2012 NFL Draft: Where Will Justin Blackmon, Top WRs Go?

Shaun ChurchContributor IJanuary 10, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: Where Will Justin Blackmon, Top WRs Go?

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    Former Oklahoma State Cowboys star wide receiver Justin Blackmon is the only lock to be a Top 15 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

    After that, there are some good options, but no one who is talented enough to step right in with a team and be the No. 1 guy like Blackmon will be.

    As deep as the 2012 class of free-agent wide receivers is, it is just the opposite for the rookie class coming in.

    That, by no means, is a slam on the class as a whole.

    If you look back on the 2008 draft, not one wide receiver was selected in the first round. Yet out of that class, guys like Jordy Nelson, DeSean Jackson, Eddie Royal, Mario Manningham and a guy by the name of Steve Johnson—taken way down in the seventh round—have all made impacts in the league.

    Some of the following players can develop into No. 1 receivers—and some can even make immediate impacts—but for others, it will take time to become major contributors for the teams that select them.

Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State

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    6’1”, 215 pounds.

    Think Anquan Boldin 2.0 when you see him play and you will understand why Blackmon will be the first receiver taken in April’s draft.

    He is by far the most NFL-ready prospect at his position, and he will start from day one wherever he ends up.

    He has good enough speed to run away from the secondary, and is very strong for his size.


    Where Will He Go?

    The St. Louis Rams own the No. 2 pick, and they are desperate for a true top receiver whom Sam Bradford can target.

    As pointed out by B/R Featured Columnist Alex Kay, Blackmon and St. Louis are a perfect fit.

    The Rams also need help on the offensive line. If they choose left tackle Matt Kalil out of USC, Blackmon could fall.

    But he would not fall far.

    Cleveland would likely snatch him up faster than a frog would a fly if he is there at No. 4. With the exception of Greg Little, the Browns have nothing but garbage at receiver and would not think twice about calling Blackmon to the podium.

    That said, you should expect him to be off the board by the time Minnesota is on the clock at No. 3.

Michael Floyd, Notre Dame

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    6’3”, 227 pounds.

    Michael Floyd has a good set of hands and is physical in traffic.

    He will go up and take a jump ball away from a defender in the red zone, and has enough speed to run by some safeties.

    He is comparable to Andre Johnson of the Houston Texans in the way he plays; he is not afraid of anything on the field.


    Where Will He Go?

    Floyd has the chance to start immediately in the right system—that is, if a team in that much need drafts him.

    Floyd is projected as a mid-to-late first-round choice, and the Chicago Bears at No. 19 look like a great fit for his services.

    For too many years, the Bears have made do without a No. 1 receiver.

    Floyd can be that with only a short amount of work to acclimate himself to the NFL game, and he would make Chicago’s offense much more consistent every week.

    There is a good chance the Bears will lose RB Matt Forte to free agency in March, so if they fail to sign a worthy replacement, they could possibly take Virginia Tech RB David Wilson, who has possibly the best balance of any back in college.

    Should that happen, Floyd could drop to Cleveland (from Atlanta) at No. 22.

Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina

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    6’4”, 233 pounds.

    A big man, Alshon Jeffery is not a speedster by any stretch of the imagination.

    He is, however, the best pass-catcher in the draft.

    Jeffery has the best hands coming out of college since Larry Fitzgerald; he simply catches everything.

    During the Capital One Bowl, he got into a scrum with Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, and both players were ejected. Some see that as a character issue, but do not look too far into it; things like that happen in football.


    Where Will He Go?

    Like Floyd, Jeffery can be a No. 2 right away if need be.

    He is projected as a late first- or early second-round pick.

    The Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 24 could be looking to add a big receiver to the fastest group in football. Currently, the biggest man in the receiving corps is veteran Arnaz Battle at 6’1” and 208 pounds—and he did not catch a single pass all season.

    Should the Steelers pass on Jeffery, New England may come calling.

    And if that does not happen, look for the Rams to take him with the first pick in the second round to really beef up the options at receiver.

Kendall Wright, Baylor

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    5’10”, 190 pounds.

    Much as Jeffery is the best possession receiver in the draft, Kendall Wright is the best speed option.

    Wright is a fiery player; he plays with a lot of passion.

    He has been compared to Mike Wallace (though he will not run a sub-4.3), but is a more well-rounded receiver at this point.


    Where Will He Go?

    Wright is also expected to fall somewhere in the late first round.

    Because of his speed, he might end up at the podium before Jeffery—perhaps by way of Cleveland through Atlanta at No. 22, if Floyd is not there and if the Browns opt against Virginia Tech’s RB Wilson.

    San Francisco is also a good place for Wright to end up.

    The 49ers are one of the better running teams in the NFL, and a deep threat like Wright would be a good tool to have in the shed for play-action and screens to spread defenses; he would ultimately help the ground attack.

Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M

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    6’4”, 215 pounds.

    Plaxico Burress + speed = Jeff Fuller.

    This young man is flying under the radar of most draft experts.

    Saying he has speed does not mean he is a burner. In fact, he is anything but.

    However, he has just enough speed to get behind the secondary long enough to have the ball thrown to him to create big plays.

    A physical specimen, Fuller has the opportunity to impress teams with his senior day workouts and Combine performance. When that happens, he should shoot up the board into the middle of the second round.


    Where Will He Go?

    New England at No. 48 in the second round is intriguing. If they do not get Jeffery with one of their two first-round picks (a 2011 draft-day trade with New Orleans gave them the Saints’ pick this year), this would make a lot of sense and is a great plan for the future of the offense.

    With Ryan Mallett being prepared to take the reins from Tom Brady, the Mallett-to-Fuller connection could be one for the ages in Foxborough.

    If not there, then San Diego—immediately following the Pats’ No. 48 pick—would be a possible destination, with the likelihood of Vincent Jackson leaving via free agency.