Joe Marino’s Senior Wide Receiver Rankings for the 2014 NFL Draft

Vertical threat Mike Davis is one of the most productive wide receivers in Texas football history. (Photo: Chris Nicoll — USA Today Sports)

6. Mike Davis, Texas (6’2’’, 195 lbs)

Having started at least five games every year since his freshman season, Davis is in the top five of nearly every significant receiving statistic in Texas football history, and is only nine receptions away from 200 for his career.

Davis is trusted repeatedly in one-on-one situations, and the Longhorns have loved to go his way with the football when they have had the opportunity.

Davis has excellent straight-line speed that allows him to separate from defensive backs. He has reliable hands and releases well off the line to get into his routes.

He doesn’t contribute much in the middle of the field, however, and rarely runs in-breaking routes such as slants and crossing patterns. He is not particularly quick in and out of his breaks, and excels more with vertical downfield routes and screen passes.

Davis has a good frame and length for the position with good physical ability. Like many of the senior wideouts, Davis has No. 2 receiver potential. He is unlikely to be much of a factor as a slot receiver.

7. Tevin Reese, Baylor (5’10’’, 170 lbs)

Reese is one of the most explosive deep threats in all of college football. Reese has averaged 19.4 yards per catch on 137 receptions, with 24 touchdowns, over his last tree season. Reese had 33 catches for 824 yards and eight touchdowns through eight games into his senior season, but that was cut short due to a season-ending wrist injury.

Reese’s explosive downfield burst and acceleration allow hm to get separation down the field and behind the secondary. He flies past defenders, leaving it up to the quarterback to get enough air under passes to allow Reese to make deep catches. Reese tracks the football well down the field.

Because defenses have to respect Reese as a vertical threat, they are generally play off him in man coverage, which allows him to break off routes and make plays on comebacks routes with ease.

Reese could catch the ball more consistently cleanly. He also needs to show more effort and intensity when plays are run away from his side of the field.

Reese is exactly the type of vertical threat and slot receiver that NFL teams want. He does not have great size, but he has speed that is not teachable.

8. Cody Hoffman, BYU (6’4’’, 210 lbs)

Hoffman has excellent body control, tracks the ball well and is a pure hands catcher who does not rely on his body to trap the football.

Hoffman is quicker than fast and does a good job creating separation with his ability to get in and out of breaks. He can also get open by using his ability to sit in zones and find soft spots in coverage. He is a typical possession-style receiver and an overall solid route runner.

Hoffman can position himself well along the sideline, catch the ball and get his feet in bounds naturally. He competes for the football and will make tough catches over the middle. He does not seem to be afraid of taking hits in traffic.

Don’t confuse Hoffman for being an explosive player. He does not have good speed and will not get behind NFL secondaries. He is not dynamic with the ball in his hands and is strictly a possession receiver.

Hoffman does not consistently beat press coverage and struggles to get off the line at times. He needs to get stronger and develop the ability to win off the line when he is pressed; professional teams will exploit this weakness so it must improve.

Hoffman has been a highly-productive college receiver, and his size, hands and route-running will give him a chance as a pro. His lack of athleticism and strength, however, are concerning.

Whether at Fresno State or Oklahoma, Jalen Saunders has consistently played bigger than his small size. (Photo: Matthew Emmons — USA Today Sports)

9. Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma (5’9’’, 157 lbs)

Jalen Saunders transferred to Oklahoma after Pat Hill was fired at Fresno State in 2011, because Saunders was unhappy with the way he would be utilized in the new offense Tim DeRuyter implemented. The production that Saunders and Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, the top senior quarterback in the draft class, could have put together could have been special.

In his freshman and sophomore seasons at Fresno State, Saunders averaged more than 19 yards per catch and 15 touchdowns. In his final two seasons at Oklahoma, he averaged only 12.7 yards per catch with eight touchdowns.

Saunders is a special talent in creating yards after the catch. Saunders accelerates up the field quickly off of short passes with excellent field vision, and is very difficult to tackle despite his limited size. He is surprisingly physical at 157 pounds.

Saunders has great speed down the field and can make plays vertically. He still flashed big-play potential at Oklahoma, although not at the rate he did at Fresno State. Saunders has the extra burst to create separation and make big plays at the top of vertical routes.

An underrated element of Saunders’ game is just how good of a blocker he is. Saunders can also contribute as a punt returner and has excelled in that area. He has averaged 14.4 yards per return for his career.

Saunders is a dynamic player who projects nicely to the slot position in the NFL. He has early Day 3 potential.

10. TJ Jones, Notre Dame (5’11’’, 195 lbs)

Jones is having the best year of his career as a senior. He has established career highs in catches (59), yards (986), touchdowns (eight) and yards per catch (16.7) through 11 games. He has amassed at least 90 yards receiving in seven of those games. In many ways, Jones has been what makes the Irish offense go.

Jones excels as an intermediate route runner and displays good quickness in and out of his breaks. He is a reliable natural pass catcher. Despite not being overly athletic, Jones can create yards after the catch with his competitive nature and physicality.

Jones doesn’t have ideal burst at the top of his routes to create separation down the field. He is more of a possession receiver who can help in the short-to-intermediate range.

Jones has increased his production in every season at Notre Dame while peaking in his senior season. Jones should be a good addition to a receiving corps and could provide quality depth in the NFL.

11. Josh Huff, Oregon (5’11’’, 202 lbs)

Huff is not one of the premier names on the top of the receiver rankings for 2014, but he is a solid prospect who does many things well. He is a good athlete with reliable hands and a very intelligent route-runner. Oregon’s unique, spread, high-paced offense creates a variety of looks to which Huff adjusts to very well. Whether facing off-man or press coverage, Huff can adjust his routes accordingly to create separation.

Another area Huff excels in is blocking. Oregon runs a high amount of screens and quick hitting plays that demand receivers to block defenders. Huff is a physical, high-effort blocker who can break down and effectively make blocks in space.

While Huff is able to get very good body positioning when making catches, he struggles to locate the ball down the field. He has shown some improvement in this area in 2013, but that was my primary concern with him entering the season. I would also like to see him come down with more contested balls.

Huff is worth a Day 3 selection in the draft. Continued success during his senior season and strong showings at an all-star game and the NFL Scouting Combine would give him opportunities to improve his draft stock.

12. Noel Grigsby, San Jose State (5’11’’, 175 lbs)

Grigsby, who had at least 800 yards in each of his freshman through junior years, is the Spartans’ all-time leader in receptions and yards. His senior season was cut short after just two games with a meniscus tear, though he could return for SJSU’s bowl game.

Grigsby plays much bigger than his size indicates and makes tough contested catches in traffic. He positions his body well and is a good hands catcher who consistently catches the ball away from his body. Grigsby is a really sharp route runner who makes excellent moves down the field to create separation and make plays.

From a physical standpoint, Grigsby has good but not great athletic ability, but his football instincts, route running, hands and competitive nature put him on the radar as a potential slot guy in the NFL.

Ryan Grant is a sleeper prospect to watch at the 2014 Senior Bowl. (Photo: Derick E. Hingle — USA Today Sports)

13. Ryan Grant, Tulane (6’1’’, 191 lbs)

Ryan Grant has been a very productive player for the Green Wave, showing the ability to run away from defenders and make plays in all areas of the field. He can high-point and come down with the ball in one-on-one situations. Grant has terrific body control and balance, while he has looked extremely athletic against his level of competition in Conference USA. Grant has been confirmed as a participant for the 2014 Senior Bowl, and his showing there could elevate him up rankings.

14. L’Damian Washington, Missouri (6’4’’, 205 lbs)

Washington has emerged as a big-play threat for the Tigers offense in his senior season, with nine touchdowns and an average of 19.1 yards per reception.

Washington has proven ability to make plays down the field, particularly on coming down with difficult catches after beating cornerbacks to match up with safeties. He is not afraid of taking a hit after catching the ball.  He plays with a good physical demeanor overall and can contribute as a blocker. Washington has a good frame and solid athletic ability that projects him as an outside receiver in the NFL.

15. Eric Ward, Texas Tech (6’, 205 lbs)

Like many other Red Raiders receivers, Ward has had a very productive career with 31 career touchdowns and 244 career receptions. Ward thrives within Texas Tech’s spread offense as a typical possession-type receiver.

He comes down with contested passes and adjusts well to the football. He has good body control and a knack for making spectacular catches. That said, Ward doesn’t create much separation as he is limited athletically. He will also have to overcome a lack of height to take his style of play to the next level. He looks like a depth player and special teamer at this point.

16. Corey “Philly” Brown, Ohio State (6’, 190 lbs)

Brown is the Buckeyes’ leading receiver this season, as he was last season. Brown brings a great deal of speed to the table and has flashed the ability to make plays down the field. Brown has come down with some contested balls, but the concern is that he doesn’t separate very well despite his speed.

His hands have developed over his career, but they are still a work in progress. Brown can also contribute as a punt returner. There have been reports about his strong leadership skills and he is a player whose work ethic should make him a good locker room guy.

17. Shaquelle Evans, UCLA (6’1’’, 204 lbs)

Having transferred to UCLA from Notre Dame, Evans has been the team’s leading receiver over the past two seasons. Evans is fiercely competitive and fights for the football. He has deceptive athletic ability with a knack for making spectacular catches. He is a decent route-runner who can also contribute as a returner. He has starter upside but is still developing overall.

18. Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest (5’11’’, 190 lbs)

Campanaro is the Demon Deacons’ all-time leader in receptions and has been a steady contributor for them. He has had double-digit receptions in four of eight games as a senior, but a broken collarbone may have cut his season short to eight games.

Campanaro is a very detail-oriented player who gives maximum effort on every block and route run. He is best in the short-to-intermediate range where his precise route running skills are maximized. He has very strong hands and good suddenness to the way he plays the game. Inconsistent quarterback play limited his opportunities down the field at Wake forest, but his skill set could be intriguing for NFL teams.

19. Matt Hazel, Coastal Carolina (6’3’’, 190 lbs)

Hazel has surpassed Jerome Simpson as the Chanticleers’ all-time leader in receptions. While Hazel has been a solid player, he has not dominated the FCS like you expect coming from a prospect at that level, though he has had increased production in each season throughout his career.

Hazel excels most at working the sidelines and making catches from the numbers out. He has decent hands and is an average route runner. He does not have any dominant physical ability, but he has done enough to get scouts’ attention as a late-round prospect.

20. Alex Amidon, Boston College (6’, 182 lbs)

Amidon set Boston College single-season records as a junior with 78 receptions and 1,210 yards, but despite his excellent production, his skill set may not make him an NFL-caliber receiver. Amidon doesn’t have any great physical abilities and has inconsistent hands. He rarely catches the ball away from his body, is very slow in and out of his breaks and changes direction rather slowly. He is not a fluid athlete.

Nonetheless, his production is impressive. Through the first 11 games of his senior year, Amidon has 64 receptions and 843 receiving yards, while no other receiver on the team has more than nine receptions or 97 yards. Amidon has produced even he has been the only significant receiving target on offense.

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, Alex Amidon, Allen Hurns, Baylor, Boston College, BYU, Coastal Carolina, Cody Hoffman, Corey Brown, Devin Street, Eric Ward, Jalen Saunders, Jared Abbrederis, Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, L'Damian Washington, Matt Hazel, Miami, Michael Campanaro, Mike Davis, Missouri, Noel Grigsby, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Positional Rankings, Prospect Rankings, Rankings, Robert Herron, Ryan Grant, San Jose State, Seniors, Shaquelle Evans, Tevin Reese, Texas, Texas Tech, TJ Jones, Tulane, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Wide Receivers, Wisconsin, Wyoming

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