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2014 NFL Draft: Wide Receivers

Full breakdown and ranking of the wide receiver position in this years 2014 NFL Draft as told from a fantasy football perspective

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With each passing year more and more fantasy football players become aware at just how important it is to have consistency among your wide receivers. The NFL after all is a passing league but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is easier to find consistent WR’s. The fact is more and more WR’s are making an impact meaning the fluctuation from game to game is quite severe. NFL teams like fantasy owners are increasingly aware of just how important it is to find reliable receivers and thus you will see the position focused on in this year’s draft.

Overall this is a very good draft class for wide receivers. Obviously Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans steal a lot of the headlines but this group is as strong as it has been in years. Whether you’re looking for size, strength, speed or all three this collection of wannabe NFL WR’s has it. Let’s investigate these guys a little further and find out just who will be making an impact on Sunday’s this year and beyond.

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Top 5 In Need

1) Carolina Panthers – The Panthers need receivers like Real Housewives need attention. This is seriously the most depraved position anywhere in the NFL right now. The Panthers may select as many as three WR’s in this draft.

2) St. Louis Rams – If only the Rams had selected a receiver with the eighth overall pick in last years draft. Oh wait…they did and he is nothing but a glorified return man. So, they’ll have to spend another early pick this year to hopefully get it right.

3) Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill needs an every-down WR that he can rely on and force feed the ball when the rest of the offense is stalling. Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline can be quality secondary type guys but they need a star.

4) New Orleans Saints – Marques Colston is on borrowed time and after losing Lance Moore this offseason the Saints are in the market for their next WR1. This is a very important part of their offense and a very valuable fantasy football asset as well.

5) Buffalo Bills – Give E.J. Manuel some help on the outside, please. Stevie Johnson is a workhorse but his body keeps breaking down because he is too heavily relied on in this offense.

Other In Need

Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets & Baltimore Ravens

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NFL Combine WR Leaders

40 Yard Dash

PLAYER POS. SCHOOL SECONDS
Brandin Cooks WR Oregon St. 4.33
John Brown WR Pittsburgh St. 4.34
Donte Moncrief WR Mississippi 4.4
Paul Richardson WR Colorado 4.4
Martavis Bryant WR Clemson 4.42
Jeff Janis WR Saginaw Valley St. 4.42
Odell Beckham WR LSU 4.43
Sammy Watkins WR Clemson 4.43
Albert Wilson WR Georgia St. 4.43
Jalen Saunders WR Oklahoma 4.44
Bruce Ellington WR South Carolina 4.45
Quincy Enunma WR Nebraska 4.45
Mike Campanaro WR Wake Forest 4.46
Jordan Matthews WR Vanderbilt 4.46
Tevin Reese WR Baylor 4.46
L'Damian Washington WR Missouri 4.46

3 Cone Drill 

PLAYER POS. SCHOOL SECONDS
Damian Copeland WR Louisville 6.53
Tevin Reese WR Baylor 6.63
Jeff Janis WR Saginaw Valley St. 6.64
Ryan Grant WR Tulane 6.68
Kevin Norwood WR Alabama 6.68
Odell Beckham WR LSU 6.69
Bruce Ellington WR South Carolina 6.69
Walt Powell WR Murray St. 6.7
Isaiah Burse WR Fresno St. 6.74
Brandin Cooks WR Oregon St. 6.76
Michael Campanaro WR Wake Forest 6.77
Jared Abbrederis WR Wisconsin 6.8
Davante Adams WR Fresno St. 6.82
Robert Herron WR Wyoming 6.84

Vertical Leap 

PLAYER POS. SCHOOL Height
Tevin Reese WR Baylor 41
Damian Copeland WR Louisville 40
Donte Moncrief WR Mississippi 39.5
Davante Adams WR Fresno St. 39.5
Bruce Ellington WR South Carolina 39.5
Michael Campanaro WR Wake Forest 39
Martavis Bryant WR Clemson 39
Allen Robinson WR Penn St. 39
Odell Beckham WR LSU 38.5
Marqise Lee WR USC 38
Paul Richardson WR Colorado 38
Albert Wilson WR Georgia St. 37.5
Jeff Janis WR Saginaw Valley St. 37.5
Devin Street WR Pittsburgh 37
Shaq Evanes WR UCLA 37

Bench Press 

PLAYER POS. SCHOOL REPETITIONS
Cody Latimer WR Indiana 23
Brandon Coleman WR Rutgers 21
Jordan Matthews WR Vanderbilt 21
Marcus Lucas WR Missouri 20
Walt Powell WR Murray St. 20
Michael Campanaro WR Wake Forest 20
Jeff Janis WR Saginaw Valley St. 20
Robert Herron WR Wyoming 18
Isaiah Burse WR Fresno St. 16
Sammy Watkins WR Clemson 16
Brandin Cooks WR Oregon St. 16
Martavis Bryant WR Clemson 16
Jeremy Gallon WR Michigan 15
Bruce Ellington WR South Carolina 15
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1.  Sammy Watkins, Clemson, 6’1”, 211 lbs

There aren’t many legitimate game changing skill position players in this years draft. But, Sammy Watkins is definitely one of them. He is exceptionally fast and it’s not just straight line speed either. He also isn’t afraid of catching the ball in traffic or running with the ball in his hands after the catch. Ideally you would like your WR1 to have a bit more size but Watkins exceptional athleticism allows him to play bigger.

 

His numbers in the Clemson offense are to be disregarded but that doesn’t mean he won’t be a big time WR at the next level. Watkins got pinched for a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge in 2012 but has stayed clean since. There are some concerns whether he will be the type of star player to put in all of the offseason effort required to stay atop his game or go down the DeSean Jackson/Mike Williams road of thinking he is on easy street. Either way Watkins will be an early day one pick and makes for a very intriguing fantasy player in 2014.

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2.  Mike Evans, Texas A&M, 6’5”, 231 lbs

Evans will not be a star at the NFL level. He could however be a very productive possession type receiver with massive red zone prowess as long as he is willing to learn and hone his craft. He reminds me a lot of Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham as they were also former basketball players with raw football acumen. Evans uses his body very well which will allow him to make a quick impact at the next level no matter which offense he winds up playing in.

It was widely believed that Evans would crap the bed during the combine but he more than held his own across the board. His 4.5 speed was perhaps the biggest shocker of the entire event and has catapulted him into the first half of the first round this May. He is still too plodding coming in and out of breaks but his ability to get downfield reminds many of Buccaneers receiver Vincent Jackson.

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3.  Donte Moncrief, Mississippi, 6’2”, 220 lbs

One NFL team is going to get themselves an absolute steal in the middle rounds on Donte Moncrief. He is a big, fast and strong receiver who was incredibly underutilized while at Ole Miss. Of all the tape I have watched leading up to this draft Moncrief is a clear standout to me having the look and presence of a professional WR. What’s more is that Moncrief plays well even when not involved in the play. He blocks real well, sells his routes even when not the primary target and has ridiculous leaping ability. Years from now Moncrief will be regarded as one of the biggest steals in this years draft.

Many freak out because Moncrief never lived up to his prep star status and didn’t post great numbers while at Ole Miss. He isn’t a polished route runner either and will benefit greatly from NFL level coaching. 

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4.  Allen Robinson, Penn St. 6’2”, 220 lbs

Allen Robinson doesn’t have the highest upside of many other receivers in this draft but he is going to be an impact player for a long time at the next level. Robinson does everything well. He is an exceptional route runner, beats the jam at the line of scrimmage, competes well for jump balls and catches everything in his zone. Has three seasons in a pro style offense at Penn State.

He just doesn’t have the elite speed either straight line or laterally that you would love in a true WR1. Robinson will be a much better option in PPR leagues than in standard scoring formats. 

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5.  Odell Beckham, LSU, 5’11”, 190 lbs

I hesitate putting Beckham this high on the list because if he goes to the wrong team he can be a complete bust. Beckham is an exceptional athlete and honestly could be a high level NFL RB. He’s dangerous with the ball in his hands and could be relegated to return duties in his rookie year. I love his leaping ability as it helps him play bigger than his under six-foot frame.

Considering he will likely play inside a lot I didn’t see many tough catches in traffic from Beckham over the years. He is one of those rare players that is faster with the ball in his hands then he is in his routes. His production is tied directly into the situation to which he is drafted. Beckham could be a massive producer in the Saints style offense or could be a special teams role player on a team like the Browns. 

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6.  Kelvin Benjamin, Florida St., 6’5”, 240 lbs

I love Kelvin Benjamin. Although he is another WR with basketball roots, he is a football player in every sense of the word. He plays well off the ball, he elevates his game with the ball in his hands and he thrives in clutch moments. He obviously has tremendous size and will be a big time red zone option at the next level.

Benjamin isn’t quick and he isn’t fast. He moves like a tight end which will cause problems on the outside. He was such a mismatch for collegiate cornerbacks that it is difficult to say whether he will be able to dominate at the next level. He’s going to have a productive NFL career, I am just not sure whether it will be as a starting WR, a limited snap red zone target or a special teams ace.

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7.  Davante Adams, Fresno St., 6’1”, 215 lbs

Adams was an incredibly productive college player mostly because of the pass heavy system he played in at Fresno St. But he is great athletic ability and is one of the most gifted pass catchers in this draft. His QB’s will absolutely love throwing him the football.

It just seems as though Adams plays smaller than his size and physical tools suggest. On tape he reminds me of Bobby Engram. He is a bit of a project as he needs to put on muscle and can improve his routes quite a bit. 

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8.  Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt, 6’3”, 212 lbs

Matthews is a very intriguing player. He’s a cousin of NFL Hall Of Famer Jerry Rice, which immediately boosts his stock right there. He has great size, speed and desire to impact each facet of his position. There are rumblings of him having a diva like persona but on the field I see a starting caliber NFL prospect.

He doesn’t use his body well. Matthews is one of those players who will make your jaw drop with a highlight reel catch and then follow it up by punting an easy one. If he can get to camp and display the work ethic and drive of his cousin, Matthews could be an All-Pro WR one day. 

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9.  Brandin Cooks, Oregon St., 5’10”, 180 lbs

Cooks is a world class athlete. He ran a 4.33 forty yard dash at the combine and 3.81 cone drill which is among the best times of all who ran. Cooks won the Biletnikoff Award last year for best WR in the nation. He is a game changer in the open field and does an exceptional job at catching the ball on the run. He could be absolutely lethal in a timing offense with an accurate QB.

Despite being incredibly fast and productive in college, Cooks has a very slight frame and could be manhandled by bigger NFL defensive backs. He is going to need an offensive system that suits his skills. 

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10.  Cody Latimer, Indiana, 6’2”, 215 lbs

Latimer is climbing up draft boards quicker than any other WR in the draft right now. He presents a nice blend of size and athleticism but is also quite a raw football player.

Every year a handful of players put on a clinic in workouts and at the combine and Latimer is one of this years breakouts. I worry that he looks so much better without pads then he ever did in them. 

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Other WR’s Of Note

Marqise Lee, USC, 6’0”, 192 lbs – Productive player but also injury prone and doesn’t stand out in any physical category.

Shaq Evans, UCLA, 6’1”, 213 lbs – A flashy upside player that has bouts of ineffectiveness.

Jeff Janis, Saginaw Valley St, 6’3”, 219 lbs – This dude tore up the combine but is a small school standout and white. Those two attributes do not lend itself well at the next level.

Martavis Bryant, Clemson, 6’4”, 211 lbs – Really reminds me of the late former Bengal Chris Henry and has very similar upside.

L’Damian Washington, Missouri, 6’4”, 195 lbs – Body catcher who had a very impressive combine effort. Could be a breakout rookie in the right system.


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