NFL Draft 2013: Ranking Top Receivers with Round 1 Potential
Cordarrelle Patterson has emerged as the top wide receiver in the 2013 NFL draft, but he's not the only player at his position likely to be taken in Round 1.
Evaluating college receivers can be tricky, since the college game differs so much from the NFL. Quarterback talent is stretched thin in the college ranks, and as a result, college coaches have long come up with creative ways to move the chains.
This means production isn't a reliable benchmark when projecting how a college receiver will translate to the NFL.
For instance, Patterson only played one year of Division I ball at Tennessee, and he caught just 46 passes for 778 yards and five touchdowns. When you compare his stats to what Terrance Williams accomplished, he doesn't come close to matching up.
So how do the potential first-round receivers stack up?
1. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Think A.J. Green without the polish.
Patterson is the most naturally gifted athlete at the receiver position in this year's draft class. He explodes off the line, transitions in and out of his breaks with ease and has blazing speed to get over the top of defenses in a hurry.
Additionally, Patterson has the ability to make defenders miss in the open field, thanks to excellent instincts and lateral mobility.
He won't be a complete receiver right out of the gates, but he'll become a deep threat teams won't be able to ignore from Day 1, making him a dangerous addition to a receiver-needy team.
Projected Draft Pick: No. 12 overall to the Miami Dolphins
2. Terrance Williams, Baylor
Williams was highly productive in his final two years at Baylor, catching 156 passes (97 in 2012) for 2,789 yards (1,832 in 2012) and 23 touchdowns (12 in 2012).
At 6'3" and 210 pounds, he's slightly bigger than Patterson, who is a bit lankier.
Williams brings more experience and is a bit more polished, but his raw athleticism doesn't quite add up to what Patterson brings to the table.
Williams has the tools to become an excellent pro, but he must develop better habits and a sense of urgency when route running. He must also work diligently to improve his hands, which let him down at times.
Projected Draft Pick: No. 22 overall to the St. Louis Rams
3. Keenan Allen, California
During the 2012 season, Allen was considered by most experts to be the top receiver of this year's draft class. An injury to his PCL in early November kept him out of the rest of the season, though, and during that time his stock has slipped.
Allen is a more polished route runner than Patterson or Williams and he possesses excellent hands.
The drawback when considering Allen is that he doesn't possess the same game-breaking speed as the previous two receivers, and he projects as more of a possession receiver at the next level.
That being said, his ability to make plays after the catch reminds me of Michael Crabtree, who has begun to emerge as a No. 1 receiver for the San Francisco 49ers.
Projected Draft Pick: No. 23 overall to the Minnesota Vikings
4. Tavon Austin, West Virginia
The previous three receivers are all roughly the same size, at 6'3" and between 205-to-210 pounds. Not so with Austin, who measures in at 5'9" and 175 pounds.
Austin is a Darren Sproles-type player who will create matchup nightmares for opposing defenses in the NFL, but he won't ever be a legitimate No. 1 receiver.
He possesses blazing speed, video game-like agility, lateral mobility and elusiveness, and his ability to make defenders miss in the open field is jaw dropping.
Austin is also a tremendous weapon on special teams and his lack of size won't hinder him from becoming a dangerous player in the NFL.
Projected Draft Pick: No. 29 overall to the New England Patriots
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