Last Updated: Apr 26, 2011 2:24 PM
Some receivers are ready-made for the NFL like a new pair of shoulder pads off the assembly line. Just take a look at last year's rookies Dez Bryant and Mike Williams. Both players made the transition into the NFL look easy. But for other WRs, the ability to not only perform but to succeed on the Pro Level doesn't typically happen in the first year. Below you'll find our Top 10 Wide Receivers and how they performed at this year's Scouting Combine. Plus we had our friend Todd DeVries, who runs our brother site CollegeFootballGeek.com and is the leading expert in College Fantasy Football, add some insight about this incoming group of players.
1. AJ Green, Georgia (6'4 211 pounds, 4.50 40 yard dash): The hands down #1 Wide Receiver in this year's class, Green is a physical specimen standing at 6'3 and weighing in at 211 pounds. He's got terrific hands and runs precise routes. In other words, he's the total package. All that being said, he wasn't a combine standout and failed to finish in the Top 5 in any category. His 4.50 second 40 yard dash was 12th among fellow WRs. Regardless of his results at the Combine, Green is still expected to be the first Wide Receiver drafted in April.
College Football Geek Insight: “Complete package. Big frame at 6-foot-4 and 212 pounds. Excellent hands. Fluid route running. Elite speed. Might need to bulk up a bit in the weight room. Big-time playmaker that should make an immediate impact.”
2. Julio Jones, Alabama (6'3, 220 pounds, 4.39 40 yard dash): If Green is the clear-cut #1 WR, than Jones is Numero Dos. He has the genetic makeup, talent, and athletic ability to eventually transform into a top-notch NFL Wide Receiver. Whether he's the one initiating contact or taking a hit, Jones admittedly likes to play physical football. That quality is key on the professional level since defenders are much more physical, stronger, and faster compared to those in college. At the combine, Jones helped his draft stock immensely. His 4.39 seconds 40 yard dash was 3rd fastest for WRs and his 11.3 broad jump was the best in class. Jones really displayed his athleticism during every drill and some scouts say his performance at the combine may have pushed him toward a Top 15 pick. Add in the fact that Jones had a fracture in his foot during the workouts makes his results all that more impressive.
College Football Geek Insight: “Physical, athletic freak of nature. Great after the catch. High character guy. Good blocker. A terror with the ball in his hands. Tough to tackle. Tough guy who has played through multiple injuries.”
3. Jonathan Baldwin, Pittsburgh (6'4, 228 pounds, 4.50 40 yard dash): Like AJ Green, Baldwin has great size. He has reliable hands and given his ability to jump (42 inch vertical was best in class), Baldwin should turn into a solid Red Zone target. He isn't the most elusive receiver, but since he weighs in at 228, he excels at breaking tackles and getting yards after contact. Not super speedy so he isn't much of a deep threat but given his physical attributes and catching ability, Baldwin should be a late 1st or mid-2nd round pick.
College Football Geek Insight: “Great size at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds. Knows how to use his frame to shield corners. Gets a lot of yards after the catch. Not a great router runner yet. Not a home run threat.”
4. Torrey Smith, Maryland (6'1, 204 pounds, 4.43 40 yard dash) Smith has big play speed and can stretch the Defense when he shifts into his second gear. His 4.43 40 yard dash was tied for 4th best among WRs. This Maryland product has the UPs of an NBA player, his 41.0 inch vertical was 2nd best, which is why he excels at jumping and snatching the ball at it's highest point. However, he needs to develop into a better route runner if he wants to transition into an every down receiver and not just a deep threat.
College Football Geek Insight “Great acceleration. Excellent agility and moves with the ball after the catch and in return game. Average blocker. Runs great vertical routes thanks to his speed.”
5. Leonard Hankerson, Miami (6'2, 209 pounds, 4.43 40 yard-dash) Like many of his predecessors at the U, Hankerson has a good combination of size and speed. He impressed scouts at the combine with a fast 40 yard dash (tied for 4th) and a solid 36 inch vertical jump. In order to succeed in the NFL, he'll need to become a better pass catcher and route runner.
College Football Geek Insight: “Prototypical NFL size at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds. Great body control. Long arms. Long strides. Average speed. Inconsistent hands. Can be an erratic router runner at times.”
6. Titus Young, Boise State (5'11, 174 pounds, 4.53 40 yard dash): Young was a focal point in the dynamic Boise State Offense, catching 71 passes for over 1,200 yards along with 9 TDs in 2010. His ability to make defenders miss when the ball is in his hands is extraordinary. Plus he is a great punt and kick returner which is why many scouts are already comparing him to DeSean Jackson. At the combine he didn't show a lot of flashiness mainly due to a calf cramp that forced him to miss some of the drills. One major drawback is his lack of size, but because of his quick moves and jukes, Young doesn't take on a lot of big hits.
College Football Geek Insight: “Explosive speed and quickness. Great catching the deep ball. Makes lots of big plays. Good kick returner. Skinny at 5-foot-11 and 174 pounds. Not great going over the middle. Not a good blocker.”
7. Edmund Gates, Abilene Christian (6'0 192 pounds, 4.37. 40 yard dash): Gates is an explosive receiver with blazing speed. His 4.37 40 yard dash was tied for the fastest among receivers. Thanks to his burst and jumping ability (40 inch vertical), Gates may develop into a dangerous deep threat in the NFL. Plus his agility and shiftiness add to his potential as a return man. For a player that's 6'0, he's a bit small weight wise, so he'll need to add some mass over the summer in preparation for his Rookie season. One drawback with Gates is the fact he is 25 years old, most rookies are in the 21, 22, 23 age range.
College Football Geek Insight: “Very fast. Raw. Competition is a question. Converted basketball player.“
8. Randall Cobb, Kentucky (5'10, 191 pounds, 4.46 40 yard dash) Cobb is a tremendous athlete and despite his smallish size, he isn't afraid of contact. While playing for the Wildcats, Cobb lined up all over the field including RB and QB in Wildcat Formations. In fact, most believe Cobb will play RB on the Pro-Level (think Darren Sproles or Dexter McCluster). Given his ability to find openings in the Defense and quickness in the open field, Cobb may take on a role as a Return man as well.
College Football Geek Insight: “Might have been the most versatile player in the country. Lined up at QB, RB and WR.”
9. Greg Little, North Carolina (6'3, 220 pounds, 4.55 40 yard dash): Little was suspended in 2010 by the NCAA for violating regulations and accepting “gifts” from agents and other contributors. But like last year's standout rookies Dez Bryant and Mike Williams (TB), not being able to play the last season in college doesn't necessarily mean one can't or won't succeed in the NFL. When Little was on the field, he put his athleticism on full display. He has great ball skills and can come down with the difficult catch. And at 6'3, 220 pounds, Greg isn't so Little. He has deceptive speed and the strength to break tackles. If it wasn't for Julio Jones' dominant performance at the combine, Little may have stood out a bit more. He pumped out 27 repetitions on the bench press, which was the most by any WR, his 40.5 vertical leap was 4th best as was his 10'9 broad jump. One area he will need to improve is his route running.
College Football Geek Insight “Strange career that starting at running back. Switched to wide receiver. Then missed 2010 season due to dealings with an agent. Not polished wide receiver yet. Big guy at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds.”
10. Jerrel Jernigan, Troy (5'9, 185 pounds, 4.46 40 yard dash): Jernigan is a player similar to Randall Cobb. Both are speedsters and big time competitors packed into a small body frame. Like Cobb, Jernigan may find himself lining up in the backfield on 3rd down or as the deep man on Punt or Kick Returns. Because of his size and speed, Jernigan is elusive in the open field, but he isn't much of a red zone threat, unless of course he's going the distance on a long bomb.
College Football Geek Insight: “Only 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds, but proved he could make plays against bigger corners. Was used in the backfield quite a bit, and also as a kick returner. Amazing speed. Smart player with big play potential.”
Ricardo Lockette, Fort Valley State: (6'2, 211 pounds) Lockette tied Gates for the fastest 40 yard dash time of 4.37 seconds. He's a raw talent that must develop into a better route runner. But he has long arms and maintains body control when going up for the ball.
Aldrick Robinson, SMU (5'10, 184 pounds 4.43 40 yard dash) Robinson was a quality slot receiver in college. He displayed great hands while at SMU and attacks the middle of the field on slant and in routes. However, his moves in the open field need some work, plus he'll need to adjust to a Pro Style Offense.