Since I identified 3 large (over 6 '2") WR prospects in a previous Fanpost who ran the 40 in 4.40 - 4.42 sec., the slot receivers will be filtered with 40s under 4.40. I will also be evaluating their production and potential as both a punt returner and kick returner, as roster space is limited and versatility is key.
Dri Archer: 5' 7 1/2", 173 # ran the fastest 40 at the Combine at 4.26 sec. and put up an impressive 20 reps on the bench. His vert of 38" put him in the top 30% of all WRs who participated over the prior 15 Combines (1999-2013), as did his performance in the broad jump, shuttle and 3 cone, as well. He has versatility, as he plays running back and can return too. His main issue is durability, as he has missed games due to injury (left ankle, early last season).
He was primarily a RB in college, but due to his size, projects to a slot WR/returner at the next level. His Sr. year production was down due to the ankle, and came in as follows; in what amounts to 8 games, he had 527 yds on 68 rushes for 7.75 YPR and 6 TDs. He also added 327 yds on 25 catches for 13.08 YPC and another 4 TDs. He mustered only 2 KR last year but one was for 100 yds and a TD.
Contrast that to a healthy full season in 2012 of 1,429 yds on 159 carries for 8.99 YPR and 16 TDs. Add another 561 yds on 39 catches for 14.38 YPC and 4 TDs. He also was a productive KR with 591 yds on 17 returns (or 34.76 per) and 3 TDs. His PR experience is negligible. He also missed the 2011 season due to academics, but seems to have learned from it, and changed his priorities.
With his Combine performance a jump to the mid/late 3rd round is not out of the question.
John Brown: 5' 10", 179# ran a 4.34 40, but did not participate in the bench. His 36.5" vert was only top 50% (or slightly above average), but his broad of 117" was bottom 50%, or below avg. His shuttle time of 4.12 was good for a top 30%, while his 3 cone of 6.91 was top 50%.
Against a lower level of competition, Brown caught 61 passes for 1,198 yds or 19.6 YPC and 14 TDs. He also rushed for 100 on 17 carries or 5.9 per and 2 TDs. He was a productive returner with 32.4 avg per KO return (1 TD), and 11.5 yds per PR (both very good). He is both a very good returner, and a quality receiver, but not quite the athlete of Cooks and Archer.
Brandin Cooks: 5' 9 5/8", 189# ran a 4.33 40, and put up 16 bench reps. His leg strength, as measured by the vert of 36" and broad of 120", came in only top 50% or is just above avg. His agility was better, with the shuttle time of 3.81 (good for top 10%), and his 3 cone of 6.76 was a top 30% effort. He showed quick burst, good route running, and soft hands at the Combine.
His college production was substantial in 13 games (5 opponents ranked) he totaled 128 rec for 1730 yds or 13.52 YPC and 16 TDs through the air. He had another 217 rushing yards on 32 attempts for 6.78 avg and 2 TDs. He also tried PR for the first time last season and avg 6 yds per (12 for 72). He has no game experience in KR. He is a productive slot receiver first, and a project at PR/KR. He also will cost more, as a late 1st / early 2nd prospect.
Cooks is the more polished receiver, but has the least experience as a returner, and will cost us our #30 (so no good CB). Brown is the fallback option, but brings both PR and KR experience to his good receiving production. Perhaps a pro strength and conditioning program would do him good, and raise the athleticism? I would not feel bad if we had to select him in the mid rounds to fill the need.
Archer is the productive Swiss Army knife who only needs to raise his PR skills (and stay healthy). Archer in the 3rd sounds like a great value. But will he be around at #94 or do we need to trade up with our 4th, or use our #77 to secure him?