2014 Draft day is soon upon us and once again due to multiple draft mistakes at the Wide Receiver (WR) position the 49ers are once again looking for one. I find Wide Receiver is one of the most difficult positions to draft as statistically it busts most often. One thing I have learned over the past 5 years watching WR film is that they come in many flavors and no two guys are really ever identical. Rarely can one player do it all. As a result teams have to choose the right tool for the job they want to accomplish.
Most draft reports just give you a linear list just ranking guys, and often don’t categorize guys by what they can do. Scheme fit and scheme needs are critical for the decision process for any team. A teams need for a particular type of player at a position is usually lacking in most mock drafts. In keeping with that after watching multiple videos, combine workouts, highlight films and some college games on these players, I have put together my own mini-scouting report categorizing 25 of these guys by what they are best at based on my observations.
They are ranked in order only within an individual category only, so the value you place on that need or scheme fit is up to you. 25 players is usually enough to get through the 4th or 5th round so this little cheat sheet should help you with who these guys are and what role the 49ers or any other team might have in mind for the player drafted.
These are my observations only and don’t reflect other draft reports. Feel free to disagree. I don’t pretend to be an expert scout but I have picked up a few things in the last 5 years and I am still learning. Somewhere in this list a future 49er lives. We shall soon find out. I hope this helps you on draft day.
Stretch the Field
1 Sammy Watkins WR Clemson: Medium sized. Fast very explosive speed WR. Sudden changes of direction. Makes guys miss. Especially effective on a screen or sweep. Catches away from his body. Sometimes will drop thinking of run before catch. Decent blocker. Not a contested ball catcher/endzone threat. Explosive Punt returner. Very early 1st day.
2 Odell Beckham JR WR LSU: Medium sized but Fast WR. Average hands but insane body control. Catches away from his body. Not as explosive as Watkins but more of an ankle breaker. Great change of direction ability. Finds spots in the zone. Best on an out, dig or comeback route. Mediocre Blocker. Wish I saw more SL deep plays. Excellent Punt Returner. Requires trade up on 1st day
3 Donte Moncrief WR Ole Miss: Nice Start/stop move. Has explosiveness and speed. Has growth potential but inconsistent. Concentration Drops. Should be a better blocker than is. Needs work. Often holds up hands to officials "I didn't do it" Decent Sized Physical WR. Flashes ability to go up and fight for ball. Can fight off press. Often Body catcher. Big time coaching project. 2nd day
4 Paul Richardson WR Colorado: 6"1 175 Thin Long strider. Bad blocker. Got serious speed if he gets by a DB. I wouldn't say no later but lacks other impressive aspects to draft early. Best on a go route. Not physical/hands not great. Late 2nd day.
Big Endzone Targets
5 Mike Evans WR Texas A&M: Big Tall Target. Rare size. Mediocre Hands. Decent but not great speed, a bit faster than Benjamin. Good change of direction skills for a big man. Works the sideline well. Hard to bring down. Decent blocker. Good feel for QB awareness. Reminds a little of Plaxico Burress. Expected go high 1st day
6 Kelvin Benjamin WR Florida State: Big/Tall Red Zone Target. Out leaps guys. Body slightly bigger than Evans. Shields defender with big body. Good Body control. Inconsistent Hands. Ok speed, Long strider. Will fight w guys to get off press. Hard to bring down. Crappy Blocker. Gets grabby with opposing DBs. Gets extra credit points for the BCS title game winner. Hands poor early in that game but gets game winner. 1st day
7 Martavis Bryant WR Clemson: Big guy with speed! Biggest upside of any WR in this class. Project Boom/Bust guy. Can make the contested catch. Don’t agree though that he is a sure thing. Low college productivity. Can go 2nd round. Can't go 1st. Have to admit that you are looking at potential, not demonstrated top guy. 2nd day
8 Brandon Coleman WR Rutgers: Big ol honkin WR. Can’t miss him on the field. Not explosive but decent speed with a windup. Route running decent. Inconsistent hands. Wished he jumped up higher to grab contested balls. Will catch away from body but wish a bigger catch radius. Day 3 guy.
Get me the 1st Down/Physical Zone Guys
9 Jarvis Landry WR LSU: Great stretch and catch WR. Reminds me of Anquan Boldin in style and overall attitude. Plays bigger than he is. Not very fast and limited explosion. A possession WR. Good Body Control. Catches away from his body. Effective Blocker. 2nd day
10 Cody Hoffman WR BYU: Contested Catch Guy. Tall 6’4 but not very fast or explosive. Doesn’t get behind DBs. Large Catch Radius. Very good with difficult contested catches. Decent body control. Leaper. Hands good but missed a few fast balls. Weak blocker because he doesn’t get after it & poor technique. Same, likely to cause issues with press man. 3rd day guy.
11 Allen Robinson WR Penn State: Big, Strong but Slow WR. Reliable hands but a big time body catcher. Makes a nice cut to fake guys out. Makes his living with that. Played in a prostyle offense and faced press coverage. Irritates me that he stands around watching the play while action is going on. Can block but doesn’t seem to put forth that extra effort and loses the block. Likely day 2 guy. Some teams may be put off by lack of effort.
12 LDamian Washington WR Missouri: Tall but Thin Receiver. Hard to place this guy in any category as he is really a developmental prospect so I put him here. Average Speed. Not particularly explosive. Could use more bulk. Faced press man coverage. Tends to let throws into his body but made some leaping catches as well. Decent blocker. Special teams gunner. Intriguing later round developmental prospect whose key at first will be special teams. Early 3rd day
13 Jared Abbredaris WR Wisconsin: Runs a good route. Good blocker. Versatile. Other than that very average WR. Depth Guy. Mid/late day 3.
RAC (Run After Catch) Receivers
14 Jordan Matthews WR Vanderbilt: Medium Sized WR with reliable hands. Great adjustment to ball. Nice cuts in routes. Polished. Good QB awareness. What sets him apart is his ability to make a perfect adjustment to the ball so he doesn’t have to slow down making him a dangerous threat to go all the way. Jerry Rice perfected this technique. Matthews requires matchup with right QB who can place the ball on a dime.
15 Marquise Lee WR USC: Explosive RAC receiver. His sudden explosiveness is his best trait. Tends to catch ball a bit close to his body. Good body control. Good QB awareness. Does a lot of little things that are bit more advanced than most college players. Animated guy. Willing to play hurt. Decent Blocker. Punt Returner. Falling due to Injuries & limited upside.
16 Cody Latimer WR Indiana: RAC receiver. Decent SL speed but not a burner. Doesn’t make many standout wow plays. Usually finds spot in zone & falls for extra yards. Much better when played in off man than press. Sometimes struggles in press. Excellent run blocker. Didn’t seem to do as well with contested catches. Wish there was more film of contested catches & press coverage to get a better feel. 2nd day guy.
17 Devin Street WR Pittsburg: Medium Sized RAC Receiver. Decent Speed but not explosive. Small Effective Catch Radius as he drops a lot of the passes away from his body or contested ones. Likes crossing routes. Experienced Player. Mediocre Blocker. Good All Around Player but lacks a big feature that would be his ticket to starting. Don’t see large upside. Depth Guy 3rd Day
RB Style Receivers
18 Davante Adams WR Fresno: is an interesting player. Typical receivers in this mold are Golden Tate & Kendall Wright as they move like RBs after the catch. Davante is really a combination Michael Crabtree & LaMichael James. Never seen a WR with side to side explosion. Wish Adams was a bit stronger for a guy his size. Aggressive player. Poor in a jump ball situation. Mostly, used in screens at Oregon. Very little press man
Small Slot w Speed Receivers
19 Brandon Cooks WR Oregon St: Surprised he ran a 4.3 at the combine. Doesn’t quite that fast on the vids. Lots to like about Cooks. Makes nice catches, knows where his QB is. Great screen plays. Catches away from body. Moves to confuse DBs. Not very physical, huge liability run blocking. Scouting reports correct, teams will get physical w him at line. Personally would wait till Rd 2
20 Bruce Ellington WR South Carolina: Appears to be a short slot guy with good speed. Nice explosive bursts. Nice Hands, knows how to adjust to ball. Decent Blocker. Some nice cuts in combine. Likes to compete. Punt returner. Size is limiting factor. Fringe Day 2/3 guy.
21 Robert Herron WR Wyoming: Short 5'9 WR. Decent Hands. Has plus speed. Too short to be an effective endzone threat. Used on screens and in the slot. Like him after he has the ball more than before. Very similar to Ellington above though not quite as explosive. Punt Returner. Role Guy
Pure Slot Guys
22 Josh Huff WR Oregon: Shorter Thickly Built WR. Inconsistent hands. Some great catches, some easy misses. Ferocious Blocker. Usually used in screen passes at Oregon. Will be limited to slot. Day 3 pick.
23 TJ Jones WR Notre Dame: Average Sized, Average Speed, Short Strider. Decent Hands, Catches ball away from his body. Can make some good catches. Ran many routes but not particularly deceptive. Played in prostyle offense. Weak Blocker. Returned Punts but not very good at it. Played Outside and Slot. Depth Guy. Likely plays slot. 3rd day
Punt Returner/Sub guy
24 Jalen Saunders WR Oklahoma: Short 5’8 WR. Fast Explosive small short WR. Explosive on a sweep. Body Catcher Indecisive Can get absolutely mugged by opposing DBs. Ball security issues due to size and strength. Punt Returner Role Guy. Would need to get stronger to protect ball. Small hands
25 Dri Archer RB Kent State: is kind of an interesting guy. Don’t like him as a RB but I wonder if u could use him as 3rd WR/ST Punt Returner Role guy. Crazy fast ran a 4.26 40 at the combine. I would fear ball security on punt returns as guy above but as an ex RB he is more used to protecting the ball.