By Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune reporter
8:59 PM CDT, April 15, 2013
You won't find a Julio Jones or A.J. Green in this draft. There is no "can't miss" wide receiver. But you will find extraordinary depth. Teams are likely to be taking many receivers in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds, and there will be a bonanza of undrafted wide receivers who will have a chance to stick in the league.
1. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee, 6-2, 216. He is what scouts call a "boom or bust" prospect. There is a chance Patterson will be an absolute star in the NFL. And there is a chance he will be a tremendous disappointment. "He is one of the best playmakers to come out the last few years," an NFC director of college scouting said. He has 4.33 40-yard dash speed, and one front-office man said he moves like Randy Moss. He is highly athletic, and the most explosive receiver in the draft. Patterson is tough and he plays physically. His hands are solid. He can make defenders miss and break tackles. He also is a very good kick returner. Patterson's route running is raw. He is a junior-college transfer who has left Tennessee early and has played only one year of big-time college ball. His ability to pick up an NFL offense has been questioned, and scouts think it is unlikely he will be an instant success. One front-office man said his interview with Patterson was "awful."
2. Tavon Austin, West Virginia, 5-9,174. Some think he will be a top 12 pick, but receivers his size almost never get picked that high. "He is soooo small," one high-ranking AFC executive said. Another college scouting director said, "I think he'll overcome his lack of size. He's a great player, a little like Steve Smith." Austin is unusual. He is explosive and quick and makes defenders miss all over the field, and he gets yards after the catch. A former running back, he has great run instincts. He is very effective from the slot and is a premier return man. Austin put up big numbers at West Virginia, but some of his production must be attributed to the system. He was thought of as a second- or third-round pick until the postseason. Running a 4.22 40-yard dash at the combine and putting together one of the best workouts a veteran scout said he ever has seen boosted Austin's stock. The question is if Austin will be durable enough to handle enough touches to justify a high draft choice. Austin has been durable up to this point.
3. DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson, 6-1, 214. He doesn't have the same kind of upside that Patterson or Austin do, but Hopkins might be the safest pick in the receiver class. Even though he left school with eligibility remaining, he is a polished receiver who uses good technique and knows how to set up defenders. He catches the ball very well and was highly productive. "He is a great route runner and a natural at the position," one scout said. His quickness is his best trait. He ran a 4.45 40-yard dash, but that speed doesn't always show on the field. Some think he will be a No. 2 receiver on an NFL team. Hopkins competes hard.
4. Justin Hunter, Tennessee, 6-4, 196. Like his college teammate Patterson, Hunter has oodles of potential. In fact, some scouts prefer Hunter to Patterson. "His whole package is better than Patterson's," one national scout said. Hunter is a big receiver with excellent athleticism. He creates mismatches. His combination of size and speed (4.36 40-yard dash) is extremely difficult to deal with. He can accelerate quickly and blow past defenders. In 2012 he was coming off a torn ACL and did not have a great season. Some think he was a little timid after the injury. He would have benefited from another year in school but opted out early. He is a little up and down in his play, and gets a little undisciplined on the field at times. Hunter has excellent ball skills, but he drops some balls he shouldn't. His route running is average.
5. Keenan Allen, California, 6-2, 206. He ran a 4.71 40-yard dash recently, which could hurt his stock. But he is coming off a recent ankle surgery which could have diminished his speed. He also had a knee injury last season. "He has good play speed," one scout said. "He is a little like Anquan Boldin that way. He is a power guy with strong hands." But another said this, "I don't see a ton of 'wow' in his play." Allen has good size and he is a smooth athlete. Given how tall he is, he is surprisingly quick in a short area. He runs good routes, catches the ball well and has been very productive. Allen competes for the ball and has strength to get through traffic. One scouting director said Allen's best football is ahead of him.
6. Robert Woods, USC, 6-1, 201. Woods offers a nice blend of size, athleticism and hands. "I really like this kid," a national scout said. "He is so consistent. He made so many big plays." He has good change-of-direction ability and runs nice routes. He gets yards after the catch. He would be more highly regarded if he played faster. Some front-office men think he will be more of a "move the chains" receiver than a big-play threat. Woods had three productive years at USC before opting out early. He also can return kicks.
7. Markus Wheaton, Oregon State, 5-11, 189. He stood out at the Senior Bowl, ran a 4.40 40-yard dash at the combine and has been a late riser. Wheaton isn't real big or strong, but he's quick and he runs all the routes. He showed toughness over the middle. He plays with awareness. He can play any receiver position. He probably is a No. 2 receiver in the NFL.
8. Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech, 6-0, 204. Patton is a natural receiver who does not have a special trait but is a good all-around player. "There is a lot of average to his game, but he will stick and probably play," a scouting director said. "He has a knack to get open and catch the ball." Another scout said Patton is the type of receiver who "makes things happen." He was highly productive, but part of that has to be attributed to the type of offense he played in. Patton also has some potential as a punt return man.
9. Marquise Goodwin, Texas, 5-9, 183. He was a star in Mobile for the Senior Bowl practices, as his speed was eye-opening. His 4.21 40-yard dash at the combine continued his positive momentum. He previously was considered mostly a return man, but now scouts are looking at him as much more. They would feel a lot better about Goodwin if he had been more productive. "It's a little concerning that Texas never was able to maximize his speed on offense," one scouting director said. "He didn't have the production he should have had." Goodwin isn't very big, and that could limit him as an outside receiver. The scouting director said he isn't very quick in and out of cuts. He also has a hard time beating press coverage. He was an Olympic long jumper in London last summer.
10. Kenny Stills, Oklahoma, 6-1, 194. He is a thin, speed receiver and smooth athlete who can get deep. He can make good adjustments for the football. Said one scout, "He has some electricity to him." Stills has been productive, but almost all of his production comes on the perimeter. He is not a complete receiver who can run all the routes and line up at all the positions. Some of his routes get sloppy. He had some bad drops. Scouts think Stills could have benefited from staying at Oklahoma for his senior season. His father, Ken Stills, was an NFL safety.
11. Terrance Williams, Baylor, 6-2, 208. This well-built receiver catches a lot of balls. He uses his height and reach to his advantage. Some of his production was inflated by Baylor's offense, but there is no denying he is talented. He has to learn about route running. One scout described Williams as a "jack of all trades, master of none." He can come in and out of his breaks well. He has a good feel for finding the holes in zone coverage. His hands have been a little inconsistent. He is not the fastest receiver, but he isn't slow.
12. Ryan Swope, Texas A&M, 6-0, 205. He ran a 4.34 40-yard dash at the combine, but scouts say he doesn't play that fast and he has trouble separating at the top of his routes. Still, defenders have to respect his speed off the snap and quickness in and out of cuts. His hands are a little puzzling. "He makes some great catches, but then he has concentration drops," one scout said. He has been most effective in the slot. Swope is a former running back.
13. Denard Robinson, Michigan, 5-11, 199. The college quarterback is a special athlete, but he is an unknown as a wide receiver. He also could be considered at running back. NFL teams believe he has to make the position switch because of his inconsistencies as a passer. "He could be an Antwaan Randle El type of guy," a front-office man said. "Antwaan picked it up easily." Robinson struggled catching the ball at the Senior Bowl but looked better in positional drills at the combine. He would have to be looked at as a project who will be given a redshirt season.
14. Da'Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech, 6-3, 217. If he were judged strictly on ability, he'd be a potential first-rounder. Rogers isn't real fast, but he's big, strong and athletic. He is outstanding after the catch. He has excellent body control. His highlight reel is incredible. He started out at Tennessee and looked good for a short period of time. But he violated team rules and transferred. Scouts have serious concerns about his behavior. "I couldn't imagine taking him," one veteran scout said. Another scout said he didn't dominate at Tennessee Tech as much as he should have.
15. Aaron Dobson, Marshall, 6-3, 210. He has average speed and explosiveness but has good body control, runs nice routes and shows good awareness. With strong hands, Dobson could be a fine possession receiver. He hasn't reached his full potential. It could take Dobson awhile to develop, but he has a good chance to become an NFL starter.
16. Chris Harper, Kansas State, 6-1, 229. This is a power receiver who makes catches in a crowd. He can run through tackles. He isn't very sudden, and he doesn't separate well. He could have a difficult time getting away from cornerbacks in the NFL. He blocks well. His hands are sound. Scouts say he will be a possession receiver.
17. Stedman Bailey, West Virginia, 5-10. 193. He was a real productive college player in a system that inflates stats, but scouts say he won't put up the same numbers in the NFL. Bailey isn't quite as big or as fast as NFL stars need to be. But he is a solid player who can make it as a nickel receiver. Bailey has good quickness, body control and timing. He can run precise routes.
18. Tavarres King, Georgia, 6-0, 189. King lacks a special trait, but he's a decent football player. He is a polished route runner and he has fairly reliable hands. He is not exceptionally fast or strong. He helped himself with a solid Senior Bowl showing.
19. Marcus Davis, Virginia Tech, 6-3, 233. His size and ability to get downfield is intriguing, and he is productive. Davis can make the catch away from his body, which makes him play big. But there is something missing. "He's not ready to be an NFL starter," one front-office man said. "He is inconsistent. I don't know if he'll ever develop into a No. 2 receiver. He may always be a situational guy." He doesn't always run good routes.
20. Charles Johnson, Grand Valley State, 6-2, 215. He was not invited to the combine but caught the attention of scouts by running a 4.39 40-yard dash and vertical jumping 39 1/2 inches at his pro day. His combination of size and speed will get him drafted. Scouts say he also has some quickness for his size, and he flashes big plays. He is very raw in his route running.
21. Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas, 6-2, 212. He is a big receiver who runs the slant exceptionally well. He adjusts to the pass well. Hamilton can get yards after the catch. He flashes big-play ability. He can make catches in a crowd. He was a three-year starter. His speed is just so-so. He can get sloppy in his route running.
22. Jaron Brown, Clemson, 6-3, 204. With size and muscle, Brown has NFL upside. He had a good workout and has moved up the charts recently. He plays physically but is a little stiff athletically. He also had a penchant for making clutch catches.
23. Rodney Smith, Florida State, 6-5, 225. He looks better than he plays. Smith ran a 4.43 40-yard dash at 6-5, but one front-office man said he didn't see that speed on tape. "He can't separate," he said. "He is big and lanky and slow." Smith did not have a great season at Florida State but fared better at the East-West Shrine Game. He is an inconsistent player who has concentration lapses. He can adjust to inaccurate throws. He's a pretty good blocker. His potential will get him drafted.
24. Aaron Mellette, Elon, 6-3, 217. He is a big receiver and could develop into a fine red-zone weapon. Mellette has instincts to find the openings in zone. He has the toughness to make catches over the middle. He gains yards after the catch. He is not very fast, and his hands are inconsistent. He is raw in his route running. He has not faced a lot of really good competition.
25. Dan Buckner, Arizona, 6-4, 214. He was not invited to the combine but is likely to be drafted. Buckner has excellent size and decent hands. He isn't the most fluid athlete and his routes are just average. He originally enrolled at Texas, but after an arrest for trespassing and resisting arrest, he transferred.
26. Chad Bumphis, Mississippi State, 5-10, 196. He didn't have the greatest workout, but he has potential as a slot receiver. Bumphis is not a speed demon, but he has good quickness and is explosive. His stock has risen lately.
27. Justin Brown, Oklahoma, 6-3, 207. This transfer from Penn State has some return ability. He doesn't have great deep speed, but he has good size and solid hands. He came on last season and is a draft sleeper.
28. Alec Lemon, Syracuse, 6-1, 202. He is a consistent receiver who runs good routes and catches the ball well. He is a "step slow," according to one scout. Lemon may struggle to escape man coverage in the NFL. But he was productive, and he competes well. "He can be a real good backup, possession-type guy in the NFL," one national scout said.
29. Alan Bonner, Jacksonville State, 5-10, 193. His package of athleticism, competitiveness and speed has garnered interest from NFL teams. Bonner also has some return ability. He is on the raw side and could be a practice squad candidate. One front-office man describes him as "solid, not special."
30. Lanear Sampson, Baylor, 5-11, 204. He can run well enough to warrant being drafted. Sampson has solid hands and could stick in the NFL as a backup. His route running needs a little work.
31. Ryan Spadola, Lehigh, 6-1, 204. He had a nice combine workout, including running a 4.40 40-yard dash. But one veteran talent evaluator said Spadola does not look that fast on tape. Spadola does have good body control and short area quickness, and could be a slot receiver in the NFL.
32. Tyrone Goard, Eastern Kentucky, 6-4, 205. He is a gangly outside receiver with some speed. His hands are inconsistent. Goard is very raw, but one front-office man said he could develop over the course of a couple of years in the right system.
33. Corey Fuller, Virginia Tech, 6-2, 204. His 4.32 40-yard dash speed has gotten him noticed, but he is viewed as more of a track guy. He ran track at Kansas and walked on to the Hokies' football team after transferring. Fuller doesn't have great lateral movement and doesn't have very impressive tape, according to front-office men. He is not very polished, and his hands need to improve.
34. Mark Harrison, Rutgers, 6-3, 231. With his size and strength, Harrison has a decent chance of being drafted. He has 35-inch arms and vertical jumped 38 1/2 inches, so he can outreach almost any defensive back. He also has decent speed. One front-office man said Harrison hasn't played up to his measurables and deemed him "an underachiever." His hands are inconsistent. NFL teams find him enigmatic. He has a broken foot that could affect his draft stock.
35. T.J. Moe, Missouri, 6-0, 204. He is quick and tough and he knows how to work underneath coverage. Moe is consistent and reliable. He does not have many dynamic qualities, however. One talent evaluator sees him as NFL backup. He could develop into a slot receiver.
36. Russell Shepard, Louisiana State, 6-1, 196. Teams in need of a slot receiver with a blend of quickness, size and speed are interested in Shepard. He has a lot of playing experience but is not the most dynamic athlete. One respected front-office man has Shepard pegged as a fourth receiver on an NFL roster.
37. Zach Rogers, Tennessee, 6-0, 182. He kind of got lost in the shuffle behind some really talented receivers at Tennessee, including Cordarrelle Patterson, Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers before Da'Rick Rogers transferred. But Zach Rogers might have been a star at another school. He is a little stiff athletically, but he can run and is competitive. He might have the tools to play the slot in the NFL.
38. Jasper Collins, Mount Union, 5-10, 189. He is a savvy route runner who knows all the tricks to get open. He is quick and has a burst, which could lead him to a role as a slot player. He also is a pretty good return man. He failed to capitalize on an opportunity to show he could fare well against better competition at the East-West Shrine Game, according to scouts. With limited size, Collins has a hard time getting off the jam. His speed is not special.
39. Darius Johnson, Southern Methodist, 5-9, 179. He is small and not very fast, which is not a good combination. But Johnson was highly productive in SMU's spread offense, and he has the quickness and instincts to create separation as a slot receiver. He has great hands.
Ace Sanders, South Carolina
Marlon Brown, Georgia
Terrell Sinkfield, Northern Iowa
Kenbrell Thompkins, Cincinnati
Conner Vernon, Duke
Reggie Dunn, Utah
Marquess Wilson, Washington State
Brice Butler, San Diego State
Brandon Kaufman, Eastern Washington
Anthony Amos, Middle Tennessee
Myles White, Louisiana Tech
Uzoma Nwachukwu, Texas A&M
Keenan Davis, Iowa
C.J. Akins, Angelo State
Roy Roundtree, Michigan
The Bears haven't made any significant roster changes at wide receiver, but they have made a personnel move that will impact their need for one in the draft. Devin Hester has been taken off offense. That is significant because he played 34.5 percent of the snaps last season and was thrown to 40 times. Also, Dane Sanzenbacher was released late last season. Hester and Sanzenbacher will need to be replaced. And that points to the Bears looking for a receiver who can fulfill a specific role at some point in the draft.
Next: Defensive ends.
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