Wednesday, April 4, 2012

2012 NFL Draft Prospectus-Wide Receivers

This is the 3rd installment of our NFL 2012 Draft Prospectus, which can be found in its entirety at today! We turn our focus now to our top ten receivers in the 2012 Draft.

Wide Receivers

If there are questions about the depth and value at QB and RB in 2012, there are no such issues with this receiver class. There is depth and talent abounding, and There should be enough talent to go through every round with every team in need finding someone that will work for them. As a matter of fact, we have isolated 82 receivers that could fill needs for any number of teams in this year's draft class. The top ten receivers in this class could be one of the best top tens in a decade as well.

The Top Prospects

#1 Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
When you look at Blackmon, you are looking at one of the most complete receivers to come out of college in a long while, Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald aside. Blackmon is an elite class receiver, and he is just as incredible without the football as he is with it. Blackmon finished with 253 receptions for 3564 yards and 40 TDs during his career in Stillwater, and averaged 14.1 yards per reception, while collecting 93.8 yards per game.
Pros: Blackmon is a game changing player on every single level. He is as athletic as you can ever ask a receiver to be, and if you get the ball close to him, he is going to go and get it. What makes him every more impressive is the fact that he plays so well without the football. He blocks down field, and he never gets frustrated running decoy routes, which he does very well considering that he demands double teams on every down. He will take the ball away from a DB covering him, and he's not afraid to take a hit. He is very hard to bring down. He is incredibly smart. He is a big target and will be any QBs best friend from day one. He had 12 games during his career where he caught 10 passes or more, including 4 games with a career high 13 receptions. He also finished a game with multiple TD receptions 12 times during his career. He is the best receiver in this class, and probably one of the best in a decade.
Cons: He has so very few on this level. Blackmon does not have elite speed, but is fast enough to do what he has to do. He played in a wide open offense that was more a college offense than a pro system. Some credit his success to the system that OSU ran. Anyone who does that is probably just being dismissive.
Overview: Blackmon is elite, and should develop into a number one receiver in very short time. He shows no fear, and is the kind of receiver that will take over a team and sew his personality into the fabric of any organization. That being said, if you get him, you had better get a top flight QB to get the football to him, because if you don't have that, you may just be wasting his time. He does, however, have the ability to make a mediocre QB look very good. GMs around the league will love this guy, and he should be gone somewhere in the first 3 to 5 picks of the draft.

#2 Kendall Wright, Baylor
This guy has flown up the charts in the last year. Wright was a primary recipient of Robert Griffin's amazing talents, as he finished his Baylor career with 302 receptions for 4004 yards and 30 TDs in 50 games. He finished the 2011 season with 108 receptions for 1663 yards and 14 scores, making him one of the most valuable receivers in the country, and was a first team Power Rated Sports All-Big 12 selection. Wright is a first rate talent, who also may very well be considered as an elite talent. His worst season at Baylor was as a freshman, where he caught 50 passes. Where Blackmon gets all of the attention, someone who passes on Blackmon but winds up with Wright will still get a first class receiver.
Pros: He was a major target in the Baylor passing scheme for 4 seasons, and he got better every season for the Bears. HIs speed is not a problem, and he plays much bigger than he is. He has the ability to ind a seem in zone coverages and sit in a soft spot. He also gets by DBs in a flash and gets down the field in a hurry. He is a definite big play threat, who is a danger to hit a home run on every pass route. He forces blanket coverage as bigger DBs may try to smash him at the line to intimidate him. He fights through tackles, and makes good yardage after the catch, and can bounce off of tacklers with ease. Moves fluidly, and knows how to get to the football.
Cons: He is rather small, and is maybe too small to be a number one receiver in an offense linging up wide. He is best in motion, and in the slot, which offsets his lack of size and allows him to use his quickness off of the snap. He played in a pass happy offense that allowed him to pile up, yet did not put up huge numbers every season. Could get eaten up by bigger DBs that are used to covering small athletic slot guys. Needs some coaching to get used to playing in a standard NFL offense. You have to be more accurate in getting balls to him due to his lack of size.
Overview: He is an electrifying talent who needs some work, but has some major skill and ability. He can become a game changer, but needs a little more work than Blackmon does. That being said, he is still a first round talent who should be scooped up early based on upside alone. He may also be a major addition to your return game.

#3 Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina
Jeffery is a monster on the field, and is a big, physical talent who changes games with his on field presence. That being said, he was a total letdown in 2011, which dropped his stock a bit for this draft. He dropped from 88 receptions in 2010 to just 49 in 2011, but much of that was due to QB issues rather than a drop in talent. For his career at South Carolina, he finished with 183 receptions for 3042 yards and 23 TDs.
Pros: His size is a huge benefit down the field, where Jeffery can run and catch in stride and take balls away from smaller DBs. He has huge hands and is a physical receiver that will tussle with defenders in any area. Hard to bring down due to his LB size at WR. He is a perfect receiver for jump balls in the endzone. Despite his size, he shows solid quickness getting to the ball, and he can turn up the burners when he needs to do so. He is an NFL caliber talent and should be drafted in the late 1st round.
Cons: Jeffery's size is also his downfall. Some have blamed weight issues with his fall back in production last season, but I tend to blame it more on the QB issues that beset the program last fall. He does however, have weight flux issues that can bury any athlete in any sport. While he can get moving, he does not possess top flight speed. If he slipped statistically in college due to QB issues, what will happen when he ends up on an NFL team that may not have a stable QB situation? He may get jammed up at the line if he is not fluid enough, but try stopping him.
Overview: If Jeffery can get his weight under control, he could be a great value in the late 1st round. He may have slid due to issues of 2011, but he can still flat out play. He may need to have a fire lit under his ass to get him motivated, and that could be a problem. Out of the top receivers of this class, he probably has as much upside as down. He is either gooing to be a monster on the next level, or he will fall flat. There is a great deal of risk/reward going on here, and we won't know which plays out until training camp.

#4 Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
Floyd had some character issues at Notre Dame, but there is no denying his amazing talent. Keeping himself safe from himself has always been his biggest concern, and that will be something that scouts will have to take notice of. That being said, Floyd finished with consecutive 1000 yard plus seasons with the Irish, and his worst season was a 719 yard effort as a freshman. Floyd finished his Notre Dame career by catching 271 balls for 3686 yards and 37 TDs and finished as one of the Irish greats at receiver.
Pros: Floyd is athletic as hell. He makes some great plays with the football, and is an accomplished route runner who gets the job done. Floyd wrapped up his senior season with 100 receptions, taking him to elite territory. He has amazing size that you look for in a receiver, listing at 6-3 and 225 lbs. He is also a solid receiver off of the ball, and run blocks considerably well. Leave him in single coverage, and he'll kill you every time. Huge threat in the red zone due to his size. Is very physical, and will out-muscle DBs for the ball on jump ball routes. Hands of gold in the passing game.
Cons: He lacks top shelf speed, but his size covers that. You have to be concerned because his off-field issues were in regards to an alleged alcohol problem. Will he indulge deeper in bad habits when he has millions in his pocket? You have to worry about it. He lacks big time scoring ability, despite his size advantage, as he scored 37 times in 4 seasons, breaking double figures only one season in four. His yard per catch average dropped each of the last three seasons (from 18.1 to 11.5).
Overview: Floyd has some issues to work out, obviously. I think that he did a great job in getting himself together well enough to come back in 2011, and it was really in doubt. He has some areas in his game to work out in 2012, but he should receive solid coaching, and is worth taking an early stab at in the draft. Might go in the 1st round, but would be acceptable to take in the 2nd with some risk involved. He'll need to work under a disciplinarian who can keep him walking the straight path. Floyd has elite ability, but needs to get back to where he was a couple of seasons ago. If he does, look out.

#5 Reuben Randle, LSU
Randle may be ranked a bit high even by our standards, but we're lookng at potential here, and I do not believe that he has reached his yet. I believe that he was a guy that could have used another season in the program at LSU to really break out, but he left having really never had that huge moment at LSU. He never had a 1000 yard season, and left after his junior year to turn pro. He finished his career at LSU with 97 receptions for 1634 yards and 16 TDs, and did improve every season.
Pros: He is a big dude at 6-3 and 220 lbs, and he uses that size very nicely. He is extremely physical on short to medium routes, and uses his body well to shield the ball coming into him. If his QBs were better, he would have had much bigger numbers, and is capable of really blowing up. He averaged 17.3 yards per reception, and is a load to bring down after the catch, and his yards per catch average got better every season at LSU. Even though he is better in the mid range passing game, make no mistake, he can get down the field and make plays.
Cons: His size sometimes can get the better of him, and often makes it difficult to control his body while running routes, and he can get sloppy at times. Quick, physical DBs may give him a hard time on the next level. He drops the ball far too often, and may have concentration lapses in clutch situations. In his two biggest games of 2011 against Alabama, he caught 5 passes for just 31 yards and failed to score. He scored only 13 times in 3 seasons, making him a liability in the red zone. Needs to want the ball more, and on the next level, that could change. May be more of a possession guy than a go to guy. He'll probably be great on 3rd downs.
Overview: Randle really could have used an extra year at LSU, and could have used better QBs to get the ball to him. I don't think that we have seen his best football yet, but he has to really step up in training camp and proves he belongs. He has some very good value in the right place, but is very much a risk/reward receiver. You have to see the forest through the trees to get him at this point, but he could be about ready to explode in the right situation.

#6 Mohammed Sanu, Rutgers
Everyone loves Sanu, who probably did not receive enough exposure at Rutgers. He likely would have been more popular on the national stage had he played at Louisville or West Virginia, but he was highly productive despite being hidden in Rutgers purgatory. Sanu was expected to have a break through in 2011, and he did not disappoint, catching 115 passes for 1206 yards.
Pros: Sanu is another big, physical receiver that the NFL loves these days. He is a solid reciever who uses his body to ward off defenders, and has the hands to make all of the catches. He has strong after the catch numbers, and is physical enough to go and get the extra yards, as he is a tough tackle. He had a very nice career despite bad QB play at Rutgers that hindered his overall production during his first two seasons. Being that the Scarlet Knights were a balanced team, he showed great skill blocking down the field on run plays.
Cons: Sanu, like many big receivers, lacks solid speed down the field. Plays big as well, meaning that he often looks bulky and slow, and will not beat you deep. Lacks big scoring ability, as he scored only 12 times in 3 seasons. He may never be a primary receiver, as he lacks the deep ball skill. He is limited to short and mid-range passing, so he's got his limits. He may still very well not have become the receiver that he can be, and so should have stayed at Rutgers for one more season.
Overview: Sanu is a very good possession guy, but is not quite ripe just yet. He'll go earlier than many because of his size and hands, but will likely never be a number one. He has possession ability, but it's hard to take a guy early who is as one dimensional as he is. That being said, many teams need dependable possession receivers, so beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

#7 Chris Givens, Wake Forest
Givens is one of those developmental players who is about to blow up in the right situation. He was just starting to show major potential at Wake Forest, but he left after his redshirt junior season. Being that Wake's offense has been up and down (mostly down), he is probably smart to get out now and continue to hone his game on the next level. He finished the 2011 season with 1330 yards on 83 receptions.
Pros: Givens is seriously a top shelf talent who can get up and down the field, is solid in short and mid-range passes, and can run like a leopard. He's an emerging talent who has just begun to show what he can do, and played huge in an offense that is not necessarily prone to having big play talent. Has stand up speed, and can get down the field in a flash, and has the body control and route running speed to stretch the field and make plays against the best in the competition. He is a riser, and it would not surprise me to see someone grab him early based on so much potential. His yardage dropped slightly in 2010, but his yard per catch average rose every season at Wake Forest. He is about to pop.
Cons: He's not the biggest cat, and has a slighter build, meaning that he can be muscled at the line a bit. He is still learning and refining his game, so he still needs some schooling in the finer arts of being a top flight receiver, so he may not be ready to start right away and be an impact receiver immediately, but that'll change quick. He's still trying to figure out how to be a scorer, as he has only scored 21 TDs in 3 seasons. Despite his potential, the key is that he is still learning, and some teams may expect more of him than he is ready for if they are not careful.
Overview: Don't rush a baking cake. If he is handled and coached right, Givens can be a star on the next level. His potential is through the roof, and he has all of the ability to be a top flight elite receiver in the league. Slow and steady is the line with this guy. Let him develop properly, and someone will be very happy with this young man, namely his QB.

#8 Dwight Jones, North Carolina
Talk about potential, and Jones pops right up. He is just starting to ripen on the vine, and may be a darkhorse to watch in this draft. Jones was a bit shaky in his first two seasons at UNC and then he exploded onto the scene as a junior. He improved his yardage in 2011 from 946 to 1196 yards and scored 8 more times in 2011 than in 2010 (12 to 4). Jones is a guy who looks like he is coming into his own at the right time, and may be a steal.
Pros: He exploded onto the scene as a senior, and collected 2136 yards over the last two seasons with 16 scores. He has very solid size at 6-3 and 225 lbs, and can get physical in the open field. He certainly does not play as big as he is, and runs better than one would think. He is a tough tackle, and takes hits while shedding tackles. Will get the extra yards and make defenders pay. He has a second gear and knows how to turn the burners off and on. Very fluid for a big man at receiver.
Cons: Like Givens, he is still learning, and he is not as refined at this stage as Givens is. Does not always play with concentrations and fails to always make plays with his hands, and fails to trust in them at times, leading to drops in bad situations. Needs more coaching, especially in the finer art of route running. Does not always end up in the right spot, and depends more on pure athleticism than football smarts at times. He seems to lack discipline at times and will on occasion make you want to pull your hair out of your head with his dumb mistakes. One has to wonder as well why he suddenly woke up as a junior after two nowhere seasons.
Overview: The potential is there, and he has all of the right logistics, and with the right coaching, he can get over the brain issues. He needs to work very hard, but if he does, he may be someone we are talking about in a couple of seasons. There is far too much potential to pass, and in the right situation, we could have ourselves a pro bowl caliber talent. He just needs to get straight and trust in his ability with his hands more.

#9 Jarius Wright, Arkansas
Wright was quietly one of the best receivers in the country last season, and is a rising star at the right time in his life. He caught 168 passes for 2934 yards and 24 TDs while playing significant minutes in all four seasons at Arkansas.Wright improved each season, showing the right kind of development for the Razorbacks, and was a surprise leader of the Arkansas receiving corps.
Pros: Very fast game speed, and very shifty on the field. He can line up as a slot receiver, but despite not having great size, can hit the outside as well and make plays. Very nifty route runner who can shift with great suddenness, and changes directions in a flash. He just got better and better every season at Arkansas. Highly coachable player who is under the radar right now, but not for long. Had a 281 yard day against Texas A&M mid-season, and finished with 1117 yards as a senior.
Cons: Lacks great size. Is just 5-10, and weighs a listed 175, and may be lighter than that. He can get muscled, so using him in motion or as a quick hitch slot guy is best. I wouldn't line him up wide too often. Just started to learn how to score as a senior, and he may be too small to be a huge redzone threat. His yard per catch average dropped slightly in 2011, but that is a minor thing. Tended to get eaten up by LSU and Alabama in 2011, his two toughest games.
Overview: A solid and speedy slot guy, Wright is best used in a similar way to how the Patriots use Wes Welker. He is not a primary receiver, but is the kind of water bug receiver that can shimmy into small spaces in zone coverage to pick up yards that way. In the right situation, he can play some big minutes and become a star in his own right.

#10 Nick Toon, Wisconsin
The son of former Badger and Jet great Al Toon, Nick is a solid and consistent receiver who gives you a rock in the receiving corps. He lost 4 games to injury in 2010, but came back strong in 2011, catching 64 balls for 926 yards on the season with 10 TDs.
Pros: Good, solid build at 6-1 and 205. He does everything that you ask of him and is very coachable. He blocks away from the ball, and is very smart on the field. Has great hands, and uses his body well inn traffic to make the important plays. He can get loose in zone coverage, and makes the mid-range plays regularly. Clean route runner who looks mature beyond his years in the game.
Cons: Not a deep threat ever. Does not have great speed, and has foot problems that have hampered him on and off, and were the cause of his missed time as a junior. Never had more than 64 receptions in a season, and only had the double figure TD total in 2011. Has only scored 18 TDs in his 4 year career with the Badgers. Once he's hit, he goes down, and is not a fighter after the catch.
Overview: If you want a smart possession receiver, you get much value here. If you are looking for a highlight real, look elsewhere. What you see is what you get with Toon, and that is a smart, consistent possession receiver who won't let you down. Take him for what he is and you'll love the guy.

For the rest of the 2012 WR class, please visit where you can view our small school WR prospects as well.

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