a runner after the catch. He has good foot quickness in his routes and understands the concept of how to run a route to work the defender to get open. He is another receiver who has trouble defeating tight coverage. Doesn't show top-end speed. I thought Alabama's Dre Kirpatrick was able to cover him well in tight man coverage. I see Randle as a late first or early second round pick.
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