NFL Draft 2011: Julio Jones and the Top 10 Receivers in the Draft
It can be tough to wade through the endless stream of players who are eligible for the NFL Draft each year and pick out the choicest nuggets. That's especially true this season, when 56 juniors or draft-eligible sophomores have declared to end their collegiate careers early and try their hands at pro careers.
But that's what we're here for. Here at Bleacher Report, we help you separate the fact from the fiction, the hype from the sizzle. We'll do that today for wide receivers.
Wide receiver is always one of the premier positions that gets fans excited, as a premier pass catcher can be just the spark an offense needs to take it to the next level. What's out there this year beyond A.J. Green and Julio Jones? Plenty.
No. 10: Randall Cobb, Kentucky Wildcats
Randall Cobb is one of the record number of underclassmen who have declared for the 2011 NFL Draft.
With the Wildcats, Cobb was an all-purpose threat and put up big numbers as a junior: 84 receptions, 1,017 yards, and seven touchdowns. He also rushed for 424 yards (averaging 7.7 yards a carry) and was Kentucky's primary return man, as well.
At 5'11", 186 pounds, he could fit into an NFL team's plans as a wildcat (no pun intended) QB, and should go no later than the fourth round.
No. 9: Titus Young, Boise State Broncos
Titus Young has gotten a good deal of publicity as one of Boise State's top offensive weapons over the last couple of seasons.
He fits the mold of the undersized-but-speedy wideout. At 5'11" and 170 pounds, he'll need to use that speed in the NFL, and he could fit into a special teams role as a return man, as well.
He caught over 70 passes for more than 1,000 yards each of the last two years for the Broncos. The question is: Without Kellen Moore throwing to him anymore, can he adjust? Look for him to go in the third or fourth round.
No. 8: Dwayne Harris, East Carolina Pirates
Harris hasn't gotten as much attention as some of the other receiving names on the board, but don't sleep on this talent out of Stone Mountain, Georgia by way of East Carolina.
Harris had a monster senior year in 2010, with 101 receptions for 1,123 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Pirates. He's a strong 6'0" and 205 pounds.
He's not as polished as he could be, but look for a team to take a chance on his potential at some point by the third round.
No. 7: Tandon Doss, Indiana Hoosiers
Tandon Doss is a bit of an enigma, but he should easily find himself an employer by the early third round.
He's 6'3" and 205 pounds, so he's got decent size, but he's not the biggest WR out there. He's got good speed, but he's not the speediest. He's not the best in any one category, but his all-around skills make him relevant in this draft.
His best season was as a sophomore in 2009 and in 2010 he caught 63 passes for 706 yards and seven touchdowns after missing the season opener.
No. 6: Leonard Hankerson, Miami Hurricanes
One of the rare seniors who's a top prospect, Hankerson was the Hurricanes top wideout and will go in either the second or early third round.
At 6'3", 205 pounds, Hankerson gets points for being consistent, if unspectacular. His motor is always going. His big senior season got him more attention than he had back in September.
He caught 72 passes for 1,156 yards and 13 touchdowns for Miami. He also blinded many a potential tackler with his uniform.
No. 5: Jerrel Jernigan, Troy Trojans
Jernigan should go no lower than the late second round.
At just 5'9", Jernigan is a bit undersized, but he's a chiseled 190 pounds and plays bigger than he looks.
He's enjoyed a great career with the somewhat off-the-radar Troy Trojans, and he could be a steal at this position.
A mature senior, he caught 84 passes for 822 yards and six touchdowns this year.
No. 4: Torrey Smith, Maryland
Smith is a junior, but decided to forego his senior season and enter the draft, in part because he had already graduated.
He's enjoyed a prolific career at Maryland, a school known more for basketball than football. But he's helped put the program on the map in recent years and should be off the board by the middle of the second round.
At 6'1", 200 pounds, he got better as the season went on, including an outstanding performance in the final regular season game when he caught 14 passes for 224 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-31 win over NC State.
No. 3: Jonathan Baldwin, Pittsburgh Panthers
Baldwin was helped by the decisions of some more recognizable names—like Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon and Notre Dame's Michael Floyd—to stay in school and he could sneak into the late first round as a result.
His best season was 2009, but he didn't hurt himself this past year, when he caught 53 passes for 822 yards and five touchdowns. He was hurt more by Pittsburgh's down year as a team.
Nonetheless, the 6'5", 230-pound Baldwin has great size, and should have no trouble adjusting to the pros.
No. 2: Julio Jones, Alabama Crimson Tide
Jones is probably the best known receiver in this draft, but he won't be the first off the board. Look for his name to be called somewhere in the middle of Round 1.
Playing at Alabama, he didn't quite get to show all of his star potential, since they operate a run-heavy, ball-control offense, but he still showed that he can be a special talent and he broke out this year in a big way.
He caught 78 passes for 1,133 yards and seven touchdowns for the Crimson Tide in 2010, and he made a good impression in the biggest games of the year against teams like Auburn.
At 6'4", 220 pounds, he's got the size, hands and speed to be a force in the league for some time.
No. 1: A.J. Green, Georgia Bulldogs
Green is clearly the top wideout available in this draft and he may be the best offensive player period. He has a realistic shot at being taken at No. 1 overall.
At 6'4", 212 pounds, Green has the prototypical No.1-receiver body and an incredible skill set that has seen him compared to everyone from Randy Moss to Calvin Johnson.
His raw statistics don't paint the whole picture, because he missed the first four games of the season, but here they are anyway: 53 catches, 848 yards and nine touchdowns.
Even if he doesn't go first overall, he won't make it past the top six or seven picks.