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2016 NFL Draft: Will Fuller leads WR class lacking elite talent

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In the early stages of this year's NFL draft season, the media guesses on Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell's landing spot rarely fell past the top 10 picks, but NFL scouts privately warned against slotting Treadwell too early because of his lack of speed. TCU's Josh Doctson had the same concerns, but ran well at the NFL Scouting Combine. There is a legitimate debate about which of those "big receivers" will be drafted first.

Notre Dame's Will Fuller and Baylor's Corey Coleman are the speed merchants of this year's wide receiver class, but while both guys can hit the long ball, they also have issues with inconsistent hands. Clemson's Charone Peake has a rare combination of size, speed and athleticism, but he has knee issues in his background and a lack production. Still, Peake has big upside.

Ohio State has a trio of receivers who should come off the board, and opinions are very polarizing on the Buckeyes' Braxton Miller and Michael Thomas. Auburn's Ricardo Louis showed out at the combine while Western Michigan's Daniel Braverman has some NFL teams wondering if he can be the next Wes Welker.

Let's explore the 2016 wide receiver class.

Teams with greatest need


Cincinnati Bengals

Minnesota Vikings

Houston Texans

Washington Redskins

Los Angeles Rams

New Orleans Saints

Cleveland Browns

San Franciso 49ers

Top 5 players at the position

1. Will Fuller: Fuller has devastating long speed with instant acceleration and a history of running a more robust route tree. His hands are definitely an issue, but his ability to hit long touchdowns mitigates that concern to an extent.

2. Laquon Treadwell: Good size with outstanding combination of confidence and competitiveness. Treadwell has pedestrian speed (4.63-second pro-day 40), but makes up for it by being a ball-winner and with his ability to secure contested catches.

3. Josh Doctson: Teams around the league are heating up on Doctson after his faster-than-expected 40 time (4.50). Doctson's body control and high-point ability are unmatched in this draft.

4. Corey Coleman: The Baylor offense sought to take advantage of Coleman with quick, catch-and-run throws as well as vertical challenge routes. Coleman's hands are inconsistent, but his deep speed and explosiveness are legit.

5. Sterling Shepard: Reminiscent of Tyler Lockett coming out of the 2015 draft, Shepard competes beyond his size and has NFL-ready football character. While he'll likely be locked into slot duties, his hands are impeccable.

Sources Tell Us


"He's going to get beat up because he's slow but I like everything else he does. You would think scouts would learn about overestimating speed and underestimating tape. He'll go in the first but not sure how high." -- AFC Southeastern scout on Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell

2016 NFL DRAFT

Draft coverage:

Most overrated


Michael Thomas: To be fair, Thomas is a tough evaluation because of the hitches and screen game that he was often part of. On tape, it's obvious he plays the position as a thinker rather than through feel, but that can change with time. My biggest concerns are his inconsistency in adjusting to poor throws and the difficulty he has with releasing quickly against press coverage. If Thomas doesn't improve against press coverage, he'll get a heavy dose of it in the pros.

Most underrated


Tyler Boyd: Is Boyd even in this draft? I never hear anyone talk about him, and he should be getting more attention. Boyd was asked to be involved as a running back and with more of a catch-and-run role. His strong hands and ability to win the downfield 50-50 balls will help the team that takes him. He's not a workout warrior, but I love the way he battles and how physical he is. He's very reminiscent of Keenan Allen coming out of college.

Boom or bust


Corey Coleman: It goes without saying that receivers from certain heralded offensive "systems" have a limited amount of success stories in the pros dating all the way back to Steve Spurrier's "Fun and Gun" at Florida. Coleman was able to overwhelm Big 12 cornerbacks with speed and explosiveness, but he'll have to become much better with his route running once he's matched up against NFL-caliber athletes. Coleman will either be a double-digit touchdown maker or just another footnote with "benefited from college scheme" next to his name in five years.

Sleeper alert


Moritz Boehringer: Boehringer, the German wide receiver who has taken draft season by storm, is a freakish athlete with a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, a broad jump of almost 11 feet and a 6.65-second three-cone-drill time. NFL teams have been lining up to meet with him since his impressive pro day. Boehringer is a hands-catcher with every trait imaginable, but how he handles the journey toward learning the position as he transitions to the NFL is what will make or break him. If he keeps improving and playing to his traits, look out.

Follow Lance Zierlein on Twitter @LanceZierlein.

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