College Football 2011: Power Ranking the Top 10 Wide Receivers for 2011
The college football wide receiver class of 2010 was headlined by Julio Jones and A.J. Green. Both of those players have moved onto the NFL, but there are still plenty of big-time wide receivers that will be on the collegiate landscape in 2011.
In fact, I would argue that this year’s wide receiver class has better talent at the top than last year’s group. It seems as though this offseason is being dominated by talk of quarterbacks, but do not forget about the guys on the other side of the connection.
It is time to find out who is the top pass catcher entering the upcoming season and which players we should have on our radar as fall approaches.
Without further ado, here are the top 10 wide receivers for the upcoming 2011 season.
10. Travis Benjamin (Miami [FL])
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Travis Benjamin had a solid junior campaign last season, but he was somewhat overshadowed by fellow wide receiver Leonard Hankerson. Hankerson has now moved onto the NFL though, and Benjamin will be the No. 1 receiving option in Miami [FL]’s offense next fall.
Travis Benjamin does not have imposing size at 5’10", 176 lbs., but he makes up for that with his blazing speed. Benjamin averaged 17.3 yards per catch last season. He is a threat to take it the distance when he gets out in the open field.
Travis will need to get good play out of his quarterback for this pick to hold weight. It is still uncertain whether Jacory Harris or Stephen Morris will be the Hurricanes signal-caller, but whoever wins the job will have to deliver the ball to Benjamin accurately.
It may seem weird placing a wide receiver on this list who only gained 743 receiving yards last season, but Travis Benjamin has the potential to be one the country’s top wideouts in 2011.
9. DeVier Posey (Ohio State)
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DeVier Posey will be suspended for the first five games of the upcoming 2011 season for his involvement in “tattoo-gate”.
Nevertheless, Posey is an elite wide receiver when he is on the field. I will be the first to admit that he dropped a couple of big passes last season, but those drops are small in comparison to the positives he brings to the Buckeyes offense.
DeVier has a great build for the position. He is also a good prospect in that he can run underneath routes as well as stretch the field deep. He came to Columbus highly touted as a 5-star prospect, and for the most part, has lived up to the hype.
His involvement in the tattoo scandal and subsequent five-game suspension was a major lapse in judgment, but he is still a top-tier wide receiver when he is on the field.
8. Joe Adams (Arkansas)
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Arkansas has an unbelievably deep wide receiving core that features the talents of Joe Adams, Jarius Wright, Greg Childs and Cobi Hamilton. This is excellent news for incoming quarterback Tyler Wilson, and it also does not hurt to have a running back such as Knile Davis in the backfield.
The most talented wide receiver of the group is Joe Adams, and he is the Razorback that makes an appearance on this top 10 list. Adams did not put up gaudy statistics last season accumulating only 813 yards, but as I said, a lot of that can be attributed to Arkansas’s depth at the position.
Adams made some clutch catches for the Razorbacks last season. He was on the receiving end of some of Ryan Mallett’s missiles last season.
Arkansas while once again put up a lot of points next season with new quarterback Tyler Wilson. Joe Adams will be one of the driving forces behind the offense.
7. Jeff Fuller (Texas A&M)
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The buzz over Texas A&M has surrounded the rushing duo of Cyrus Grey and Christine Michael, but one name that tends to get overlooked is Jeff Fuller.
Fuller is a senior wide receiver who had somewhat of a breakout season last year as a junior. He accumulated 1,066 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns after gaining 1,198 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns throughout his first two seasons at the school.
Jeff Fuller performed well playing alongside quarterback Jared Johnson, but he really took his game to another level when quarterback Ryan Tannehill went under center. Fuller and junior wide receiver Ryan Swope serve as two excellent receiving options for Tannehill.
Jeff Fuller will once again put up big numbers in 2011. Expect him to get favorable opportunities next year as defenses will have to focus on stopping the Aggies rushing attack.
6. Robert Woods (USC)
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Robert Woods was a 5-star prospect coming out of high school. There were high expectations attached to Woods upon his arrival at USC. He did not disappoint Trojans fans and had a very productive opening campaign with the school catching 65 passes for 792 receiving yards and six touchdowns.
Woods projects to build on the success he enjoyed as a freshman next fall. He will have one of the top quarterbacks in the country throwing the ball to him in Matt Barkley. Defenses will also not be able to focus solely on covering Woods or else they will leave themselves susceptible to incoming freshman George Farmer.
History has shown that many freshmen take a huge step forward as a sophomore. If Robert Woods can elevate his game even higher next season, he will make this already high-powered USC offense that much more explosive.
Some may be overlooking USC because they are serving their bowl ban, but those people would be wise not to sleep on Trojan wide receiver Robert Woods.
5. Juron Criner (Arizona)
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Juron Criner is similar to Justin Blackmon and Ryan Broyles in that he is one-half of a potent quarterback-wide receiver combination. In this case, it is quarterback Nick Foles that is the signal-caller delivering the ball to Criner.
The 6’4" Criner specializes in pulling down jump balls and running vertical routes. He registered a reception of 40-plus yards in eight of Arizona’s 13 games last season. Luckily for Criner, quarterback Nick Foles has the arm strength and accuracy to put the ball "on the money" to his wide receiver.
This duo is an integral part of an Arizona offense that ranked ninth in the nation in passing yards last season.
Criner may not be as recognizable a name as some of the other wide receivers on this list, but he has more than enough talent and credentials to be slotted here.
4. Michael Floyd (Notre Dame)
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I would like to preface this selection by stating that I do realize that Michael Floyd is under indefinite suspension at Notre Dame. With that being said, I believe that Floyd will play the entire upcoming season. I am basing this selection off of that assumption.
Michael Floyd has a chance to have a spectacular season next fall for the Fighting Irish. Floyd is the type of vertical, deep threat that fits perfectly into head coach Brian Kelly’s spread offense.
Floyd will receive capable play at quarterback from Dayne Crist. Crist is returning from a ruptured tendon, but that should not slow him down next season.
Michael caught 79 passes, for 1,025 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Floyd has the build and athleticism to make an even bigger impact next season.
3. Ryan Broyles (Oklahoma)
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Many people thought that Ryan Broyles would enter the 2011 NFL draft, but Broyles stayed loyal to head coach Bob Stoops and returned to Norman.
His return gives this already loaded Oklahoma team more firepower. Broyles amassed 1,622 receiving yards last season and 14 touchdowns. He will form a potent pass-catching combination with quarterback Landry Jones. The presence of secondary wide receiver Kenny Stills will prevent defenses from strictly locking down on Broyles.
Broyles is a dependable possession receiver, but he has also shown the ability to make big plays. Ryan and quarterback Landry Jones enter the 2011 season as Heisman Trophy candidates. It is uncertain whether Broyles can make a serious push at the Heisman, but he will be one of the top wide receivers in all of college football next season.
2. Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma State)
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There was a feeling that Oklahoma State’s offense might suffer from the lack of an elite wide receiver after Dez Bryant left the school in 2009. That theory held weight for a short amount of time before the nation was introduced to Justin Blackmon.
Blackmon only had 260 receiving yards and two touchdowns in 2009. That is a little underwhelming, but the wide receiver slightly increased his production in 2010 as a sophomore. When I say slightly, I mean he gathered 1,782 receiving yards, 20 receiving touchdowns. Justin Blackmon was the recipient of the 2010 Biletnikoff award which is given to the nation’s top wide receiver.
As good as Blackmon’s 2010 campaign was, there is reason to believe that he can put up similar numbers next fall. Quarterback Brandon Weeden returns to deliver the ball to the 6’1", 207 lb. wide receiver.
Justin Blackmon will be a marked man next season as opposed to the unknown commodity he was at the beginning of 2010. This should not stop Justin from once again stretching the field and making big plays though.
1. Alshon Jeffery (South Carolina)
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Alshon Jeffery is simply a defensive coordinator’s worst nightmare
At 6’4", 233 lbs., Jeffery has excellent size for a wide receiver. He also possesses elite athleticism. Jeffery’s size coupled with his athleticism gives him an edge in jump ball situations and makes him a threat to pull in a catch anytime the football is remotely around him.
Alshon compiled great numbers last season as a sophomore accumulating 1,517 passing yards and nine receiving touchdowns. He should continue to produce at a high level next fall, regardless of whether Stephen Garcia or Connor Shaw is under center at quarterback.
Mel Kiper recently ranked Jeffrey as his fourth overall prospect for next year’s 2012 NFL draft. The wide receiver has a bright future on the professional level, but first, he has some goals that he would like to accomplish next season at South Carolina.