Heading into the NFL Combine later this week all eyes will be on wide receivers for 49er fans. The good news is wide receiver is a rather deep class in 2014 so the San Francisco 49ers should have plenty of options in both the first and second rounds.
1. Mike Evans 6-5 225lbs - RS Sophomore - Texas A&M
2. Sammy Watkins 6-1 205lbs - Junior - Clemson
3. Marqise Lee 6-0 195lbs - Junior - USC
4. Kelvin Benjamin 6-5 234lbs - RS Sophomore - Florida State
5. Allen Robinson 6-3 211lbs - Junior - Penn State
6. Odell Beckham, Jr. 6-0 193lbs - Junior - LSU
7. Brandin Cooks 5-10 186lbs - Junior - Oregon State
8. Davante Adams 6-2 212lbs - RS Sophomore - Fresno State
9. Jordan Matthews 6-3 205lbs - Senior - Vanderbilt
10. Jarvis Landry 6-0 195lbs - Junior - LSU
I've had Evans listed as my top receiver since the close of the 2013 season. After diving further into the film available on Evans (and Watkins for that matter) I was further convinced that Evans is the top receiver in this class.
Evans has the highest ceiling of any receiver in the draft. He's more than just a jump ball threat and he doesn't get enough credit for his ability to create after the catch. The 49ers offense could benefit from Evans' natural ability to get open when the Colin Kaepernick extends the play with his legs. Unless, they're willing to package a future first round pick, there's almost no chance Evans ends up with the 49ers.
After Evans and Watkins are selected in the top 10-15, both Lee and Benjamin could be options for the 49ers in a small move up the draft like last year. Both are intriguing prospects with Benjamin being a boom or bust candidate and Lee could possibly be the most polished receiver in the draft.
Lee is one of my favorites in this class. I think he might be the safest of the other receivers mentioned as first round possibilities. His instincts and route running are some of the best you'll see. He suffered from bad quarterback play in 2013 but still showed flashes of brilliance.
Benjamin is a wide, big-bodied receiver who creates mismatches wherever he lines up. I'm always weary of ‘one-hit wonders'...guys whose draft stock rockets after one big season at the collegiate level...but the upside is nearly as high as Evans'. Conversely, his floor is Fat Mike Williams. That's a scary thought.
Davante Adams is a name to watch. The film out there on him is limited right now but I expect that to change after the combine. Adams won't blaze in the 40-yard dash but his combination of size and athleticism plus his age (only 21) will turn heads.
I'm cooling big time on Jordan Matthews. That's not to say he won't have a nice career in the NFL but I think his ceiling is limited. He's not fast and has trouble creating separation as evidenced by his struggles at the Senior Bowl. Still, his above average route running and smarts should let him see the field as a number three receiver eventually.
The wide receivers are scheduled to arrive at the combine on Thursday you can bet 49ers scouts will be front and center.