If speed, talent, size, toughness and play-making ability is what you want out of a wide receiver draft class, then you are in for a treat.  The 2014 wide receiver draft class has NFL ready talent and immediate impact players among the top ten.  There is a consensus that Sammy Watkins, out Clemson, is the number one.  After that, each player has their advantages and opportunities that place them in a tight group whose eventual draft position will be based on team philosophy and how that player will fit into the team’s system.

1.  Sammy Watkins, 6’ 1”, 205 lbs, Clemson:
Watkins is ready, now, to step onto a NFL field and be a team’s number one wide receiver.  He is off the charts with his ability to just make plays and is the highest ranked wide receiver in this year’s draft, according to CBS sports and ESPN.  Last year Watkins caught 101 passes for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns.  He has elite speed and burst.  His best attribute is his ability to create space away from the ball with quickness, agility and athleticism, all without using his body.  The product of Clemson has the most playmaking ability of this class’s wide receivers.  Size, speed, soft hands and tenacity to get the ball and do something with it makes Watkins, easily, the top option in 2014.

Weaknesses:  He has had multiple injuries in his three years at Clemson and has been arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance and marijuana.  Character questions are an issue.

Current projection:  Top ten.

2.  Marqise Lee, 6'0", 195 lbs, USC:
Lee is the most polished route runner in this year’s draft.  He has all the intangibles you want and need out of a player.  His 2013 numbers are deceiving having had a lesser quarterback throw to him than in 2012, when Lee hauled in 118 receptions, 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns.  His 4.49 second 40 yard dash time is deceiving because he is a player that plays faster with pads on.  Lee came from a tough background with no father around and both brothers succumbing to gang life, one dead and one in prison for murder.  His determination to stay out of trouble has followed him to the football field and has lead to his success on the gridiron.


Weaknesses:  Lacks size and strength, sometimes has trouble holding onto the ball.

Current projection: Middle of the first round.

3.  Mike Evans, 6'5", 220 lbs, Texas A&M:
Evans has the prototypical size every team desires of a wide receiver.  Generally considered, the second best prospect in this year’s draft, Evans, lacks in big play ability and drops to number three on our list.  The Aggie caught 69 passes for 1,394 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013.  He has above average straight-line speed and is durable.  His size helps, but he is also a rugged guy playing a finesse position.  Evans runs a 4.58 second 40, which shows he is not as quick as teams would like, but he does have tremendous work ethic and dedication to get better.

Weaknesses:  Lacks agility and burst off the line and in and out of routes.

Current projection: Middle of the first round.

4. Brandon Cooks, 5’ 10”, 195lbs, Oregon State:
Cooks is a true burner and the fastest wide receiver in the top of the draft.  The 2013 Biletnikof Winner caught 128 passes for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns.  Already a speedster with a 4.4 second 40 yard dash, Cooks says he will run a 4.3 time at the combine (CBS Sports).  The Oregon State Junior has good hands and is an extremely smooth route runner who makes everything look easy on the field.  This guy is a playmaker and draws comparisons to Steve Smith and Randall Cobb.

Weaknesses:  Cooks small stature could worry some NFL teams.

Current projection: Late first to mid second round.

5.  Odell Beckham Jr, 5’ 11”, 193 lbs, LSU:
Beckham is a tough wide receiver that performs well and is fearless in traffic.  He has great receiving hands, durability, and solid speed, not to mention his burst off the line.  In 2013 he had 59 receptions for 1,152 yards and eight touchdowns.  For a smaller receiver, he uses his body well to gain separation and has great control of his it when fighting against defenders for the ball.  Beckham has been clocked at 4.49 seconds in the 40.

Weaknesses:  Small build, has issues not being able to separate from defenders without the ball, holding onto the ball once he catches it.

Current projection: Late first to mid second round.

Written by: Nic Amanno

Follow me on Twitter: @ChicoAlum

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