2014 NFL Draft Positional Breakdowns: Wide Receivers

Sammy Watkins is one of seven wide receivers graded as first-round talents in this year’s draft class. (Photo: Joshua S. Kelly — USA Today Sports)

BBD Assistant Editor: Joe Marino

With seven players graded in the first round and 11 in the first two rounds, this is one of the best wide receiver classes I have ever scouted. Quality prospects with exciting playmaking potential can be found in each round of the 2014 draft.

Sammy Watkins is the premier talent in the group. He has a bright NFL future ahead of him. His value rivals that of top-tier prospects like AJ Green and Julio Jones, who were both selected in the top six of the 2011 NFL draft.

36 receivers in this year’s class have draftable grades, making this the year for teams to add weapons to their offenses.

First Round Grades

1. Sammy Watkins, Clemson: Watkins is a dynamic playmaker who can dominate on all levels of the field. Worthy of a top five selection, Watkins projects as a number one receiver that requires defenses to alter their coverage packages.

2. Mike Evans, Texas A&M: Evans is the most dominant receiver at the catch point in this year’s draft class. He utilizes his size to attack the football. A natural pass catcher with a rare blend of size and athletic ability, Evans looks like a potential No. 1 receiver in the NFL.

3. Odell Beckham, LSU: Polished routes, terrific hands and great athleticism is what you get with Beckham. He creates excellent separation and can return kickoffs impressively.

4. Allen Robinson, Penn State: Robinson is a big, strong and athletic receiver who can work all levels of the field. Opponents of Penn State knew the ball was going to Robinson and they still couldn’t stop him.

5. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt: Matthews is the SEC’s all-time leading receiver despite a lack of high-level quarterback play during his Vanderbilt career. He is a terrific route-runner who competes well at the catch point and is underrated after the catch.

6. Marqise Lee, USC: When Lee is on his game, he is one of the most dynamic players in the country. He is a special talent with the ball in his hands and a game-changing player. His talent is obvious, but his frequency of concentration lapses is alarming.

7. Davante Adams, Fresno State: Adams has strong hands and utilizes his body extremely well to gain positioning and win at the catch point. Paired with Derek Carr and Fresno State’s pass-happy offense, Adams had 38 touchdowns and more than 3,000 receiving yards in just two seasons of college football.

Kelvin Benjamin is one of a number of intriguingly big targets in this year’s draft class. (Photo: Bob Donnan — USA Today Sports)

Second Round

8. Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State: Benjamin is another big-bodied receiver coming off a great season in which he had 15 touchdowns while averaging 18.7 yards per catch. He must develop more consistency in his routes and hands, but his potential is intriguing.

9. Cody Latimer, Indiana: Latimer has the hands, body control and athletic ability needed to be a productive NFL receiver. While Latimer isn’t as dynamic as the top eight receivers in this class, he could become a very solid second receiving option.

10. Donte Moncrief, Mississippi: Moncrief would have likely had more value in next year’s draft, but he could perhaps be a first-round value acquired early on Day 2. With a terrific frame, he projects as a physical outside receiver.

11. Brandin Cooks, Oregon State: Cooks, the nation’s leading receiver in 2013, can be a dynamic slot option. He can separate and find space but his lack of size pushes him down the board.

Third Round

12. Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin: Abbrederis is a superb route runner with excellent hands. He is a solid athlete who gave Big Ten cornerbacks fits in 2013 and plays with great attention to detail. Paired with a quarterback who is a timing passer, Abbrederis could produce big numbers.

13. Martavis Bryant, Clemson: Bryant is a long and lean receiver who can win on the outside with his ability to climb the ladder and snatch the ball. Although he is not the most natural hands catcher, Bryant has a great deal of upside.

14. Jarvis Landry, LSU: Landry has the best hands in the draft class. He could get pushed down the board due to poor timed speed at the combine, but Landry is a natural pass-catcher and route-runner.

15. Robert Herron, Wyoming: Herron is a perfectly-suited slot receiver who does many things extremely well. He can blow the top off a defense and get behind the secondary with his speed, but he can also use his creative after-the-catch skills and explosive upfield burst to turn a short pass into a bigger gain.

16. Paul Richardson, Colorado: Richardson has blazing speed that can take the top off a defense. His game has many similarities to Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

Kevin Norwood is an underrated player in a deep draft class of wide receivers. (Photo: John David Mercer — USA Today Sports)

Fourth Round

17. Kevin Norwood, Alabama: Norwood is the most underrated receiver in this class. He has excellent body control, hands, size and route running ability. I can envision him outperforming his draft position.

18. Mike Davis, Texas: Davis has made his share of acrobatic, sideline catches and is capable of gaining yards in chunks. Although his overall game needs to develop consistency, Davis looks like a solid second or third receiver in the NFL.

19. Brandon Coleman, Rutgers: Coleman is a giant receiver who can dominate in the redzone. If he can stay healthy, he has No. 1 wide receiver upside. Injuries and inconsistent quarterback play limited him in college. His best football could be ahead of him.

20. Josh Huff, Oregon: Huff is a solid prospect who does many things well. He is a good athlete with reliable hands and is a very intelligent route-runner.

Fifth Round

21. Devin Street, Pittsburgh: Street is a cerebral player who consistently goes about his work and contributes. He is difficult to jam off the line of scrimmage and releases cleanly to get into his routes. He is a polished route runner who doesn’t display tremendous upfield burst, but his smooth release and route running allow him to create downfield separation. He is a sleeper who could produce more than his draft position may indicate.

22. Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest: An inside receiver who wins with route running and attention to detail, Campanaro can be pesky for defenses to deal with. An upper-echelon quarterback who plays with timing will love throwing to Campanaro on third downs.

23. TJ Jones, Notre Dame: Jones is a forgotten receiver in this class but he is a polished player with good hands, fluid movements and solid route-running ability. He is a dependable chain-mover who could be a top-three option at the next level.

24. Corey Brown, Ohio State: Brown is quick-twitched and effective on intermediate routes. He has quietly led Ohio State in receiving over the past two seasons. He projects as an inside receiver.

25. Bruce Ellington, South Carolina: Ellington had an outstanding combine performance, which backed up the explosiveness he displayed on film. Now focused solely on football after doing double duty with basketball at South Carolina, Ellington has good hands and can win in the slot.

26. Allen Hurns, Miami: While Hurns hasn’t made much of an impression leading up to the draft, he performed well in his senior season at Miami. He has shown that he can adjust to poor throws, block and contribute after the catch.

27. Quincy Enunwa, Nebraska: Enunwa is big and athletic with No. 1 receiver traits. If his hands and route running develop, he could be a steal.

Sixth Round

28. Willie Snead, Ball State: Snead separates as well as any receiver in this class and is seemingly always open. Any quarterback should love to have him in his arsenal of weapons.

Despite his lack of size, Jalen Saunders could be a productive late-round pick. (Photo: Matthew Emmons — USA Today Sports)

29. Cody Hoffman, BYU: Hoffman put up huge numbers in college and has an excellent frame. He lacks overall explosion and fluidity but was a playmaker at the college level.

30. Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma: Saunders has dynamic slot potential but is severely undersized. With excellent burst, creativity, and return ability, Saunders could be a useful weapon nonetheless.

31. Chandler Jones, San Jose State: Jones is small but fiercely competitive and adept at finding space to get open. Although he might be limited to an inside role, Jones is a quick-twitch athlete who knows how to get open.

32. Shaquelle Evans, UCLA: Evans is a chain moving, possession receiver who can make difficult catches look easy. He lacks burst in and out of his breaks but positions his body well to compete for passes.

33. Ryan Grant, Tulane: Grant has some of the best hands in this class and is smooth and quick in his release. His athleticism is limited and he can struggle to beat press coverage.

34. Matt Hazel, Coastal Carolina: Hazel combines excellent body control and fluidity with good hands and concentration. With more polish, Hazel can develop into a contributor in the NFL.

Seventh Round

35. Tevin Reese, Baylor: Reese was an exciting playmaker at Baylor who has good hands, speed and downfield playmaking ability. His slight frame is concerning but I think he can be a Roscoe Parrish-like contributor.

36. Jordan Harris, Bryant: A pleasant surprise on film, Harris made difficult catches while displaying good hands and body control at the small-school level.

37. Bennie Fowler, Michigan State: Fowler is flashy but underachieved in college. If he can put his combination of size, athletic ability and hands together, Fowler presents exciting upside as a late-round draft pick.

Top Undrafted Free Agents

38. Eric Thomas, Troy
39. Noel Grigsby, San Jose State
40. Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State
41. Erik Lora, Eastern Illinois
42. Damian Copleand, Louisville
43. Eric Ward, Texas Tech
44. Austin Franklin, New Mexico State
45. Jeremy Gallon, Michigan
46. Seantavious Jones, Valdosta State
47. John Brown, Pittsburgh State
48. L’Damian Washington, Missouri
49. Marcus Lucas, Missouri
50. Solomon Patton, Florida
51. Bernard Reedy, Toledo
52. Albert Wilson, Georgia State
53. Isaiah Burse, Fresno State
54. Alex Neutz, Buffalo
55. Derel Walker, Texas A&M
56. Jeff Janis, Saginaw Valley State
57. Kain Colter, Northwestern
58. Chris Boyd, Vanderbilt
59. Walter Powell, Murray State
60. Rashad Lawrence, Northwestern
61. Donte Foster, Ohio
62. Ryan Lankford, Illinois
63. Tony Washington, Appalachian St.
64. Tracy Moore, Oklahoma St.

Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, Allen Hurns, Allen Robinson, Bennie Fowler, Brandin Cooks, Brandon Coleman, Bruce Ellington, Chandler Jones, Cody Hoffman, Cody Latimer, Corey Brown, Davante Adams, Devin Street, Donte Moncrief, Jalen Saunders, Jared Abbrederis, Jarvis Landry, Jordan Harris, Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, Kelvin Benjamin, Kevin Norwood, Marqise Lee, Martavis Bryant, Matt Hazel, Michael Campanaro, Mike Davis, Mike Evans, NFL Draft, Odell Beckham, Paul Richardson, Positional Breakdowns, Positional Rankings, Quincy Enunwa, Rankings, Robert Herron, Ryan Grant, Sammy Watkins, Shaquelle Evans, T.J. Jones, Tevin Reese, Wide Receivers, Wideouts, Willie Snead

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