In all actuality, this may be one of the most talented Drafts at the position when we look back ten years from now. A few players are coming out a little early adding to the depth, but overall we may see up to three taken in the first round and no less than 12 total should hear their names called sometime during the Draft.
Only a handful of Pro-Days remain for those looking to make a jump up big boards and if your name wasn’t Stephen Hill, you really didn’t standout at the NFL Combine.
Below is my Top 7 and a few “Sleeper Names You May Hear”.
1.) Justin Blackmon 6’1″ 207 LBS OKLAHOMA ST 4.46 40-YD DASH 35 INCH VERTICAL JUMP
Blackmon is very similar to former teammate and fellow Cowboy Dez Bryant in the comparison of production and down rite domination of College Football. After that, off the field and upstairs, Justin Blackmon has continued to separate himself from any comparisons between the two in either regard.
The Oklahoma native piled up 38 receiving touchdowns in two seasons, won two straight Biletnikoff Awards as the nations top receiver, and decided it was time to go pro after just his Junior season. Who can blame him? He is a natural receiver and has shown the ability to run routes like a pro already. His frame and run after catch makes him an all-around wide-out who should be a Bryant-Type, impact player and day one starter in the NFL.
A weakness some may point out is his average blocking.
2.) Michael Floyd 6’3″ 22o LBS NOTRE DAME 4.47 40-YD DASH 36.5 INCH VERTICAL JUMP
Floyd is a freakish athlete who is in the same category as Blackmon when it comes to showing consistent production, despite defenses knowing and most likely game-planning to stop them. If you haven’t watched the clip of Floyd on ESPN’s Sports Science, check it out and it will make you a believer in his athletic ability. His running vertical (Floyd’s 41.5) is higher than reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose‘s (40 in.).
With his size and frame, combined with the ability to block well and catch the ball over the middle, I see no reason why the 22 year old from St. Paul, MN won’t be the second receiver off the board come draft day.
3.) Alshon Jeffery 6’3″ 213 LBS SOUTH CAROLINA 4.47 40-YD DASH 36.5 INCH VERTICAL JUMP
Jeffery has been one of several different players heading into the draft whose stock continues to fluctuate. His weight was down from 216 at his pro day (each of his numbers are from S.CAR pro day) and some speculated he ran his first clocked forty-yard dash at 4.38. This may all be true, well the weight is official at least, but can he keep this pace of hard work and determination heading into the league? Alshon’s size and high level of domination in the SEC without ever having a decent, full-time QB leads me to believe he can excel and be great with an NFL quarterback.
One interesting fact I learned heading into this 2012 Draft was both a positive and somewhat of a negative in the aspect of Steve Spurrier‘s track record with Wide Receivers. He has had 25 Drafted into the NFL, but only one has been a Pro Bowler (Sidney Rice).
4.) Kendall Wright 5’10” 196 LBS BAYLOR 4.44 40-YD DASH (PRO DAY) 38.5 INCH VERTICAL JUMP
Kendall Wright was on the other end of 14 touchdowns thrown from Heisman Trophy winning teammate RG3 in the Baylor Bears magnificent 2011 football season. After a head-scratching 40 yard dash time at the combine (4.61), Wright headed into his pro day wanting to improve on that.
Though he is not the tallest guy on the field, his quickness and burst off the line make him a deep threat anytime he is on the field. Wright could become a player who is used in several different offensive packages and even on Special Teams just to get the ball in his hands.
5.) Stephen Hill 6’4″ 215 LBS GEORGIA TECH 4.36 40-YD DASH 133.0 INCH BROAD JUMP
Hill finds himself in a situation where he may be punished for the system in which he comes from. As a Yellow Jacket, playing in an option attack, opportunities for him to showcase his receiving skills were not abundant.
Yet, with that Speedy Gonzalez forty time at the combine and perhaps, the breakout success of Demaryius Thomas now outside of the exact same system shows it can be done. Combine Hill’s speed with his size and he will be a number one target in time.
6.) Nick Toon 6’2″ 215 LBS WISCONSIN 4.54 40-YD DASH 37.5 INCH VERTICAL JUMP
Here is another receiver who only found success after being blessed with an efficient quarterback. Toon was in an offense that epitomizes the ground and pound mentality. He runs strong routes and can contribute in the run game as a blocker and not become a liability. Being that he is the son of Wisconsin Hall of Famer and former New York Jet Pro Bowler Al Toon, I see him having the mind and ability to stick around for some time in the NFL.
7.) Rueben Randle 6’3″ 210 LBS LSU 4.55 40-YD DASH 31.0 INCH VERTICAL JUMP
Randle is yet another receiver coming out this year who just didn’t have enough opportunities throughout his collegiate career based on the offense in which his team ran.
Though Randle is not as polished as some of the others ranked above him at the position, his ability to catch the ball anywhere combined with his overall understanding of zones, coverages, and what it takes to win makes his value through the roof later in the draft.
SLEEPER NAMES WHO YOU MAY HEAR:
Joe Adams 5’11” 179 LBS ARKANSAS
Adams broke out his Senior season and proved to be a major contributor on a Top Ten offense and Team. He could find himself having success in a situation where he can play both Special Teams and in the slot because of his play-making ability, good hands, and overall speed.
Juron Criner 6’3″ 224 LBS ARIZONA
His career has been up and down but at times he has been as dominate as any receiver in college football. Criner’s great size and powerful athleticism will land him in the NFL, but, can his attitude and occasional disappearing act on the field be a thing of Juron’s past.
Dwight Jones 6’3″ 230 LBS UNC & Brian Quick 6’4″ 220 LBS APPALACHIAN STATE
Both of these receivers have the size that NFL teams are always looking for at the WR position.
Jones is very similar in college production and size to former UNC WR , standout Greg Little, who is now with the Cleveland Browns. Quick has all the potential in the world and will have to be in a perfect situation with a coach who knows how to develop young wide-outs. It wouldn’t hurt if they were teamed up with a Pro Bowl quarterback either, in fact they both could be productive as Rookies if in a scenario like that.
Tags: 2012 NFL Draft Al Toon Alshon Jeffery Arizona Baylor Brian Quick Demaryius Thomas Dez Bryant Dwight Jones ESPN Heisman Joe Adams Juron Criner Justin Blackmon Kendall Wright LSU Michael Floyd New York Jets NFL NFL Draft Nick Toon RG3 Rueben Randle SEC Sidney Rice Stephen Hill UNC