2012 NFL Draft Preview: Wide Receivers

Posted Apr 6, 2012

Two top-flight receivers have emerged in this draft class, much like last year when A.J. Green and Julio Jones grabbed all of the attention. But while those two were speedsters and obvious deep threats, Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon and Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd are more complete.

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Stephen Hill of Georgia Tech is the burner of this crop with South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery fitting the physical mold with his size and frame. Baylor’s Kendall Wright is viewed more as a tweener that can excel in the slot with his quickness and low center of gravity but also line up outside and be a primary target. Overall this is one of the deepest wide receiver classes in recent memory, meaning Appalachian State’s Brian Quick and Mohamed Sanu of Rutgers could easily sneak into the first two rounds as well.


Blackmon’s stock took a slight hit at the Combine when he opted not to run the 40-yard dash due to a hamstring injury. But he bounced back a couple of weeks later at his Pro Day by running in the low to mid-4.4’s on a notoriously fast track. Blackmon admirably succeeded Dez Bryant at Oklahoma State by twice winning the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver and reminds some scouts of Anquan Boldin with his strength and athleticism, both which make up for his average speed. He still appears to be the clear-cut number one receiver in this draft class mainly because of how polished he is as a route runner and how sure his hands are. If there is one area of concern it’s his blocking, but Blackmon won’t be called upon to do much of that as he projects to be a solid number one receiver in just about any offense.

Slightly bigger than Blackmon and surprisingly fast for his size, Floyd has made a strong push starting with the combine to supplant Blackmon as the first receiver off the board. He ran a 4.47 in the 40-yard dash at the Combine and was satisfied enough with that time to skip running it again at his Pro Day. The rest of his performance at South Bend, Indiana caused quite a stir among the scouts, coaches and general managers on hand. Floyd’s explosiveness off the line of scrimmage, pinpoint route running and playmaking ability are a perfect fit for today’s pass-first NFL, and he is more of a complete receiver than Blackmon thanks to his solid blocking skills and ability to set the edge in the running game while also being fearless across the middle. His injury history is the only red flag at this point.

Hill’s numbers won’t jump out at you like some of the others because of the triple option offense run by the Yellow Jackets, but the 4.36 he ran in the 40 in Indy certainly caught everyone’s attention. He averaged almost 30 yards per catch last year (29.3), tops in the nation, and is a better-than-average blocker despite his lengthy frame. If there is a concern that stands out to potential suitors it’s the number of dropped balls by Hill and some apparent struggles with reading defenses and finishing his routes, but the growing need for deep threats in the league should result in Hill going high in the draft, perhaps even ahead of Floyd depending on the team. It doesn’t hurt that his predecessor at Georgia Tech was one Calvin Johnson, who has emerged as an elite receiver in the league..

It was as a sophomore in 2010 when Jeffery served notice of what type of NFL prospect he could be by catching 88 passes for 1,517 yards and 12 touchdowns. Putting up those numbers in the SEC against some of the toughest defenses in the nation was impressive, and while his production was cut in half in 2011, Jeffery still earned first-team All-American honors. After opting to skip the 40-yard dash at the Combine, Jeffery ran in the 4.5 range, with some reports having him sub-4.5 and he looked good catching passes and running routes. Jeffery is viewed as more of a physical, over-the-middle receiver capable of going up for jump balls. He is not so much of a game breaker or deep threat but rather a prototypical red zone receiver capable of boxing out in the end zone.

Wright has been the most talked about receiver behind Blackmon mainly because of the mystery surrounding him. He clearly benefited from having the Heisman Trophy winner and projected No. 2 overall pick Robert Griffin III as his quarterback as he caught 14 touchdown passes last year and was Griffin’s favorite target. His size is the primary issue as teams aren’t sure whether he fits the role of slot receiver better than a No. 1 or No. 2. A 4.61 in the 40-yard dash in Indy also drew a red flag, but Wright shaved off nearly two-tenths of a second at his Pro Day by running a 4.47 and a 4.44. Wright needs to improve his blocking and bulk up a little more to excel at the next level but his stock is on the rise.


Greg Childs
6-3, 219
21 Catches \ 240 Yards \ 0 TDs

Chris Givens
5-11, 198
Wake Forest
83 Catches \ 1,330 Yards \ 9 TDs

Brian Quick
6-4, 220
Appalachian State
71 Catches \ 1,096 Yards \ 11 TDs

Rueben Randle
6-3, 210
Louisiana State
53 Catches \ 917 Yards \ 8 TDs

Mohamed Sanu
6-2, 211
115 Catches \ 1,206 Yards \ 7 TDs
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