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Top 5 NFL Draft prospects by position: Wide receiver

The league rules banishing excessive contact on the perimeter have encouraged more NFL offensive coordinators to put the ball in the air to take advantage of speedsters and big-bodied playmakers. Sammy Watkins is unquestionably the most explosive receiver in the college game, but several "catch-and-run" specialists join him at the top of the board. Mike Evans is the next big-bodied receiver poised to wreak havoc on the league.


Pre-draft events:
» Senior Bowl | NFL Scouting Combine | Pro days

Mock drafts:
» Davis: Carr is first QB selected; Manziel to Rams
» Brooks: Projecting first two rounds
» Huguenin: Texans would regret not taking QB
» Jeremiah: Surprise team takes a QB
» Goodbread: Diabolical duo for Detroit
» Smith: One of 'Big 3' QBs is going to slip
» Fischer: Bridgewater falls out of first round

Draft coverage:
» Tracking teams' interest in prospects | Draft rumors
» Record 30 prospects to attend 2014 draft
» Nolan Nawrocki's big board | Complete rankings
» Mayock's position-by-position prospect rankings
» Brooks' Big Board | Position rankings | Blog
» Daniel Jeremiah's top 50 draft prospects
» Gil Brandt's top 50 draft prospects
» College Football 24/7 Podcast: Latest draft buzz

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Video:
» NFL comparisons for top draft prospects
» Combine workouts: Top prospects go through drills

1. Sammy Watkins, Clemson

Electrifying playmaker with outstanding speed, quickness and burst. Factor in his explosive skills as a kick returner, and it's not a surprise teams view him as the top skill-position player in the draft.

2. Mike Evans, Texas A&M

Some scouts view Evans as a Vincent Jackson clone on the perimeter. The 6-5, 225 pounder is a jump-ball specialist with sneaky speed and acceleration. With a strong combine performance alleviating any concerns about his top-end speed, Evans is destined to be a No.1 receiver for an offense in need of playmaking receiver.

3. Marqise Lee, USC

A disappointing junior campaign has led to concerns about his hands and route-running skills, but astute evaluators could view Lee's performance in the Las Vegas Bowl (7-118-2) as a peek at his pro potential when healthy and focused.

4. Odell Beckham Jr., LSU

Beckham's skills as a multipurpose weapon will make him a valued commodity in most draft rooms. Offensive coordinators looking for dynamic "catch-and-run" playmakers will spend a lot of time studying Beckham's tape over the next few weeks.

5. Brandin Cooks, Oregon State

The Biletnikoff Award winner is an explosive playmaker with exceptional speed, quickness and burst. Although Cooks lacks the size that some coaches covet, he might be the most polished receiver in the draft based on his combination of skills and production.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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