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2012 NFL Draft Projections: Which Receivers Will Be Taken in Round One?

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 02: Alshon Jeffery #1 of the South Carolina Gamecocks makes a catch during the Capitol One Bowl against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Florida Citrus Bowl on January 2, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistJanuary 18, 2012

And now to my favorite position to attempt to project—wide receivers.

The receiver position can be a tough one to scout, because—more so than perhaps any other position other than quarterback—gaudy college numbers don't necessarily translate to success at the NFL level.

Some guys look fast in college that suddenly look a whole lot slower in the pro game. Some can't get off a jam of the NFL's more physical cornerbacks.

With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the receivers I expect to be first-round picks this April.

 

Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 02:  Justin Blackmon #81 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys celebrates by kissing his girlfriend and cheerleader Mariel Dunlap after Oklahoma State Cowboys won 41-38 in overtime against the Stanford Cardinal during the Tostitos Fiesta Bo
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Analysis: Blackmon isn't just a first-round lock as I've seen him as high as No. 2 on some mock drafts.

While I'm not as high on Blackmon as others—the comparisons range from Terrell Owens (lofty) to Anquan Boldin (realistic) to Michael Crabtree (this might be underselling Blackmon a bit)—it's hard to imagine him dropping past the 10th pick, and he very well could go as high as No. 2.

First-round status: Lock

 

Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina

COLUMBIA, SC - OCTOBER 08:  Alshon Jeffery #1 of the South Carolina Gamecocks celebrates runs with the ball during their game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Williams-Brice Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Analysis: Jeffery is my favorite receiver in this draft, as he is an absolute beast at going up and plucking the ball from the air.

While he doesn't have the top-end speed of a Calvin Johnson, he should be an excellent possession and red zone receiver who can also beat teams down the field similar to—though I think ultimately better than—Brandon Marshall.

First-round status: Lock

 

Michael Floyd, Notre Dame

ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 29: Wide receiver Michael Floyd #3 of the Notre Dame Fight Irish runs upfield against the Florida State Seminoles in the Champs Sports Bowl December 29, 2011 at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida.  FSU won 18 - 14. (Photo b
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Analysis: The clear third option in this draft, Floyd is a safe bet to be a productive receiver at the NFL level. He's not as flashy a selection as either Blackmon or Jeffery, but he'll be a reliable option for years to come.

I'd expect Floyd to be selected in the middle-to-late first round.

First-round status: Lock

 

Kendall Wright, Baylor

WACO, TX - NOVEMBER 19: Kendall Wright #1 of the Baylor Bears runs during a game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Floyd Casey Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

Analysis: Kendall Wright has good speed, excellent leaping ability, is very quick, runs solid routes and is an option as a return man in the NFL. 

So why is it possible he could drop out of the first round? 

One main reason: He's not very big and teams might be hesitant to use a first-round selection on him if they fear he could have durability concerns in the future.

I think Wright will probably end up being selected in the first round. But it isn't a lock.

First-round status: Probable

 

Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers

EAST HARTFORD, CT - NOVEMBER 26:  Mohamed Sanu #6 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights carries the ball as Yawin Smallwood #33 of the Connecticut Huskies defends on November 26, 2011 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. The Connecticut Huskies def
Elsa/Getty Images

Analysis: In my book, Sanu is the last of the receivers that could be taken in the first round. A very good athlete, Sanu seem more likely to be a second-round pick but could sneak into the back-end of the first round.

First-round status: Possible

 

A few names to keep an eye on: Dwight Jones, North Carolina; Nick Toon, Wisconsin; Rueben Randle, LSU.

 

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