With the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine in full swing, I'll be unveiling my picks for the safest prospects at each position.
Receivers that I consider low-risk selections are not necessarily speed demons, but they can run effective routes, and are tough (and/or crafty) enough to separate themselves downfield without a great 40-yard dash time. And, of course, they need to have reliable hands to make plays with or without a defender nearby. The biggest and/or fastest receiver on the team is not going to help if he can't bring in the tough catch.
These three wideouts are my safe bets in the 2016 draft class. As with every position group in this series, there is a mix of top-rated prospects and others for whom I project a long NFL career without the early-round hype.
1. Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss: It's the time of year where the best players get ripped apart for this or that. I'm not guaranteeing Treadwell will be a superstar receiver in the Julio Jones/Calvin Johnson class, but he's the best bet you have in this draft of finding a physical pass-catcher who will challenge the strength of even the best cornerbacks in the league on third downs and in the red zone. And when he lines up a smaller cornerback as a blocking target, that guy had better watch out.
2. Rashard Higgins, Colorado State: He's a natural hands-catcher with excellent foot quickness and route-running ability who can exploit defenses inside and outside. Like Treadwell, Higgins' 40 time is immaterial, as his new quarterback will immediately trust him to be in the right place at the right time -- and catch whatever is thrown his way. Even if he proves to be "quicker than fast," he will make plays.
3. Corey Coleman, Baylor: Yes, he plays in a spread offense with a limited route tree. But Coleman is perfectly capable of running all of the routes. I trust his ability to transition to Sundays, using his explosive cutting ability and acceleration to become both a safety valve and a big-time playmaker at the next level. If guys like Brandin Cooks, Emmanuel Sanders, and T.Y. Hilton can be among the leading receivers in the league, Coleman should fare just fine.