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B/R CFB 250: Top 24 Wide Receivers in College Football

Michael FelderNational CFB Lead WriterDecember 11, 2013

B/R CFB 250: Top 24 Wide Receivers in College Football

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    USA Today

    Editor's note: This is the second installment in Bleacher Report's CFB 250 for the 2013 season. This signature series runs through December, with National College Football Lead Writer Michael Felder ranking the best players at every position. You can read more about the series in this introductory article. See the CFB 250 page for more rankings.

    The college football landscape is littered with great talent at wide receiver. Players from all over the nation get it done in a big way at the position, making it difficult to pare down the list to a top 24.

    In making that determination for the B/R CFB 250, we took a look at hands, route running, speed and run-after-the-catch ability for each candidate. Scoring was obviously subjective, but those are the critical characteristics of the best college wide receivers. And if there were any ties, the edge went to the player we would rather have.

    Keep in mind, these wide receivers are being rated on their performance in college, not NFL potential. But to see where they may go in the NFL draft (whether they are eligible in 2014 or later), check out Bleacher Report draft expert Matt Miller's projections at the end of each slide.  

24. Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State

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    Hands

    24/25

    Kelvin Benjamin has some of the strongest hands in the college game, period. He can rip the ball away from defenders, and catching the ball high and away from his body is no problem for him.

    Route Running

    14/20

    The sophomore’s most dangerous route is void of precision, almost by design. He runs toward the pylon and just catches the jump ball. Sometimes he leaves himself room on the sideline, other times he works too far outside and comes down out of bounds. He has to stem more inside to get outside at times.

    Speed

    21/25

    At 6’5”, Benjamin is deceptively fast because he is so long. He gains a lot of ground on his strides, and that translates into gobbling up cushion and being on top of defensive backs before they have time to flip hips and run.

    Run After Catch

    20/30

    Because Benjamin is so big, there’s a lot of him to tackle, but that doesn’t make it any easier to bring him down. Rather, defenders fare best when they avoid his core, grab a leg and bring him down without having to outmuscle him.

    Overall

    79/100

    Benjamin doesn’t have to be as good at route running or after the catch as other receivers because he is automatically open. A quarterback putting the ball in his area is almost guaranteed a completion as long as that ball is up in the air. He is one of the few guys on this list who is legitimately impossible to cover.

    NFL Draft Projection

    1st Rd.—Crazy size and speed profile. Has potential to be very good in due time.

23. Nelson Agholor, USC

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    Hands

    18/25

    Nelson Agholor, like his cohort Marqise Lee, had some drops during the 2013 season that stopped him from climbing higher on the list. However, as the season progressed, he improved his concentration and showed the ability to corral most catchable footballs.

    Route Running

    14/20

    The sophomore wide receiver has a lot of work to do on his route running. He’s great at getting open, but his routes are not precise. He rounds off breaks and does not come back hard to the football at times.

    Speed

    22/25

    Speed is Agholor’s biggest asset. This is what helps him get open play after play. He can explode past defenders, stop on a dime and then pick up his top speed quickly to get open down the field.

    Run After Catch

    26/30

    Like Lee, Agholor is at his best after the catch. He can start and stop quickly, he has great vision, and every time he touches the ball he has a chance at making a defender or two miss.

    Overall

    80/100

    The kid is a major factor at the receiver position. He has great wheels, and once the football is in his hands, he is a nightmare to tackle. He needs to improve his route-running consistency to elevate his game.

    NFL Draft Projection

    1st Rd.—A future top 10 prospect with his natural ability.

22. Kenny Bell, Nebraska

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    Hands

    20/25

    Kenny Bell is another one of the receivers who makes tough catches but then at times shows lapses in concentration on relatively easy balls. When he’s focused on securing the ball before getting upfield, he can snag any pass in his catch radius.

    Route Running

    17/20

    Bell’s not a precise route-runner, but he’s capable of getting open downfield because he does have the ability to change gears quickly. His best route-running trait is lulling the defender to sleep with his long gait and then turning it on quickly to get behind him. He can also make a defensive back open his hips before sitting down for a comeback.

    Speed

    19/25

    This Nebraska receiver is at his best working his burst. He uses his quickness to get in and out of breaks and is exceptional when the ball is in the air and seems out of reach. He can kick it into gear and get to the ball, pulling away from defenders.

    Run After Catch

    24/30

    Bell is not the Huskers’ primary over-the-top threat, but he is the go-to guy when the Huskers need a first down. He’s shown a knack for working the sticks but is not the slippery player others happen to be. Still, he has the ability to pick up extra yards for the first down.

    Overall

    80/100

    Bell is a really good receiver who has taken more steps toward being a quality target in 2013. The junior works the underneath routes very well and understands how to use his body and burst.

    NFL Draft Projection

    5th Rd.—Doesn't have speed, explosive ability of a top WR.

21. Shaq Evans, UCLA

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    Hands

    22/25

    The senior has shown an ability to make difficult catches, even in traffic. However, Shaq Evans has also dropped some relatively easy passes, pointing to a need for more continuous concentration.

    Route Running

    17/20

    Evans understands how to get open, but there are some qualities that he still lacks in his route running. Most notably, he struggles to get separation at times on the slant. Defenders don’t buy his upfield or outside movies, forcing him to make the catch with a defender draped on him in the interior.

    Speed

    19/25

    Evans’ burst and quickness are his biggest assets. He can explode off the line to beat defenders early, or in the open field he can buy separation with an extra effort move. When he gets behind defenders, they won’t catch him.

    Run After Catch

    22/30

    Evans is quick and can cut on a dime. That’s a plus for a guy who catches a lot of short passes. He is not a lights-out speed guy, but he is fast enough to evade defenders. With his quickness and vision, he can create big plays.

    Overall

    80/100

    Evans is a quality receiver. He’s grown into his role and is a threat all over the field. He’s at his best when the Bruins need a first down and has shown a knack for getting that extra couple of yards to extend a drive.

    NFL Draft Projection

    6th Rd.—Needs a great 40 time to move up.

20. Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss

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    Hands

    23/25

    Laquon Treadwell has great hands, especially for being merely a baby at the position. He has massive paws that secure the football. He catches it away from his body and makes it nearly impossible for defenders to separate him from the catch.

    Route Running

    17/20

    This Ole Miss Rebel still has a lot to learn about running routes. He relies heavily on his muscular 6'3'', 215-pound frame to get himself open instead of letting the route do that for him. However, the true freshman does show a tremendous knack for sitting down against zone coverage and making himself a big target.

    Speed

    19/25

    The freshman is no burner on the field, yet he shows enough speed to be a problem for safeties and some nickel defenders when he works across the formation.

    Run After Catch

    23/30

    There are very few receivers who fall into the power category after the catch. Treadwell is the rare exception. He’s a monster who bullies defenders, moving them out of his way, daring them to tackle him and reaching for extra yardage as corners clutch his ankles.

    Overall

    82/100

    Treadwell has become the favorite target of Bo Wallace and is the go-to receiver when the Rebels need a crucial first down or touchdown. He’s a beast with the football in his hands. Although he is not going to fly past defenders, he will outmuscle them to the football.

    NFL Draft Projection

    1st Rd.—Total package. Just needs time to mature.

19. Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh

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    Hands

    21/25

    Tyler Boyd can snag any pass in his catch radius. He showed that from his debut and for the rest of the season. If the ball is in the air, he is going to attack it. He is still developing his concentration and ability to make tough catches in traffic, but he will always compete for the football.

    Route Running

    17/20

    Boyd is learning, and it helps that he plays with Devin Street. Instead of relying solely on speed, he is figuring out how to make the subtle moves that give him advantages against defenders.

    Speed

    21/25

    Boyd is capable of getting behind defenders out of the gate. He explodes off the line and eats up cushion quickly. The freshman also explodes in and out of breaks, something that helps him get open.

    Run After Catch

    23/30

    The freshman is slippery. He can give a leg and take it away to avoid defenders, and he doesn’t mind muscling up when he’s boxed in to pick up the extra yards. With the football in his hands, Boyd turns into a return specialist, and that helps him after the catch.

    Overall

    82/100

    Boyd’s a surprise to some on the list, but not to those who have watched the Pitt freshman play. He’s a sure-handed receiver who can cause serious problems for defenders once the ball is in his hands.

    NFL Draft Projection

    1st Rd.—Ideal size, speed and ability.

18. Kenny Shaw, Florida State

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    Hands

    23/25

    Kenny Shaw is the “Steady Eddie” of the Florida State Seminoles wide receiving corp. He catches everything thrown to him and has shown an outstanding ability to control the football while going to the ground.

    Route Running

    19/20

    Florida State’s elder statesman at the receiver position gets open because he knows the tricks of the trade. He pushes defenders to open up before forcing them to reverse field as he breaks away from the turn. Shaw understands what he’s doing on the field, starting with alignment and proceeding through his stem and push into the move.

    Speed

    20/25

    Shaw is a tremendous route-runner, even though he lacks top-end speed. His biggest asset in the speed game is his quickness and ability to burst into and out of breaks.

    Run After Catch

    22/30

    After making the catch, Shaw is a high-quality possession receiver. He knows how to get to the sticks and can make a first move to extend the play. However, he is not the home run hitter at the position that some of the other wide receivers on this list are. 

    Overall

    84/100

    Shaw is reliable. That’s why he is such a big part of Florida State’s offense. He is always where he’s supposed to be, always finds a way to get open and knows how to pick up first downs.

    NFL Draft Projection

    6th Rd.—Nice production, but small and not special as a receiver.

17. DeVante Parker, Louisville

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    Hands

    23/25

    DeVante Parker has high-level hands and ball security. He climbs the ladder well and consistently brings the ball down away from his body in traffic. His aggressiveness to the ball and great hands are why he is a sure thing in the red zone and when the Louisville Cardinals are looking for a first down.

    Route Running

    17/20

    Parker is not a precision route-runner, but he understands how to use his body to get open in big situations. In the red zone, he’s a master of the fade, pushing to the outside, while leaving himself space to work on the sideline. In the green area, he knows how to work defenders to create room at the sticks.

    Speed

    20/25

    Parker has good speed, but a great burst is his big asset. He seems to have an extra gear out of breaks and when he needs to find space.

    Run After Catch

    24/30

    When the defense obliges by giving him space to operate, Parker can get to the end zone. However, his biggest value is catching balls in traffic, despite having defenders draped on him.

    Overall

    84/100

    There’s a lot to love about Parker. He’s a physical receiver who wants to get the ball thrown his way in high-pressure and high-traffic situations. He attacks the football and, as he’s shown time and again, comes down with touchdowns and first downs.

    Matt Miller's NFL Draft Projection

    3rd Rd.—Big and unstoppable in the red zone, but won't blow you away with speed.

16. Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest

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    Hands

    23/25

    Michael Campanaro is a great pass-catcher. Although he doesn’t often make the exceptional catch, his worth is in making the same, confident snare play after play in an offense that routinely targeted him in space.

    Route Running

    19/20

    He is one of the best in the college game. He understands how to use his body to get open and works defenders to create space. He pushes guys hard upfield to get back downhill. He also understands stemming inside to expand into space. And he brings an understanding of sitting in a zone to be a target for his quarterback.

    Speed

    21/25

    How fast is the Wake Forest Deacons receiver? Fast enough. He is not the guy to blow by defenses or take the top off a unit, but he’s fast enough to explode into space and hurt a defense when it gives him room.

    Run After Catch

    21/30

    Campanaro is fast enough to be dangerous. His run-after-the-catch game is solid. He forces defenders to make a sure tackle. If the tackle is not good, he will slip the defensive back or linebacker and pick up that extra yardage that just demoralizes a defense.

    Overall

    84/100

    It’s a shame that Campanaro got hurt, going down in the Syracuse game on Dec. 2 with a broken collarbone. He is a truly exceptional college wide receiver. He has great body control and understanding of routes and defender positioning, and simply put, he catches everything.

    NFL Draft Projection

    6th Rd.—High-motor, short-yardage guy who lacks size.

15. Jeremy Gallon, Michigan

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    Hands

    21/25

    Jeremy Gallon does a good job of catching the football all over the field. At times he secures it with his body, but the senior receiver has very few drops, which is a positive. Gallon understands how to secure the football before he tries to evade tacklers. 

    Route Running

    17/20

    Despite being an experienced receiver, Gallon is not a great route-runner. Gallon is at his best finding seams in the defense and beating zones, not stacking defensive backs and stemming them to create space.

    Speed

    22/25

    Gallon is not a burner, but he has great burst, which helps him outrun defenders who take poor angles and would-be tacklers who dive at where he was. Gallon doesn’t have superior top-end speed, but the burst combined with his quickness is enough to make him a dangerous receiver.

    Run After Catch

    25/30

    That burst and his solid vision make Gallon a true threat after the catch. Plus, for a smaller receiver, he has great balance and a tremendous ability to break tackles. Thanks to that, the guy is a first-down machine.

    Overall

    85/100

    Gallon is a possession receiver with the ability to be so much more. He’s a weapon on the edge because he is so adept at finding space in open zones, and he flourishes with a scrambling quarterback. The senior is dangerous on the extended play.

    NFL Draft Projection

    4th Rd.—A nightmare with the ball, but smaller than you'd like and not a fit for every team.

14. T.J. Jones, Notre Dame

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

     

    Hands

    23/25

    T.J. Jones has really improved this season in securing the football. He’s cut down on costly drops and proved that he can make tough catches, even with defenders draped over him. He battles for the football and has become a big part of the Irish offense.

    Route Running

    18/20

    The Notre Dame wideout has shown a better understanding of how to get loose against a defense through route running. He gets into and out of his breaks quickly, comes back downhill to help his quarterback and makes sharp breaks to get open before a defender can recover.

    Speed

    21/25

    Jones has good speed. He has the ability to eat up cushion and get on top of defenders. Jones also has shown a knack for pulling away from the defense with a burst that buys him some separation to make a play.

    Run After Catch

    23/30

    Here is where Jones separates himself consistently from the other Irish receivers. He’s dynamic after the catch. He can take a quick screen or a smoke route and get quality yards. When he catches the ball downfield, he’s a cut or two away from getting into the end zone.

    Overall

    85/100

    Jones emerged this season as the Irish’s go-to playmaker in the pass game. He catches nearly every ball thrown his way and is a factor in both the short and long game. Jones’ skills make him a weapon all over the field.

    NFL Draft Projection

    4th Rd.—An ideal possession receiver for the NFL, but not a star.

13. Marqise Lee, USC

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    Hands

    17/25

    Lee’s struggles have been well-documented in 2013. Coming into the year as the nation’s top-ranked receiver, Lee dropped balls early and late. He has missed on a few game-changers, and that is something a top-level wide receiver cannot do.

    Route Running

    17/20

    Lee tends to fade on routes, limiting space for the quarterback to throw him open. The junior rounds off breaks in moments when pushing hard in a straight line would leave him more open.

    Speed

    24/25

    Like Sammy Watkins, what Lee lacks in route running, he more than makes up for with speed and quickness. Defenders are so terrified of Lee getting loose over the top that they overcompensate in their breaks, leaving him open on intermediate and underneath routes.

    Run After Catch

    27/30

    Lee is amazing once the football is in his hands. He is quick enough to make defensive backs miss, fast enough to blow by linebackers and has the vision to see poor angles and work them to his advantage.

    Overall

    85/100

    Lee did not have the 2013 season that he wanted or many expected of him. But he’s still a problem for defenses because of his speed and dynamism after the catch. He’s not higher on the list because he was not consistent enough in his route discipline or concentration making a catch.

    NFL Draft Projection

    1st Rd.—Drops and injury hurt, but still a game-changing wide receiver.

12. Devin Street, Pittsburgh

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    Hands

    24/25

    Devin Street has tremendous hand strength and the concentration to go with it. He can secure balls that are out in front, behind him and up in the air, all while keeping the ball away from his body and controlling possession.

    Route Running

    19/20

    For Street, the devil is in the details, which speaks to his meticulous route running. From the moment he comes off the line, he is working to set up the defensive back for failure. His inside stems force defensive backs to commit to the interior before expanding wide to give his quarterback space to put the football.

    Speed

    18/25

    The Pitt senior is not a burner, but he has a good burst out of his breaks that allows him to separate from defenders and create spacing on his routes. He does not blow past defenders at the line, but his quick acceleration gets him as open as he needs to be.

    Run After Catch

    24/30

    After catching the ball, Street is a guy who tends to pick up what he can immediately. The senior is not as elusive as others in the category, but he understands how to get to the sticks or the pylon in an effort to help his team.

    Overall

    85/100

    One of the hidden gems on the college landscape, Street is a big-time player who shows up every weekend. He gets open consistently. When the ball is in the air thrown his way, there's a good chance he's going to come down with it. 

    NFL Draft Projection

    3rd Rd.—Big, strong receiver with good production, but not super fast or agile.

11. Paul Richardson, Colorado

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    Hands

    23/25

    Paul Richardson has the Buffs’ most reliable set of hands. He’s shown an ability to make the spectacular grab and concentrates to make sure the easy tosses are secured as well.

    Route Running

    17/20

    The Colorado receiver runs good concepts. He understands how to go inside to get outside and how to push vertical to get back downhill. For him, the issue is being precise in his routes. He’s a lot better at simply getting open than at sticking every cut.

    Speed

    22/25

    As the Buffs’ only true threat on offense, Richardson is often open because of his speed. He can fly on the field and has that deceptive, long speed that allows him to gobble up cushions on cornerbacks.

    Run After Catch

    23/30

    Richardson is not the most slippery fish on the dock. He has great straight-line speed, but he’s not a great stop-and-start player. The long speed means he can get away from defenders he has beaten over the top, but he is not a human joystick.

    Overall

    85/100

    Richardson is one of the best and most reliable receivers in the college game. If a coach needs someone to take the top off a defense, Richardson is capable of doing that with his long frame. He produces consistently, even as the lone option on his roster.

    NFL Draft Projection

    2nd Rd.—Exceptional speed, but a little lean and a little inconsistent.

10. Sammy Watkins, Clemson

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    Hands

    17/25

    Watkins has good hands when the ball is on his body. However, when he is forced to adjust high, behind or low, he struggles to corral the football. Often, in his push to make something happen after the catch, Watkins adjusts too late to the pass.

    Route Running

    16/20

    Watkins can get open against most coverages, although press man gives him issues when the defender knows how to push him to the sidelines or into the interior wash. While he can get open, Watkins has a habit of rounding off his breaks and drifting on routes. Against quality coverage, those become problems.

    Speed

    24/25

    Speed is how Watkins makes things work. He is a wide receiver who, as long as he has a clean release off the line, can outrun defenders or force defenders to get turned around by his quick cuts. Watkins’ acceleration is top-notch, and his ability to start, stop and then start again is nearly unmatched in the college game.

    Run After Catch

    29/30

    After the catch, Watkins operates at an elite level thanks to his combination of speed, quickness and vision. The same vision that made him a phenom in the return game is what helps him slip tackles, break defenders’ ankles and scoot into daylight.

    Overall

    86/100

    Watkins is, perhaps, the most dangerous weapon in college football. Short passes and handoffs have the same chance of going the distance. He is a scary task for defenses to tackle. His slippery elusiveness makes him a threat on every play.

    NFL Draft Projection

    1st Rd.—The best wide receiver prospect in college. A franchise-changing player.

9. Allen Robinson, Penn State

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    Hands

    24/25

    Allen Robinson has amazing hands. At 6'3" and 210 pounds, he’s a big, physical receiver who attacks the ball and can make tough catches in traffic. When the ball is in the air, it is his. That tenacity is reflected in his quarterback and coach’s willingness to give him the ball in tough situations.

    Route Running

    18/20

    Penn State’s leading receiver understands how to get open based on the route he is running. He lines up to get himself open, and then goes through his route, understanding how the defense will react, forcing its hand before getting back to the football.

    Speed

    22/25

    Robinson is not a burner, but the junior is fast enough to create problems for a defense. He has deceptive speed that puts him on top of defenders quicker than anticipated and does not allow them to get prime position as he makes his breaks down the field.

    Run After Catch

    22/30

    The Nittany Lions receiver is big and physical after the catch, but he's not particularly elusive. His biggest plus is the ability to pick up extra yards behind his pads and that he always falls forward.

    Overall

    86/100

    Robinson is a monster of a wide receiver. He has sure hands and is one of those big-bodied types who is open even when he’s covered. While he is not as dynamic as other players on this list after the catch, he makes up for it with his route running and ability to bring down tough grabs in traffic.

    NFL Draft Projection

    1st Rd.—The best wide receiver no one talks about. He has the size, skills to be a Day 1 starter.

8. Rashad Greene, Florida State

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    Hands

    22/25

    Rashad Greene is becoming a premier player at the position. Part of that development is his continued improvement in concentration and hands. The junior is becoming more of a “hands-all-the-time” player as he grows into his role as Florida State’s feature receiver.

    Route Running

    18/20

    Greene is a good route-runner; he simply needs to improve his consistency and attention to detail. The junior shows great flashes of pushing to a defender's inside shoulder to then work outside.

    Speed

    23/25

    Greene has good speed and quickness. He’s a player who can eat up cushion, get past defenders, stop on a dime and then get back up to speed quickly.

    Run After Catch

    25/30

    Greene’s agility makes him a big-time weapon for the Seminoles. He’s slippery with the football in his hands, and the receiver knows how to get to the first-down marker.

    Overall

    88/100

    He is one of the most deceptive receivers in college football. Defenders forget about his speed and elusiveness. Then he catches the ball and makes them pay. Because there is so much talent around him, teams often forget that he is a killer in the open field.

    NFL Draft Projection

    3rd Rd.—Small, but good with the ball in his hands.

7. Deontay Greenberry, Houston

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    Hands

    21/25

    Drops have been a bit of a problem for Deontay Greenberry in his second year at Houston. For the former 5-star receiver (per Scout.com), it is less about ability and more about concentration. He possesses the strong hands to catch away from his body and has proved it by Randy "Mossing" several defensive backs. He just has to focus on securing the ball before turning upfield and getting into traffic.

    Route Running

    17/20

    Greenberry understands how to set it down against zone coverage to become a big target for his quarterback. However, against man, the sophomore has to work to learn more about generating space. Less reliance on speed and more reliance on inside-out stems, climbing to the top side to open hips and pushing to weaknesses will help expand his game.

    Speed

    23/25

    Greenberry has great speed, and that is his primary tool for getting open. His speed is what opens up the game. That is the reason his team knows it can put the ball in the air and let him run underneath it.

    Run After Catch

    27/30

    Speed is the medium by which Greenberry does his work after making the grab. He gets open through speed, and once the ball is in his hands, he has the scoot and the shake to find his way to the end zone.

    Overall

    88/100

    Greenberry is a big, physical target who, should he improve his concentration and route running, will be at the top of the list in the coming years. As it stands right now, he’s a quality target who scares defenses plenty when he steps on the field.

    NFL Draft Projection

    3rd Rd.—Great production with a lot of upside.

6. Brandin Cooks, Oregon State

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    Hands

    23/25

    Brandin Cooks is one of the receivers to benefit from great ball placement by his quarterback, but that does not mean he lacks in the hands department. The Beavers wide receiver is a catching machine, and although he sometimes pins the ball against his body, he does boast some of the better hands in college football.

    Route Running

    18/20

    While playing for Mike Riley, Cooks has developed into a beautiful route-runner. Cooks leans well and pushes defenders to flip hips and turn and run before they should. He is also capable of climbing to the top side of defenders, allowing them to push to recover and then working back to the quarterback to create space.

    Speed

    23/25

    Cooks is a guy who can get loose on defenders in a hurry. The senior possesses good explosion off the line, has the ability to reach his top speed quickly and then, after throttling down to make a catch, resume top speed in a hurry.

    Run After Catch

    24/30

    An accomplished punt returner, Cooks brings that same vision and quick thinking to the receiver position. He starts and stops on a dime, is able to get back up to top speed quickly and shows an ability to pick his way through traffic.

    Overall

    88/100

    Cooks is a smaller-framed wide receiver who still uses great body control and exceptional route running to get open. He’s sure-handed and continuously finds a way to pick up yards after the catch.

    NFL Draft Projection

    1st Rd.—A playmaker with the ball in his hands and dangerously explosive.

5. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt

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    Hands

    24/25

    Jordan Matthews is another receiver who has earned his reputation for having some of the best hands in the game. He catches everything thrown his way: in traffic, on the sideline and balls at his ankles. Matthews has great hand strength and the concentration to make it all work.

    Route Running

    19/20

    The Vanderbilt receiver is the nation’s premier route-runner. Matthews understands how to influence defenders with his steps and body, and that helps him get open down the field. 

    Speed

    19/25

    While Matthews is an elite route-runner, he does not possess elite speed. Rather, the Vanderbilt receiver is just fast enough to find his way into the end zone. Matthews has good burst, which helps him get past defenders, despite his top-end speed not being elite.

    Run After Catch

    27/30

    Matthews is a slippery receiver. While he is not the speediest on the field, he has great vision. That vision allows him to outmaneuver defenders, set up blocks downfield and find a route to the end zone.

    Overall

    89/100

    Matthews is a big receiver who finds a way to get open against double coverage, press man and in zones designed to stop him. He is Vanderbilt’s best weapon. Everyone knows it, and even with suspect quarterback play, he finds a way to impact the game.

    NFL Draft Projection

    1st Rd.—Not the fastest guy, but size and route running are excellent.

4. Jarvis Landry, LSU

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    Hands

    24/25

    Jarvis Landry has some of the most reliable hands in the game. He catches the ball away from his body and, more impressively, hangs onto the ball when he gets hit or falls to the ground. Landry is a guy who attacks the ball and makes sure that if he gets his hands on it, it is his ball.

    Route Running

    18/20

    Landry is a strong route-runner. He is a kid who is physical enough to lean on defenders to create space, which only serves to help his ability to get open. Landry stems defenders inside and upfield well, and then uses his body to create more space to make catches.

    Speed

    19/25

    Landry is not one of the fastest players at the position. Rather, he relies on his physical style and superb route running to get open. He is not a take-the-top-off-the-defense type of receiver. Instead, he fills in the voids behind Odell Beckham, getting open by pushing defenders, then breaking off routes.

    Run After Catch

    28/30

    Despite lacking top-level speed, Landry is phenomenal with the football in his hands. He is as tough to tackle as bigger receivers and has the ability to make bigger defenders miss, thanks to his agility in space.

    Overall

    89/100

    Landry is a receiver coach’s dream. He is a guy who bided his time being a monster on special teams, and that toughness and physicality carried over to his receiving game. He can take a hit, will deliver a blow and values the football enough to attack it in the air, regardless of circumstance. He also has a nose for the end zone and will fight to get there.

    NFL Draft Projection

    1st Rd.—Does it all and can play the slot or outside with great speed.

3. Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin

23 of 25

     

    Hands

    22/25

    Jared Abbrederis is the Wisconsin Badgers’ top receiving threat, but he has had some drops in 2013. Still a reliable receiver, Abbrederis is capable of making tough catches in traffic, and he is very adept at securing the ball once it hits his hands.

    Route Running

    18/20

    The Badgers senior excels in route running. He runs his routes deliberately, forces the issue with defenders and controls their movements with his steps. Abbrederis stems defenders inside to get outside, forces hips to open and can push a defender far enough upfield to create space underneath.

    Speed

    22/25

    Abbrederis has very good speed for a receiver, and unfortunately for the Badgers' opponents, they continue to refuse to respect his wheels. Abbrederis gets on top of defenders quickly and gets up to speed rapidly. Before a defender can adjust, Abbrederis is by them.

    Run After Catch

    27/30

    Here is where the punt-return skills that made Abbrederis a fixture for Wisconsin come into play. He has great vision and understands how to work poor pursuit angles to his advantage after making a grab. The senior also sets his blocks up well down the field, something many receivers do not have a knack for doing.

    Overall

    89/100

    Perhaps a surprise to many, Abbrederis is one of the best receivers in the nation. He uses his great route running and ability to get loose after the catch to manufacture yards in the Badgers’ play-action-heavy offense.

    NFL Draft Projection

    4th Rd.—Strong hands and good concentration, but just not very explosive.

2. Mike Evans, Texas A&M

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    Hands

    24/25

    Mike Evans is the biggest (6'5" and 225 pounds) and strongest receiver at the position in college football. That physical presence translates to his hands, where he attacks the football and is strong enough to keep the ball in his grasp, away from his body.

    Route Running

    16/20

    Evans is a lot better at getting open than he is at running routes. His power at the line and down the field have helped him find space, and because of his size, he is open, regardless of the coverage.

    Speed

    23/25

    The Aggies’ premier receiver has high-level speed and is an explosive player. He can outrun defensive backs on the edge and is a nightmare matchup for safeties in the interior.

    Run After Catch

    28/30

    Here is where Evans truly differs from the rest of the field. Most receivers are at their best simply outrunning or out-juking opponents to the pylon. Evans makes defenders work to tackle him, not just through speed, but by outmuscling them into the end zone.

    Overall

    91/100

    Evans is an “open all the time”-type of wideout. He’s bigger than most defensive backs, is physically aggressive in catching the football and is a monster to bring down after the catch. In Evans, the Aggies have a defensive back's worst nightmare.

    NFL Draft Projection

    1st Rd.—Won't run exceptionally well, but is a matchup nightmare in the red zone.

1. Odell Beckham, LSU

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    Hands

    24/25

    Beckham has some of the premier hands in the game. The junior catches the ball away from his body, rarely drops passes and is capable of climbing the ladder to make outstanding grabs without the benefit of tucking the ball against his frame.

    Route Running

    17/20

    This LSU junior is a good route-runner on the edge. Beckham understands how to leverage cornerbacks in coverage and force them to open their hips before sitting it down. He is also able to get his head around to the quarterback. Beckham is at his best stemming defenders inside before expanding to the edge.

    Speed

    23/25

    Although his speed, as somewhat of a long strider, is a bit deceptive, make no mistake—Beckham can fly. He puts pressure on defenders before the catch by eating up the cushion quickly, and he accelerates out of his breaks.

    Run After Catch

    28/30

    Beckham brings the same vision and cutting ability that help him as a return man to the receiving position. He can stop on a dime, get back to speed quickly and always finds a way to pick up extra yardage.

    Overall

    92/100

    With ODB, the Tigers have an elite wide receiver who has all of the ingredients to be successful. Beckham has a big enough body to get open in the red zone, even in traffic, and his speed allows him to take the top off a defense. He is a tremendous weapon at the position.

    NFL Draft Projection

    1st Rd.—Has the speed, toughness and route running to be special.

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