Join Date: Apr 2008
Re: Bob McGinn on 2014 NFL
Rating the NFL draft prospects: Wide receivers and tight ends
The Journal Sentinel's Bob McGinn assesses the top wide receivers and tight ends in the draft next week. Included is each player's height, weight, 40-yard dash time and projected round.
1. SAMMY WATKINS, Clemson (6-0½, 213, 4.42, 1) — "He's so explosive," one scout said. "Just like Tavon Austin was last year. He's probably the most explosive guy in the draft." Third-year junior. In 2011, joined Herschel Walker, Marshall Faulk and Adrian Peterson as the only freshmen to make the AP All-America first team. "Really a dynamic player," said another scout. "He's so good in and out of his breaks. He runs like a running back but he moves like a receiver. He has strong hands to snatch the ball. He's going to be a real difference-maker." Concluded with a devastating 16-catch, 227-yard outburst against Ohio State in the Tigers' victorious Orange Bowl. Finished with 240 receptions for 3,391 yards (14.1-yard average) and 27 touchdowns. "He's had some drops this year," a third scout said. "He's not Calvin (Johnson) or Andre Johnson. He's almost a faster version of Dez Bryant but not as good hands. I had him ahead of Julio Jones." Doesn't turn 21 until June. From Fort Myers, Fla. "Good player but not great," a fourth scout said. "There's a lot of good stuff. But he's not a real good route runner and it's almost like he's gotten too thick in his lower body. Only 6 feet."
2. MIKE EVANS, Texas A&M (6-4½, 231, 4.52, 1) — Third-year sophomore. "Some of the best ball skills I've ever seen," one scout said. "Tremendous hand-eye coordination, body control, balance. He runs fast. Not a great route-runner. He's a little stiff in and out of his breaks. But he's a guy you throw the ball up to and he's going to catch his share like an Alshon Jeffery type of guy. Wish he was faster. Highly competitive." Outstanding prep basketball player in Galveston, Texas. Signed with Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman. "He doesn't really separate," another scout said. "He just goes up and climbs. He is exceptional because he's fast." Finished with 151 catches for 2,499 yards (16.6) and 17 TDs. Scored 25 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test. "I wonder if he had a big bump-run corner on him could he separate?" a third scout said. "That was my only hesitation. But now with the rules the way they are he'll get every call imaginable." Some scouts argue Evans made Johnny Manziel, while others argue just the opposite.
3. ODELL BECKHAM, Louisiana State (5-11, 196, 4.40, 1) — Played at Isidore Newman High in New Orleans, the same school that the Manning boys attended. "No holes that I can see," said one scout. "I think he will be great." Third-year junior improved his statistics each season, finishing with 143 catches for 2,340 yards (16.4) and 12 TDs. "He lacks the elite height and size," said another scout. "He has the athletic ability, ability to bend and get in and out of breaks, the catch radius, unbelievable hands, return value. He's a very, very talented player." His father was a running back at LSU and his mother was a national champion track athlete for the Tigers. "Little bit of a diva but he is tough," a third scout said. "More of an outside guy but he can stretch the field. Very, very, very explosive. Intriguing player." Compared by scouts to Marvin Harrison and Greg Jennings.
4. BRANDIN COOKS, Oregon State (5-9½, 187, 4.33, 1-2) — Compared by one scout to long-time Carolina Panther Steve Smith. "He's like Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh," one scout said. "That's a close comparison. He's faster down the field than Brown but he's sudden like he is." Third-year junior out of Stockton, Calif. "He surprised me by running that fast," another scout said. "He doesn't play as fast as he ran but he does get behind people. He's quick. In the air he can go to the ball and catch it one-handed. He plays bigger than he is because he can jump so well." Broke Pac-12 season records for receptions (128) and receiving yards (1,730) in 2013. Finished with 226 catches for 3,272 yards (14.5) and 24 TDs. Won't turn 21 until September. "He's exciting, in his own way," a third scout said. "Little stiff but really fast. Can make a lot of people miss. Limited routes he ran as a little guy. Stronger than Tavon Austin, but not as elusive."
5. MARQISE LEE, Southern California (6-0, 195, 4.47, 1-2) — Third-year junior from Inglewood, Calif. "Even though he doesn't run as well as Beckham he's more explosive," one scout said. "He has been the guy where Beckham has been one of the guys (at LSU). He was much better obviously in '12 than '13." After catching 118 passes for 1,721 yards (14.6) and 14 TDs in 2012, he was hampered by shoulder and knee injuries as well as shoddy quarterback play. Slumped to 57 grabs for 791 (13.9) and four TDs. "He's not going to be a great No. 1 but a good No. 1," said another scout. "Very similar to Greg Jennings. Greg may be a little thicker in the lowers. Speed is comparable." The Trojans' spotty track record at WR in the last 20 years has one scout concerned. "Go back since Keyshawn (Johnson)," he said. "They've had some busts."
6. KELVIN BENJAMIN, Florida State (6-5, 241, 4.65, 1-2) — Seminoles' best WR since Anquan Boldin. "Really like his up side," said one scout. "He's actually a little more fluid for a big guy getting in and out of his breaks but he's not as fast and certainly not near as smart as Evans. He's going to be a project. Good kid. He could have really used another year in school." Turned 23 in February but academic woes (Wonderlic of 7) delayed his arrival in Tallahassee until age 20. After redshirting in 2011 and backing up in '12, he broke out in '13. Finished with 84 catches for 1,506 yards (17.9) and 19 TDs. "Boom or bust," another scout said. "You can see some flashes. Little bit inconsistent, there's lack of speed and some stiffness." From the football hotbed of Belle Glade, Fla. "I should like him more," a third scout said. "I just thought he was a prima donna. That was his personality on tape."
7. ALLEN ROBINSON, Penn State (6-2½, 209, 4.52, 1-2) — Led the Big Ten in receptions and receiving yards two straight years. "Big, strong, fast," one scout said. "His speed is good enough, He's a legitimate No. 2. Speed is why he won't be a No. 1. I don't think he gets out of the second round." Third-year junior from Southfield, Mich. "I really like his RAC (run after catch) for a bigger guy," another scout said. "Like he's instant up the field. He will be a really good complementary starter. He does like the weight room, but it was bad because he put on too much weight before Indy." Weighed 220 at the combine but was down to 207 at pro day. Finished with 177 catches for 2,474 yards (14.0) and 17 TDs. "I liked his hands," a third scout said. "But he looked like more of a power guy than a lithe, quick guy." Led WRs with a 42-inch vertical jump.
8. CODY LATIMER, Indiana (6-2½, 215, 4.44, 2) — Third-year junior worked out well in late April after coming back from a foot injury. "He's big and he can get behind guys," said one scout. "He's competitive. Really good hands. He's a bigger guy so he's not a sudden guy who will gain a lot of separation against man coverage. He's going to beat you vertically and he's a big guy. He'll win by getting body position on guys. He's not a No. 1, not a special guy like that. He's a No. 2." Named Hoosiers' MVP in 2013. Finished with 137 receptions for 2,042 yards (15.1) and 17 TDs. From Dayton, Ohio. "People will say he can't run and played at Indiana," another scout said. "But he's big. He's in the top group."
9. JORDAN MATTHEWS, Vanderbilt (6-3, 211, 4.47, 2-3) — Jerry Rice's cousin. Only senior among the top 14 WRs. "A lot of people don't think he plays very fast," one scout said. "Then he had a pretty good 40. He has size, plays with adequate strength and he's been incredibly productive." Established Southeastern Conference record for receptions (262) and yards (3,759). Averaged 14.4 and tallied 24 TDs. "Polished," said another scout. "Hands are above average but not special. Very productive player in a tough conference with a lot of NFL-caliber corners. Probably a No. 2 on a good football team. Mid to late second round." Posted highest Wonderlic (29) of leading WRs. From Madison, Ala.
10. DAVANTE ADAMS, Fresno State (6-1, 212, 4.59, 2-3) — Fourth-year junior from Palo Alto, Calif. "He's got very good ball skills, first of all," one scout said. "He's got big size. He catches a lot of shorter balls. That offense is a little bit inflated because they run all kinds of bubble screens and hitches. He's pretty savvy. He positions himself well. He's not a burner. I see him more as a possession guy. Probably like a Keenan Allen from (2013 draft, third round). Got some of the same skill set but I don't know if he has Keenan Allen's toughness." Led the nation in 2013 with 131 catches. Finished with 233 receptions for 3,030 yards (13.0) and 38 TDs. Probably best WR at Fresno State since Henry Ellard. "All his big games were against (expletive) competition like Hawaii," another scout said. "He came on a little at the end but I don't see him as a top-three round guy. Fourth round."
11. JARVIS LANDRY, Louisiana State (5-11½, 200, 4.67, 2-3) — Confirmed guesswork among scouts with a bad 40. "He's a poor man's version of the big guy with the 49ers (Anquan Boldin)," one scout said. "His numbers don't match up. I don't know how he gets the strength or whatever he possesses to do what he does. He manages to." Third-year junior from Lutcher, La., with 137 catches for 1,809 yards (13.2) and 15 TDs. "He's not near as fast as Sterling Sharpe," another scout said. "But this is a mean (expletive) that is tough." Vertical jump of 30½ exceeded by some offensive linemen. Added a third scout: "He's cocky. He wills himself to make plays. Not as big as James Jones. Really good football player."
12. DONTE MONCRIEF, Mississippi (6-2½, 220, 4.40, 2-3) — Led WRs with an 11-0 broad jump and blazed a fast 40. "He's a vertical receiver," said one scout. "He's a big guy with straight-line speed. He drops balls. He's got some tightness to him and he's not real quick, but he's powerful. He may be the best blocker of all the receivers. He actually goes after people." Third-year junior with 156 catches for 2,371 yards (15.2) and 20 TDs. Disappointing final season. "Really soft," said another scout. "He doesn't want anything to do with it." From Raleigh, Miss.
13. MARTAVIS BRYANT, Clemson (6-4, 214, 4.46, 3-4) – Fourth-year junior from Calhoun Falls, S.C. "He's a vertical guy," one scout said. "Clemson said he was the fastest guy on their team. I said, 'No way he's as fast as Watkins.' They said yes. This guy separates from them all. He's 6-4 and can run. If Al Davis was still alive he'd be all excited over him." Caught 61 passes for 1,354 yards (22.2) and 13 TDs; his average broke the FCS record of 22.0 held by Herman Moore since 1990. Wonderlic of 14, struggles in interviews. "He has a Randy Moss-type build," another scout said. "Doesn't run as fast as Randy but a notch below. There's some immaturity. He scored a touchdown and threw the ball in the stands and did the throat-slash gesture. He does some idiotic stuff. But as far as natural ability he's up there."
14. PAUL RICHARDSON, Colorado (6-0, 172, 4.39, 3-4) – Described by two scouts as "pure speed." Fourth-year junior from Los Angeles. "He's a lightweight guy so he can really get in and out of his (breaks)," said one scout. "He's not going to play the power game. He's not going to pull through tackles. If a (cornerback) gets his hands on him they're going to reroute him pretty easy. But if you want a guy who can separate on the outside from man cover that's what he can do. He can threaten deep. Great feet. Very quick." Finished with 156 receptions for bad Buffaloes teams, gaining 2,412 yards (15.5) and scoring 21 TDs. His father, Paul, was a WR obtained by Packers GM Ron Wolf from the Raiders in June 1992 for past considerations. He didn't last long in Green Bay. "Little bit of a forgotten guy," another scout said. "The only thing he lacks really is bulk."