The 2014 wide receiver class is exceptional, having both star talent and very good depth. There is size, athleticism, pure receivers and plenty of good projects. It’s possible as many as five wide outs could go in the first round but given the depth teams may select to hold off until later rounds. Our rankings:
1. Sammy Watkins, Clemson: Ultra talented explosive athlete who is a game breaker. Acceleration is outstanding, a glider who will give defensive coordinators headaches. The biggest question - is he a good enough route runner to consistently get open? At Clemson, Watkins was used in bubble screens and wide throws which won’t be as effective in the NFL. The top wide receiver by a slim margin. Watkins has a chance to be a high level pro receiver.
2. Mike Evans,Texas A&M: Huge receiver with tremendous wingspan - tremendous ability to go up and get the ball. Evans is a great red zone target and third down converter who should be effective out of the gate. Will he struggle to get open consistently? He isn’t a great route runner but his skill sets and great hands should result in Evans being a very good pro, certainly worth a top half of the first round.
3. Brandin Cooks, Oregon State: A spark plug brooding with confidence. Cooks lacks size but is a Steve Smith type player. He is not afraid to mix it up and will earn his way on the field and attack the best. Cooks will be a very good pro but it may be difficult to take him over other receivers who possess size, but those who pass on him will regret it. He has elite speed and quickness complete with a desire to win. Cooks will be a very good pro and should be picked very high.
4. Marquise Lee, USC: Lee didn’t have a great final year at USC, mostly to the lack of stability at the quarterback position plus some injuries, but he is a fluid athlete. He gets in and out of breaks easily and has very good hands. He will be a high volume receiver who will be a trusted target out of the gate. In a stacked wide receiver class, Lee could end up being the best of the bunch, a very good pick if selected in the second half of the first round.
5. Allen Robinson, Penn State: Robinson is a silky smooth receiver who runs with ease. He doesn’t jump off the tape but is productive game in - game out. Robinson lacks elite speed but is a high volume receiver who will get first downs and make plays. Some teams may back off due to his perceived lack of speed but in game situations he has made big plays against high level competition and is certainly worth a late first of early second round pick.
6. Odell Beckham Jr., LSU: Beckham doesn’t have great size or speed but is productive. He is more quick than fast but is very quick. He gets in and out of breaks smoothly and is a big play maker once the ball is in his hands. Beckham struggles a bit in traffic and didn’t have big games against the better defenses but is likely a late first - early second round pick and should be a good pro.
7. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt: Matthews is a highly productive player who faced some of the best defenses in the nation. He has very good size and good speed plus excellent hands and is a very good route runner. The separation between Matthews and any receiver ranked above him is marginal. He will be an excellent pick and likely to go in the first or second round. He completes the top tier of wide receivers.
8 Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss: Moncrief has a very good size and speed combination. He played well in big games and needs some refinement but could develop into a very good #2 receiver. Moncrief could jump some other receivers but for me should be picked in the second round. Paired with a good quarterback, he will be productive out of the gate.
9. Paul Richardson, Colorado: Richardson is a speedster so look out. He played on a team void of talent but still put up big numbers. Slight in build, but he is a game breaker and a rangy athlete. Richardson could be the steal of the group and has a shot at being a major deep threat. He should be picked in the second round but could go in the late third.
10.Josh Huff, Oregon: Huff has an OK speed at the combine and at his pro day but on film is electric. He runs away from defenders and is as quick as a hiccup. His Size is certainly a deterrent but he could be a very good receiver in the slot and should be picked in the second round at worst.
11. Davante Adams, Fresno St: Put up huge numbers in the fluky offense at Fresno State where he excelled as Derek Carr’s favorite target. He is a big - physical receiver who will go over the middle without fear. Lacks elite speed and struggles to get open against good corners. Could be a good late 2nd early 3rd round pick but inability to create separation is a viable concern.
12. Kelvin Benjamin, Florida St: A monster with a huge wing span, many scouts and prognosticators love Benjamin and predict him to be off the board in the first round. It is easy to fall in love with his physicality and with comparisons to Chicago’s Alshon Jeffrey but there is one major difference - well actually two - he doesn’t have the separation speed nor does he have the hands. Benjamin may be worth a shot in the fourth round but I see bust all over Benjamin considering where he will likely be selected.
13. Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin: The knock on the former Badger has been his athleticism but he tested well at the combine. Although he will not blow anyone away, he does something that is critical, he catches the ball. His hands are outstanding and he will be a good route runner and third down target in the pros. Abbrederis would be a very good late third - fourth round pick.
14. Martavis Bryant, Clemson: Bryant is a big receiver with plenty of raw skills, but is still very green. With some patience, he could develop into a nice receiver.
15. Devin Street, Pittsburgh: Street battled through several injuries but could be a steal in the later rounds. When healthy, he has been very productive. Street can track the ball and has very good hands.
16. Jarvis Landry, LSU: Landry played well for the Bayou Bengals as Beckham’s counterpart. He is a good football player despite lack of speed and would be a very nice fourth round pick.
17. Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma: Saunders is a quick, shifty receiver who loves to compete. He is not highly productive but played well in Oklahoma’s bowl game against Alabama and could contribute in the pros in a variety of roles.
18. Mike Davis, Texas: Davis has good size and solid speed and could be a project that could pay some dividends.
Jeff Janis, Saginaw Valley
Kevin Norwood, Alabama
Ryan Grant, Tulane
TJ Jones, Notre Dame
Cody Latimer, Indiana
Robert Herron, Wyoming
For more NFL coverage visit www.nfltalent.com and follow us on Twitter @nfltalentstaff.