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The Second Tier of Rookie Wide Receivers

 

Something interesting happened at the NFL Combine this year.  There was a vast array of big, fast wide receivers there who really surprised a lot of people.  We know that guys like Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd are going to go in the first round of the NFL draft and most likely in your rookie draft, too, but what about this vast array of talent below the surface?  Let’s face it, not all wide receivers have the potential to be a #1 option on an NFL team.  To be “the guy” you need three things that most humans don’t have in abundance:

1.) Size
2.) Speed
3.) Agility

If you have this “SSA” and you had a great college career, there is no doubt you’ll be a first round pick (notice I didn’t say you’d be successful in the NFL).  If you have “SSA,” but you didn’t have a stellar college career, you’re what we like to call a sleeper.

In this rookie pool, there are more sleeper receivers with the potential to be a #1 receiver in the NFL than I’ve ever seen in my 35 years of following the NFL.  This is a very deep pool to choose from which can lead you in two directions from a strategy perspective.

First, you can try to get the best of the best, Blackmon or Floyd, figuring it’s better to be safe and take a guy that stands out in a great pool.

Or, you can roll the dice, get a running back or quarterback in the first round and wait for one of the guys we’ll list below to just fall into your lap.

Of course, if you’re really receiver starved, you might want to just combine both strategies and take a bunch of these guys!

Any of these strategies have their risks.  Highly-touted college players sometimes bomb and guys with good potential (and short resumes) don’t always live up to the potential that their “SSA” seems to indicate.  So how do we separate the wheat from the chafe?  Well, I will at least give you my opinions here so that you can make an informed decision come this fall.  Mind you, the list below isn’t every second tier rookie receiver on the market, these are just the guys who I feel stand out as having the possibility of developing into a #1 receiver down the road.  I’ve listed these guys in order of potential, as I see it.

Keep in mind, nobody on this list is shorter than 6’3”, weighs less than 210 lbs or ran slower than a 4.55 forty.  These are simply eight wideouts who have the “SSA” to be a #1 option in the NFL – which ones will you be choosing?

  1. Alshon Jeffery, WR SC
    Late in 2010, Alshon Jeffery was being looked at as a top 10 NFL draft pick.  At 6’3” and 216 lbs, he has dominated SEC competition ever since he stepped on the college football field.  Fast forward to March 2011 and Alshon Jeffery is an also ran.  He’s no longer being considered a first round pick and questions have arisen about his weight and speed.  All of this befuddles me because he never has had any character problems, he just had poor quarterbacking and a run heavy offense (I can’t believe I said that about Steve Spurrier) his junior year.He came to the combine weighing 216 lbs, but this is still dismissed because he didn’t do any position drills. There is still some question of his speed, but he certainly has looked fast enough on the field to be a playmaker.

    So, here we are, looking at a “second tier” WR with first tier credentials and a bad rap built up by the media with no evidence to support.  This is what I call a “value proposition.”  If you can get him late in the first round or early second in your rookie draft, take him and don’t look back – you’ll be glad you did.

  2. Nick Toon, WR WIS 

    The beef with Nick Toon is his speed.  At 6’2” and 215 lbs., he certainly has the build of a #1 receiver.  Toon played at Wisconsin which is a run heavy program, so he didn’t put up gaudy stats – he finished with 822 yards and nine touchdowns his senior year.  He did well at the combine with a 40 time of 4.54 and beat that at his pro-day, running a 4.43 with a 39” vertical leap.  His father was NFL receiver Al Toon, so there is a bloodline there, too.  He projects to be a third round pick and while I believe he will take some time to develop, he has all of the tools to be a successful WR in the NFL.  If he gets drafted by a good passing team, look for him to contribute and possibly develop into the #1 guy eventually.

  3. Brian Quick, WR APP ST 

    Here’s the small school receiver who will not get noticed on draft day by most fantasy drafters.  First, he has an awesome name for a WR!  Second, at 6’4” and 220 lbs., he is an imposing presence.  He ran a 4.55 40 at the combine, which is not blazing. but it’s plenty fast enough to create separation.  He dominated the FCS and clearly was the best receiver at that level of play last year.  He accounted well for himself at the Senior Bowl and may need some time to develop, but he certainly has the potential to be a #1 guy someday.

  4. Tommy Streeter, WR MIA 

    Now we’re into the guys who played at respectable schools, but didn’t have standout careers regardless of having the “SSA” to succeed.  Tommy Streeter was overshadowed at the combine by Stephen Hill, but for those paying attention, Streeter also put on a show.  At 6’5” and 219 lbs., Streeter ran a ridiculous 4.40 forty, bench pressed 17 times at 225 (the best for a WR was 22) and had a 125” broad jump.  He is a terrific athlete who really had only one decent year at the University of Miami, but still possesses a ton of upside.  His kind of size and speed does not come around often. If he gets into the right hands in the NFL, he could turn into a monster.

  5. Greg Childs, WR ARK 

    Here’s an interesting case.  Greg Childs was having a phenomenal junior campaign, posting 48 receptions, 894 yards and seven touchdowns.  He then promptly blew out his knee and never regained his college glory as Joe Adams and Jarius Wright became the go to guys.  Here’s the thing. Childs came back only six months after his injury to participate in spring practice, without a brace.  He was lauded for his toughness, but he was clearly not himself and he had a very poor senior season.Flash forward to his pro-day and Childs is back to his old self running a 4.40 and 4.39 forty at 6’3” and 212 lbs.  He stole the show at Arkansas’ pro day and many feel he moved his draft status up into the third round, which is still fertile wide receiver ground for dynasty teams.  Keep an eye on where he goes and if he has a good pre-season, he could be a steal on draft day.

  6. Stephen Hill, WR GT 

    Ok, here’s where I know I will have some detractors.  Stephen Hill lit up the combine and blew the doors off of everyone above him on this list, so how can you possibly rate him so low?  Good question – let me answer.  Hill did in fact blow the doors off the combine with a blazing 4.36 forty along with top notch scores in the shuttle, vertical leap and broad jump.  He’s clearly an awesome athlete and at 6’4” and 215 lbs., he has an awesome “SSA.”So why not higher?

    Hill is a Georgia Tech product and he’s an underdeveloped wide receiver.  Georgia Tech, if you don’t know, has a triple option run oriented offense that only throws the ball a few times a game.  In three years, he caught only 48 balls and was mostly asked to run deep posts and fly patterns.  He does not come to the NFL with the ability to create separation against press coverage nor with any type of route running rhythm at all.  He is on this list, so I’m not saying he won’t or can’t succeed.  What I’m saying is that I think he will take longer to develop than the five guys above him on this list.  If and when he does develop, he might well be the best of the bunch, though.  That said, I think the hype around him could make him implode if the expectations get too high that he can never reach them.

  7. Reuben Randle, WR LSU 

    The LSU product was a top-notch recruit out of high school who really never hit his stride until last season.  LSU’s QB play the last few years has left a lot to be desired.  He’s a great athlete, despite the lack of production in college and at 6’3” and 210 lbs., and owner of a 4.55 40 at the combine, he has the “SSA” to be successful at the next level.  Many believe he could sneak into the first round, but I believe he will be more of a low second to early third rounder.  Depending on where he goes, he could be another sneaky pickup in rookie dynasty league drafts.

  8. Marvin McNutt, WR IOWA 

    Our final contestant measures in at 6’3” and 216 lbs., and ran a 4.54 40 at the combine.  He played at Iowa, not a bastion of a passing game, but managed a stellar senior season with 78 catches and 1,269 yards to go with 12 touchdowns – that’s an awesome year.  He’s not the shiftiest guy in the world and he’s not tremendously elusive, but he has the “SSA” to be a great possession receiver to start his career and in the right location, he could be a sleeper #1 WR, too.

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10 years ago

not to be the class clown but why didn’t y’all reverse the order to:
1.) Agility
2.) Speed
3.) Size

???

🙂

Ken Clein
Reply to  C.Crane
10 years ago

Very funny! Believe it or not, I didn’t even see that when I wrote it!

Chris R
Reply to  C.Crane
10 years ago

Our minds are in the gutter 🙂

Rob
10 years ago

Ha! Nice catch Crane.

There was a little buzz about Dwight Jones early in the season. He’s 6’3 and 230 lb. Any upside here?

Reply to  Rob
10 years ago

Hahaha Yeah I caught that right off the bat so I had to say that ^^^^.
Dwight Jones had some disciplinary issues I believe? Not sure… but I love UNC WR’s

Boomer
10 years ago

This is truly a year where if you can stockpile second round picks you’re going to hit a home run. It’s not a matter of if but how many of them. Also, if there was ever a draft to trade a future first to get an early second this year it’s probably worth it. The depth in this draft at the skill positions is ridiculous.

tim
10 years ago

Great article Ken. Nice to see one that isn’t about Trent Richardson or Justin Blackmon! Some of us are good at this game and therefore don’t have the 1.01 or 1.02 ;).

Reply to  tim
10 years ago

Thanks Tim, I’m with you buddy, 1.12 in a 12 team league this year!

CJH
Reply to  Ken Clein
10 years ago

I won it last year, have the 1.2 pick and three first rounders next year – nothing like timely trading :-).

Josh G
Reply to  CJH
10 years ago

Yep..won it last year too..but still got 1.01 and 1.02…gotta love the trades!

Boomer
Reply to  Josh G
10 years ago

Lol won mine as well. Pick 1.2, 1.6, and 1.8….for now.

Draho
10 years ago

Any relation between Brian and Mike Quick?

Steve Wyremski
10 years ago

For what it’s worth, I’ve seen Hill go off the board as the 3rd receiver in my rookie drafts after the combine. The hype is there.

Apparently scouts are saying he’ll either be a probowl player in 3 years or out of the league. He’s the definition of a boom/bust guy.

Ken Clein
Reply to  Steve Wyremski
10 years ago

Agreed. I shy away from taking boom/bust guys until the 3rd or 4th round. Hill won’t be there in most leagues due to hype, so he won’t be on my team. Of course, I already have Fitz, Vjax, Britt, White, Cruz and Decker!!!

Sensai_John_Kreese
Reply to  Ken Clein
10 years ago

You’ve got Blair White????

*disclaimer for the sarcastically challenged

Krcil
10 years ago

I found this very helpful. Thanks! Hoping to see the same thing when it comes to RB (unless you have already done it and I missed it).

Good work!

Alan Bauerle
10 years ago

Ok we had the year of the qb. Now it’s the year of the Stockpiling sleeper recievers. When’s it gonba be the year of the rb. It’s been a while. Thanks you guys are the best dynasty site out there!

Sensai_John_Kreese
Reply to  Alan Bauerle
10 years ago

That was 2008

CJ, Slaton, Mendenhall, McFadden, Charles, JStew, Matt Forte, Ray Rice, Kevin Smith, Tim Hightower, and Law Firm.

There will never be another like it.

Krcil
Reply to  Sensai_John_Kreese
10 years ago

what ever happen to steve slaton? Did he blow his knee out or something?

Sensai_John_Kreese
Reply to  Krcil
10 years ago

No, he wasn’t injured. He couldn’t stop fumbling. Also, Arian Foster. Slaton benefited from that amazing Houston O-Line. I guarantee that I, (all 5’11 180 of me), could have gotten 1000 yards running behind those guys.

Miguel
Reply to  Krcil
10 years ago

Last I heard, he was tearing it up in Miami as their 3rd string running back.

Coach
Reply to  Sensai_John_Kreese
10 years ago

hmm out of those guys i’ve had Slaton, Hightower and Law Firm. Hoping Hightower and Law Firm sign somewhere where they will be useful this year.

slaton has since been cut. but because of his fumbling issues i picked up Arian. So that worked out well!

alden
10 years ago

Great read , im really stearting to get addicted to this sight.

Sensai_John_Kreese
Reply to  alden
10 years ago

I know, rite?

Eric
10 years ago

How far off your list was Jeff Fuller?

the clarion contrarian
Reply to  Eric
10 years ago

i liked fuller as a top 5 guy last year this time and now I seriously doubt he gets chosen in our 2 round rookie/free agent draft

Jim
10 years ago

Yeah, I’m all over Brian Quick right now. Been looking at some of his youtube clips and he has major run after the catch ability. Of course the level he was playing at helped that I’m sure, but still am impressed with him as a possible late pick

Ken W.
10 years ago

Where would you slot in Criner?

9 years ago

Your method of explaining all in this paragraph is actually nice, every
one be able to easily be aware of it, Thanks a lot.

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