Talent unquestionable, but injuries, character make WR class tricky

INDIANAPOLIS -- Assessing the wide receivers in the 2010 NFL Draft is tricky because, although the position is unquestionably deep, there are some nagging concerns about its highest-rated players.

Dez Bryant of Oklahoma State is clearly this draft's best receiver, yet even he comes with a little baggage thanks to the season-ending suspension he received from the NCAA last October. We'll have to wait a little longer to see him, too, as Bryant said Friday that an injured hamstring will prevent him from working out at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Demaryius Thomas of Georgia Tech is another exceptionally talented player, but lost an opportunity to wow talent-evaluators during the combine when he suffered a broken foot last week.

There are other impressive athletes in the group, although it's hard to say how many will be chosen in the first round. A variety of flaws can be found with other receivers projected to be early picks.

Still, it's possible that as many as a half-dozen wideouts could be chosen in the first two rounds.

The following is a breakdown of the wide receivers widely considered at the top of the 2010 draft class:

Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State, 6-2, 225

His combination of size, strength, speed, and athleticism put him in an elite category. Some talent-evaluators say Bryant reminds them of Houston's Andre Johnson. Bryant catches the ball extremely well and excels at making the difficult catch, because he knows how to maximize his power and put his large frame between himself and the defender. He's a willing blocker and does a nice job in that area. The team that selects Bryant should get an immediate starter who will make a strong impact.

Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech, 6-3, 224

He's expected to need about four to six weeks to recover from his broken foot, but that shouldn't greatly damage his stock. Thomas has game-breaking skills once the ball is in his hands. He shows tremendous acceleration, and his size and strength allow him to rip through would-be tacklers. Thomas looks to be the best blocker of this year's receiving group. Not only does he have the size and strength to block effectively, he also takes a great deal of pride in doing it well.

Golden Tate, Notre Dame, 5-10, 199

There might not be a better run-after-catch receiver in the draft. Some scouts think his physique and toughness make him look a little more like a running back than a receiver. Tate is a good route-runner and does a nice job of finding seams in coverage. His hands are superb, and he has the athleticism and strength to make tough catches. Although Tate doesn't have elite speed, he runs well enough and should help his draft stock in pre-draft auditions.

Arrelious Benn, Illinois, 6-1, 219

He's a big, strong, outstanding athlete, and those qualities should be enough for him to be regarded as one of the top receivers in the draft. But Benn has shown some inconsistency when it comes to concentration and has dropped more passes than scouts would prefer. Once the ball is in his hands, he does a good job of gaining yards, often by simply running over defenders. Blocking is another of Benn's strengths.

Mike Williams, Syracuse, 6-1, 221

He's among the more interesting members of this year's receiver class. Williams has the sort of size, strength and athleticism that any team would desire. But there are significant concerns about his character after he was suspended for the 2008 season and chose to quit the team last year before being suspended for one game. Coaches are never comfortable with a player who quits. Williams' lack of great speed could also work to his disadvantage, but it shouldn't drive him too far down the board.

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