2014 NFL Draft: Power Ranking Top 5 Wide Receiver Prospects
Power Ranking Top 5 Wide Receiver Prospects
The 2014 wide receiver class is one of the deepest in years, and very well could produce more stars than the 2013 class, which had players like Tavon Austin, Cordarrelle Patterson and Keenan Allen. The 2014 class is headlined by Sammy Watkins, but after him, the talent pool evens out for the next 10 or so prospects.
Making a top five list was hard, simply because there are so many players who deserve to be on it. Some of the more notable players to miss the list are Brandin Cooks and Kelvin Benjamin. Both are talented receivers with different skill sets and predicted success at the NFL level, but they were bumped simply because of the talent ahead of them.
Last year there were only three receivers selected in the first round, and although the draft is still a few months away, experts everywhere are predicting four or more to be selected come May 8. Not all the receivers who are drafted in the first round compare to the talented Watkins, but all have a high ceiling and a transferable skill set.
Ranking different style receivers was difficult and can be shown by comparing Mike Evans and Marqise Lee, two first-round talents who have very different playing styles. When making the list, however, I tried to rank players by how big of an impact they will make at the next level. This made it hard to exclude Cooks, who has the burst and speed to be a star, but it just goes to show how deep and talented this wide receiver class really is.
No. 5 Odell Beckham Jr.
Odell Beckham Jr. nearly missed the list in favor of Cooks, but in the end it was his combination of speed and body control that led him to come in as my fifth ranked wide receiver. Although standing at just 5-foot-11, Beckham makes a play on every deep ball thrown his way, and often is the player coming down with it. Although not showcasing blazing speed, the combination of his juke skills and the speed he possesses should allow him to pickup plenty of yards after the catch upon entering the NFL.
No. 4 Marqise Lee
While Beckham has the skills to get by as a legitimate after the catch threat, Marqise Lee will make his money by turning quick slants into 80-yard touchdowns. Lee has shown inconsistent hands at times and has his fair share of terrible drops, but the speed and quickness he shows in games allows his to routinely break at least one tackle upon making a catch. Lee is spectacular in the short game, but he has the speed to get past corners and catch the deep ball as well.
No. 3 Jordan Matthews
Although almost all mock drafts have Lee tagged as the third best receiver, I see Jordan Matthews as a bigger and more physically gifted player than the USC product. Matthews’ speed has been questioned by some, but when watching the tape, it’s obvious he can blow past safeties and turn short passes into long touchdowns. I expect a lot out of Matthews upon entering the NFL, and right now my best comparison for his speed and ability to break tackles compares to that of Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns.
No. 2 Mike Evans
At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, Mike Evans is one of the most physically gifted receivers in the coming class. With his size, he’s obviously one of the more dangerous red-zone threats in college football, and has even shown some impressive body control when going for those jump-ball catches. Speed isn’t one of Evans’ strengths, but as long as he’s able to continue jumping for the ball and showing his strong hands, he should be the second receiver taken in the coming draft, and possibly have a career similar to Vincent Jackson of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Evans already has the skills to be a dominant player in the NFL, but with a talented QB and a solid No. 2 receiver opposite him, he could develop into one of the next pass-catching superstars.
No. 1 Sammy Watkins
Sammy Watkins tops this list because he has the playmaking ability of an elite running back and the hands and leaping ability of a superstar wide receiver. Watkins is the best runner after the catch when it comes to receivers and is almost guaranteed to break at least one tackle upon making a reception. Watkins has also shown during his time at Clemson he’s a real threat to hurt you with the deep ball, and can even jump over cornerbacks to make the catch as he did a couple times against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, where he recorded 16 receptions for 227 yards.