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Ben Natan’s 2014 NFL Draft Rankings: Wide Receivers

Oct 26, 2013; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrates scoring a touchdown against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the second half at Kyle Field. Texas A&M won 56-24. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

This class is absolutely loaded with wide receivers and whichever type of player a team wants, there are probably two players who can give them just that. While I do question the value of selecting a wide receiver in the first round of such a deep class when every team has more pressing needs where there is less depth, there are plenty of receivers who do warrant a first round selection. Here are my top ten wide receivers in this class. While every single player here can have an argument made for a first round selection, I don’t think it smart to spend a pick on that position there, especially very high.

  1. Jordan Mathews (Vanderbilt): While this may be a bit controversial, it is pretty evident why Mathews is the top receiver in this class. He has a phenomenal understanding of the game and does a great job of smoothly going through routes in order to create separation. He is a good athlete with a big frame who has shown an ability to make spectacular, contested grabs and run away with them. He needs to improve his focus when catching the ball and learn to use his big frame consistently, but his understanding of the nuances of the position, combined with his upside make him a very attractive player.
  2. Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU): One of two very talented receivers from LSU, Beckham is an incredible athlete and a very fluid mover after the catch. He has many dimensions to his game as a kick returner, someone who can play out of the backfield, a deep threat and someone who can go over the middle and make a tough grab. His hands are a bit of a concern and his size, while good, is not dominating, but he has a lot to love and plenty of room to get better.
  3. Sammy Watkins (Clemson): Everyone’s favorite speed freak, Watkins is a dangerous man with the ball in his hands. He does a great job of eating up cushions and getting behind the defense. With the ball in his hands, he is a strong, fast as hell downhill runner who will make the defense pay for allowing him to get in space. However, he does not make people miss in space, which is a slight but not huge concern. He also seems to have issues with more athletic or physical corners who are able to counter his speed and isn’t nearly as physical at the catch point as I’d want. He is very raw in terms of being a wide receiver and it may take a year or two before he finally becomes a dangerous receiver, but his ability is undeniable and some team will love his upside.
  4. Mike Evans (Texas A&M): Evans is another receiver who is not refined in the fundamentals of the game, but he does have some very intriguing gifts and ones that teams can use immediately. His basketball player frame and leaping ability allow him to dominate the catch point and his strong hands ensure a reception as he has a crazy catch radius. He is a strong runner after the catch, but his lack of on field speed before it makes me question his ability to separate consistently in the NFL. That, combined with the fact that he has issues with press like no big man should lead me to believe his best work would be done in the slot where he can work underneath and make tough catches for the QB. That and in the redzone is where he will make his money in the NFL, especially while he refines his overall game.
  5. Jarvis Landry (LSU): The second stud Tiger, Landry is an absolute technician at the wide receiver position. He route running is a thing of beauty and he does a great job of adjusting to the ball and his hands are glue. Not to mention he is a very good run blocker. His best work in the NFL will be in the slot, but he is just so reliable and so consistent, some team will fall in love with what he will do for their QB.
  6. Brandin Cooks (Oregon State): Cooks is a speed demon who does a great job of not only using speed to separate, but he uses it very well after the catch. He has issues when corners get physical with him, but he is a fighter none-the-less and I love his mentality when going after the ball, after the catch and even as a run blocker. He is not a great all around player, but his effort is evident and his speed in mind-boggling.
  7. Davante Adams (Fresno State): Adams is a very raw player, but teams are going to love what he offers. He has great speed to get open and make plays after the catch, but also has a great leaping ability to go with ball tracking and body control to make tough catches. He does drop the ball more than he should and his route tree is not on full display on tape, but his ability is special.
  8. Marqise Lee (USC): Lee had a down year due to injury, but you have to credit him for fighting through it for his team. His main issues come as a pass catcher and attacking the ball. However, after the catch he is phenomenal in the open field as he is shifty, fast and will fight for extra yards. He needs to refine his game as a pass catcher, but I love his ability after the catch and he could be very good once healthy.
  9. Michael Campanaro (Wake Forrest): Campanaro is going to quickly develop into a quarterback’s best friend in the NFL. He is the best route runner in the class and is incredibly smart in terms of sitting in between zones and working with the quarterback. He is a tough player willing to put his body on the line before, during and after the catch and offenses will love his dependable game.
  10. Josh Huff (Oregon): Though he is a little bit more diminutive than some of the monsters in this class, Huff is a fighter. He attacks the ball in the air, he attacks the corner as a run blocker and he runs strong after the catch. He is very strong for someone his size and is very good before and after the catch. His size limits him a bit and may be relegated to the slot, but I love his complete game and his athletic ability.

 

This WR Class is so deep that there are guys I view as second rounders who did not make this list. Guys like Kelvin Benjamin (FSU), Brandon Coleman (Rutgers), Donte Moncrief (Ole Miss), Jalen Saunders (Oklahoma) and Jared Abrederis (Wisconsin) are just some of the many talented players in this stacked WR class.

Topics: 2014 NFL Drafrt, Wide Receivers

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