The San Francisco 49ers are only midway through their 2015 preseason schedule, leaving them two preseason games and 16 regular season games (and hopefully some playoff games!) until we reach the next offseason. While the NFL season is only just beginning, it is never too soon to start draft coverage! In the past, we have put together weekly prospect reports for college games on a given weekend. We have also done some work with prospect rankings later in the season.
This year, we're adding something new. I thought it would be helpful to come up with a preseason watch list for each of the main positions on both sides of the ball. We still don't even know what the 49ers roster will look like in two months, let alone next offseason. However, some folks are already going to be looking at next year's draft. And so, I wanted to get started with some top prospects at each position.
We're back today with wide receivers (other positions linked above). Jake Narayan has a look at five receivers of note heading into the 2015 college football season. The list of names is not meant to be all-inclusive, but rather some of the big names to help get things started. Additionally, this depends on some of the players declaring for the draft, so again, it is just looking at some potential top options at each position.
The 49ers inked Torrey Smith to a long-term deal this offseason, and have used draft picks each of the last three years on wide receivers. They selected Quinton Patton in the 2013 NFL Draft, Bruce Ellington in the 2014 NFL Draft, and DeAndre Smelter this past year. They also have a variety of undrafted rookie free agents competing for an opportunity. Anquan Boldin is a free agent after this season, and beyond Smith, none of the receivers is a sure thing. And so, depending on how the next four or five months pan out, maybe the 49ers find themselves in the market for another young wide receiver.
Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports
#1 | Junior | Ole Miss Rebels | WR
Height: 6'3" | Weight: 230 | Age: 20
2014 Stats: 48 REC, 632 YDS (13.2/catch), 5 TD
Strengths: I feel Laquon Treadwell is the most dominating receiver in college football with game-changing ability that keeps a defense honest. The wide out stands around 6'3" 230 lbs. Treadwell is very explosive off of the line with a defender jamming or a playing off of him. He has excellent vision after the catch and will lower his shoulder to fight for extra yards.
Weaknesses: Yes, he is coming off a broken leg, cutting his season short, but our fingers are crossed that he returns to the field healthy as ever! His run blocking also needs improvement but that is something he can work on to help his already outstanding draft profile. The Ole Miss quarterback situation is also a concern after Bo Wallace left last year. So, now they are going to have to rely on their sophomore Ryan Buchanan to lead the way this year. Although this is his first year starting, he will have a great target in Treadwell and a go-to receiver in a clutch situation.
Conclusion: This guy is an absolute monster. I compare him to Dez Bryant in how he attacks the ball, his physicality, his attitude, and his heart and desire toward every single play. If he stays healthy this year, no doubt in my mind he will be a top-ten pick in the 2016 draft.
Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
#23 | Junior | Pittsburgh Panthers | WR
Height: 6'2" | Weight: 200 | Age: 20
2014 Stats: 78 REC, 1,261 YDS (16.2/catch), 8 TD
Strengths: Tyler Boyd is not only one of the best receivers in the country, but one of the best deep threats as well. Boyd is an absolute speed demon that is extremely dangerous when the ball is in his hands. He does not run a limited route tree allowing him to get separation from the defensive back, with no fear of crossing the middle of the field. But Tyler Boyd is not only a great receiver, but a talented punt returner as well, who can make something out of nothing when the ball is in hands. The wide-out has extremely strong hands and can pull catches down in heavy traffic.
Weaknesses: Well, this offseason has not been ideal for the First-Team All-ACC wide receiver as he was charged for a DUI, causing him miss the season opener against Youngstown State (which is a tune-up game anyway). "We're always going to make mistakes," Boyd said. "One thing I strive for and the people around me always keep in my head, you never make the same mistake twice." Let's hope he's just a kid making poor decisions that he can soon grow out of.
Conclusion: Boyd definitely looks the part, it all comes down to If he can keep his head clear of any out of school/football activities that will not benefit him, he has the chance to be a very special receiver and be taken in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft. The upside for Boyd is incredible and just the thought of him getting any better than he already is, is going to be very scary for any opposing teams.
D'haquille "Duke" Williams
Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
#1 | Senior | Auburn Tigers | WR
Height: 6'2" | Weight: 215 | Age:
2014 Stats: 45 REC, 730 YDS (16.2/catch), 5 TD
Strengths: Now that Sammie Coates is gone, Duke Williams will now be the true no. 1 receiver at the University of Auburn. He stands at 6'2" 215 lbs. of pure muscle. The attribute that makes Duke Williams so special is his acceleration and breakaway speed after the catch. Williams is very physical and attacks the ball at its highest point, when thrown up to him.
Weaknesses: There are not many weaknesses in Williams game. The first is, he could use to be more explosive off of the line. Second, as I mentioned before he is pure muscle, which begs the question, is he too stiff? At times, yes he does look to be stiff, but the majority of the time he looks like a very fluent receiver. Third, and the one that worries me the most, is his off the field concerns. Last year, Williams was suspended for the outback bowl by the team for violating their rules. And again, this offseason he was suspended from practice by the team.
Conclusion: Duke Williams is a great, physical receiver with excellent hands and the ability to come down with a jump ball, but his character concerns are huge, which Is why I would have him being drafted in rounds 2-5 in the draft this year. If he can get his act together and stay out of trouble, I will really look forward to seeing him a NFL jersey soon.
Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
#9 | Senior | TCU Horned Frogs | WR
Height: 6'3" | Weight: 195 | Age:
2014 stats: 65 REC, 1018 YDS (15.7/catch), 11 TD
Strengths: The biggest thing that Doctson has going for him is that his quarterback is Treveone Boykin. Doctson is not the fastest receiver we've seen, but his crisp routes allow him to get separation from the defensive back. He is also very effective in the deep game, which opens up the underneath routes for the "pass happy" offense. TCU also has a very good run game to draw extra defenders into box, therefore, opening up the throwing game.
Weaknesses: I don't have many worries about Doctson, which is a good thing, but I should cover something with you. As I have mentioned earlier, He is 6'3" 195 lbs. (which is a skinny frame). He can get bullied off of the line and re-routed, but can be fixed by weight gain.
Conclusion: Josh Doctson has the opportunity to be a fantastic receiver, especially in the right offense. I believe any team that is going to draft Doctson will utilize him correctly and can make an immediate impact at the next level. I would have him going in the first round of the draft.
Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
#11 | Junior | South Carolina Gamecocks | WR
Height: 5'11" | Weight: 210 | Age: 21
2014 Stats: 69 REC, 1136 YDS (16.5/catch) 9 TD
Strengths: A versatile football player who excels when the ball is in hands. A slot receiver who has no fear going over the middle to make a catch. Decent acceleration after the catch with excellent footwork to make a defender miss and pick up extra yards. He is also an explosive punt returner, plays in the wildcat offense, and is sent in motion a lot for jet sweeps and reverses.
Weaknesses: Cooper is a fantastic slot receiver, although he is not the tallest deep threat, he still very speedy and can blow the top off of a defense and keep them playing honest, which you always want in a receiver. From time to time, cooper is also slow in and out of his breaks, causing the defender to push him off of his route. Can also strengthen his hands to pull jump balls down and haul in difficult catches.
Conclusion: A quick receiver with good breakaway speed after the catch. He still needs improvement if he wants to be a go-to slot receiver in the NFL, but I believe if the voids in his game get filled, he can be a dynamic pass catcher. Cooper, in my mind, is a 2-4 round draft pick in 2016.