With many devy drafts in full swing and the 2015 college football season getting closer and closer to kicking off, I wanted to share my current ranking of the top wideouts we could see in the rookie class of 2016.
[am4show have=’g1;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub_message’ ]
I’ve spent far too much time talking about Tyler Boyd already, but since he’s relevant to this list, I suppose I’ve manufactured another opportunity. I did the write up of him around this time last year and I feel even better about it now. Not only did he improve statistically with a much worse supporting cast, losing quarterback Tom Savage and wide receiver Devin Street, but he added even more amazing plays to his already incredible highlight reel collection. I will say this, Boyd isn’t an elite prospect, but he’s certainly the best college football has to offer currently. He is one of the most technically sound players I’ve ever watched and the game comes naturally to him. I would like to see him add some bulk to his frame, as he got banged up quite a bit last year and the hits will only get bigger at the next level.
I will leave you with this and you can make some assessments for yourself.
Range Of Comparisons: Michael Floyd, Keenan Allen
School: Colorado State
Early on in the college football process I overlooked Higgins because of his school and the schedule they played, but after I went back and actually watched some of his games, he jumped off the screen, literally. Okay, not literally, but you know what I mean. Higgins is a lanky, athletic receiver who is super elusive after the catch and runs like a high jumper. While comparing a prospect to Justin Hunter should bring frowns and sadness, I see very similar players once they get the ball in their hands, which is high praise for Higgins. When I watched Higgins I noticed a lot of his yardage came after the ball was in his hands. CSU threw a lot of screens and short passes and Higgins did most of the work. Confirming what I saw, ProFootballFocus.com writer Steve Palazzolo put out a tweet around this same period saying that 915 of his 1,750 receiving yards in 2015 were made after the catch. That’s a pretty incredible number and is probably one of the best YAC seasons in college football history.
Range Of Comparisons: Torry Holt, Justin Hunter, Brandon Lloyd
Treadwell is a tough one for me, because I do like him as a player and think, barring another major injury, he should find plenty of NFL success. That said, I’m not nearly as high on him as everyone else. While I understand he was use a lot on screens and short passes his freshman year, an elite prospect would be able to do MUCH more than 8.4 yards per reception. All but 13 receivers in college football had a higher YPR than Treadwell in 2013, and quite a few running backs out-paced him as well. He improved considerably as a sophomore, but then had a season ending injury. I am keeping a very close eye on Treadwell this year, as a lot of his future will hinge on how he performs in 2015. If he has a tough time coming back, he may stay another year so he can show scouts what he looks like when he’s totally healthy. It’s not all doom and gloom though, Treadwell is a super physical receiver, both before, during and after the catch. His ball skills are definitely a plus and I believe he has a ceiling that resembles a #1 option for an NFL team.
Range of Comparisons: Dwayne Bowe, Kenny Britt, Jerry Porter
When going down the list of things you look for in a receiver, Williams checks off every box. He not only has the necessary size and physical ability to be an outside receiver in the NFL, he has above average speed. He is a threat from all areas, which will get him on the field early and often in the NFL. Pretty early to say, but based on his body of work so far, I’d be shocked if Williams slipped out of the late first or early second round. And if you’re into statistics, Williams’ 18.1 YPR on 57 catches is very, very impressive. Here’s the list of players with a season of 18+ YPR, 55+ catches and 6+ touchdowns.
Range of Comparisons: Bryant Johnson, Rashaun Woods
School: North Carolina
This is where things get fun. Hollins is a guy I recently discovered doing small sample size research, he popped out like a sore thumb. He’s not really on many radars right now because he was a walk on coming out of high school. Hollins didn’t even play wide receiver as a freshman, he had to prove himself and work his way up from special teams. That’s one of the attributes I love. As with NFL draft position, high school prestige and status does give a little pull on who gets opportunity, at least early on in college careers. Hollins worked his way up and passed more highly regarded prospects like Quinshad Davis and Bug Howard to get snaps, and then completely out performed them when he got on the field. Hollins’ YPR of 17.5 was 5.1 yards higher than any of the other top four receiving options on UNC in 2014. He also led the team in touchdowns with eight. It remains to be seen what Hollins’ role will look like as a junior, but if he continues on the trajectory he’s been on since coming to UNC, expect a big season in 2015.
Range of Comparisons: Sidney Rice, Brian Quick
Of all the players on this list, Byron Marshall is the one I’m most excited about. I wouldn’t say he’s my favorite player, but It’s my first opportunity to test out this rushing receiver venture I’ve set out on. Marshall initially went to Oregon as a running back, where he found success his freshman and sophomore year. His junior year though, he decided to transition to wide receiver, where he found even more success. To put what Marshall did in 2014 into perspective, check this out. Based on this and the other research I’ve done on slot receivers, I am pretty confident in thinking Marshall has a big future ahead of him.
Range Of Comparisons: Brandin Cooks, Mark Clayton
School: South Carolina
I wrote about Cooper here and nothing has really changed since, except for me finding out about Byron Marshall. Cooper is good at everything and I’m excited to see him fully acclimated and the clear go to player on South Carolina’s offense.
Range of Comparisons: Golden Tate, Randall Cobb
School: Western Michigan
Admittedly, I have not seen a ton of video, highlights or games of Corey Davis. I’ve been trying to find something on him and his partner in crime Jarvion Franklin, WMU’s star freshman running back for a while now, but nothing has seemed to pop up. Either way, doing a little box score scouting, Davis has been incredibly productive. As you can tell by now, I like playing around on CFBReference.com, here’s a fun group he fit into. The only player in that group that wasn’t a first round pick was Patrick Edwards, always good company when you’re rubbing elbows with former first round picks.
Based on the little I’ve watched of him, combined with his incredible early career production, I expect things to continue and for Davis to steadily rise in stock as 2015 goes on, and as the 2016 draft gets closer. Normally smaller school players don’t leave early, but Davis is not a normal small school player.
Range of Comparisons: Koren Robinson, Yatil Green
Going with the theme, Carroo is someone I wrote about this time last season. Thankfully, Rutgers did decide to use Carroo as their first option on offense, and he rewarded them, to the tune of 55 receptions, 1,086 yards (19.7 YPR) and 10 touchdowns. Carroo struggles to make quick cuts and evade defenders, but once he gets going, he’s extremely fast. While his biggest strength is his physicality and straight-line speed, he does play very comfortably when the ball is in the air, mainly when adjusting, tracking and fighting for good position on deep passes.
Range Of Comparisons: Jerricho Cotchery, Justin Blackmon, James Jones
Dural is a tall, lanky and athletic outside receiver. He hasn’t been able to get volume so far in his career because of Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, and also a lack of a quality quarterback in 2014. The good news is that when Dural has gotten his hands on the ball, he’s made big plays, both rushing and receiving. In the last two games of the season, Dural was given eight carries and he ran for exactly 100 yards with them, that type of increase in carries, and success on them could be foreshadowing to how they’re going to get him the ball in 2015. Overall, while he’s probably not the same quality of the other prospects mentioned, I do like his pro potential, and could see him being a #2 option at the next level.
Range Of Comparisons: Rueben Randle, Jerome Simpson
Honorable Mention: Jordan Villamin, Oregon State; D’haquille Williams, Auburn; Keevan Lucas, Tulsa; Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma; DeRunnya Wilson, Mississippi State; Josh Doctson, TCU; Marquez North, Tennessee