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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Most Underrated Wide Receivers

John RozumCorrespondent IJanuary 11, 2012

2012 NFL Mock Draft: Most Underrated Wide Receivers

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    We know receivers like Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, Notre Dame's Michael Floyd and South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery will be first-rounders. Let's give some recognition to those not going near the top.

    The following players are all worthy of being at least mid-round picks and are going vastly underrated.

    Whether it's their conference opponents, fellow position players and/or offensive system, they aren't scouted nearly as high.

    So expect each to make a solid splash in the 2012 NFL season.

Washington Redskins: Jarius Wright, Arkansas

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    An expected late fourth-round/early fifth-round pick, Arkansas' Jarius Wright is a great fit for the Washington Redskins.

    Wright had a having a breakout season in 2011, catching 66 passes for 1,117 yards and scoring 12 TDs. His 5'10", 180-pound frame is definitely going overlooked. However, as long as the Redskins can land Robert Griffin in round one, Wright can be a solid contributor in 2012.

    With Jabar Gaffney as their team leading in yards, receptions and TDs, it's safe to say that Washington can use some upgrades at receiver. As for Wright, he'll be a solid slot receiver in the spread formation and for third-down situations.

    Plus, with Griffin's ability to buy time in and out of the pocket, Wright will have that much more time to get open. Playing alongside some respectable veterans such as Santana Moss, Wright will develop quite well into pro football.

    Also, despite his size, Wright has a good ability to stretch the field and beat single coverage. Washington needs someone who can immediately help improve the receiving corps, so they can't go wrong early in round five.

New York Jets: Marvin McNutt, Iowa

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    Shortly after Jarius Wright is Iowa's Marvin McNutt.

    McNutt accounted for 1,315 receiving yards and scored 12 TDs on 82 receptions in 2011 despite being in a run-balanced offense with a new quarterback (James Vandenberg) under center.

    The previous two seasons, McNutt's solid production went under the radar quite a bit, as Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and Ricky Stanzi stole the spotlight.

    In 2009 and 2010, McNutt caught 87 balls for over 1,500 yards and scored 16 TDs. Not bad for a No. 2 receiver in the Big Ten. Add in his 6'3", 215-pound frame and Marvin's ability to stretch the field, he will be welcomed addition to the New York Jets.

    Plaxico Burress is old and while still a great fade route receiver, he's not much more than that right now. Santonio Holmes has attitude problems thus leaving Mark Sanchez with one consistently reliable target, tight-end Dustin Keller.

    Well, bring in McNutt and the field is stretched opposite of Burress thus leaving the middle open for Keller. Not to mention that takes pressure of Sanchez as well as the ground game.

    And with the disappointment of Braylon Edwards from 2009 and 2010, Sanchez has never really had a legitimized deep threat receiver. In this draft, Marvin McNutt can be that guy.

New England Patriots: Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M

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    Although he stands at 6'3" and weighs 220 pounds with good deep speed, Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller is going overlooked because of his seemingly weak numbers in a conference filled with weak pass defenses.

    Plus, his production from a year ago is down.

    In 2010 Fuller caught 72 passes for 1,066 yards and scored 12 TDs. This season he caught 70 for only 828 yards and scored just six TDs (the least of his college career in a season). So, it's not surprising to see Fuller projected as a late fifth-round/early sixth-round pick.

    That being said, he's never really had a true pocket passing quarterback at the helm and therefore had limited opportunities to showcase his talents. Not to mention he saw a lot of double-teams in 2011 because of his 2010 numbers.

    Fuller's ability to stretch the field and size to go across the middle suits well in New England. The Patriots don't have a receiver who's capable of really stretching the field and going across the deep middle consistently.

    Right now their best case-scenario is Wes Welker underneath, Rob Gronkowski down the seem or to the corner and Deion Branch as the possession target.

    Add the deep-middle dimension with Jeff Fuller and Tom Brady just got another reliable man to target.

Minnesota Vikings: BJ Cunningham, Michigan State

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    It's not surprising to see another Big Ten receiver on here and especially one from the Michigan State Spartans in BJ Cunningham.

    Much like the rest of the conference, Sparty is a run first team so Cunningham knows how to block down field. In the passing game though, he did catch 79 passes for 1,306 yards and score 12 TDs.

    And in eight of Michigan State's 14 games this season, Cunningham went over 100 receiving yards and four times he caught multi-TDs. With what appears to be a franchise quarterback in Christian Ponder under center, Cunningham is the ideal target for Minnesota.

    The Vikings desperately need a guy who can go deep, possess the rock on third down and have the size to go across the middle. With his 6'2", 215 pound frame, not only will Cunningham be Ponder's favorite target but he'll immensely help in the rush offense.

    Coming from a program that slams on the ground between the tackles, Cunningham isn't afraid to stock block defensive backs and get to a linebacker in the trenches. Simply put, he gets the Vikings that much closer to becoming a complete offense.

     

    2012 First-Round NFL Mock Draft

    1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB (Stanford)

    17. Cincinnati (From OAK): Riley Reiff, OT (Iowa)

    2. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR (Oklahoma State)

    18. San Diego Chargers: Courtney Upshaw, LB (Alabama)

    3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT (USC)

    19. Chicago Bears: Alshon Jeffery, WR (South Carolina)

    4. Cleveland Browns: Morris Claiborne, CB (LSU) 

    20. Tennessee Titans: Mohamed Sanu, WR (Rutgers)

    5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trent Richardson, RB (Alabama)

    21. Cincinnati Bengals: Cordy Glenn, OG (Georgia)

    6. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin, QB (Baylor)

    22. Cleveland (From ATL): Vontaze Burfict, LB (ASU)

    7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Michael Floyd, WR (Notre Dame)

    23. Detroit Lions: Zach Brown, LB (UNC)  

    8. Miami Dolphins: Kendall Wright, WR (Baylor)

    24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Zebrie Sanders, OT (Florida State) 

    9. Carolina Panthers: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB (Alabama)

    25. Denver Broncos: Chase Minnifield, CB (UVA)

    10. Buffalo Bills: Alfonzo Dennard, CB (Nebraska)

    26. New York Giants: Devon Still, DT (Penn State) 

    11. Kansas City Chiefs: David DeCastro, G (Stanford)

    27. Houston Texans: Jerel Worthy, DT (Michigan State)

    12. Seattle Seahawks: Quinton Coples, DE (UNC)

    28. San Francisco 49ers: Mark Barron, S (Alabama) 

    13. Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Martin, OT (Stanford)

    29. Baltimore Ravens: Dont'a Hightower, LB (Alabama)

    14. Dallas Cowboys: Janoris Jenkins, CB (North Alabama) 

    30. New England Patriots (From NO): Stephon Gilmore, CB (South Carolina)

    15. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Kuechly, LB (Boston College)

    31. New England Patriots: Sam Montgomery, DE (LSU)

    16. New York Jets: Brandon Thompson, DE (Clemson)

    32. Green Bay Packers: Melvin Ingram, DE (South Carolina)

     

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