While there aren't the elite kind of prospects from years past, there are a few wide receivers who could find themselves in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft.
With the growing importance of the passing game, it's becoming imperative to have at least one elite receiver—and sometimes even that's not enough. The Atlanta Falcons were extremely shrewd in the way they traded up to get Julio Jones. It sent their offense to a new level and helped Matt Ryan ascend in his career.
Although it's doubtful there's going to be a receiver worthy of trading up for, these three prospects could very well be high-impact receivers in the first round.
Keenan Allen, Cal—Miami Dolphins, No. 11
Ryan Tannehill had a very solid rookie season. Were it not for Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson, Tannehill's 3,294 yards and 12 touchdowns would look much better. Those numbers look even better when you consider Brian Hartline and Davone Bess were his top two targets.
Bess and Hartline are solid enough, but they're not the kind of players who can change a game with their play on the field. They only combined for two touchdowns. Suffice it to say, neither Bess nor Hartline offer much of a deep threat down the field.
Keenan Allen isn't the most athletic receiver in the draft, but he's the best the Miami Dolphins could target at No. 11. Allen is a very good route-runner and solid pass-catcher. He also has enough speed to be able to beat opposing corners over the top and bring the kind of dimension to the Dolphins offense that Bess and Hartline can't.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee—Minnesota Vikings, No. 23
With the recent news regarding Percy Harvin, it seems almost a lock the Minnesota Vikings would look to a wide receiver in the first round of the draft. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported Harvin might be planning to hold out. Florio wrote:
Last year, when Harvin asked for a trade, he wasn’t unhappy with his financial situation. But he then viewed 2012 as a contract year. Which means that, even with one year left on his rookie deal, Harvin wants a new contract.
And he could be preparing to take a stand in order to get it. Per a league source, Harvin currently is expected to stay away from offseason workouts and training camp absent a new deal.
Christian Ponder hasn't exactly set the world ablaze with his performance on the field. He's been OK, but in order for the Minnesota Vikings to be able to make a postseason run, Ponder will have to improve. Part of his struggles was down to the fact he didn't have much to throw to.
The Vikings' receiving corps was already a bit thin and now with Harvin's possible holdout, the need for a wideout just increases.
Cordarrelle Patterson is a good athlete and has very good size for a wide receiver. He's got the skill to be able to stretch short passes into game-changing gains. Patterson is still a little raw at this stage, but he'll be a nice upgrade for the Vikings. While he wouldn't fill the void that Harvin might leave, Patterson could be immediately be productive as Ponder's top target.
DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson—Houston Texans, No. 27
The Houston Texans didn't have a terrible offense through the air. With Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson, Houston is guaranteed to move the ball. The problem is getting opposing defenses to take some attention off of Johnson.
Schaub would definitely benefit from having a better second option at receiver than Kevin Walter. The Texans' second leading receiver was tight end Owen Daniels. He had almost 200 yards more than Walter.
Houston has other concerns, so drafting a wide receiver in the first round might not be its top draft strategy.
If the Texans do want a receiver, DeAndre Hopkins might be the best available. Like Allen, he lacks the kind of elite speed with which he could burn opposing secondaries. What Hopkins does have, though, is an innate ability to create some space in the defense and contort his body so that he puts himself in the best position to catch the football.
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