Anyone who follows me on Twitter or puts up with my idiotic ramblings knows I am not with the mainstream when it comes to the wide receiver position. To this point, I have graded 17 wide receivers and I have 5 I could understand being drafted in the first round: Mike Evans, Jordan Matthews, Odell Beckham Jr, Sammy Watkins and Marqise Lee. More may come as I delve into more tape, but that is where I am at to this point.
If I am in the war room, the only one guy I would suggest being taken in the first round is Evans. I love Matthews (as he knows from me bugging him in Mobile), Beckham, and Lee and I understand why people like Watkins, but Evans is the only one who has a skill set that is truly unique in this draft. There are other big receivers in this draft, but in the tape I have watched of Evans, which is 7 games, two passes thrown at him hit the ground. Two. When Johnny Manziel threw the ball at Evans, he came down with it at an unbelievable rate. None of the other big receivers in this draft have that kind of ability to be a virtual lock to come down with the ball in 50/50 situations.
All of the other receivers in this draft, there are reasonable facsimiles of later int he draft. Watkins is a tremendous athlete but in terms of actually being a wide receiver, he is still learning and somewhat raw. The upside is obviously impressive but I cannot fathom taking him in the top 10 and personally look at him as an end of the 1st round type player who is more likely to be a great Z than a true #1. I would rather wait a round or few and take Allen Robinson who is a special athlete but is quite raw. The upside is similar but the cost is substantially less.
Personally, I like Beckham better as he is more fluid athletically and his understanding of the position better. His improvement from last year to this one is as dramatic as anyone in college football and it was all about technique. He went from a kick returner who dabbled in receiver to a terrific receiver who can also kill teams on special teams. For me, he is a special, special player.
I understand Matthews is not a flashy receiver, but he has a tremendous understanding of the position, knows how to run routes and get himself open and he is big. For me, he has some of the same qualities that were overlooked last year with Keenan Allen. He is an extremely polished player who should start and make an impact immediately.
As for Marqise Lee, I know he has drops and they need to be cleaned up and dramatically reduced. Lee is not the route runner Robert Woods was. Woods was special in that regard. Lee has that ability to do it, but needs to work to get there. Lee’s ability to accelerate after he catches the ball or off the line of scrimmage, when healthy, is exceptional. I will be very interested to see what he is able to do in his 10 and 20 yard split as well as the 3-cone drill rather than his 40. There is a game breaking quality there and despite being hurt, he played incredibly hard and did not complain about it.
If I cannot get Lee or Beckham, I could likely wait and get Brandin Cooks or Paul Richardson. The value for mid-late round wide receivers should be absurd and this year, it would not be a surprise to me if Evans were to ultimately the only receiver to go in round 1 and teams to treat the receiver position in the draft like running back. No need to rush; there are more good receivers to be had later.