The 2014 wide receiver class is the deepest and most talented position available in May’s NFL Draft.
Starting-caliber receivers will be found throughout the process. A team doesn’t necessarily have to invest a first-round pick to acquire a top talent at the position, but at least seven wide receivers will be considered in day one.
Here are the top wide receivers prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft:
1. Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Watkins, a projected Top 10 selection, has a rare combination of deep speed to run by defenders, short-area quickness to gain yards after catch and enough to size (6-1, 211) to go up and high-point the ball over those in coverage (see: below). Watkins’ talent will allow his NFL team to add extra wrinkles to its offense, because he can do so many things.
2. Mike Evans, Texas A&M
Evans is an imposing figure at 6-5 and 231 pounds. Evans, a former basketball player, is at his best when he’s asked to use his size and leaping ability to pluck the football at its highest point. Evans is still raw as a route runner, but he did answer questions about his straight-line speed with a 4.53-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.
3. Marqise Lee, USC
A disappointing junior campaign forced Lee down draft boards. Lee battled injuries, inconsistency and a coaching change. The former Biletnikoff Award winner didn’t help himself with an average workout at the combine. Once considered a solid Top 15 option, Lee is more likely to fall into latter parts of the first round.
4. Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron told the Q that Beckham already practices and prepares like a professional. He’s also one of the most explosive targets in the class. He can even provide a spark as a returner. Beckham will drop some passes and he’s not the biggest receiver, but teams late in the first round will be intrigued.
5. Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
The 2013 Biletnikoff Award winner led college football with 128 receptions for 1,730 yards. Wide receivers that can create space and make plays after the catch are en vogue. Cooks has the speed to play outside receiver even at 5-10 and 189 pounds, and the quickness to be deadly from the slot.
6. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
Matthews is the top-rated senior prospect. Matthews left Vanderbilt as the all-time leading receiver in SEC history. He also surprised at the combine with tremendous workout numbers. Matthews is arguably the most polished prospect.
7. Kelvin Benjamin, WR Florida State
Benjamin is the personification of a mismatch at 6-5 and 240 pounds. Organizations must also understand Benjamin is raw as a receiver, and he had a tendency to disappear in games for long stretches.
8. Jarvis Landry, LSU
Landry is the epitome of a possession receiver. He’s not very fast, but he has big, strong hands. He rarely drops a pass. He’s also fearless over the middle.
9. Davante Adams, Fresno State
Adams led all receivers with 24 touchdown receptions. He excels at high-pointing the football over cornerbacks. Adams may not be the biggest nor the fastest receiver, but he’s a reliable target.
10. Allen Robinson, Penn State
Much like the previous two prospects, Robinson doesn’t display great speed. But he’s a physical receiver that uses his body well.
Watkins can run past, around or jump over defenders at any point in a game.
11. Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss
12. Paul Richardson, Colorado
13. Martavis Bryant, Clemson
14. Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin
15. Josh Huff, Oregon
16. Brandon Coleman, Rutgers
17. Jeff Janis, Saginaw Valley
18. Bruce Ellington, South Carolina
19. Mike Davis, Texas
20. Cody Latimer, Indiana