Senior Bowl Tale of the Tape: Wide receivers

Doug Farrar
Yahoo Sports

More comparisons: Locker vs. Ponder | Murray vs. Hunter

As it is with running backs, the marquee receivers come from a record-breaking list of underclassmen. But that doesn't mean that the senior class of receivers is full of afterthoughts.

Troy's Jerrel Jernigan was hurt in training and will not be at the Senior Bowl, but two more seniors – Miami's Leonard Hankerson and Titus Young of Boise State – will make the trip. It's a good place for both players to see and be seen, as they're each trying to establish that they have the skills necessary for NFL success.

Leonard Hankerson, Miami

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Hankerson

Height: 6-3
Weight: 208
40 time: 4.52
Games: 40
Receptions: 134
Yards: 2,160
Avg: 16.11
TDs: 22

Titus Young, Boise State

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Young

Height: 5-11
Weight: 180
40 time: 4.48
Games: 42
Receptions: 198
Yards: 2,999
Avg. 15.15
TDs: 25

Pros: Hankerson doesn't blast off the line with speed, though he does work into a good acceleration and can beat press coverage, which will certainly help him at the next level. Good form and physicality on slants, square-ins, and comebacks in short areas. On longer throws, he's very good at extending his arms to bring in errant throws without breaking stride or running into coverage. Good sideline receiver on out routes; though he doesn't have elite short-area speed, he can break away from tight coverage and make those quicker catches. Will not beat cornerbacks deep, but can jump well on deeper throws to bring them in. A solid-after-the-catch runner who should excel against zone coverage.

Pros: Straight-line speed is Young's No. 1 skill and it pops out on the tape right away. Even when misdirected out of a route, he can recover and beat a cornerback consistently downfield. Also displays the ability to keep his relative speed maintained when eyeing an incoming ball, and adjusts well to underthrown passes (which he had to do fairly often at Boise State). Because of these abilities, he's as dangerous as any collegiate receiver when it comes to one-on-one outside matchups. He will also make up every possible yard in zone coverage before defenders converge. Also a great return man, which adds to his value.

Cons: Hankerson had a fairly major problem with drops before starting work with former Miami Dolphins receiver Mark Duper; the problem has been corrected to a large degree. Once had a reputation for drawing his arms in under contact at times (the dreaded "Alligator arms" syndrome), but he's made his share of tough catches over the middle. Has developed a bit of a signature "one-hand-catch" move that may get him spattered over the middle in the NFL. A bit show-boaty at times. Could use more mechanical discipline when consistently making catches and bringing the ball into his body.

Cons: Young doesn't possess a dominant array of cuts that will allow him to get out of short coverage – it's all about short-twitch speed. Not a persistent runner after first contact, and though he can hit a quick slant before the guy defending him can even get out of his breaks, Young will need to develop route complexity, awareness and efficiency.

Conclusion: Hankerson is an undefined version of a prototypical physical receiver – he looks the part, but he doesn't fit any big-body profile. He doesn't have the breakaway speed of a Sidney Rice(notes), the consistency of Andre Johnson(notes), the toughness of Michael Crabtree(notes) or the dynamism of Dez Bryant(notes). As a growing player in an offensive system that needed time to get back to relevance, he's not likely to make an immediate impact at the NFL level. But coached correctly (and he's proven to be receptive to proper coaching), Hankerson could eventually be a valued part of a professional offense.

Conclusion: Young is a one-trick pony to a degree, but it's a very dangerous trick, and he's the kind of player that could really help his stock in the pre-draft evaluation process. Like the Pittsburgh Steelers' Mike Wallace(notes), who rode a strong Senior Bowl week to NFL stardom, Young will show that his track speed transfers in a functional football sense. Right now, he's probably not a guy who would look good transitioning inside to the slot at the NFL level. That may change, and he'll need to develop his routes from the word "go", but the recent successes of Wallace, DeSean Jackson(notes) and Brandon Lloyd(notes) in offenses that rely heavily on vertical stretch receivers to open up everything underneath may find Young to be worthy of a second-day pick.

Pro comparison: Brian Robiskie(notes), Cleveland Browns

Pro comparison: Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers

Doug Farrar is a regular contributor to Yahoo! Sports' Shutdown Corner