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Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans head list of WRs who could go early


At one point, the 2014 NFL Draft looked as if it would be remembered for the large number of quarterbacks who went in the first round. Now it appears wide receivers will be at a premium.

NFL Media draft analysts Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah unveiled their first mock drafts Wednesday, and each sees a run on wide receivers in the first round. In all, the duo had nine receivers going in the first round. Brooks had six being drafted and Jeremiah had seven, and they agreed on just four players.

The most wide receivers taken in the first round in the past 10 drafts is seven, in 2004. Six went in 2005, '07 and '09. There were four in 2012. Three wide receivers went in the first round last year, as well as in 2011. Two went in the first round in 2010. There were zero in '08 and just one in '06.

Brooks and Jeremiah think Clemson's Sammy Watkins will be the first wide receiver drafted this year; Jeremiah has him going at No. 2 to St. Louis and Brooks has him going 16th to Baltimore. The other first-round agreements are on Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin, Texas A&M's Mike Evans and USC's Marqise Lee. Jeremiah also has Fresno State's Davante Adams, LSU's Jarvis Landry and Colorado's Paul Richardson going in the first round. Brooks has LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. and Oregon State's Brandin Cooks as his other first-rounders.

All nine of those players are underclassmen; Adams, Benjamin and Evans were third-year sophomores and the others were juniors. In addition, seven of the nine -- all but Cooks and Beckham -- had listed heights of at least 6-foot-0, and five are at least 6-1.

Four receivers taken first at the position in their respective drafts in the past decade have become stars: Larry Fitzgerald in 2004, Calvin Johnson in '07, Demaryius Thomas in '10 and A.J. Green in '11. Fitzgerald has been a star since he arrived in the league, Johnson is the best wide receiver in football, Thomas' career has taken off since being paired with Peyton Manning and Green is one of the best young receivers in the NFL.

The other five receivers to come off the board first (in the first round) in that span are Braylon Edwards in '05, Santonio Holmes in '06, Darrius Heyward-Bey in '09, Justin Blackmon in '12 and Tavon Austin in '13. Edwards and Heyward-Bey are journeymen talents, Holmes has been inconsistent (injuries haven't helped), Blackmon has had off-field issues and Austin doesn't have a real body of work yet.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.



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