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2014 NFL Draft Rankings and Scouting Reports: Wide Receivers

February 6th, 2014 at 3:00 PM
By axr29

The NFL season is finally (and sadly) complete, so now it's officially time to discuss the offseason. Over the next few weeks, Giants 101 will provide draft rankings and scouting reports on all positions — not just the ones the New York Giants are looking to draft. The rankings are a combination of production, skill set, and potential at the NFL level. The third position we will take a look at is wide receivers.

If Hakeem Nicks leaves via free agency, wide receiver becomes a big need. The top receivers, like Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans, will likely be gone by the time the Giants pick. However, this is another position that is deep in players with a lot of potential.

Sammy Watkins, JR, Clemson

  • Average height and weight; elite top end speed.
  • Possesses elite athletic ability; can jump out of the gym.
  • Competitive; played through leg injury in Orange Bowl vs. Ohio State.
  • Has had a couple of leg injuries (2012, 2013); marijuana related off the field issues led to suspension in 2012.
  • Not a polished route runner; but elite speed made up for that in college.
  • If he gets a step on a corner he is going to be tough to catch up to.
  • Needs to get stronger; could get bullied at the LOS in the NFL.
  • Knows how to subtly push off; can exploit pockets in zone coverage to get in space.
  • High points ball; attacks ball and snatches it out of the air (2013 Orange Bowl).
  • Excellent body control when in the air.
  • For not being overly strong, can surprisingly low his shoulder to break tackles.
  • Catches ball in stride; improved at 50-50 balls in 2013.

Jordan Matthews, SR, Vanderbilt

  • Prototypical height and size, below average listed speed.
  • Runs the full route tree exceptionally well; patient route runner with very good vision.
  • While not overly fast, vertical agility and how clean he comes out of his breaks allows him to create separation.
  • Possesses great field vision and instincts to find the holes in zone coverage.
  • Seems to have good core strength and balance out of breaks.
  • Allowed balls to come too far into his frame in 2012; improved a bit at attacking the ball in 2013.
  • Needs to improve at boxing out defenders at the point of the catch.
  • Very good blocker in the run game for a guy his height.
  • Despite not having top end speed he accelerates outstandingly and is quick and fluid.
  • Knows when to sit in the soft spot of the zone; comes back to quarterback on broken plays.

Kelvin Benjamin, SO, Florida State

  • Top end height and weight; exceptional speed for a player his size.
  • Issues with drops (first half vs. Auburn), however shows the ability to make the tough catch in traffic.
  • Unpolished route runner; seemed to jog through some routes in the past.
  • Large catching radius; shows a knack for coming to balls.
  • Tough to take down in the open field (2013 vs. Florida); strong and powerful in the open field.
  • Gets good position on fade routes; also puts himself in good position to make the tough catches.
  • Can be more physical given his size when fighting for separation.
  • Two years older than typical RS Sophomores; limited playing experience leaves a  lot of untapped potential.
  • Could become the best receiver in the draft if he gets proper coaching.

Marqise Lee, JR, USC

  • Adequate height; lean frame that could use some more muscle; top end speed.
  • Fluid route runner, but still raw and undisciplined when running the route tree.
  • Exceptional separation skills; good use of combat tactics to create space once off the LOS.
  • Can get bullied at the LOS by bigger cornerbacks.
  • Strong feel for finding soft spots against zone coverage.
  • Explosive out of cuts; possesses top end field vision.
  • Excellent at plucking ball away from his frame; very good body control and ability to adjust to throws.
  • Lack of elite size and leaping ability makes him average at fighting for 50-50 balls.
  • Outstanding after the catch and has elite big play ability.
  • Willing run blocker; lack of size and strength doesn’t allow him to be a dominate factor as a blocker.
  • Knee injury and drop off at quarterback hurt his 2013 production.

Mike Evans, SO, Texas A&M

  • Exceptional height, a little lean for his height; only has decent speed.
  • Lack of top end speed might prevent him from making plays he made in college at the NFL level.
  • Raw route runner but has improved in his route running.
  • Long strider that takes time to get to his top speed.
  • Slow out of his breaks; runs slow developing routes.
  • Former basketball player; able to use box out skills and combat tactics to make up for lack of separation.
  • Strong, soft hands; aggressive when fighting for the ball.
  • Size, skills, and strength make up for a lack of long speed.
  • Won’t alligator arm catches when going across the middle.
  • Very effective blocker down field; puts in the effort and has offensive lineman like mean streak when blocking.

Donte Moncrief, JR, Mississippi

  • Very good height and size; top end speed for the position.
  • Very strong; gets physical with corners trying to jam him at the line of scrimmage.
  • Very good vertical speed; keeps corner guessing with movement when running routes.
  • Needs to improve on his stop and go routes; inconsistent and sloppy on intermediate routes.
  • Good leaping ability; able to box out defenders to make the play.
  • Skill set to be an effective blocker; but still raw and has room to improve.
  • Excellent at tracking the ball; doesn’t have alligator arms over the middle.
  • Doesn’t have the wiggle to make defenders miss in open space.
  • Reaches top speed quickly, but lacks second gear to really separate from tight coverage.
  • Struggled a bit against double coverage; poor quarterback play led to limited production.

Allen Robinson, JR, Penn State

  • Very good height and size; average speed for the position.
  • Still a little raw of a route runner but has improved.
  • Somewhat of a body catcher; which hurts him in jump ball situations.
  • Long strider that will struggle to get separation versus faster cornerbacks.
  • Uses combat skills and strength to create separation and break jams at the line of scrimmage.
  • Fluid in the open field; strong and powerful once he gets going.
  • He finds holes and seams after the catch like a running back.
  • Power, vision, strength and deceptive quickness make up for a lack of top end speed.
  • Still needs to improve on jump ball situations.
  • Seems to be still learning and improving despite shoddy quarterback play at Penn State.
  • High ceiling; will not be a game breaker but has the potential to be a very productive #1 or #2 receiver.

Odell Beckham, Jr., JR, LSU

  • Adequate height and bulk, above average speed.
  • Excellent release at the line of scrimmage; great acceleration off the line scrimmage.
  • Impressive fluidity and explosiveness in and out of his breaks.
  • Very good field vision and ability to find soft spots in zone coverage.
  • Great timing when going up to make a catch; soft hands.
  • Uses body too often to try to get separation.
  • Good body control and concentration; inconsistent at catching balls thrown outside his frame.
  • Dangerous after the catch; outstanding open field instincts.
  • Superb effort in run blocking; lack of top end size and strength limits his effective.
  • Could be extremely effective if he lands in the right offensive system.
  • Game breaking ability.

Jarvis Landry, JR, LSU

  • Average height; average speed for the position.
  • Outstanding route runner; deceptiveness in his route running makes up for his lack of elite speed.
  • Spent most of time running routes between the hashes; wasn’t asked to run downfield routes a lot.
  • Runs routes like an NFL veteran.
  • Physicality and combat tactics allow him to get separation from defensive backs that his lack of elite speed doesn’t let him.
  • Outstanding instincts on where the open spot of the zone will be.
  • Effective at running the entire route tree; ran mostly 2 and 5 routes.
  • Not afraid to go over the middle.
  • Drops some catchable balls every now and then.
  • Excellent in the open field; ball security is a concern.
  • Shows good effort when run blocking; not afraid to get tough and physical.
  • Superb special teams player.

Martavis Bryant, JR, Clemson

  • Excellent height, a little lean for his height, excellent speed- second on the team to Watkins.
  • Academic issues forced him to miss Clemson’s 2012 bowl game; failed to dedicated himself to football before this year.
  • Finally showed the effort in working on his game and had his most productive season.
  • Still raw and unpolished running routes.
  • Hands are inconsistent at times – 4 drops in the opening game versus Georgia.
  • Much like Benjamin, despite hands issues has the ability to make highlight reel catches (2013 Orange Bowl vs. Ohio State).
  • Shows effort in the running game, but more of a touch and go blocker; needs to work on being more aggressive in his blocking.
  • Excellent in jump ball situations in the red zone.
  • Trouble adjusting to deep ball when defender is draped on him.
  • Not the most polished receiver in the class but probably the highest ceiling given his athletic ability.
  • If he dedicates himself to improving his game he can become a very good receiver in the NFL.

Brandin Cooks, JR, Oregon State

  • Below average height and weight; very good speed – appears faster than listed speed on tape.
  • One of the best route runners in the draft; crisp routes, stays low and bursts out of his breaks.
  • Outstanding acceleration allows him to gain the separation his smaller frame won’t.
  • Can take the top off of a defense; elusive when he gets in the open field.
  • Has great instincts in finding the soft spots in zone coverage.
  • Outstanding at tracking the ball; excellent leaping ability; very physical for a guy his size.
  • Jerrel Jernigan-like skill set; can be effective when getting the ball out of the backfield.
  • Needs to become better at knowing when to give up on trying to make a play instead of moving backwards.
  • Very elusive punt returner.
  • Effective run blocker given his size, but still a liability there.

Cody Hoffman, SR, BYU

  • Excellent height and weight; average top end speed.
  • Excellent hands; able to secure ball and brace for big hit over the middle.
  • Very good at using strength to break press at the LOS; struggles to get separation against man.
  • One speed, lacks the second gear to get separation; above average at finding spots in zone coverage.
  • Adjusts well to throws outside of his catching radius.
  • Long strider, not a threat after the catch; likely a strict possession receiver at the NFL level.
  • Above average awareness and vision.
  • Doesn’t win as many 50-50 balls as expected.
  • Shows good effort as a run blocker; big frame allows him to cover up defenders well.

Davante Adams, SO, Fresno State

  • Average height and weight; could afford to put on some muscle given his frame; average speed for the position.
  • Does his best work along the sidelines.
  • Doesn’t have blazing speed to get separation, but boxes defenders out extremely well to make plays.
  • Knows how to use leverage to out battle defensive backs in the end zone.
  • Impressive leaping ability which helps him in jump ball situations.
  • Ran a limited route tree, but ran those effectively well and crisp.
  • Inconsistent hands and drops too many easy catches.
  • Effort is a concern; seems to take plays off at times.
  • Won’t create much space; strictly a possession receiver.
  • Young so has the potential to polish his game.

Michael Campanaro, SR, Wake Forest

  • Small, but good bulk; above average speed – Wes Welker like build.
  • Excellent route runner; finds soft spots in zones easily.
  • Could get bullied at the LOS by bigger, stronger cornerbacks.
  • Won’t be a game breaker in the NFL but will be a quarterbacks safety net and best friend.
  • Tracks ball well; excellent at absorbing contact and holding on to the ball.
  • Competitive player who isn’t afraid to go over the middle to make plays.
  • Shows good effort as a blocker; willing to sacrifice his body.
  • Size will be a big factor at the next level, but can be effective in the right type of system.

 Paul Richardson, JR, Colorado

  • Average height, needs to add muscle for the NFL; elite top end speed.
  • Accelerates quickly off of the LOS, reaches top speed quickly which is how he gets his separation.
  • Will get bullied at the LOS if he doesn’t add some mass.
  • Freak athleticism when in the open field; can jump up and make the contested catches.
  • Excellent body control; can adjust and make acrobatic catches.
  • Too often drops easy wide open catches.
  • Solid route runner, needs to work on running routes that aren’t a 7,8 or 9.
  • Has the frame to be an effective run blocker, but doesn’t have the strength; more of a touch and go blocker.

Photo credit: PDA.PHOTO / Foter / CC BY-ND

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Tags: Allen Robinson, Cody Hoffman, Donte Moncrief, Football, Jarvis Landry, Jordan Matthews, Kelvin Benjamin, Marqise Lee, Martavis Bryant, Mike Evans, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Odell Beckham, Sammy Watkins

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11 Responses to “2014 NFL Draft Rankings and Scouting Reports: Wide Receivers”

  1.  Krow says:

    The cap … … … it’s not an accident that the two best teams in the NFL are paying their QB peanuts. I think Eli is the best QB we’ve ever had. But next year his cap his is over $20,000,000. Only Cutler and Romo slam it harder. All 3 of us were out of the playoffs. $20 mil is 3-4 starter level players. I’m not trashing Eli … not at all … but it’s fair to ask if a team that devotes that much of its cap to one player can be competitive any more.

    •  JimStoll says:

      Krow, your point is an excellent one

      you don’t have to be an Eli-hater to recognize that his contract chokes off the flexibility JR has to build a solid team
      his contract, coupled with his age and his past 2 years’ performance, is why I urge JR not to restructure or extend him now
      let him play out his contract
      no one is going to pay the dollars hes making now when he approaches 36 after the 2015 season
      we’ve made our bed for the next two seasons; let’s not make it worse for the years beyond
      if Eli turns it around these next 2 years, at 36 we’ll probably be able to re-sign him at $10M or less

  2.  JimStoll says:

    seems like Lee or Robinson “should” be the pick
    each are described as raw which means JR can draft them, they won’t play and there will always be promise

  3.  Nosh.0 says:

    Back in early December I thought WR was a legitimate possibility at #12. Now I think it’s a long shot. John Maras post season comments about Jernigan make it clear he wants young high round picks to play. The way I see it we have 3 WR’s (Jurnigan, Randle, Cruz) that have to play. Watkins will be gone, so unless the Giants absolutely fall in love with someone I think it’s very unlikely we take a WR in the 1st. I personally like Lee but I don’t think a #1 WR is a huge need. What we need is some depth at the position.

    • Anthony Raiaaxr29 says:

      Matthews or Benjamin (if he falls to the second) in the second or a guy like Martavis Bryant later on are picks I wouldn’t mind. All three could make an impact early on (Bryant in smaller doses) and can learn behind Jernigan, Cruz, Randle and Nicks if he returns

      •  Nosh.0 says:

        By the way these draft articles are great. Curious what your thoughts on Evans are? Me and Goat think he will be exposed at the combine (and the NFL level) and when all is said and done I don’t think he’s a first round pick. Wanted to get your opinion.

        • Anthony Raiaaxr29 says:

          Thanks.

          Im with you guys on Evans. From the tape I’ve watched he doesn’t look overly fast and quick to be a playmaker. He could be a solid receiver dont get me wrong, but not a first round gamebreaker like you would want from taking a guy that high.

    •  BigBlueGiant says:

      I think a WR is an Absolute need for this team.

      Nicks will be gone. Jerningan showed some promise in games that were meaningless. So as far as i’m concerned, he’s still has a lot to prove. Randle has to learn a new playbook (good luck), and Cruz is Cruz.

      There’s tons of WR that have great value at #12. I won’t be made if the pick is Evans, Benjamin, Adams, Robinson or Lee.

      •  Nosh.0 says:

        So we need a WR because Randle and Jernigan are question marks? I don’t understand that logic. Both have flashed, and we made relatively high investments in both. Why would we not go into 2014 with those guys as our top 3 WR’s? Because they’re not proven?

        P.S. If we draft Evans Jerry Reese should be fired on the spot. Kid is going to have major trouble getting open in the big leagues.

        •  Nosh.0 says:

          Point is, if you’re not willing to give major snaps to Randle and Jurnigan than we’re basically saying both are busts. It’s their 3rd and 4th year in the NFL. Time to let them play.

  4.  stuh says:

    I wasn’t a Jernigan fan until he had a chance to play at the end of last season. However I have said for years that Coughlin doesn’t play rookies unless he is forced to. Cruz sia great example.
    As for the cap Eli and Snee have killed it. With a new system we will see if Eli will improve. I doubt that he will lead this group to another Super Bowl because even though the team was riddled by injuries and bad play calling he has seemed to have lost that crunch time greatness he had before.

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