NFL Draft 2013: Wide Receiver Rankings, Draft Predictions and Analysis
There is a lot of disagreement about the top players in the 2013 NFL draft. After releasing my initial rankings position by position last week, I decided I wanted to go more in-depth with my analysis and give a breakdown of each player I ranked.
I like position rankings better than big boards, because it is often too difficult, and essentially meaningless, to rank different positions against each other.
And while mock drafts can be fun, I think they are usually pretty meaningless too, especially before free agency is complete. But to give everyone a better look at each position in the NFL draft, I want to go more in-depth into each individual prospect.
I'll be releasing a new position rankings and analysis article like this periodically leading up to the draft. The rankings could change a little based off pro days, but for the most part, the big risers and fallers are mostly finished.
Also, keep in mind that this is not necessarily the order I think they'll be drafted. Different teams have different needs, and these receivers all bring different skill sets to the table.
Sleeper: Ryan Swope
Swope has increased his draft stock as much as anyone through the combine. He came in at 6'0", 205 lbs., which is bigger than most people expected.
Then he went and ran a 4.34 40-yard dash, which is way faster than anyone expected. I was always a huge fan of Swope at Texas A&M, but I didn't expect anything like this.
He's a tough receiver who will go over the middle to make catches, but has good field sense and elusiveness which allows him to extend plays. On tape, it just doesn't look like he's as fast as he was timed, but maybe he was just saving it for the pros.
Before the combine I thought of Swope as a fringe third-round prospect, but people are talking about him going in the second now, and I really wouldn't be surprised. I think Detroit, Miami, Minnesota, Baltimore and New England would all be good fits for him.
10 (tie). Da'Rick Rogers, Aaron Dobson
These are two guys coming from smaller schools who still have big-time talent.
Rogers was a great receiver for Tennessee before getting kicked off the team and transferring to Tennessee Tech. He is a strong kid who will fight, and usually win, for every pass. He put up some good numbers at the combine and has a lot of upside.
But he has some red flags with character after getting kicked off Tennessee's team, so NFL GMs will have to do their homework and see if he's worth the risk.
Dobson doesn't have the character concerns of Rogers, but he comes from Marshall, where he didn't face the best opposing talent. He's 6'3" with long arms and has some highlight-reel catches that are worth looking for on YouTube.
He doesn't have great speed though, and teams will be concerned about his lack of big-time statistics in college. He'll be a bit of a question mark because he just didn't have a good offense around him in college, so it'll be interesting to see where he goes in the draft.
9. Stedman Bailey
Bailey has gotten overlooked a bit so far, but he is a talented, dependable receiver who will be a great No. 2 or slot guy in the NFL.
He was overshadowed a bit by Tavon Austin and Geno Smith at West Virginia, but he set a number of school records and was great throughout his career.
He's an extremely good route-runner who uses a lot of deception and jukes to get himself open. He has really sure hands and will go anywhere on the field to make a play.
But he doesn't have great size or speed, which will keep him from going in the first two rounds. But he is going to be a heck of a third-round pick for whoever is smart enough to scoop him up.
8. DeAndre Hopkins
Hopkins is an interesting prospect to me. He looks very athletic on the field, but didn't post great numbers at the combine. He definitely took advantage of Clemson's fast-paced, highly-skilled offense, and his numbers reflect it.
He is a good route-runner and has that deceptive explosiveness that often leaves him wide open down the middle of the field.
He can do a little bit of everything: go up for a jump ball, make a tough catch over the middle or beat his man deep. He can also line up in either the slot or out wide.
I'm not sure exactly where he'll fit in the NFL, but in the right scheme, he could do wonders. I'd like to see if Chip Kelly takes a shot with him in the third round.
7. Justin Hunter
If we're just looking at him running routes in shorts and a T-shirt, Hunter looks the most like a No. 1 NFL receiver. He's 6'4", with long arms and track speed.
He ran a 4.44 40-yard dash at the combine, and had both the highest vertical jump and longest broad jump. But the problem is that his athleticism doesn't always translate onto the field.
He has a great catch radius, but is sometimes a little hesitant and doesn't extend out to make plays. He'll struggle against press coverage in the NFL and may not be physical enough to make catches over the middle.
But his upside is high, and if teams can coach him well enough, they may have a steal in the second round.
6. Terrance Williams
Williams has fallen a bit since the end of the college football season, but his value still holds strong in my book. He had a great season for Baylor this year, even after RGIII and Kendall Wright left for the pros.
He has great feet, and is a quick-twitch athlete who can shake a defender one-on-one when put on an island. But his route running is not that great, and it'll be imperative that he gets in the right system in the NFL.
He can win balls in the air, and is great at streaking downfield and getting under deep balls to make big plays. His hands are good, but he lets the ball get into his chest too often.
He has had some issues with inconsistency at times and needs to make sure his effort is 100 percent in the NFL. Teams should look at him as a quality No. 2 complementary wide receiver, like Torrey Smith or Antonio Brown.
5. Robert Woods
Woods came into the season as one of the highest-regarded prospects in all of college football, but slipped some as the Trojans suffered through a disappointing season.
But teams who overlook Woods will be sorry. He is a great all-around pass-catcher that can do so many things for an offense. He doesn't have great size, and he won't be the fastest player on the field, but he can still make plays every time he gets the ball.
Woods is a really good route-runner who is precise with his short and intermediate routes but can also turn on the jets and extend the field when needed.
His hands are great, and he just has an uncanny ability to find a way to make plays. I don't think he'll get out of the second round.
4. Quinton Patton
Patton doesn't have the upside of other guys on this list, but he's an extremely well-rounded wideout who will be a great addition to any offense.
His size and athleticism are not outstanding, but he makes up for it with solid route running and steady hands. He's probably the best route-runner of the group, and he has a great set of hands that can pluck a ball out of the air with ease.
He was extremely productive in two seasons with Louisiana Tech and was targeted heavily every single game. He should be able to fit in anywhere in any scheme, and may not end up being a No. 1, but I can't see him being a bust either.
Patton could go anywhere in the second round, and I'd be surprised if he lasted into the third.
3. Tavon Austin
Austin is arguably the most electric player in the draft. He's undersized but has exceptional quickness, elusiveness and breakaway speed.
His explosiveness and size gives him the versatility to line up anywhere; he's played out of the backfield, in the slot or split out wide.
For West Virginia last season, Austin caught 114 passes for 1,289 yards, and also picked up 643 yards on the ground. His 8.9 yards per carry is absurd and speaks to his incredible quickness.
He is definitely a first-round talent, and I could see him going anywhere in the 20s. Houston would seem to be a really good fit for this playmaker.
2. Cordarrelle Patterson
Patterson has the most upside in this receiver class, which is the main reason he gets a high ranking. Anyone who runs a 4.42 40-yard dash at 6'2", 216 lbs., with a 37-inch vertical is going to get some double takes.
He is pretty raw, however, and really does not have much of a body of work for teams to look at. He had some great games for Tennessee this season, but also disappeared a few times.
But his natural ability to outrun defenders and go up and get the ball will have teams salivating. He can be a threat anywhere on the field at any time, which makes him worthy of a top pick.
He'll almost definitely be the first receiver taken, and I would be surprised if he makes it past Miami at No. 12. I'm not just not positive that he'll turn out to be the elite wideout he's capable of being.
1. Keenan Allen
There is no clear-cut No. 1 receiver in this draft. Allen is no Julio Jones or A.J. Green, but he is the closest thing to a "sure thing" that there is in the draft.
He has good size at 6'2", weighing in at a little over 200 lbs, but he does not have that breakaway speed that Jones possesses. He does use his frame well, however, and can out-muscle cornerbacks when he needs to.
Allen also has great hands, and is a very good route-runner. He has a knack for finding holes in the secondary, especially over the middle of the field.
He's a relatively polished receiver who put up some pretty big numbers for a solid, but not great, Cal offense. The biggest thing holding him back is that lack of elite speed and quickness, which will probably keep him out of the top half of the draft.