Breaking Down WR Value in the 2013 NFL Draft
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Wide receiver is one of the deepest positions in the first few rounds of the 2013 NFL draft.
Currently, there are only two wide receivers among the top 32 prospects on Matt Miller's big board— Cordarrelle Patterson and Tavon Austin. Patterson has drawn comparisons to Julio Jones athletically, while Austin has been likened to Percy Harvin. To land Patterson, a team will likely have to spend a pick in the top half of Round 1 and bank on the receiver reaching his full potential.
But looking beyond the top guys at the position, Day 2 of the draft looks as if it will be absolutely loaded with talent. And the difference between the top-tier guys and the second- and third-round prospects is minimal.
While this class of wide receivers may only see a couple players crack the first round, Miller has a whopping 15 receivers ranked among the top 89 players in this year's draft class.
Keenan Allen, the former California star and No. 36 player on Miller's big board, figures to be selected at the end of Round or at the top of Round 2. He was unable to participate in this month's NFL Scouting Combine, although he's certainly a player worthy of an early draft pick.
Allen is one of eight wide receivers who carry a second-round grade, according to Miller.
Perhaps the most overlooked receiver in the draft is Louisiana Tech's Quinton Patton. After beginning his collegiate career at Coffeyville Community College in southeastern Kansas, Patton wanted to transfer to Texas Tech, but instead committed to Louisiana Tech after being turned down by the Red Raiders.
Playing at a small school hid Patton from nationwide exposure, but NFL scouts surely have their eye on him headed into April's draft. Patton is a candidate to sneak into the bottom portion of the first round, but if he makes it out of the first 32 picks, he won't be around long on Day 2.
Southern Cal wide receiver Robert Woods is another borderline first-round pick. Woods was a highly productive receiver in three years with the Trojans, catching passes from quarterback Matt Barkley.
In his least productive season as a true freshman, Woods caught 65 passes for 792 yards and six touchdowns. As a sophomore in 2011, Woods exploded onto the national scene. His 111 receptions were the fifth-most in the country, as were his 15 receiving touchdowns.
Woods, the No. 46 overall prospect on Miller's big board, took a step back as a senior, but he'll still be an early draft pick in April.
The first 32 picks will be made on Thursday, April 25, but there will be pro-ready wide receivers galore coming off the board on Friday. Receiver-needy teams picking at the end of Round 1 could be looking to move down into the early second round to grab a player who fits their offense.
Along with Patton and Woods, Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins will likely come off the board at some point in Round 2. Hopkins is considered to be one of the most polished receivers in this year's crop, and at 6'1", 214 pounds, he has the size to play on the inside or the outside of the formation.
Day 2 of the NFL draft will feature receivers of all shapes and sizes, all skill sets and abilities.
At the combine, Hunter clocked a 4.44 40-yard dash, broad jumped a receiver-best 11'4" and had a vertical jump of 39.5". Hunter tore his ACL in Week 3 of 2011, but prior to his injury, he had set a UT record for receiving yards in the first two games of a season with 314.
Markus Wheaton, who played collegiately at Oregon State, is a versatile player who frustrated opposing defenses not only catching passes but running the ball as well. Wheaton averaged over seven yards per carry with the Beavers, racking up 631 yards and five touchdowns on 83 carries.
As a senior in 2012, Wheaton exploded onto the scene and ranked 14th nationally with 91 receptions. Perhaps the best aspect of Wheaton's game is his ability to create yards after the catch, which figures to translate well to present-day offenses, which tend to get the ball in the hands of their playmakers as quickly as possible.
Other second-day prospects include Texas speedster Marquise Goodwin, Baylor's Terrance Williams, West Virginia's Stedman Bailey and Oklahoma's Kenny Stills.
Teams in Round 1 will surely be tempted by the game-breaking potential of Patterson and Austin. But instead of spending a high first-round selection on a wideout, teams would be wise to wait until Day 2 to address the position.
More so than any other position, the top of this year's draft class is flooded with linemen on both sides of the ball. A team with needs on the line and at wide receiver will likely look to spend an early pick on a "big ugly" before using a second- or third-round pick on a wide receiver.
Patterson and Austin could very well be special at the NFL level. They certainly appear worthy of a first-round selection.
But when looking at the overall depth of this year's wide receiver crop, it's clear that Day 2 is where teams will find the most bang for their buck.
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