No marquee receiving prospects in this year's senior class


Over the last five years there have been an average of 4.6 wide receivers taken in the first round, 13 in what used to be the first day (Rounds 1-3) and 33 overall. There were six receivers taken in the first round last year, four of whom were juniors. As a result, this year's senior class is very thin at the top.

1. Limas Sweed, Texas (6-foot-4, 220 pounds): Difficult evaluation due to the season-ending injury he suffered vs. Oklahoma on Oct. 6. Sweed injured his wrist before the season, fought through the pain but didn't appear to be as effective as in past years. He had surgery after the Oklahoma game and should be evaluated based on his junior-year tape. As a junior, he had 46 receptions, averaging 17.4 yards per catch, and had 12 touchdown receptions. In addition to high-level production, he has great size and speed and is athletic enough to contort his body to catch the football. He also has very good hands and a good work ethic. Sweed should be the first senior WR selected and will go in the first round.

Brian Bahr / Getty Images
Kansas State's Jordy Nelson quietly put up some huge stats in his senior season with 122 receptions for 1,606 yards and 11 TDs.

2. Early Doucet, LSU (6-0, 210): Missed the better part of five games in the middle of the season but still generated good numbers, with 50 receptions for 474 yards and four touchdowns. There's a high degree of mixed opinion in the NFL scouting community over his value. On the plus side, he's a tough kid who makes plays and will catch the ball in traffic. He had very good production at a top-10 school and, like all LSU receivers, he is a very good blocker. On the flip side, his best numbers were generated when he was flanked by former first-round picks Dwayne Bowe and Craig 'Buster' Davis. This year he averaged less than 10 yards per catch. Doucet has very good hands but lacks speed and will struggle to separate vertically at the next level. I like him mid-to-late in the second round as a slot receiver who is quick enough and tough enough to make short and intermediate plays.

3. Donnie Avery, Houston (5-11, 183): Will be one of the fastest players at the combine; runs a sub 4.4 in the 40. He caught 81 passes for 1,336 yards and seven touchdowns and will bring added value in return yards. On tape, he runs mostly verticals, crossing routes and screens. He will make plays because of his speed but is an unsophisticated route-runner and must prove he consistently can beat press coverage and if he's tough enough to catch the ball over the middle. Pure speed may push him into the second round.

4. Adarius Bowman, Oklahoma State (6-4, 225): Transfer from North Carolina had significant off-field issues in Chapel Hill. Had tremendous production his last two years at Oklahoma State, including 61 receptions for 932 yards and seven touchdowns his senior year, despite missing the last two games with a minor knee injury. Bowman is a specimen who may be better suited to an H-Back role at the next level. He's big, physical and strong and catches the ball extremely well. However, he's tight in the hips and will struggle to separate vs. NFL cornerbacks.

5. Jordy Nelson, Kansas State (6-2 216): Breakout senior season included 122 receptions for 1,606 yards and 11 touchdowns. Against the four best teams on the Wildcats' schedule (Auburn, Texas, Kansas and Missouri), Nelson had 39 receptions for 437 yards and three touchdowns. Nelson was a high school quarterback who didn't play receiver until the 2005 season. He also was a 100-meter state champion in high school, which may account for how he ran away from highly regarded Kansas cornerback Aqib Talib. Nelson has good size, an excellent burst and an ability to separate and accelerate to the football. He also has great hands and concentration and will catch the ball in a crowd. However, I question his quick twitch capabilities in an offense that schemes him open with verticals, crossing routes, hitches and screens. His performance in the postseason all-star games will be a critical component of his evaluation.

Mayock's full rankings

Find out who Mike Mayock's top five NFL draft prospects are at every position. Some of his choices might surprise even you rabid draft followers: Get the complete rankings ...

Others to watch:

Harry Douglass, Louisville (5-11, 169): Very quick with high production; brings added value in return game.

Dorien Bryant, Purdue (5-10, 172): Physically gifted WR and return specialist. Lacks the toughness to catch balls consistently in traffic.

Andre Caldwell, Florida (6-0, 200): More talent than older brother Reche, Caldwell lacks the consistency to be a first-round pick.

LaVelle Hawkins, California (5-11, 186 pounds): Accelerates quickly and catches naturally but he's not very physical.

Steve Johnson -- 6-2, 199 pounds (Kentucky): Turned on LSU tape to watch Kentucky WR Keenan Burton and came away saying "Who the heck is No. 13?" Very physical, but raw WR with upside.

Kenneth Moore, Wake Forest (5-11, 199): Superb senior season and versatility push him into third-round range.

Mike Mayock scouts college prospects for the NFL Network and



The previous element was an advertisement.

NFL Shop