As evidenced by the money that free-agent wide receivers are getting, this position is becoming a lot more important around the National Football League.
It really doesn't matter what quarterback is throwing the ball; he needs to have a threat on the outside in order to succeed. This is one of the primary reasons that I have advocated that the Cleveland Browns keep Colt McCoy as their starting quarterback. He needs to be given a chance to succeed with some actual help in the passing game.
The same can be said for multiple quarterbacks around the league.
This article is going to give you a full two-round mock draft, with an emphasis on wide receivers and where they might land.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford
2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Baylor
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle, Southern California
4. Cleveland Browns: Justin Blackmon, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State
While I am not sold on the former All-American being a surefire No. 1 receiver in the NFL, he would provide the Browns with a threat that they are currently missing on the outside. He also enables Greg Little, who I like a lot, to go up against opposing No. 2 corners. It will have a trickle down effect.
At the very least, Blackmon provides Colt McCoy and the Browns with an imposing red-zone threat on the outside. This is needed for them to open up that lackluster offense a great deal.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, Cornerback, Louisiana State
6. St. Louis Rams: Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
My No. 1 receiver in the draft, Floyd would pay immediate dividends for Sam Bradford and the Rams. He gets off the line fluidly, is an imposing matchup on the outside and already runs tight routes. This might be considered a reach, but the former Golden Domer gives St. Louis a top threat on the outside immediately.
They still have a ton of work to do on the receiving corps, but Floyd is a really nice start. You can expect him to approach 1,000 receiving yards as a rookie.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Riley Reiff, Offensive Tackle, Iowa
8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback, Texas A&M
9. Carolina Panthers: Dontari Poe, Defensive Tackle, Memphis
10. Buffalo Bills: Melvin Ingram, Defensive End/Linebacker, South Carolina
11. Kansas City Chiefs: David DeCastro, Guard, Stanford
12. Seattle Seahawks: Trent Richardson, Running Back, Alabama
13. Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Martin, Offensive Tackle, Stanford
14. Dallas Cowboys: Dre Kirkpatrick, Cornerback, Alabama
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Dont'a Hightower, Linebacker, Alabama
16. New York Jets: Stephen Hill, Wide Receiver, Georgia Tech
The Jets are in desperate need of getting younger at receiver. They also need to add some talent to this position. Plaxico Burress isn't going to be back, and Santonio Holmes is nowhere near a top receiver in the league.
While Hill might struggle early in the NFL due to a limited route tree at Georgia Tech, he has a tremendous amount of upside. This is a pure projection pick that has a chance to pay off big-time for the Jets.
17. Cincinnati Bengals: Lamar Miller, Running Back, Miami (Fla.)
18. San Diego Chargers: Courtney Upshaw, Linebacker, Alabama
19. Chicago Bears: Mike Adams, Offensive Tackle, Ohio State
20. Tennessee Titans: Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback, North Alabama
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Mark Barron, Safety, Alabama
22. Cleveland Browns: Doug Martin, Running Back, Boise State
23. Detroit Lions: Peter Konz, Center, Wisconsin
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Michael Brockers, Defensive Tackle, Louisiana State
25. Denver Broncos: Alshon Jeffery, Wide Receiver, South Carolina
By now most of you know that I am not a big fan of the South Carolina product. I do think that he is going to struggle often in the NFL.
Jeffery isn't a precise route runner, doesn't use his body to catch the ball too often and doesn't have the ability to gain separation at the line against press coverage. These three things are going to need to change in order for him to produce at a high level in the NFL.
With that said, he does have a tremendous amount of raw talent and possesses one of the highest ceilings in the entire draft. Expect the Broncos to look at that and move forward understanding he will need some seasoning and coaching up.
26. Houston Texans: Kendall Wright, Wide Receiver, Baylor
Sure Wright didn't help his stock any at the combine. In fact, you could easily conclude that he isn't a first-round talent anymore. However, game speed and track speed are two different things. There is no way he is as slow as the combine performance indicated.
The Houston Texans are definitely looking for that No. 2 receiver opposite Andre Johnson. This pick enables them to get someone that will produce immediately against single coverage on the outside.
27. New England Patriots: Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback, South Carolina
28. Green Bay Packers: Vinny Curry, Linebacker, Marshall
29. Baltimore Ravens: Bobby Wagner, Linebacker, Utah State
30. San Francisco 49ers: Cordy Glenn, Guard, Georgia
31. New England Patriots: Nick Perry, Defensive End, Southern California
32. New York Giants: Luke Kuechly, Linebacker, Boston College
33. St. Louis Rams: Quinton Coples, Defensive End, North Carolina
34. Indianapolis Colts: Jared Crick, Defensive End, Nebraska
35. Minnesota Vikings: Rueben Randle, Wide Receiver, Louisiana State
The Vikings are quickly building some nice young weapons for Christian Ponder in the passing game. Percy Harvin took some strides to become a more consistent presence in 2011. They also added John Carlson to team up with Kyle Rudolph at the tight end position between the hashes (Notre Dame representing).
With that said, they need to get more depth at receiver. Randle was a product of horrible quarterback play at LSU; this disabled our ability to get a great read on how good of a player he is. Tape indicates that he is already pro-ready in terms of route running, which would be huge for the Vikings.
36. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Lavonte David, Linebacker, Nebraska
37. Cleveland Browns: Zach Brown, Linebacker, North Carolina
38. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mohamed Sanu, Wide Receiver, Rutgers
Struggled horribly at the combine in Indianapolis. This caused Sanu to see his stock drop out of the first round. Jacksonville still gets tremendous value and an imposing target on the outside with this pick.
Mike Thomas and Laurent Robinson are going to be decent players for the Jaguars in 2012, but they need to add more talent to this unit. Although incredibly raw, Sanu has a lot of talent.
39. St. Louis Rams: Josh Robinson, Cornerback, Central Florida
40. Carolina Panthers: Andre Branch, Defensive End, Clemson
41. Buffalo Bills: A.J. Jenkins, Wide Receiver, Illinois
I was going to go with Brian Quick here, but he doesn't seem to fit what the Bills are doing on the offensive side of the ball. Jenkins is much more explosive on the outside and stretches the field a great deal. Buffalo isn't in need of a true possession receiver; they need that big play ability.
Jenkins provides that and more. He is not just an outside receiver; Jenkins can also contribute in the slot if the Bills ask him to.
42. Miami Dolphins: Fletcher Cox, Defensive Line, Mississippi State
43. Seattle Seahawks: Coby Fleener, Tight End, Stanford
44. Kansas City Chiefs: Alameda Ta'amu, Defensive Tackle, Washington
45. Dallas Cowboys: Markelle Martin, Safety, Oklahoma State
46. Philadelphia Eagles: Harrison Smith, Safety, Notre Dame
47. New York Jets: David Wilson, Running Back, Virginia Tech
48. New England Patriots: Brandon Thompson, Defensive Line, Clemson
49. San Diego Chargers: Kevin Zeitler, Guard, Wisconsin
50. Chicago Bears: Sean Spence, Linebacker, Miami (F)
51. Philadelphia Eagles: Dwayne Allen, Tight End, Clemson
52. Tennessee Titans: Kelechi Osemele, Offensive Line, Iowa State
53. Cincinnati Bengals: Alfonzo Dennard, Cornerback, Nebraska
54. Detroit Lions: Jayron Hosley, Cornerback, Virginia Tech
55. Atlanta Falcons: Orson Charles, Tight End, Georgia
56. Pittsburgh Steelers: Zebrie Sanders, Offensive Tackle, Florida State
57. Denver Broncos: Brandon Boykin, Cornerback, Georgia
58. Houston Texans: Kendall Reyes, Defensive Tackle, Connecticut
59. New Orleans Saints: Trumaine Johnson, Cornerback, Montana
60. Green Bay Packers: LaMichael James, Running Back, Oregon
61. Baltimore Ravens: Antonio Allen, Safety, South Carolina
62. San Francisco 49ers: Brian Quick, Wide Receiver, Appalachian State
No matter who is throwing the ball around Candlestick in the fall, San Francisco needs to get receiver help. While Peyton Manning makes his receivers look much better than they are, he does need a little bit of talent.
Brian Quick is my favorite under-the-radar offensive player in the entire draft. I absolutely fell in love with his game on tape. He has a build that can be dominating on the outside and uses it to the best of his ability. Additionally, Quick has extremely soft hands and can gain separation at the line against press coverage. A perfect fit here.
63. New England Patriots: Chandler Jones, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Syracuse
64. New York Giants: Nick Toon, Wide Receiver, Wisconsin
The Giants replace Mario Manningham with the same type of receiver here and don't have to pay him tens of millions of dollars. This is how good teams do business.
While Toon has seen his stock drop a great deal, he will provide Eli Manning with a huge target on the outside to go along with Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. A perfect complement to what they currently have.
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