NFL Draft 2014: Predicting Landing Spots for Top Receivers in Class

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NFL Draft 2014: Predicting Landing Spots for Top Receivers in Class
RICHARD SHIRO/Associated Press

NFL teams in need of a wide receiver are in luck, as this year's draft class is full of impact players.

While some squads spent money on free agentssuch as Eric Decker, Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smitha number of holes still need filling before the start of next season. 

Luckily, at least three or four, and possibly as many as six or seven, receivers will be selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Many of them will be able to post big numbers in their first year in the league.

For that reason, you can expect some teams to try to trade up in an attempt to land one of these young stars. That means a projected landing spot does not necessarily mean a prospect will slide all the way to that team.

Here is a look at the best projected landing spots for the top receivers on the board.

 

Cleveland Browns: Sammy Watkins, Clemson

The Browns clearly need a quarterback moving forward. However, they have the option of waiting until later in the first round and selecting one at No. 26 instead.

In this scenario, the Browns can get an elite receiver to help create an intimidating offense regardless of who is under center.

Sammy Watkins has thought about this possibility, per Tom James of ClevelandBrowns.com:

For me, Josh Gordon is one of the top receivers in the NFL. He led receivers with (1,646) yards. I’d kind of take some pressure off him with double coverage and them flipping the coverage to his side. It would become a nightmare (for opponents) for us to match up with each other.

I checked the Cleveland Browns out and they had the (tied for 27th) overall rushing yards during the season. For them to get me would be a great decision.

Watkins is clearly the best receiver in the class, and he could make things a lot easier for the quarterback next year.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Evans, Texas A&M

Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

The Steelers have a few needs that might be more important, but they could seriously separate themselves in the AFC North by adding a big target in Mike Evans.

While Antonio Brown had a fantastic season at receiver, Pittsburgh needs a secondary option to truly promote the passing attack, especially with Emmanuel Sanders gone.

ESPN.com's Scott Brown speculated that this is what the team will do with its first-round pick: "If I had to guess right now I would say the Steelers will take a wide receiver or a cornerback with their first pick. If Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans lasts until the 15th pick I think he is wearing black and gold next season."

At 6'5", Evans has the size to perfectly complement Brown offensively. He can go up and get jump balls, which will help the Steelers score in the red zone. Additionally, it will block the Baltimore Ravens from making this selection.

 

Baltimore Ravens: Marqise Lee, USC

Even with the signing of Steve Smith, the Ravens need to surround Joe Flacco with more weapons. This is especially true considering Smith finished with only 745 receiving yards and four touchdowns last season.

As a result, the Ravens would be smart to grab playmaker Marqise Lee in the middle of the first round. 

Charles Davis of NFL.com stated that Lee was set to be among the most overlooked players in the class. He explained:

Lee's position coach at USC, Tee Martin, told me around midseason that the thing that people are going to overlook about Lee is how well he plays without the football. He will run his routes even if he is not the primary target. He will block downfield, too. One other thing to keep in mind about Lee -- his kick-return ability isn't to be underestimated.

For all of these skills, Lee is a serious talent with the ball in his hands and can score from anywhere on the field. He would be a dynamic addition to the Ravens offense next season.

 

Carolina Panthers: Odell Beckham Jr., LSU

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

This has not been a good offseason for the Carolina Panthers. They lost pretty much their entire receiving corps, and Cam Newton has to undergo ankle surgery.

Newton should be fine by the start of the season, but he still has no one to throw to. Odell Beckham Jr. could solve this problem as a game-changing player with the ball in his hands.

Scouts have clearly fallen in love with him lately:

While he is best suited as a slot receiver playing alongside bigger targets, the Panthers could improve for next season with this draft pick.

 

San Francisco 49ers: Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

With Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin, the 49ers have two physical receivers capable of competing with the Seattle Seahawks. However, they have some serious problems finishing drives when they get into the red zone.

For this reason, San Francisco needs to add a big target who can go up and make plays in the red zone. Kelvin Benjamin can do just that, as he scored 15 touchdowns for Florida State this past season.

According to Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee, the team is willing to trade up to make this selection:

San Francisco might use this pick to solidify the defensive secondary, but adding a receiver with the size of 6'5" Benjamin could make a big difference.

 

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