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2014 NFL Draft Rankings: Wide Receivers
By Matt Horkman

Sammy Watkins

1. Sammy Watkins, Clemson
The best skill player of this class, Watkins has the versatility to lineup outside, in the slot, or even in the backfield. He displays elite acceleration and is dangerous after the catch. He’ll make defenders look foolish in space. He’s a good pass catcher, aggressively going up and getting the ball instead of waiting for it to come to him. Overall, Watkins is a unique talent with the ability to change the tide of a game with a single play. He has the size, athleticism, and on-field hustle to develop into one of the game’s elite wide receivers.

2. Jarvis Landry, LSU
Playing in a pro system under Cam Cameron in 2013 helped Landry develop into one of college football’s best receivers. He has exceptional hands, routinely making difficult catches look easy. In addition, his concentration is amazing. He often caught passes in traffic, as quarterback Zach Mettenberger liked to throw into tight windows. Landry is also excellent after the catch, commonly making defenders miss. An awful 40 time at the NFL combine (4.77) could slide him down several boards, although his tape suggests he's faster than a 4.77. Moreover, he compensates for his lack of straight-line speed with superb route running. In conclusion, Landry is one of the most polished receivers of his class and stands out on tape more than teammate -- and potential first-round pick -- Odell Beckham does. Landry could potentially develop into one of the game’s most dangerous slot receivers.

3. Marqise Lee, USC
The 2012 Biletnikoff Award winner, Lee is versatile enough to lineup outside or in the slot. He is a great athlete (38-inch vertical leap), showing great acceleration in and out of his breaks. His straight-line speed is pretty good. He battled injuries throughout 2013, which attributed to the drop in his production. Overall, he’s a polished NFL receiver who is dangerous after the catch. 

4. Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
A blazing wide receiver, Cooks is elite after the catch. He’ll turn a short gain into a long one in the blink of an eye. He has good hands and makes playing the position look easy. His size (5-foot-10, 183 pounds) could limit him, especially against press coverage. He was incredibly productive at Oregon State, winning the 2013 Biletnikoff Award. Overall, Cooks uses his toughness and game-changing speed to overcome his size limitations. While he can play outside, he’ll do most of his damage from the slot. He compares to Green Bay receiver Randall Cobb.

5. Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
An excellent route runner with great hands, Beckham could hear his named called in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He uses his hands (not his body) to catch the ball, consistently plucking it out of thin air. He also accelerates in and out of his breaks well. His combination of size and speed is ideally suited for the NFL. He'll also contribute in the return game. His upside is high.

6. Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
Benjamin is a big, long-stride receiver who improved considerably (especially as a route runner) from 2012 to 2013. At times, it’s as if he’s’ wearing stickum on his gloves, as he goes up and takes the ball away from opposing defenders. However, he sometimes drops easy passes due to a lack of concentration. Benjamin lacks elite straight-line speed, but he makes up for it by using his big body to out position defensive backs. He’s still developing as a receiver, but he exhibits all the physical traits to emerge as a starting receiver in the mold of Alshon Jeffery.

7. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
No other receiver in SEC history caught as many passes (223) as Matthews did. His route running is superb. In fact, he’ll run himself open, leaving defensive backs looking clueless. In addition, he consistently gets a clean release off the line of scrimmage. He also uses his hands (not his body) to catch the ball. For whatever it’s worth, he’s the cousin of legendary NFL receiver Jerry Rice. Matthews plays the position with ease. He’s one of the most polished looking receivers of his class.

8. Mike Evans, Texas A&M
At 6-foot-5 and 231 pounds, Evans ran a 4.53 in the 40-yard dash. His game speed may not be as quick as his timed one, for he doesn’t consistently separate from opposing defensive backs. However, he’s able to use his massive frame to outmaneuver opponents, allowing him to win many jump balls. He also makes good adjustments to the ball while it’s in the air. His hands are good (not great) and he could show more effort blocking, but overall, Evans is a bid-bodied possession receiver with good upside.

9. Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin
Maybe the most fluid route runner of his class, Abbrederis was first-team Big Ten in 2012 and 2013. He consistently battles on the field, evident by a remarkable performance (10 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown) against Ohio State, where Buckeye cornerback Bradley Roby -- a projected first-round pick -- matched up on him for much of the night. A former walk-on at Wisconsin, Abbrederis does a nice job of finding the ball in the air. Most teams will play him in the slot, but he’s also capable of producing on the outside. Good hands, route running, and toughness should allow Abbrederis to contribute as a No. 2 or high-end No. 3 receiver in the pros.

10. Davante Adams, Fresno State
Adams has the prototype size of an NFL receiver. He stands 6-foot-2, 212 pounds and displays average straight-line speed. He’s coming out as a sophomore red shirt, so he’s still developing as a prospect. He led FBS with 131 receptions, but playing with a high-level quarterback (Derek Carr) in a pass-oriented system likely inflated his production. Nevertheless, Adams is a natural pass catcher with the raw tools to develop into a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver.

Best of the Rest
Jeremy Gallon, Michigan
Josh Huff, Oregon
T.J. Jones, Notre Dame
Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss
Allen Robinson, Penn State

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