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B/R NFL 1,000 2013: Top 100 Wide Receivers

Matt MillerNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 15, 2013

B/R NFL 1,000 2013: Top 100 Wide Receivers

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    We all know who the best wide receiver in the NFL was during the 2012 season—Mr. Calvin Johnson holds that honor—but who was second best?

    The NFL is loaded with talented wide receivers today, which is why we set out to rank the top 100 players at the position.

    As with all the positions in this year's position-by-position rankings, we are scoring criteria at different weights, but they always add up to a maximum of 100. Players in this case can receive up to 50 points for hands, 30 for route-running ability and 20 for speed.

    Our scouting team reviewed film from the 2012 season of more than 150 wide receivers to come up with the top 100 players. The rankings are based on the players’ 2012 performance, with no credit received for career achievements or potential.

    Players who played fewer than 150 snaps at wide receiver last season didn't qualify for the rankings.

    In the case of a tie, we broke it based on which receiver we'd rather have on our team right now.

     

    All stats from Pro Football Focus.

100-96. Graham, Streater, Smith, Binns, Thomas

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    100. T.J. Graham, Bills

    66/100

    Hands: 32/50; Route Running: 15/30; Speed: 19/20

    A small wide receiver coming out of North Carolina State in the 2012 draft, T.J. Graham struggled to find his way as a route-runner in his first season. As an athlete, his speed and agility are top end, and he shows good ability to get in and out of breaks in his routes with nice burst. When asked to make hard cuts and break off his route, Graham can too often round off his cuts, which allows defenders to jump the ball. He has potential but remains a developing player.

    99. Rod Streater, Raiders

    66/100

    Hands: 35/50; Route Running: 14/30; Speed: 17/20

    There were not big expectations for this undrafted free agent from Temple, but Rod Streater made an impact early in the Raiders’ 2012 season. He plays with good quickness and has enough speed to be an impact with and without the ball. He showed good hands as a receiver, limiting drops on the edge but struggling to secure tough grabs in traffic over the middle. While not a deep threat, Streater has upside as an intermediate, possession receiver.

    98. Steve Smith, Buccaneers

    66/100

    Hands: 32/50; Route Running: 17/30; Speed: 17/20

    The “other” Steve Smith played in nine games in 2012, showing that he still has the quickness and route-running ability to be an asset as a depth wide receiver. He doesn’t have the consistency in his hands to be a trusted threat on the edge, but when lined up in the slot as a third or fourth option in the passing game, he still adds value. Smith won’t run away from coverage, but he does show nice quickness underneath. If fully healthy in 2013, he could be a nice veteran option in the slot.

    97. Armon Binns, Dolphins

    67/100

    Hands: 40/50; Route Running: 12/30; Speed: 15/20

    A big, strong receiver with the length to attack the ball, Armon Binns is a developmental wide receiver with nice hands but shaky route running. Binns doesn’t have the speed to run away from coverage or pick up yards after the catch. Still, he can use his body to make breaks on the ball and keep defenders from jumping routes as a possession receiver. He has to become more aware on option routes to find soft areas in coverage, but with his size and hands, there’s good potential. If injury hadn’t struck, Binns may have developed into a bigger target in the Cincinnati offense in 2012.

    96. Mike Thomas, Lions

    68/100

    Hands: 32/50; Route Running: 16/30; Speed: 20/20

    Mike Thomas doesn’t have the size to stretch the defense vertically or beat defenders in one-on-one situations, but he has a ton of speed in the open field. His route running has improved, and his ability to make breaks in his routes has allowed him to find openings and sit down in zones. He can be weak in getting off the ball and has to become more consistent in bringing the ball in. His drops and limited catch radius keep Thomas from being a higher-ranked player.

95-91. McCluster, Hill, Benjamin, Avery, Henderson

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    95. Dexter McCluster, Chiefs

    68/100

    Hands: 38/50; Route Running: 12/30; Speed: 18/20

    Dexter McCluster has elite short-area quickness and change-of-direction agility but hasn’t made the impact that he should with his skill set so far in Kansas City. After spending his first two years as both a running back and receiver, he was moved to receiver exclusively last season under former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. He’ll need to develop the precision in his routes to go along with the quickness that he plays with. If he does, he’ll be a consistent performer in the Chiefs offense next season.

    94. Stephen Hill, Jets

    68/100

    Hands: 30/50; Route Running: 18/30; Speed: 20/20

    A raw player coming out of the Georgia Tech option offense, Stephen Hill needed a redshirt season before being counted on as a primary target. He’s an elite athlete with a crazy combination of speed, size and strength. Route running is a mystery to Hill, though. Outside of his deep routes, he needs a full offseason to work on timing and his ability to break off routes and separate from coverage. Hill’s hands weren’t quite up to par in his first season, as he let too many passes through his fingers, but he was improved by season's end. Look for Hill to be much higher in the future.

    93. Travis Benjamin, Browns

    69/100

    Hands: 38/50; Route Running: 12/30; Speed: 19/20

    Travis Benjamin is an excellent athlete with elite speed, but he has questionable hands and drops too many passes. He will give up on a play too early and won’t always be on the same page with his quarterback, leading to interceptions for the defense. Benjamin does excel at running deep routes and has the ability to get behind defenders for big plays. He is primarily used as a return man, and he probably won’t see the field much until he raises his awareness.

    92. Donnie Avery, Chiefs

    69/100

    Hands: 32/50; Route Running: 20/30; Speed: 17/20

    A good option in the Colts’ spread passing attack in 2012, Donnie Avery showed good route running and quickness, but his inconsistency in securing the ball was a major concern. Avery was a drop machine in traffic and in space. He has tools to be a very good slot receiver, with the quickness in space to attack intermediate areas, but his drops were too prominent in film study.

    91. Devery Henderson, Saints

    69/100

    Hands: 31/50; Route Running: 20/30; Speed: 18/20

    A part-time starter in the Saints offense, Devery Henderson has the speed to threaten defenses. However, he hasn’t yet shown the production to actually scare anyone into game-planning against him. He’s been too inconsistent when charged with making routine catches, and his five drops in 2012 point to that. In limited time, Henderson didn’t make the most of his opportunities.

90-86. Moore, Roberts, Massaquoi, Little, Kerley

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    90. Denarius Moore, Raiders

    69/100

    Hands: 35/50; Route Running: 17/30; Speed: 17/20

    The Raiders’ best option at receiver in 2012, Denarius Moore did well in the role of go-to receiver, but too many drops plagued him. Moore let the ball through his hands, and in traffic he shied away from contact and didn’t extend to go after contested passes. He needs work as a route-runner. Too many breaking routes became rounded messes, and that allowed defenders to recover and gain positioning. He has nice speed and agility, but the technical part of Moore’s game needs work.

    89. Andre Roberts, Cardinals

    70/100

    Hands: 37/50; Route Running: 15/30; Speed: 18/20

    Andre Roberts enjoyed a good 2012 season, but too many dropped passes showed up on film. He didn’t flash the consistency to bring the ball in, and when coupled with poor route running on breaking and timing routes, it was tough to move Roberts higher up the board. We like his potential as a speed receiver, but he has to start looking the ball in and consistently making plays. If he can do that, the Cardinals would have a dangerous player in space.

    88. Mohamed Massaquoi, Jaguars

    70/100

    Hands: 43/50; Route Running: 14/30; Speed: 13/20

    Mohamed Massaquoi is a big-bodied receiver with better-than-average hands, but he struggles consistently get open and find holes in the defense. He runs poor routes and doesn’t always use his big frame to block out the defenders. Massaquoi is able to go up in traffic and catch the ball at its peak. He doesn’t have great speed, but he can get deep on occasion.

    87. Greg Little, Browns

    70/100

    Hands: 37/50; Route Running: 17/30; Speed: 16/20

    Greg Little is a powerful wide receiver who has good enough speed to make plays downfield and a big body to be a threat in the red zone. Although he has improved in the area, he struggles to consistently look the ball all the way in and drops too many catchable balls. If he can improve his hands and get some consistent quarterback play, he could be a dominant force in the years to come.

    86. Jeremy Kerley, Jets

    70/100

    Hands: 41/50; Route Running: 15/30; Speed: 14/20

    An undersized receiver without elite speed, Jeremy Kerley relies on his quickness and good hands to make plays for the Jets offense. He is shifty and has good vision, which helps him create yards after the catch. Kerley is only 5’9”, causing him to be nearly useless in the red zone, and he has trouble at times securing the ball. His skill set is better used as a return man.

85-81. Meachem, Williams, Robinson, Shorts, Aromashodu

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    85. Robert Meachem, Chargers

    70/100

    Hands: 28/50; Route Running: 24/30; Speed: 18/20

    Added to the San Diego roster in free agency as a deep threat, Robert Meachem didn’t become the player the team had hoped. He has talent and speed but didn’t show consistency as a receiver. Meachem let too many passes go by without securing the catch. It could be that his adjustment to Philip Rivers’ arm strength took time, but Meachem didn’t seem to be himself in 2012 before an injury ended his season in Week 11. When healthy in 2013 he has the speed to become the downfield threat the Chargers need.

    84. Damian Williams, Titans

    70/100

    Hands: 39/50; Route Running: 15/30; Speed: 16/20

    The former USC wide receiver began the year as a starter before moving to a reserve role once Kenny Britt was ready to go. Damian Williams has good size and decent speed to get away from coverage, but his route running is raw and requires too many steps for quick breaking routes. He has to become more crisp and break his habit of rounding off cuts. He’s solid when the ball is on target, but he will let the ball through his hands and can short-arm passes thrown slightly outside his frame.

    83. Laurent Robinson, Free Agent

    71/100

    Hands: 35/50; Route Running: 18/30; Speed: 18/20

    Laurent Robinson spent most of 2012 battling concussions and didn’t really get a chance to follow up a career year in 2011. He doesn’t do any one thing excellent, but he is a well-rounded receiver who can make big plays when healthy. Robinson has good size and quickness, and he can find openings against zone coverage. He will struggle to get off the line against bigger cornerbacks and doesn’t use his body enough to shield off defenders when going across the middle.

    82. Cecil Shorts, Jaguars

    71/100

    Hands: 36/50; Route Running: 15/30; Speed: 20/20

    After struggling to see the field in his rookie season, Cecil Shorts made the most of his opportunities in 2012. He showed that he has good quickness and the ability to create separation. Shorts has good hands, but he tries to catch the ball with his body too much and drops too many passes. He has the potential to be a No. 1 receiver but will need consistency from the quarterback position to help him live up to that potential.

    81. Devin Aromashodu, Free Agent

    71/100

    Hands: 41/50; Route Running: 12/30; Speed: 18/20

    A combination of good speed and hands, Devin Aromashodu is able to use them to his advantage to make plays down the field. He is inconsistent with his route running and doesn’t use his body to shield off defenders. Aromashodu also lacks the focus to make tough catches in traffic, and he has issues getting off the line of scrimmage against press coverage. He will need to make a lot of improvement in his game if he wants to see more playing time and be more than just a good special teams player.

80-76. Washington, Heyward-Bey, Gibson, Givens, Young

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    80. Nate Washington, Titans

    71/100

    Hands: 36/50; Route Running: 20/30; Speed: 15/20

    After having the best season of his career in 2011, Nate Washington was back to his average self this past year. He isn’t a blazer, but he has enough speed to make plays deep down the field. Washington has above-average hands but tends to lose his concentration at times. He is a precise route-runner who can sink his hips and make clean, crisp cuts. He's usually not a big threat after the catch and isn’t shifty enough to make guys miss.

    79. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Colts

    72/100

    Hands: 37/50; Route Running: 15/30; Speed: 20/20

    After showing signs of finally breaking through in 2011, Darrius Heyward-Bey regressed in 2012. He is a speed receiver who can blow the top off the defense, but he struggles running most routes and isn’t able to create space. Heyward-Bey has better hands than he is usually given credit for. Once he catches the ball, he does a good job of tucking it in and holding onto it even when he knows a big hit is coming.

    78. Brandon Gibson, Dolphins

    72/100

    Hands: 41/50; Route Running: 17/30; Speed: 14/20

    Brandon Gibson doesn’t have top-end speed, but he runs clean routes and is able to sink his hips to make crisp cuts to get open. He is a possession-type receiver who has great hands and uses them well to make catches away from his bod, but he doesn’t make many defenders miss or rack up yards after the catch. Most of his damage is done on short-to-intermediate routes, but he can sneak past the defense on occasion.

    77. Chris Givens, Rams

    72/100

    Hands: 39/50; Route Running: 14/30; Speed: 19/20

    Chris Givens might not be the biggest wide receiver, but he has excellent strength for someone his size. He uses that strength to help him get off the line when the defense is in press coverage. Givens has good but not great hands and will sometimes lose his concentration and not look the ball all the way in. He was a nice surprise this past season and should get quite a few more opportunities next year with Danny Amendola now in New England.

    76. Titus Young, Free Agent

    73/100

    Hands: 41/50; Route Running: 15/30; Speed: 17/20

    Titus Young is an undersized wide receiver who possesses great athleticism. He relies on his good speed and quickness to get open, but he doesn’t run crisp routes and doesn’t have the size to box out the defense to make tough catches across the middle. Young is a gifted young wide receiver, but he comes with a lot of baggage. He will need to prove that he can make big plays when he doesn’t have Calvin Johnson lined up on the other side.

75. Jerome Simpson, Minnesota Vikings

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    Hands

    37/50

    Dropped passes over the middle kept Jerome Simpson from using his upper-level athletic ability to make plays in the passing game. Not only did he drop passes, but his range when going out and bringing in tougher passes was nonexistent. Simpson didn’t use his 6’2” length to pull in passes just slightly off the mark.

    Route Running

    18/30

    When asked to simply go up the sideline and run vertical routes, Simpson has the speed to make plays. If asked to break off that route or change direction and come back to the ball, he’ll struggle to adjust his weight and accelerate out of breaks. He’s a fluid athlete, but when asked to run with consistent timing and steps, he’s a liability.

    Speed

    18/20

    Simpson is a good overall athlete. He shows very good speed and even better quickness and agility. He’ll make plays in space and can stretch the defense with his stride. 

    Overall

    73/100

    Simpson has yet to develop into an all-around threat as a wide receiver, but with his athletic ability, he’s good for a big play or two on a consistent basis. It’s very much a boom-or-bust situation with Simpson.

74. Derek Hagan, Free Agent

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    Hands

    44/50

    Derek Hagan didn’t have world-beating production, but he showed consistent hands and good range to make plays last season. He was recorded as dropping just one pass on the season—in Week 6—and that showed in the games we viewed. He doesn’t have the best catching radius in the game, as his reach can be limited and his adjustment to passes ill-timed, but Hagan won’t drop passes put inside his reach.

    Route Running

    12/30

    Hagan’s biggest weakness on film was his inability to separate from defenders with his routes. He lacks the hip flexibility to make sharp cuts. When asked to break off routes, he didn’t show the acceleration needed out of the break to generate space. He’ll run a decent comeback route but has to work on his positioning coming out of breaks.

    Speed

    17/20

    Hagan has the speed to stretch a defense when he can get loose off the line. He’ll get into his routes with good speed, but he doesn’t have the top-level agility or flexibility to make plays.

    Overall

    73/100

    Hagan stepped up for the Raiders in 2012, moving himself up over 50 spots in the rankings in the process. He’s a solid possession receiver with the hands to move the chains.

73. Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals

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    Hands

    40/50

    Michael Floyd’s playing time on a very poor offense was limited throughout his rookie season, but when he did see the field, we saw talented hands. He didn’t drop passes thrown his way, showing consistency in extending his arms and securing the ball with his hands. He has longer arms and should have had a larger catch radius than we saw. That’s something the team will want to work on in the offseason so that he’s more comfortable attacking the ball and working back to the quarterback to secure passes.

    Route Running

    16/30

    Floyd didn’t show the understanding of his route tree early in the year, which could be a major reason for his lack of playing time. When asked to run breaking routes, he too quickly rounded cuts off and didn’t explode out of breaks. Defenders had no trouble keeping up with Floyd, which shouldn’t be the case given his size and speed advantages. He has to learn to use his body to keep defenders from getting to the ball while using his speed to accelerate out of breaks.

    Speed

    18/20

    Floyd has the kind of speed that is rarely found with a 6’3”, 220-pound wide receiver. He has to use that speed better, though. We didn’t see him running away from defenders in his routes or after the catch.

    Overall

    74/100

    Floyd struggled to even get on the field in his rookie season, despite being a first-round selection. His struggles as a route-runner were evident when we did see him in action.

72. Donald Jones, New England Patriots

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    Hands

    37/50

    Going over the middle caused problems for Donald Jones in 2012. A talented and consistent receiver outside the tackle box, he became a mess when asked to catch while on the move and in traffic. Jones otherwise showed nice concentration and a good catch radius, but his erratic play when asked to cross the middle of the field was a concern.

    Route Running

    20/30

    When looking at Jones’ ability to move in space and make cuts, he graded out as an average player. His route tree hasn’t developed to the point where he’s making the breaks needed to separate from defenders consistently. He has good burst and a nice release off the line, but it’s that first break in his route that isn’t made crisp.

    Speed

    17/20

    An above-average speed player, Jones has the ability to get up field and stretch the defense. He won’t be a threat in the open field after the catch, but he does show nice acceleration off the snap.

    Overall

    74/100

    Jones has upside and potential. If he can build on a solid 2012 season, he will once again be moving up our rankings.

71. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts

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    Hands

    33/50

    T.Y. Hilton had a very good first season, so why is he ranked so low? With 12 drops on the 2012 season, he struggled to be a consistent option as a wide receiver. When Hilton made catches, they turned out to be big plays, but the drops held the offense back. Adjusting to the ball while moving laterally was an issue. While he showed good agility and balance, he couldn’t secure the ball while on the go.

    Route Running

    22/30

    Hilton’s quickness off the snap was impressive, and it allowed him to quickly eat up any cushion the defense gave him. He was able to use his speed to break inside on defenders, but he doesn’t have the size to box out defenders in coverage. Putting a body on Hilton at the line of scrimmage could take him out of the game. He has to learn to beat press coverage in 2013.

    Speed

    19/20

    Hilton has wheels. He showed that in his routes and in his ability to make plays after the catch. His yards per catch and yards after catch were both impressive, and that’s thanks to his ability to beat defenders with pure, electric speed.

    Overall

    74/100

    Hilton had a very surprising year for a rookie, but there were too many dropped passes for us to buy in on his 2012 score. He did make a big impact, but heading into his second year, those drops have to go away.

70. Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Hands

    38/50

    Dropped passes over the middle plagued Justin Blackmon’s first season. He struggled to make catches in traffic when coming across the defense. Even in space at times, he bobbled or dropped passes. This did improve as the season went on, but Blackmon’s ability to get comfortable with a quarterback and develop chemistry and timing are key.

    Route Running

    20/30

    Blackmon struggled to get open early in the year as defenses were able to shadow him and eliminate space. He’s not overly fast, which limits his ability to get away from defenders. As the season progressed, he became more precise and more aware when running breaking routes. That resulted in more targets and more receptions. Blackmon is an intermediate receiver, though, and has to learn to get open without speed by cutting with better consistency and timing.

    Speed

    16/20

    An average player in terms of speed, Blackmon doesn’t have the ability to simply outrun defenders off the line. He can be quick in space, but his actual speed is limited.

    Overall

    74/100

    The first receiver drafted in 2012, Blackmon struggled to find his place in the team’s offense early on. He flashed the ability to be a chain-moving receiver later in the season.

69. Jon Baldwin, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Hands

    43/50

    Jon Baldwin possesses all of the physical skills to be an elite wide receiver in the NFL. He’s listed at 6’4”, 230 pounds, and he has strong hands and solid pass-catching abilities. If the ball is anywhere near him, he’ll come down with it. His struggles have been a combination of not being able to get off press coverage, running precise routes and not having a quarterback who’s able to utilize him.

    Route Running

    16/30

    Baldwin has really struggled to make an impact in the passing game, and a lot of it has to do with his route running. He’s not crisp in his breaks or precise in his footwork. He has really just become a vertical, go-route threat.

    Speed

    15/20

    Baldwin has good speed for a player his size and is a physical mismatch against almost everyone that he’ll go up against. He doesn’t possess elite change-of-direction skills but does have the top-end speed to get behind a defense.

    Overall

    74/100

    Baldwin is in a make-or-break year for himself with the addition of Alex Smith as the Chiefs quarterback. Smith is accurate enough to give Baldwin a chance next season to make plays.

68. Ramses Barden, Free Agent

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    Hands

    41/50

    Ramses Barden has the frame and arm length to make tough grabs away from his body. When the ball is placed within that radius, he’s consistent. The biggest issue we saw in his play was a struggle to adjust and track the ball. Eli Manning had to put the ball spot-on for Barden to make a play on it. He doesn’t drop many passes, but his limited range hurts his ability to produce.

    Route Running

    18/30

    With above-average agility, Barden is able to separate from defenders with some success. He’s stiff at times, especially when asked to change direction, and he doesn’t show fluid movements on breaking routes. He lacks the hip flexibility you look for up the field. He’ll get bumped at the line and struggle to free himself.

    Speed

    15/20

    Barden doesn’t have the deep speed to stretch the field and run away from coverage. This leads to a high number of contested targets and little impact after the catch.

    Overall

    74/100

    A solid prospect as a subpackage wide receiver, Barden has the tools to be a good fit in a possession-style offense. He lacks the speed and upfield ability to play a larger role in a spread offense.

67. Leonard Hankerson, Washington Redskins

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    Hands

    41/50

    A good, natural athlete, Leonard Hankerson has the ability to go up and attack jump balls while playing with consistency on the ground. Missed passes and drops did pop up on film as Hankerson struggled to put the ball away over the middle. He tended to shy away from contact at times when coming across the field, something that led to dropped balls and short arms when stretching out for passes.

    Route Running

    15/30

    With solid quickness and agility, Hankerson is able to quickly get in and out of cuts. He improved his ability to make sharp direction changes in 2012, but he rounded off too many routes and had issues with communication on hot routes. There is enough athleticism here for him to become a top-tier route-runner with work.

    Speed

    18/20

    Hankerson has the quickness to make plays in space and cause missed tackles that lead to bigger plays. He’s shifty enough for a bigger frame and has the acceleration to run away from defenders after the catch. He shows the speed to make plays and stretch the defense.

    Overall

    74/100

    Hankerson made big improvements in his second year while getting a little help from a new quarterback. His upside is promising as a starting wide receiver.

66. Harry Douglas, Atlanta Falcons

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    Hands

    43/50

    As a slot receiver, Harry Douglas shows a consistent threat as a pass catcher over the middle. His ability to bring in tough grabs in traffic was impressive. His hands are always a strength, and he can make plays over the middle of the field. On negative is that his smaller frame limits his ability to adjust and pull in the ball away from his body.

    Route Running

    16/30

    Douglas isn’t a versatile enough route-runner to score higher based on 2012 film study. He does a good job when running slants, but he isn’t able to convert that to any other route. His timing on breaking routes can be inconsistent, and his lack of size means he won’t be getting upfield to threaten deep zones.

    Speed

    16/20

    Douglas doesn’t have the speed to stretch defenses vertically, but he does possess good quickness when moving with the ball. He’s slippery at times and will impress with good burst coming off receptions.

    Overall

    75/100

    Douglas is a decent No. 3 wide receiver, but he’s been the fourth option in the Falcons offense. He can pick up yards and draw some attention over the middle, but he isn’t a player defenses must game-plan for.

65. Louis Murphy, New York Giants

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    Hands

    43/50

    At 6’2”, Louis Murphy has the size to push the ball up the field and threaten the defense as a vertical receiver. He has a good ability to track the ball deep over his shoulder, showing nice vision and good extension when getting his arms out on the ball. Murphy is a rare receiver who actually does better on deep routes than when coming underneath. His timing and toughness over the middle aren’t at a high level.

    Route Running

    13/30

    Murphy was used early and often as a deep threat in the Panthers passing game, and he showed nice ability to beat press coverage and get up the sideline. He doesn’t break well on crossing routes or quick hits, making him more of a one-trick receiver than an all-around threat. If you take away Murphy’s deep routes, he won’t counter well.

    Speed

    19/20

    Murphy has elite speed when asked to stretch the field. He’s someone defenders have to worry about getting loose up the sideline and with the ball in his hands. If you let Murphy have room to run, he can be dangerous.

    Overall

    75/100

    Murphy has high potential, but his route running hasn’t yet developed along with his hands and athletic ability. Before we can buy into his upside, Murphy has to establish himself as a better route-runner.

64. Kevin Ogletree, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Hands

    41/50

    Kevin Ogletree developed into a nice third receiver in the Dallas offense. He’s able to make catches in traffic, getting in and out of his cuts and showing he can adjust on the ball as it comes to him. When asked to make plays up the field, he struggled to pull the ball in and make plays consistently.

    Route Running

    16/30

    Ogletree has the speed needed to outrun defenders up the sideline, but on intermediate and breaking routes, he can struggle to come cleanly out of breaks. He’ll round off routes and struggles to use his body to shield the ball from defenders. 

    Speed

    18/20

    Ogletree has good speed and can shake tacklers in space, leading to nice yards after the catch. He has the straight-line speed to threaten defenses and cause safeties to slide over to his side of the field.

    Overall

    75/100

    As a subpackage wide receiver in the Dallas passing game, Ogletree was serviceable. He doesn’t have the upside to project as a starting wide receiver, though.

63. Domenik Hixon, Carolina Panthers

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    Hands

    42/50

    Domenik Hixon is a solid option as a boundary wide receiver. He can extend to make catches down the field and is willing to go across the middle to catch passes. Using his length, he can out-muscle smaller cornerbacks for jump balls. He doesn’t possess breakaway speed, so a good number of his plays down the field are made with defenders draped on him. 

    Route Running

    15/30

    He doesn’t show good flexibility in his hips and legs to plant and go. We see him round off corners too many times. When defenders get physical, he’s not able to beat press coverage. Hixon has good speed to get up the field, but his stiffness and heavy feet when breaking routes are called show up too often. 

    Speed

    18/20

    Hixon shows good speed and acceleration off the line and with the ball in his hands. He still shows the sprinter’s speed to get away from tacklers and make plays up the field.

    Overall

    75/100

    Hixon never had the production in New York that his athletic ability might lead to. However, his potential means he’s a fan favorite and a player with breakout ability in Carolina.

62. Eddie Royal, San Diego Chargers

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    Hands

    41/50

    Drops were not an issue for Eddie Royal when he was open and thrown to, but his struggles in 2012 largely came from not being able to get open. Royal has solid hands underneath, but he will catch balls with his body at times. He doesn’t have a big catch radius on slants and quick cutting routes, instead needing to turn and use his body to secure the ball. You won’t see Royal put the ball on the ground, but he will fail to go after catches that he could make.

    Route Running

    16/30

    Route-running struggles kept Royal from expanding his production and becoming a more reliable pass-catching target in San Diego. He struggles to alter his route dragging across the middle to give a better throwing lane when linebackers or safeties are sitting in their zones. That’s a must for an underneath receiver, and Royal didn’t adjust well to the Chargers offensive playbook in his first year there.

    Speed

    18/20

    Royal plays with nice speed and quickness. When he has a seam of daylight, he’s fast enough to shake tacklers and pick up yards. 

    Overall

    75/100

    Royal didn’t have a huge season in San Diego, partially due to injury and partially due to struggles to separate from defenders. He’ll be needed to do more in 2013.

61. Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks

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    Hands

    37/50

    Doug Baldwin has good overall wide receivers skills, but his targets in 2012 resulted in too many dropped passes. As a slot receiver, we needed to see better consistency when catching underneath and intermediate routes, but those were problem areas. He didn’t show the ability to adapt and adjust to the ball thrown hard coming immediately out of breaks. A smaller frame means limited reach, which leads to a smaller catching radius.

    Route Running

    22/30

    A good intermediate route-runner, Baldwin has the quickness to separate from defenders underneath. He won’t get upfield with a lot of grace, but his quickness on short routes is worth noting. He presents a nice target when coming back to the ball. 

    Speed

    16/20

    Great speed isn’t part of Baldwin’s game, but he does play quicker with the ball in his hands. He’s able to slip defenders and pick up yards post-catch, but he won’t stretch the field with raw speed.

    Overall

    75/100

    Baldwin played well in the slot for the Seahawks in 2012. How his role will be expanded or reduced with Percy Harvin aboard remains to be seen.

60. Josh Morgan, Washington Redskins

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    Hands

    36/50

    Josh Morgan went from playing in just five games in the 2011 season to starting for the Redskins in 2012. We saw a talented receiver, but one that dropped too many passes and struggled to adjust to the high-velocity passing of rookie Robert Griffin III. His drops came exclusively over the middle. Some came in traffic, and others were simple drops when he failed to adjust to the ball thrown hard over the middle. Morgan has to learn to get his head and hands ready faster when catching passes from a fastballer like Griffin.

    Route Running

    22/30

    Morgan struggled to make the cuts needed to separate from cover men on underneath and breaking routes. He’s agile and flexible enough to show good body control working up the sideline, and he tracked the ball well over either shoulder. It was his poor timing and footwork on cuts that kept us from moving his score up.

    Speed

    17/20

    We saw the speed to stretch defenses from Morgan when he was able to get loose from coverage. He isn’t the sprinter that you need on the edge, but he is someone with good burst in space. He can pick up big yards after the catch when given daylight.

    Overall

    75/100

    Morgan wasn’t the marquee free-agent signing that some expected him to become, but he did show up as a solid No. 2 receiver in the Redskins offense. He’ll be expected to do more in 2013.

59. Michael Jenkins, New England Patriots

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    Hands

    44/50

    The Minnesota Vikings relied on Michael Jenkins more in 2012, and he paid them back with consistent hands on the edge. He works back to the ball well, using his big frame to get into a catching position. He did struggle to adjust and make tougher catches, but he had very few drops on passes thrown within his reach. Expanding his catching radius with better awareness is a key.

    Route Running

    15/30

    A long stride allows Jenkins to explode up the field and eat up the cushion of defensive backs, but it doesn’t make for pretty cuts on breaking routes. He doesn’t throttle down well to change direction, which allows defenders to get underneath his routes and make plays on the ball. Too many of his cuts are rounded off.

    Speed

    17/20

    Jenkins has good quickness but average speed. He’s a bigger-bodied receiver who can get physical with defenders, but he’ll struggle to take the top off a defense. Jenkins does show good acceleration to go get the ball in space.

    Overall

    76/100

    More opportunities to make plays allowed Jenkins to move up the rankings in 2012. While he’s not an elite athlete at the position, he brings value as a secondary target.

58. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

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    Hands

    42/50

    There is no doubting that when healthy, Julian Edelman can be a frustrating player for the defense to bottle up. But he’s not been able to consistently stay healthy. In 2012, we saw Edelman emerge as a better receiver. His skills set when asked to track the ball and his ability to look in passes before taking off upfield were much improved. He’ll still struggle with a limited catching radius, mostly due to shorter arms and a small frame, but he shows toughness over the middle and good consistency as a pass catcher.

    Route Running

    18/30

    A short-area superstar when it comes to route running, Edelman doesn’t have the size or speed to stretch and threaten the defense outside of the option routes he runs underneath. He’s quick in space and has the vision to sit down in soft zones and find openings. When asked to run up the field, he’s limited and will only win in blown coverage.

    Speed

    16/20

    While he isn't a burner, he has a definite role in the Patriots offense thanks to his quickness and versatility. He is a dangerous player with the ball in his hands and some room to maneuver.

    Overall

    76/100

    Edelman hasn’t quite lived up to his potential and hype yet, but the slot receiver and return man has the skill set to threaten a defense. The key is staying healthy, something he hasn’t been able to do yet.

57. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears

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    Hands

    44/50

    Dropped passes were never an issue for Alshon Jeffery in his rookie season. When the ball came into his area, he showed good hands and very nice arm extension to go get the football. There were times when he appeared timid when deciding on if he should extend to go after the ball or not. In the future, we expect a more comfortable receiver and one confident enough to go get the ball when it’s thrown his way. Jeffery’s consistency didn’t get the headlines it deserved, partially due to injury.

    Route Running

    18/30

    Jeffery came into the NFL with one route—a go route up the sideline—but showed nice progression into a pro-style passing attack. His breaking routes showed some stiffness in his hips, and he has to learn to accelerate out of his cuts, but there’s a good foundation here. He uses his body well to break press coverage and can dip his shoulder to beat cornerbacks walked up to challenge him at the line.

    Speed

    15/20

    Definitely not a speed receiver, Jeffery has to separate and beat defenders with size and strength. He does show good quickness and burst, and we might see a faster overall player when he's fully healthy. 

    Overall

    77/100

    Jeffery is a big, physical receiver with the body and hands to be a deep threat and red-zone target, but his inability to stay healthy in 2012 kept him from having much success. We’ll be watching in 2013.

56. Brandon LaFell, Carolina Panthers

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    Hands

    43/50

    Catching the ball was what Brandon LaFell did best in 2012, showing nice consistency as a receiver at all levels of the field. He didn’t have the league’s best catch radius, but when Cam Newton got the ball to him on point, that pass resulted in a completed catch and chain-moving yards.

    Route Running

    20/30

    LaFell has the size to beat defenders off the ball and can use his strength to break press coverage. When asked to make hard cuts and change direction, he doesn’t have the quickness to explode out of that cut and leave the defender behind. He’ll get upfield well and can use his length to get safeties moving off their spot, but he’s not quick enough or flexible enough to break back to the ball and execute a double-move.

    Speed

    14/20

    A long strider coming out of his stance, LaFell doesn’t have the speed to simply run away from coverage. He can pick up yards post-catch with good quickness and vision, but he’s just average as a pure speed player.

    Overall

    77/100

    A good option as the No. 2 receiver opposite a vertical threat like Steve Smith, LaFell may be best off as a No. 3 option long term. His lack of speed and just average route-running skills haven’t allowed him to become a threat to the defense.

55. Nate Burleson, Detroit Lions

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    Hands

    43/50

    Nate Burleson’s 2012 season was cut short by injury, but when he was on the field to start the year, we liked the consistency shown in his hands. He does a good job securing passes without letting the ball bounce around in his hands or get into his pads. He’s not a body-catcher, and that’s important with a strong-armed quarterback. The only reason for docking his grade was limited range and extension when going after passes thrown outside his body. He didn’t show that catching radius we needed to move him up.

    Route Running

    18/30

    Burleson is a good underneath route-runner. He plants hard and has the balance to keep his hips in line and his feet moving throughout the break. He will struggle to disguise his route coming off the line. With limited speed, that tell allows defenders to read his body and jump routes to make plays on the ball. Ideally, you want Burleson running over the middle at five to 10 yards deep. That’s his moneymaker.

    Speed

    16/20

    Limited speed keeps Burleson from stretching the defense or commanding the attention of safeties up the field. He’s quick enough to make breaks to the ball and can leave defenders hanging when he accelerates out of cuts. He won’t outrun the defense to the end zone, though.

    Overall

    77/100

    Injuries limited Burleson to just six games in 2012. In those contests, he showed the ability to be a solid No. 2 wide receiver. While he’s not a threat to make big plays, he’s consistent on the outside.

54. Davone Bess, Miami Dolphins

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    Hands

    38/50

    Dropped passes consistently showed up on Davone Bess’ film throughout the 2012 season on one particular area of the field: the middle. He didn’t adjust to the ball well when running laterally and struggled to hold on to the ball when the pass was thrown hard in traffic. He has the range to snatch the ball away from his body, but he doesn’t always extend to catch the ball with his hands. When on the move, he’ll let the ball into his body, creating drops.

    Route Running

    26/30

    Bess is a talented, smart route-runner when coming off the line of scrimmage. He shows quickness and flexibility when asked to change directions, with a good skill set to cut and accelerate. He doesn’t have the top-end speed to break to the sideline and get upfield, but he does very well on timing and underneath routes.

    Speed

    13/20

    A limited athlete when it comes to straight-line speed, Bess doesn’t threaten defenses going up the field. He shows good quickness in short areas and nice burst, but that speed is not maintained. 

    Overall

    77/100

    Bess is ideally a slot wide receiver in the Dolphins offense, but with the additions of Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson, his role could be challenged. He’s capable of production as long as he’s getting targets.

53. Deion Branch, Free Agent

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    Hands

    44/50

    When he was on the field in 2012, Deion Branch showed that he’s still a consistent threat as a pass catcher. His ability to bring in tough grabs in traffic and coming back to the ball showed that he could pick up yards and keep the defense on its heels. Being limited to just 10 games on the season kept Branch from producing, but he was an impact when available.

    Route Running

    20/30

    Branch is locked in as an intermediate threat only, and that limitation going up the field keeps his route-running score down. He didn’t show the quickness coming out of breaks to always separate from defenders, which led to limited targets thrown his way and more contested catches. 

    Speed

    14/20

    Watching Branch, we saw a player with limited, declining speed and burst. He doesn’t pull away from the defense pre- or post-catch and did not show the speed needed to work up the sideline to attack the defense.

    Overall

    78/100

    Branch wasn’t a dominant presence at receiver in 2012, but he was once again consistent and trustworthy in the Patriots passing attack. He’s more of a rotational player at this point, but one with good hands and route-running skills.

52. Santonio Holmes, New York Jets

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    Hands

    40/50

    During the 2012 season, Santonio Holmes was put into some bad situations by his quarterbacks. That led to more drops than we were used to seeing from him. Holmes didn’t show the same strength when coming back to the ball, and more passes got through his hands and bounced off his pads. It’s tough to extrapolate his four starts and say what type of season he would have had with a full 16 games, but grading what we saw on the field, Holmes’ receiving skills went down in 2012.

    Route Running

    22/30

    Timing routes are Holmes’ speciality. Give him some space to work coming off the line of scrimmage, and he can exploit the defense. When pressed at the line of scrimmage, he would struggle to find an opening and pick up separation. 

    Speed

    17/20

    Holmes, when healthy, showed that he’s still quick enough to find separation from the defense and get into his breaks. He will pick up positive yards after the catch and can frustrate tacklers with nice open-field moves. 

    Overall

    79/100

    Holmes is no longer a threat as a No. 1 receiver, but he still has value as a good secondary option or inside receiver. The key is finding a quarterback who can get him the ball.

51. Stevie Johnson, Buffalo Bills

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    Hands

    39/50

    You might be surprised to see Stevie Johnson ranked so low, but dropped passes were a problem for him in 2012. When asked to make plays over the middle and on the sideline, he struggled to pull the ball in. The ball gets through his hands and bounces off his pads too often. Johnson’s concentration lapses, which creates poor plays like drops over the middle and out on the edge. 

    Route Running

    26/30

    Johnson shows good ability to make cuts and beat defenders with his feet. He has loose, flexible hips and can shake defenders in man-to-man coverage. The speed needed to outrun defenders up the sideline isn’t there, but on intermediate and breaking routes, he’s very good.

    Speed

    14/20

    Johnson isn’t an overly fast player, something that has limited his ability at times when pressed at the line of scrimmage and challenged to run deep. He can make plays with the ball in his hands thanks to excellent vision and quickness. Straight-line speed isn’t something Johnson shows top-end talent at.

    Overall

    79/100

    Johnson is an exciting player with the ball in his hands, even without great speed to get away from defenders. A better quarterback might do wonders for his ranking in 2013.

50. Andrew Hawkins, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Hands

    44/50

    At 5’7”, Andrew Hawkins doesn’t have the reach needed to offer a big catch radius, but if the ball is thrown at his body, he will consistently bring it in. He’s able to make catches in traffic, getting in and out of his cuts and showing he can adjust on the ball as it comes to him. Without having great reach or ability to track the ball over his shoulder, he’s a limited receiver, but he makes catches when the ball is delivered to him in a tight window.

    Route Running

    16/30

    Hawkins has elite speed and quickness, but his route running still has to develop. He’s not big enough to separate from defenders using strength. In 2012, his route running wasn’t sharp enough to allow him to get away from coverage. Hawkins is the type of player the offense has to scheme touches for. He’s not big enough to separate from coverage naturally.

    Speed

    19/20

    One of the quickest, most dangerous wide receivers in the NFL with the ball in his hands, Hawkins has top-tier speed. He’s quick enough to make moves to keep tacklers from getting their hands on him, and he has the speed to accelerate past defenders in coverage. Hawkins is an upper-level athlete.

    Overall

    79/100

    A small wide receiver with explosive open-field moves, Hawkins can be a dangerous weapon for the offense when he’s given the ball in space. The offense has to be creative, but when you get him the ball, watch out.

49. Kevin Walter, Tennessee Titans

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    Hands

    43/50

    Kevin Walter showed solid hands when the ball was thrown well, but when asked to adjust and make catches away from his frame, he struggled. He’s strong enough to pull the ball in when thrown to in traffic and does a good job securing before turning upfield. Being able to better adjust and make the tough catch is an area he can improve in.

    Route Running

    19/30

    A bit of a long strider, Walter will struggle to make breaks in his routes when asked to plant and go. Despite top-end speed, Walter doesn’t accelerate well through direction changes, as he shows some stiffness in his hips.

    Speed

    17/20

    Walter might not be the 4.4 sprinter he used to be, but he still shows good speed and acceleration off the line and with the ball in his hands. He’s aged well and still shows the sprinter’s speed to get away from tacklers and make plays up the field.

    Overall

    79/100

    Walter has played the role of the No. 2 receiver in Houston with decent success, but he hasn’t developed into the legitimate threat the Texans need opposite Andre Johnson. Now with the Titans, he'll have a new opportunity.

    Tennessee Titans

48. Brandon Lloyd, Free Agent

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    Hands

    42/50

    Dropped passes were an issue for Brandon Lloyd when coming back to the ball in 2012, and his timing with quarterback Tom Brady didn’t look in sync to begin the year. He does a good job getting his arms out and squaring up to the ball but will also look away from the ball and let passes get on him too fast. 

    Route Running

    24/30

    Lloyd is a very good route-runner on short timing routes, but when he has to stretch beyond 12 yards, his lack of speed keeps him from being able to stretch the defense. Cornerbacks are able to play up on the line of scrimmage with his limited burst off the ball, but he shows good ability to slip press coverage and get into his route.

    Speed

    13/20

    Lloyd doesn’t have the speed to be a threat getting up the field or going deep on a defense. His biggest limitation is in his lack of speed to make plays after the catch. He’s a solid underneath receiver, but you cannot expect much post-catch.

    Overall

    79/100

    Lloyd didn’t have the production many expected in New England, but he’s still a solid possession receiver and someone who can threaten a defense with good timing routes underneath.

47. Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Hands

    40/50

    Dropped passes were part of the game for Mike Williams in 2012, but they were more from inconsistency than a lack of ability. He has the occasional easy drop that you'd like to see eliminated, and short routes seem to bother Williams more than the longer catches he’s asked to make. On film, you see a player who doesn’t quite expect the ball to come in as fast as it does. He has to get his hands up faster off breaks.

    Route Running

    25/30

    Williams has a great first step and is strong enough to hand out punishment to those who try to jam him up. He doesn’t show good flexibility in his hips and legs to plant and go, and he rounds off too many corners. When defenders get physical, he’s able to beat press coverage.

    Speed

    14/20

    A limited athlete, Williams doesn’t have the speed to simply run up the field and beat defenders. His burst in a very short area is solid, but he won’t win in coverage with just quickness.

    Overall

    79/100

    A good overall receiver, Williams has the skill set to be a very solid No. 2 option in the Tampa passing game. He could stand to be more consistent as a route-runner and a receiver.

46. Brandon Stokley, Denver Broncos

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    Hands

    42/50

    Brandon Stokley is consistent when catching passes thrown coming off intermediate routes. He doesn’t show great ability to track the ball over his shoulder and adjust his body to make tough catches. In short areas, he does a good job extending to bring in the ball. Stokley can bring in hard-thrown passes on quick slants and hot routes.

    Route Running

    25/30

    One of the better slot receivers in the NFL, Stokley excels on timing routes and when asked to read the defense and sit down in zones. He’s smart enough to read the play and make decisions on option routes, and he has great chemistry with the quarterback on hot routes. He doesn’t have the athletic ability to stretch the field and work up the sideline, but he's very good on those short hitches and digs.

    Speed

    13/20

    Stokley doesn’t show the speed to run away from defenses. He has good quickness and some burst, but he cannot maintain that speed to consistently get away from the defense.

    Overall

    80/100

    Peyton Manning’s safety valve at wide receiver in 2012, Stokley had a very good season, but his production is as much about the scheme as it is his athleticism and ability.

45. Santana Moss, Washington Redskins

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    Hands

    38/50

    When it came to securing the ball, Santana Moss did a good job attacking accurate passes. When the ball wasn’t right on target, he struggled to show the range and extension needed to make tougher grabs. He doesn’t have the long arms to track the ball away from his body.

    Route Running

    24/30

    A smooth route-runner on intermediate and short routes, Moss isn’t a deep threat due to limited reach and height. He will find space in his route tree by shaking defenders with a hard cut to the middle of the field. When asked to work toward the sideline, he can struggle to break off his routes.

    Speed

    19/20

    Still a speedy, versatile player, Moss has the burst to beat defenders off the ball and get into his route in a hurry. He can pick up big yards after the catch with his acceleration away from defenders.

    Overall

    81/100

    Moss is still an athletic presence as a wide receiver, but at this stage of his career, he may be better off in the slot. 

44. Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns

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    Hands

    43/50

    Josh Gordon was much better than expected in his rookie season. His ability to track the ball over either shoulder was notable on film, as he showed nice body control and vision to make tough downfield catches. He did show the rookie mistake of taking his eye off the ball when he was coming back to the quarterback. Defenders got in his head a little and caused Gordon to peek back at the defense to see if he was going to be hit. That allowed for the ball to bounce off his hands or get through his extension.

    Route Running

    22/30

    Gordon was rusty to start the 2012 season after sitting out all of the 2011 college football season. He quickly shook the rust and got involved, though, showing nice speed on vertical routes and good body control to adjust to the ball in flight. On breaking routes, he did struggle with timing and with putting on a hard cut to leave defenders. 

    Speed

    16/20

    Gordon doesn’t have blazing speed, but he’s a good enough athlete to beat defenders with his body control, agility in the open field and balance when pressed at the line of scrimmage. He won’t run by faster cornerbacks, but once he has the ball in his hands, he becomes a faster player.

    Overall

    81/100

    Gordon was impressive in his first season, showing the all-around skill set to be a true No. 1 wide receiver for a long time in the NFL. Based on his first showing, the Browns found a steal in the second round of the supplemental draft.

43. Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans

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    Hands

    40/50

    Underneath routes and plays over the middle showed that while Kenny Britt has exceptional athletic ability, his hands are still holding him back. We saw too many plays over the middle that resulted in Britt simply dropping easy passes. His struggles when adjusting to the ball if running laterally held back his production and his quarterback’s trust. Britt has the strength and range to attack the ball when thrown up the field, but he has to become more consistent when looking the ball in on quick tosses over the middle of the defense.

    Route Running

    25/30

    Britt’s routes can be sloppy at times, but he also shows the agility to stick his foot in the ground and change direction with crisp cuts. The key for him is being able to run the same route with the same timing and steps each time. Britt’s concentration lapses led to poor routes and drops.

    Speed

    16/20

    Britt is a good athlete, but he's not an elite sprinter. He’ll get upfield using his body and quickness in his first few steps, but he’s not fast enough to blow past defenders or outrun the defense to the end zone in space.

    Overall

    81/100

    Taking into account Britt’s talent—and not his off-field problems—it’s easy to see why he’s so highly thought of as a wide receiver. Now he has to develop into the player his raw skills say he can be.

42. Jacoby Jones, Baltimore Ravens

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    Hands

    42/50

    Jacoby Jones will make the incredible catch, especially on deep routes where he’s able to extend away from his frame and make fingertip catches. On shorter routes or when running laterally, he can struggle to look the ball in and secure it before looking to turn upfield and find running room. Too often, we saw Jones try to be a playmaker instead of simply catching the pass and moving the chains.

    Route Running

    23/30

    Jones has the size and speed to run a mean go route, but when asked to run intermediate or more precise routes, he can be stiff in his hips. That lack of flexibility in his hips can keep Jones from running away from defenders. He has the size to create separation with his hands and by boxing out defenders. He’s able to shake coverage with his bulk off the line of scrimmage, but the limitations in his breaking routes keeps Jones down the board.

    Speed

    17/20

    A long strider, Jones wouldn’t run a blazing 40-time, but he wins with quickness and burst in space. He plays faster than he would time on a track.

    Overall

    82/100

    Jones enjoyed his best all-around season in 2012, showing his ability as a receiver and return man. He could see his first chance at a true starting job in 2013.

41. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Hands

    41/50

    Dwayne Bowe is the most inconsistent top receiver in the NFL. He’ll shows fantastic hands on inaccurate balls across the middle of the field with defenders all over him and then drop a simple comeback on the next play. He’s a great target in the red zone, using his size and frame well to shield off defenders and bring down catches.

    Route Running

    25/30

    Bowe thrives on going across the middle. He’s not been blessed with very good quarterbacks in his Kansas City Chiefs career, but he has done well with slants, posts and square-in routes. He’ll snag the ball out of the air on passes overthrown and has the lateral agility to adjust to inaccurate passes when coming across the middle.

    Speed

    16/20

    Bowe isn’t a burner, but he possesses enough speed to be a threat for big plays on yards after the catch on short-to-intermediate throws.

    Overall

    82/100

    Bowe just signed a five-year deal with the Chiefs. If he can stay healthy, it’s not out of the question that he’ll go down as one of the two best wide receivers in Chiefs history.

40. Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Hands

    44/50

    Emmanuel Sanders isn’t big, but the 5’11”, 180-pound receiver can make an impact. During the 2012 season, he showed consistent hands and upper-level concentration when tracking the ball. Sanders rarely let the ball hit the ground when it was thrown near his body, limiting his drops to just three on the year. What kept his score from going higher was limited extension when passes were thrown just a bit outside his natural range.

    Route Running

    20/30

    Sanders has good speed to come off the line and get into his route, but he doesn’t follow that up with the agility or flexibility we expected. Sanders’ corners are too often rounded off when making breaks in his routes. He has to become more disciplined as a route-runner. 

    Speed

    18/20

    Sanders’ speed is a big part of his game, and there’s plenty to like here. He comes out of his stance hard and gets into space with nice acceleration and burst. With the ball in his hands, he’s slippery and speedy enough to pick up big yards.

    Overall

    82/100

    Sanders has considerable potential, but being hidden in the Steelers offense behind Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown has kept him from producing at a high level. He’ll have that chance in 2013.

39. Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans

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    Hands

    41/50

    Adjusting to NFL-level quarterbacks and the speed of the game can be tough for rookies, and Kendall Wright saw some of that in 2012. There were times when the ball got to him before he was ready, which led to passes going through his hands and coming off his pads. Wright has to become more aware and work on his timing to make sure he is in position to extend and get his hands on the ball. When the ball was thrown to his frame and he was ready, Wright did a great job pulling in receptions.

    Route Running

    24/30

    Route running came easy for Wright in his first season. He showed good quickness, balance and agility on breaking routes. His struggles as a route-runner came when pressed at the line of scrimmage. Wright has to learn to get free from press coverage and get into his route without being redirected at the line.

    Speed

    17/20

    Wright’s draft stock slipped in 2012 due to a poor 40 time at the NFL Scouting Combine, but watching film of him at Baylor and with the Titans, it’s clear that he is much faster than that time. He’s able to accelerate past defenders to get upfield, but he also shows nice burst coming off the line of scrimmage and when getting into space after the catch.

    Overall

    82/100

    Wright’s first season was a success as he quickly transitioned into the NFL. As the Titans’ No. 2 receiver, he has a bright future as a versatile playmaker.

38. Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Hands

    40/50

    Jeremy Maclin was an enigma in 2012. He went through stretches of brilliance, showing strong hands and a pass-catching radius that would impress even the best. There were other times when Maclin struggled to make simple catches. The change from Michael Vick to Nick Foles could have impacted this, but Maclin’s drops tended to come with Vick—the quarterback he’s more familiar with—in under center. Those dropped passes are what keep Maclin from moving up the list.

    Route Running

    25/30

    A quick, shifty player in his route tree, Maclin has the athletic ability to win in man coverage. He’s fast off the line and does an excellent job making cuts without sacrificing speed or telegraphing his movements. He could show better positioning at times to keep defenders from jumping his routes, but Maclin’s routes are nothing to complain about.

    Speed

    17/20

    A solid athlete with good enough speed, Maclin doesn’t rank among the fastest players at the position, but he has excellent open-field vision and burst following the catch. That allows him to make plays and threaten the defense any time he has the football.

    Overall

    82/100

    Maclin is a talented all-around receiver, and one poised to take off in Chip Kelly’s wide-open offense. His ranking of No. 38 will likely be much higher next time around.

37. Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers

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    Hands

    47/50

    Anquan Boldin was one of the NFL’s more consistent receivers throughout the 2012 season. He has a natural ability to adjust to the ball in the air and is one of the best at tracking the pass over either shoulder. With his body and route-running style, Boldin is often put into position to make a play on the ball in front of him, and that’s where he’s best. His big, strong hands make for a nice, consistent target. You would be hard-pressed to find Boldin dropping passes that are accurate, but he doesn’t have the range of a top-tiered scorer in this category.

    Route Running

    26/30

    A physical route-runner, Boldin is able to use every trick in the playbook to find separation in coverage. He uses his hands well to drive defenders off the line of scrimmage, and he counters with good timing to get position on crossing routes. Boldin plays like a power forward, boxing out defenders in coverage and riding it out as a big target over the middle.

    Speed

    10/20

    Speed has never been a strength for Anquan Boldin. As he ages, that speed becomes less and less available. He’s quick, though, and is able to create separation after the catch with his vision, strength and what burst remains.

    Overall

    83/100

    Boldin became a different player in the playoffs, showing that he could excel when targeted. Age and limited speed keep him from being a big playmaker, but Boldin is a top possession receiver.

36. Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers

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    Hands

    42/50

    Steve Smith will make the big, spectacular catches that make you take notice of his game, but he’ll also drop easy receptions at times. He shows great ability to track the ball down the field with the vision and burst needed to close on the ball. He doesn’t have that level of consistency or success when running crossing routes over the middle, and his production and efficiency dropped off in traffic.

    Route Running

    23/30

    A talented deep-route receiver, Smith has the quickness and burst coming off the line of scrimmage to quickly get into his route. He will struggle with physical coverage and can be pressed at the snap. His breaking routes don’t always show the consistent, sharp cuts you expect from him. Smith will show that he can beat defenders one-on-one, but he was too inconsistent to receive a higher grade for 2012.

    Speed

    18/20

    Smith shows excellent quickness and burst coming off the line of scrimmage. He doesn’t always show the top-end speed down the field, but few can keep up with him in a short area. 

    Overall

    83/100

    Smith saw a drop off in 2012 as the entire Panthers passing game struggled. Given more help from secondary receivers and with more consistency in his routes and receptions, Smith still has the talent to be a higher-ranked player.

35. Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys

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    Hands

    44/50

    Miles Austin isn’t afraid to go across the middle of the field and make a tough catch. He shows strong hands in his ability to make plays down the field. He doesn’t possess breakaway speed, so a good number of his plays down the field are made with defenders draped on him. That doesn’t seem to bother Austin, as he remained a steady option for Tony Romo last season after bouncing back from a shortened 2011 season.

    Route Running

    23/30

    Austin doesn’t possess elite change-of-direction agility, so he doesn’t create a lot of separation on his shorter routes. He’s physical at the line of scrimmage and is fast enough that he’s able to get behind a defense.

    Speed

    16/20

    Austin has decent top-end speed but doesn’t have a good burst of short-area quickness. He can get a step on a slant route and is good once the ball is in his hands.

    Overall

    83/100

    Austin doesn’t seem to have the same quickness and athleticism that he did a few years ago, but he’s still a valuable weapon with reliable hands to Romo and the Cowboys offense.

34. Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints

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    Hands

    41/50

    Lance Moore displays above-average hands and thrives in passes across the middle of the field. He is a smaller receiver who needs an angle on the pass to keep from being put in a jump-ball situation. For the first time in his career in 2012, he amassed at least 1,000 yards receiving. He shows an impressive ability to snag the ball out of the air on slant routes and isn’t afraid to catch passes in traffic. He does well on back-shoulder throws up the sideline and has impressive timing and pass-catching abilities on those throws.

    Route Running

    27/30

    Moore is an excellent route-runner who has a knack for finding space in zone coverages. With Darren Sproles, Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston and Devery Henderson as options in the passing game for New Orleans, Moore just needs to find the soft spots in the zone, and he’s very good at that.

    Speed

    15/20

    Moore isn’t a burner, but he has the short-area quickness to break on slants and get a step on a defensive back. He won’t often get behind a defense, but he shows a good understanding of how to find spots along the sideline between the linebackers and safeties for Brees to place the ball in a window.

    Overall

    83/100

    Moore is a great complimentary receiver for what they have going offensively in New Orleans and, he’s in the perfect situation to thrive.

33. Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins

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    Hands

    41/50

    Mike Wallace is known for one thing, and it’s not his hands. They aren’t bad, but it’s all about speed, speed and more speed. He’ll catch a case of the dropsies at times, but that wasn’t enough to scare the Dolphins away from giving him a lucrative contract. Wallace can extend to make catches down the field and is willing to go across the middle to catch passes.

    Route Running

    22/30

    Wallace is limited in the routes he’s able to run at an elite level. He thrives on vertical routes where he can showcase his speed. He’s not a crisp route-runner on out-routes, square-ins and other routes that require you to plant your feet and change direction laterally. He’d rather have his momentum and speed flowing vertical. Fly routes, skinny posts and sluggo routes fit him best.

    Speed

    20/20

    Wallace is a threat who you must game-plan for and not allow to get over the top of your defense. He’s got game-changing speed with the ball in his hands and can get to top speed in a hurry. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill will be challenged to try and overthrow Wallace next season.

    Overall

    83/100

    There’s no denying the speed that Wallace possesses and how that affects any defense going up against him, but it’s going to be hard for him to justify that contract the Dolphins just gave him with the skills he showed in 2012.

32. Mario Manningham, San Francisco 49ers

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    Hands

    46/50

    Mario Manningham displays an impressive ability to make catches all over the field with ease. It doesn’t matter if he’s slanting across the middle, sitting in zone or running a go route up the sideline. Manningham makes it look easy. Only four players received better "hands" grades based on their 2012 season than Manningham.

    Route Running

    23/30

    Manningham is a precise route-runner but isn’t overly explosive. He does well to get separation and is very good at coming across the field laterally and presenting himself well as a target for the quarterback. He’ll alter his route dragging across the middle to give a better throwing lane when linebackers or safeties are sitting in their zones.

    Speed

    14/20

    He doesn’t possess the downfield breakaway speed you see from today’s superstar NFL wide receivers. But Manningham has shown us that you don’t have to be the fastest player on the field to make the biggest plays down the field on the biggest stage.

    Overall

    83/100

    Manningham is a solid possession receiver who knows how to get open. He has reliable hands from anywhere on the field.

31. Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens

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    Hands

    41/50

    Torrey Smith is a playmaking wide receiver who does most of his damage down the field. He had seven games with a reception of at least 30 yards in 2012. Smith displayed the ability to go up and get a ball along the sidelines down the field in tight coverage. He shows strong hands and the ability to catch slants across the middle in traffic.

    Route Running

    25/30

    Smith is a smooth route-runner who excels on double-moves in getting to the sideline and down the field. He’ll take slants and quick posts when they’re offered, but he makes his money by getting vertical and stretching the defense. He’s at his best when he’s not impeded at the line of scrimmage; he’s explosive down the field but not necessarily quick in short bursts.

    Speed

    18/20

    Smith is a vertical threat from wherever he’s lined up on the field. He can blow past defensive backs and get over the top of a defense and dare Joe Flacco to try and overthrow him on a vertical route. He’s more fast than quick, and it takes him some time to get up to full speed.

    Overall

    84/100

    Smith is a perfect complement to Flacco with his ability to get vertical and make tough catches down the field by going up and making a play.

30. Eric Decker, Denver Broncos

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    Hands

    39/50

    Eric Decker is physical off the line of scrimmage and can make tough catches in traffic. He does have a hard time adjusting to passes that are slightly off target once he’s out in the open field. He’s solid across the middle and doesn’t seem to mind if there’s a defender draped all over him when he’s going to make a catch.

    Route Running

    30/30

    Decker can get off press coverage and manipulate defenders to gain separation close to the line of scrimmage or out in space. He’s sharp in his cuts and displays excellent footwork to set up his breaks. When you combine that with his short-area quickness and lateral agility, it’s easy to see why he’s a favorite target of Peyton Manning.

    Speed

    15/20

    Decker has the speed to get over the top of a defense and the lateral agility to create separation moving across the field. He’s a threat to gain chunks of yards after the catch and displays good awareness in the open field with the ball in his hands.

    Overall

    84/100

    Decker is the posterboy for young coaches everywhere preaching the importance of footwork, precision and body control when running routes out in space or near the line of scrimmage.

29b. Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins

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    Hands

    41/50

    When healthy during the 2012 season, Pierre Garcon showed that he can be a consistent edge threat from the wide receiver position. He did struggle to secure and put away the ball when coming back from injury late in the season, but overall we saw a talented wide out with upper-level possession skills on underneath and breaking routes. We need to see more consistency on quick passes over the middle that require adjusting to the ball as it comes into his body. That was a problem area for Garcon all season.

    Route Running

    26/30

    A talented underneath and crossing route receiver, Garcon's vision is a key to his succes. He finds zones across the middle and understands how to create separation when working up the sideline. He has the flexibility to drop his weight and cut to break to the middle of the field.

    Speed

    17/20

    Garcon plays with good speed, and while not a sprinter, he is fast enough to go up field and make plays deep on defenses. He won't outrun everyone in space, but shows enough quickness and burst to make plays after the catch.

    Overall

    84/100

    Garcon plays more like a possession receiver, but he has the athletic ability to make plays and stretch the defense. If he can stay healthy in 2013, the Redskins will find ways to get the ball in the hands of their most talented wide receiver.

29a. Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints

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    Hands

    42/50

    Marques Colston has a fantastic ability to use his body to shield off defenders. He could do a better job of going up and getting the ball at the highest point, as he’ll let the ball get in on his body when running vertically. This allows defenders an opportunity to get their hands on the ball and make a play.

    Route Running

    27/30

    Colston excels catching passes across the middle. The majority of his catches are between the numbers in the middle of the field. He sits well in zones across the middle and understands how to create separation when getting deep. He reads defenses well on option routes and keeps the chains moving.

    Speed

    15/20

    Colston is a faster player than he’s given credit with his 6'4", 225-pound frame. He’s shown the ability to get over the top of a defense, but he doesn’t have elite breakaway speed once the ball is in his hands.

    Overall

    84/100

    Colston has been a perfect fit for Drew Brees and the Saints offense since being a seventh-round draft pick out of Hofstra back in 2006.

28. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Hands

    45/50

    Antonio Brown seems to catch the ball better in traffic on slants, drags and square-ins than he does on deep passes down the field. He’s got quick, strong hands and will navigate well through traffic once he’s got the ball. He’s physical at the line of scrimmage and doesn’t need much separation to be able to make a catch. He’ll extend his arms and catch a pass across the middle and quickly turn upfield.

    Route Running

    25/30

    Brown is a smooth route-runner who quickly comes out of his breaks to create separation. He doesn’t have top-end speed but has the quickness and lateral agility to gain yards after the catch. He does well on slants and bubble screens and has great field awareness of how to use blocks and manipulate defenders once the ball is in his hands.

    Speed

    14/20

    Brown is more quick than fast. He’ll accelerate quickly through traffic across the middle but doesn’t have the game-breaking speed. Most of his big plays are a result of his routes.

    Overall

    84/100

    Brown is a great receiver for Ben Roethlisberger with his route-running skills and awareness of when the pocket is breaking down. He does a great job of coming back to the play and being an outlet.

27. Malcom Floyd, San Diego Chargers

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    Hands

    46/50

    Malcom Floyd displays good hands when put in a downfield situation with a ball up high where he can use his length and athleticism. He has a physical mismatch over most of the cornerbacks he faces, and he shows an ability to snag the ball out of the air. He’s at his best when he’s down the field making plays out in space and away from traffic.

    Route Running

    23/30

    Floyd isn’t a polished route-runner. Despite his length and athleticism, he doesn’t come out of breaks well. Philip Rivers understands his strengths and will often put some air under the ball and allow Floyd to chase it down and go up and get it. He doesn’t need to get a step on receivers when going deep down the field. Floyd does well with routes that don’t require elite change-of-direction speed.

    Speed

    15/20

    Floyd is a fluid athlete who seems to glide down the field. It never looks like he’s trying that hard, and he will often get past cornerbacks without looking like he’s at his top speed.

    Overall

    84/100

    Floyd is a smooth runner who excels on plays in which he can be moving freely about in space. He doesn’t possess the upper-body strength to play near the line of scrimmage or in traffic.

26. Jason Avant, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Hands

    46/50

    Jason Avant displays good hands and the ability to go up and get passes at their highest point when put in a jump-ball situation. He uses his size well when going across the middle to seal off defenders. He also does a nice job of sitting in zone coverages and giving the quarterback a window to get him the ball. He shows strong hands with the ability to secure catches in traffic.

    Route Running

    24/30

    Avant was one of the bigger, more physical wide receivers for the Eagles last season. He and Nick Foles developed a connection over the last five games. Of Avant’s 648 yards receiving last season, 56 percent of that total was in the last five games (365). He’s a savvy route-runner who displays an ability to find the open spots in zone coverage. He was Foles’ outlet across the middle often when he’d find an open spot in coverage and sit.

    Speed

    14/20

    Avant doesn’t possess elite downfield speed or change-of-direction agility. He’s a smooth athlete whose game is predicated on a knack for finding the open spot in coverage.

    Overall

    84/100

    Avant is a safe, reliable pass-catcher who specializes as a keep-the-chains moving possession receiver. 

25. Danny Amendola, New England Patriots

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    Hands

    47/50

    Danny Amendola possesses great hands and the ability to catch balls in traffic. He’s not afraid to go across the middle and extend his arms to make a catch. Only three other wide receivers had higher "hands" grades for their play last season. Amendola displays the ability to adjust to a ball that’s behind him and make tough catches with defenders draped all over him.

    Route Running

    24/30

    Amendola has the burst to separate from defenders within just a few yards of the line of scrimmage. He is known for his ability to make catches moving laterally across the field, and he is best running routes in space.

    Speed

    14/20

    Amendola possesses the change-of-direction agility to separate from defenders, and he's primarily a slot receiver. However, he doesn't have the downfield speed to get behind coverage.

    Overall

    85/100

    Amendola will get the Wes Welker comparisons all season long. If he’s able to stay healthy, it’d make sense that he and Tom Brady would have the same kind of success together.

24. Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins

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    Hands

    44/50

    Brian Hartline improved his concentration and execution in 2012, decreasing his drops per target and becoming a more consistent threat on the outside. His range isn’t ideal, and that’s on quarterback Ryan Tannehill to get the ball in on time, but he shows toughness when asked to make plays in traffic. Hartline isn’t a vertical threat or jump-ball player, but he has the hands to make plays in the 10- to 15-yard range.

    Route Running

    26/30

    A talented route-runner when asked to play in a possession-style offense, Hartline excelled at getting open on underneath routes and when making quick breaks on the ball. He’s fluid when changing directions and has the footwork needed to stick and go. He doesn’t stretch the field and can struggle with press coverage. As an intermediate option, Hartline runs a clean route tree.

    Speed

    15/20

    Hartline doesn’t have elite speed, but he moves with good footwork and fluid hips. He’s more athlete than track star, and that shows up in his routes and his after-the-catch ability. It’s worth noting that he had just one touchdown on the year—which does hint at a limited ability to separate.

    Overall

    85/100

    Hartline made a huge jump up our rankings following the 2012 season. It's a testament to his improvement and being a better fit in the team’s West Coast offense.

23. Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks

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    Hands

    44/50

    Golden Tate’s season came down to one exceptional play against the Green Bay Packers, but that wasn’t all he did in 2012. Tate rarely dropped passes when the ball was thrown within his reach. He showed strong hands and a good ability to extend vertically to make plays. But when asked to make tougher grabs away from his frame laterally, he would have a hard time bringing in the ball.

    Route Running

    23/30

    With top-level speed and agility, Tate has the skill set to break away from coverage and create separation. He will round off cuts when asked to make a hard break to the middle of the field and is a much better deep route-runner. On intermediate routes, he can struggle to get separation if not given room to run. Defenders can muscle him at the line and throw off his whole operation.

    Speed

    18/20

    A high school running back, Tate has exceptional speed and moves in the open field. He’s a playmaker in space and someone the defense wants to try and bottle up at all costs. He’s slippery enough to get past tacklers when he has the ball and shows that same speed when going up the sideline in routes.

    Overall

    85/100

    We all remember Tate for his catch—or non-catch—against the Green Bay Packers. That sparked his best season yet as a professional and paved the way for a big role in the team’s future.

22. Wes Welker, Denver Broncos

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    Hands

    40/50

    One of the game’s most productive receivers, Wes Welker hasn’t been the model for sure hands. Looking at his 2012 film, we saw too many attempts where he failed to adjust to the ball in-flight. Stiffer hips and short arms keep his catching radius from expanding. We all remember the “drop” in the Super Bowl, and that’s similar to what we saw throughout the 2012 season. His 14 dropped passes over the middle kept his score low despite his high number of catches.

    Route Running

    30/30

    Welker is a talented route-runner no matter the play call. He shows exceptional quickness when asked to change direction and make breaks at any point in his route. Few players can mask their intentions off the ball like Welker can. He shows incredible consistency in his first few yards of any route. In space, he shows a great understanding of what the defense is offering, and that allows him to sit down in openings and make himself an easy target for the quarterback.

    Speed

    15/20

    Welker is quick but not fast. When offered space, he’s shifty enough to get past defenders and evade tacklers. He won’t outrun guys up the sideline, but his burst and acceleration are good enough to make plays.

    Overall

    85/100

    If based on production, Welker would be a ranked much higher. Since we’re looking beyond the stats, he gets knocked down the list.

21. Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks

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    Hands

    41/50

    Inconsistency in securing passes kept Sidney Rice from a higher score as a receiver. The stat sheet will show that there were few dropped passes. But when viewing the film, you see a player with a limited catch radius. Drops did show up for Rice on film, but not at an alarming rate. For a tall player, he didn’t get his hands and arms extended to attack passes that were slightly off the mark. 

    Route Running

    27/30

    Rice is able to frustrate defenders with smooth breaks in his routes. The Seahawks have an advanced playbook, and we saw him running every route possible with high levels of success in 2012. His quickness when asked to change direction was impressive. Add in good speed and size, and Rice was tough to defend in single coverage, especially in the red zone. 

    Speed

    17/20

    Rice isn’t an elite runner, and injuries have limited his overall speed, but he’s still fast enough to get past coverage and stretch the field. With the ball in his hands, he’s able to accelerate past tacklers, but not to the point where he’s breaking for daylight consistently. He’s a yardage receiver with the burst to find openings and exploit them.

    Overall

    85/100

    Rice may see a change in his role with the Seahawks now that Percy Harvin is in town. But there’s no doubting that when healthy, Rice has the talent to make plays as a possession receiver and yards-after-catch threat.

20. Victor Cruz, New York Giants

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    Hands

    40/50

    Dropped passes on hot routes over the middle consistently kept Victor Cruz from making plays. You can blame the quarterback for poor throws on some of these, but there’s a good amount of responsibility on the wide receiver, too. He looks to turn and make plays upfield before bringing the ball into his cradle. When moving laterally across the field, Cruz will struggle to turn his hips and adjust to passes not thrown right on the mark. He’ll go from making a spectacular play to dropping a routine pitch-and-catch.

    Route Running

    28/30

    A versatile route-runner, Cruz can beat you with a quick slant over the middle or an all-out deep go route. He’s one of the few players in the league who can truly threaten a defense in multiple ways. As a cornerback, you have to plan for a hard-charging breaking route or the possibility of a head-fake that leads to a streak up the sideline.

    Speed

    17/20

    Cruz is quick, but he's not top-end fast when it comes to raw speed. That might surprise you, but when matched up one-on-one and asked to run deep, he won’t be able to separate consistently from speedy cornerbacks. He’s able to make plays in the open field and can stretch the defense, but his speed is more game speed than track speed. It’s also not incredibly consistent. He tends to turn his playmaking ability on and off at times.

    Overall

    85/100

    Cruz has the talent to be one of the most dangerous and explosive players in the NFL on a regular basis. But for him to enter higher territory in the rankings, he has to become a more consistent pass catcher.

19. DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Hands

    44/50

    DeSean Jackson’s 2012 was cut short by injury, but he was a versatile playmaker in the team’s offense when healthy. Without long arms, Jackson’s catch radius is limited. He doesn’t have the height to go up and attack high passes. But he catches well in traffic and shows the ability to adjust and track the ball over either shoulder. When the ball is well thrown, he won’t drop it.

    Route Running

    24/30

    Jackson’s route running wasn’t ideal in 2012, but it wasn’t bad either. He rounded off routes and struggled to separate on one cut. Without the size to box out defenders, Jackson has to win with route running. If he’s not crisp and precise, he won’t be open.

    Speed

    18/20

    With top-tier speed, Jackson has the ability to get away from defenders before and after the catch. He’s slippery in space and shows the raw speed to stretch the field on deep routes or pick up yards after the catch. There aren’t many defenders who can catch Jackson when he’s at top speed.

    Overall

    86/100

    Jackson is a world-class athlete and dangerous route-runner, but his 2012 showed decline as the offense around him fell apart. In Chip Kelly’s offense, he’ll be an exciting player to watch.

18. James Jones, Green Bay Packers

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    Hands

    45/50

    James Jones was listed as the No. 4 or No. 5 receiver on most early-season depth charts. Due to injury, he was able to work his way into the lineup and emerge as a leader at receiver. He has strong, big hands and is able to pull the ball in even when the pass isn’t perfect. This is an improvement from his 2011 film, which showed consistent drops in space and in traffic. Jones’ concentration was noticeably better, and that led to more targets. In the red zone, he showed toughness and a willingness to make grabs in tight windows.

    Route Running

    26/30

    Jones showed some stiffness getting in and out of breaks in space, but he does a good job setting his position and keeping defenders from gaining ground to break on the ball. In short areas, like the red zone, he’s a much better route-runner because he’s not relying on speed to separate in the open field. Instead, he can use his quickness and body to create room to operate in.

    Speed

    15/20

    Jones doesn’t have great speed, but he does a good job causing missed tackles and picking up yards post-catch. He won’t outrun defenders in coverage, but he can be slippery in the open field.

    Overall

    86/100

    Jones came out of nowhere to emerge as a leader among the Packers wide receivers in 2012. Expect a continuation of that role in 2013.

17. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers

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    Hands

    41/50

    Dropped passes showed up too often on Jordy Nelson’s 2012 film. He struggled to lock the ball away and secure passes throughout contact with defenders. Nelson rarely dropped a wide-open pass, but he didn’t show the same consistency that we noted in 2011. He has a big catch radius thanks to his 6’3” frame and will pull in high and wide passes without trouble. The key for his improvement in 2013 will be securing the ball and making sure it’s put away before running.

    Route Running

    28/30

    Nelson lives on breaking routes, where his quickness and acceleration in and out of cuts is evident. He plays with a naturally low center of gravity, which allows him to make quick cuts and changes in his route without having to slow down or stutter step to break off routes. He’s not a vertical threat, but he can stretch the field when needed.

    Speed

    17/20

    Nelson has exceptional quickness in space, but he doesn’t have top-end raw speed. He can beat defenders with footwork and burst, but he doesn’t maintain that speed downfield.

    Overall

    86/100

    Nelson saw a drop in production in 2012, especially in the red zone, but he was still a consistent presence in the Packers offense. He’ll be ranked higher next season with more targets.

16. Greg Jennings, Minnesota Vikings

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    Hands

    46/50

    Greg Jennings has strong hands and very good concentration. With a smaller stature, he doesn’t have the range to extend and pull in outside passes, something that can affect his ability to build a solid catch radius. He’s aware in traffic and does a good job pulling the ball in and catching hot passes thrown in tight windows.

    Route Running

    23/30

    The best part of Jennings’ game is his ability to separate from coverage. It’s fun to watch him moving in routes, as he’s not very big or very fast. He’s smooth coming off the line and has the hips to drop his weight and change direction on the fly. When running a deep breaking route, Jennings is able to cut with a very quick break. He does it without a lot of setup time, so defenders are left playing catch up. It takes great timing and agility to shield the ball from defenders trying to break on his route, and he does that as well as anyone in the game.

    Speed

    17/20

    Healthy or not, Jennings isn’t a burner on the field. He is very quick and fluid, but you won’t see him sprinting up the sidelines and outrunning defenders. He’s able to pick up yards post-catch thanks to very good vision and agility.

    Overall

    86/100

    When healthy, Jennings was a top-tier wide receiver in 2012. The problem was keeping him on the field. The Minnesota Vikings will attempt to do that very thing in 2013.

15. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers

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    Hands

    40/50

    Randall Cobb may not be thought of as a top-tier all-around receiver, but he has become one. Cobb was the Packers’ most targeted receiver, but he also led the team in dropped passes. He doesn’t have the long arms needed to extend and make catches away from his body. His drops came largely when asked to go over the middle, as his timing with Aaron Rodgers and his concentration to make catches in traffic were not always consistent.

    Route Running

    27/30

    An explosive player with a natural low center of gravity, Cobb is able to quickly get in and out of breaks. He’s fast enough to leave defenders behind once he makes his break. When asked to come off the line against press coverage, he can struggle at times, but his rare quickness and agility help him to keep defenders from getting their hands on his frame.

    Speed

    19/20

    Cobb has elite speed in the open field, showing off quickness and the ability to accelerate past defenders both in his route tree and when making plays after the catch. With the ball in his hands, Cobb is already one of the game’s most exciting players.

    Overall

    86/100

    Cobb went from explosive athlete to all-around playmaker in 2012. His development as a receiver has allowed the team to move on from Greg Jennings.

14. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts

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    Hands

    43/50

    In uncharacteristic fashion, Reggie Wayne had some dropped passes in 2012, with most drops coming on contested passes on short and intermediate routes. Wayne has great concentration and will pull in tough grabs that are contested or thrown away from his body. When asked to adjust to the ball on a sideline route or back-shoulder throw, he’s one of the game’s best.

    Route Running

    30/30

    You could make a case for Wayne as the league’s best route-runner, even at 34 years old. He shows smooth footwork and the short-area quickness needed to get in and out of breaks in a hurry. His timing on breaking routes is impeccable. Wayne isn’t a big receiver, but he’s able to get his body in the right position to keep defenders from challenging him for the ball.

    Speed

    14/20

    Speed is no longer a strength for Wayne, but he’s still very quick in short areas and shows good enough burst to separate from defenders to make catches. He doesn’t add a lot of yards after the catch, but he’s a solid chain-moving receiver.

    Overall

    87/100

    No longer an elite athlete, Wayne is still one of the best technicians in the league. A quality No. 1 wide receiver, he’s on his way to the Hall of Fame.

13. Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants

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    Hands

    46/50

    Hakeem Nicks made major improvements in 2012, showing better strength and concentration when attacking the ball. When we scouted him in 2011, Nicks dropped eight passes. Fast-forward to 2012, and he put just two passes on the ground. He showed improved ability to improvise on the run and adjust his body to look the ball in and get his arms extended.

    Route Running

    25/30

    An underrated route-runner, Nicks was much better than we had projected in the preseason. He’s not fast enough to run away from defenders up the sideline, but he sets up breaks in his routes with subtle body movements and head fakes. Nicks can struggle to separate with speed if he’s matched up with a physical cornerback who can jam him at the line.

    Speed

    16/20

    A big, strong athlete, Nicks doesn’t move with elite speed. He’s still able to get separation from defenders to make catches and pick up yards, but it's more due to strength and his ability to use his body to box out cornerbacks.

    Overall

    87/100

    Nicks is a better technician than athlete, but there’s no doubting that he has become of the best all-around wide receivers in the league.

12. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys

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    Hands

    42/50

    Dropped passes were a problem for Dez Bryant at times in the 2012 season. He started the year cold, showing poor concentration and struggling to lock the ball away before turning upfield. That went away, though, as Bryant showed renewed focus and worked to perfect his technique. Except for one game against Pittsburgh’s physical coverage late in the year, Bryant showed zero drops after Week 8. The key is building on that success. He’ll make the impossible catch look easy, but then he'll drop an easy pitch-and-catch on a comeback route. He has to concentrate and worry more about completing the catch and less about yardage.

    Route Running

    28/30

    There were times in 2012 when Bryant was clearly on a different wave length than quarterback Tony Romo—but that doesn’t mean Bryant was to blame. His route running developed throughout the season. Bryant is an athlete with good flexibility, balance and body control. That allows him to win in one-on-one battles against man and zone coverage. He’s quick in and out of breaks and doesn’t waste steps when getting into his route stem. Watch Bryant in 2011, then in Week 1 and finish up with his Week 17 game. You'll see a player transformed.

    Speed

    17/20

    Bryant is thought of as a fast, athletic wide receiver. That’s somewhat true, but when you see him on film, he’s not exceptionally fast. Bryant is quick, and he can make sudden movements in space to evade tacklers. But when it comes down to outrunning a defender, he’s only above average.

    Overall

    87/100

    If based purely on potential and ability, Bryant would be in the top five. He started to flash that skill set in 2012 as an all-around threat, but dropped passes and penalties still show up too often.

11. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos

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    Hands

    42/50

    Demaryius Thomas has made impressive strides in his two NFL seasons, but we’re still seeing too many drops when going over the middle. He struggles to adjust to passes while moving laterally, and while this is something he can improve with time, we haven’t seen it yet. This is most frustrating because outside of those passes over the middle, he’s a very consistent and impressive receiver. Thomas has great reach and can extend vertically to high-point passes. He’ll out-leap defenders and has the strength in his hands to pull down errant throws. Outside of those drops in traffic, Thomas is great.

    Route Running

    28/30

    One of the most impressive facts about Thomas has been his development as a route-runner. In 2012, we saw him executing a much more in-depth route tree with Peyton Manning running the offense. His agility and explosiveness make Thomas tough to stick with no matter the route. He’s athletic enough to disguise his route until the last minute, and he's fast enough to cut and run away from coverage.

    Speed

    18/20

    Speed is a big part of Thomas’ game, and rightly so. At 6’3”, 230 pound, he’s already a big, thick target on the edge. With his speed, he becomes a nightmare for cornerbacks to keep up with. Not just fast, he’s quick enough to get in and out of breaks without showing stiff hips or heavy feet.

    Overall

    88/100

    Thomas came into the NFL raw, and he finally showed the production to match his incredible potential. The future is bright for Thomas.

10. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Hands

    46/50

    A big, strong wide receiver, Vincent Jackson has the size to toss defenders off his frame and go up to attack the ball. There wasn’t one area on the field where he struggled to reel in passes, but drops did show up on film when he tried to move before tucking the ball away. It’s worth noting that his hand strength and arm extension were both very impressive. Jackson’s few drops on the year didn’t overshadow his ability to contest passes in traffic.

    Route Running

    25/30

    Not an elite route-runner due to a lack of speed and flexibility, Jackson wins in coverage with his size and length. He does an excellent job breaking his routes off and boxing out the defender. He’ll get inside position on a post route and ride it out through the catch.

    Speed

    17/20

    You won’t see Jackson outrunning cornerbacks or making ankle-breaking moves in space, but for 240 pounds, he moves very well. He has the straight-line speed to get deep on defenders and shows good ability to sink his weight and change direction.

    Overall

    88/100

    Jackson had his best season yet in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense, proving that he wasn’t just a product of Philip Rivers’ talent.

9. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

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    Hands

    44/50

    Julio Jones did a great job catching passes thrown within his catch radius. There were times when he dropped the ball on intermediate-to-deep routes, and that was a concern for us in dropping his grade slightly. Jones has big, strong hands and long arms, though, and he’s able to extend and make tough catches look routine. The fact that his catch radius is so big puts more pressure on Jones to make every catch. His concentration was much improved in 2012, and he showed better patience to look the ball in.

    Route Running

    25/30

    One area where Jones still needs some work is in his route running. He has the athletic ability to be great, but his cuts are still too rounded when he’s asked to make quick changes of direction. He’s exceptional on deep routes, and he's one of the top players in the league at using his body to separate from coverage.

    Speed

    19/20

    Jones is a blur of speed going up the sideline. When you consider that he’s 6’3”, 220 pounds, it’s even more crazy to watch him outrunning elite cornerbacks.

    Overall

    88/100

    Jones has the raw talent to become the top wide receiver in the NFL. As he develops, watch for him to continue moving up the board.

8. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals

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    Hands

    45/50

    Forget production. When you look at Larry Fitzgerald’s game, you have to remember that he played with a very bad group of quarterbacks behind a very bad offensive line. When the pass is thrown in a catchable area, he does a great job pulling in the ball. The issues came when the ball was slightly overthrown and off the mark. His only drops on the season came on underneath routes where the ball was a step off.

    Route Running

    28/30

    Quick feet and long, strong strides allow Fitzgerald to accelerate away from coverage. Against zone coverage, he has the awareness and size to sit down in space and make himself a big target. The only thing keeping him from a perfect score is a little hesitation coming out of outside breaks. We didn’t see the same ability to cut and go.

    Speed

    16/20

    Not an elite speed player, Fitzgerald is able to separate from defenders with a long stride and good quickness. He’s able to make smooth, sudden movements without hesitation. That allows him to get open and make plays up the field.

    Overall

    89/100

    No player at the position does more with less talent around him, but that lack of quarterback talent has kept Fitzgerald from producing at a high level. Here’s hoping Carson Palmer can get him back in the top three.

7. Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers

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    Hands

    44/50

    The 2012 season saw Michael Crabtree explode onto the scene in the 49ers passing game. His ability to make plays over the middle was made possible by strong hands and good concentration. On the run, he’s one of the better receivers in the game at adjusting his body to make tough catches. It’s not easy to turn your upper body to make difficult grabs while running laterally, but Crabtree did it. There were rare instances where he didn’t extend his arms fully to attack passes, but those were not a consistent problem.

    Route Running

    29/30

    Crabtree is a crisp, explosive route-runner who dominates the intermediate to short route. He’s quick enough off the ball to generate separation in his first few yards. When asked to break and change direction, he’s fluid and can accelerate out of his cut.

    Speed

    16/20

    While Crabtree is quick, he’s not exceptionally fast. Even coming out of Texas Tech, he didn’t display elite-level speed. He’s able to separate from defenders with sharp cuts and acceleration.

    Overall

    89/100

    Crabtree had his best professional season as he came alive in Jim Harbaugh’s offense, especially once Colin Kaepernick took over. By season’s end, he was one of the most consistent players in the game.

6. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears

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    Hands

    45/50

    Brandon Marshall is a strong receiver with the size to box out defenders. That said, when asked to go over the middle, we noted dropped passes as he tried to run before securing the pass or when shying away from defenders. When asked to stretch the field, he shows good concentration and awareness, but it was a different story underneath. He has consistent hands, and drops were a small part of the production he displayed in 2012, but it was a noticeable concern on film. When asked to attack deep passes, he’s very good. Few wide receivers play as well as he does on the sideline.

    Route Running

    29/30

    Marshall has good quickness, excellent strength and nice footwork to make intricate cuts in a pretty diverse route tree. He does a great job breaking off routes and not tipping his hand to defenders. Marshall is quick enough to stick his foot in the ground and separate from coverage on breaking routes, but he’s big enough to shield the ball from corners when asked to break on the ball. You won’t see a cornerback jumping his route, as he’s big enough to keep them from getting underneath his frame to make a play on the pass.

    Speed

    15/20

    Marshall isn’t a fast receiver, which makes his ability to separate and make plays all the more impressive. You won’t see him running away from coverage or picking up big yards on a sprint after the catch.

    Overall

    89/100

    Marshall exploded in the Bears offense in 2012, earning his paycheck and then some. He’ll be an even better fit in the West Coast offense the team plans to run in 2013.

5. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons

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    Hands

    48/50

    One of the game’s most consistent pass catchers, Roddy White is nearly flawless when catchable passes are thrown his way. He shows the strength to make contested catches on the ground or when asked to go up and attack the pass. Despite not being a very big receiver, he does a great job making plays in traffic and keeping the ball off the ground.

    Route Running

    27/30

    A classic possession and underneath receiver, White won’t be stretching the defense with go routes and up-field moves. What he does do, though, is attack on intermediate routes. With impeccable timing, he’s able to separate from defenders using agility and quickness coming out of his breaks. You won’t see White physically dominate defenders in coverage, but his footwork is silky smooth.

    Speed

    16/20

    Not a track star on the field, White won’t separate from defenders with pure speed. He also won’t make big plays after the catch consistently off his speed. He’s quick enough to generate separation, but compared to teammate Julio Jones, he’s on the slower side.

    Overall

    91/100

    White is one of the most talented and productive wide receivers in the NFL. The fact that he can produce so well in spite of the attention he receives from defenders is quite telling.

4. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans

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    Hands

    45/50

    Andre Johnson is a consistent pass catcher, and that’s a testament to his concentration and hand strength. When looking for drops, they were only an issue on deeper routes. We did dock his score for the few drops he showed between 10 to 19 yards on film. The majority of the misses were due to the pass being a step far or from Johnson struggling to come out of contact and accelerate under the pass. When the ball hits his hands, you can feel confident about the catch.

    Route Running

    30/30

    Being a great route-runner is about understanding timing, space and angles. Johnson does all three. He’s not a raw athlete outrunning defenders, but he has exceptional skills to plant and go on routes. Showing off his veteran experience, he uses his hands well with a subtle push off from defenders—one that’s rarely flagged—and the intricate head fakes and hip moves to throw defenders off his trail.

    Speed

    17/20

    As he ages and recovers from injuries, Johnson doesn’t show the same level of speed he flashed a decade ago, but he makes up for the decline in sprinter’s speed with great quickness and agility. At this point in his career, he’s more quick than fast. But he will still flash burst and acceleration off the line and when making plays post-catch. While you won’t see him outrunning defensive backs consistently, when Johnson has the ball in his hands, he’s able to pick up yards with deceptive speed and moves.

    Overall

    92/100

    When healthy, Johnson is one of the game’s elite players. His route-running ability and concentration are among the best you’ll find in football today.

3. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Hands

    45/50

    A.J. Green has quickly become one of the NFL’s best wide receivers, showing the quickness and explosive ability to separate from defenders and threaten the defense. When grading his hands, Green shows up with several dropped passes, mostly due to passes being thrown just a step behind. He has the strength and concentration to make tough grabs on the sideline and over the middle. Green and his quarterback seem to be out of sync at times, but taken in the right context, his 10 dropped passes on 158 targets is an acceptable number for a top-tier wide receiver facing nearly constant bracket coverage.

    Route Running

    30/30

    The smoothest route-runner in the NFL, Green does a phenomenal job getting into his route and not slowing down throughout breaks. He’s not the fastest receiver in the game, but he covers that up by timing his breaks and playing with great footwork when asked to make cuts. Few players are able to effectively move their upper and lower body independent of one another to throw off defensive backs, but Green does it at an elite level.

    Speed

    17/20

    Green won’t win many races down the sideline, but he has excellent functional speed. He’s able to accelerate in and out of cuts at a high level, which is the most important type of speed for a wide receiver. You won’t see him making jaw-dropping cuts in the open field to evade tacklers, but Green has enough speed to get open and make plays after the catch.

    Overall

    92/100

    A.J. Green has rare ability to attack the ball in flight and to separate from defenders with crisp routes and all-around athleticism. He’s a star.

2. Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks

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    Hands

    49/50

    Over the course of the 2012 season, Percy Harvin dropped just one pass. You could argue that he was the most consistent pass catcher in the NFL during the season, showing great concentration and a willingness to sacrifice his body when going over the middle. Harvin made the easy and difficult catches consistently, showing strong hands and the athleticism to adjust to the ball in flight and pull down catches.

    Route Running

    24/30

    Harvin doesn’t have the size to line up on the outside and beat physical cornerbacks, but no other wide receiver in the NFL can be used in the number of ways that he can. As a route-runner, Harvin has exceptional quickness and hip flexibility to cut and explode, leaving cornerbacks behind as he carves up the field. He’s able to play from the slot, on the outside or even out of the backfield. He is a matchup nightmare no matter where he’s lined up.

    Speed

    19/20

    Harvin led the league in forced missed tackles, a testament to his speed and open-field moves. It was obvious watching him early in the 2012 season that Harvin was one step faster than most people trying to cover him. With his top-tier burst and good open-field vision, Harvin can be one of the game’s most dangerous players in space.

    Overall

    92/100

    When you ask fans who the second-best wide receiver in the NFL is, few outside of Seattle or Minnesota will mention Percy Harvin, but his 2012 season was dominant. It’s easy to forget that he was an MVP candidate before losing the remainder of the season to injury. When on the field, few were better.

1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions

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    Hands

    48/50

    Calvin Johnson’s 2012 season is in the record books as one for the ages. When evaluating this hands, two things stood out to us: Johnson led the league in passes thrown his way and finished second in dropped passes. That seems worse than the film showed, as Johnson had solid hands to go up and contest passes and did a good job securing the ball before turning. Some want to bring up that Johnson had only five touchdowns on the year, but that is a schematic and play-calling issue, not a talent problem.

    Route Running

    28/30

    Critics will say that Johnson runs one route—a go route up the field—but he does do a bit more. He sets up routes with perfect form coming off the line of scrimmage. In his first five yards, it’s impossible to read his route and diagnose the play. Johnson doesn’t run a huge playbook of routes, but he’s an artist when asked to disguise his play.

    Speed

    20/20

    Johnson is a rare physical specimen. That shows up in his ability to outrun cornerbacks despite being 6’5” and 230 pounds. He’s incredibly fluid in the open field and has the burst to beat defenders off the line of scrimmage.

    Overall

    96/100

    The fact that Johnson was able to set the single-season yardage record goes to show just how dominant his 2012 season was. Johnson was one of the NFL’s most dominant players.

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