Rating the wide receivers

John Murphy
Yahoo! Sports

A conference-by-conference look at the top senior wide receiver prospects.


De'Cody Fagg, Florida State – An up-and-down prospect who possesses all the tools to be at the top of his class, but needs to put it all together. Fagg had an outstanding game against Alabama (four catches, 95 yards and two TDs) on Sept. 29. He's a raw-skilled receiver who has the ability to challenge for a starting job, but must show the ability to deliver on his potential.

Kenneth Moore, Wake Forest – Moore has taken over as the team's primary receiver. His all-purpose skills as a receiver, runner and return man are enticing. He is a big-play specialist who has a 53-yard run, 35-yard catch, 21-yard kickoff return and 55-yard punt return for a score this season. Moore has made some of his best plays against tough competition and is starting to attract more scouts.

Eddie Royal, Virginia Tech – Super quick speedster who hasn't lived up to his pre-season hype. He has just 15 catches for 150 yards and one touchdown. Royal, however, has made a strong impact on special teams, mainly as a punt returner, and showed very good speed on kickoff returns against LSU.

Justin Harper, Virginia Tech – Harper is working to become a legitimate prospect. Most consider him a possible training camp guy based on his size/speed ratio (6-foot-4, 205 pounds, 4.45 40-time).

Big East

Harry Douglas, Louisville – A smaller receiver (5-11, 170 pounds) who is best after the catch in the open field. He has quick feet and great vision, plus an extra burst of straight-line speed. Douglas leads the Big East with 45 catches for 797 yards and five touchdowns. He has gained 100 or more yards in all five games he has played. Though slender in build, he makes plays after the catch.

Amarri Jackson, South Florida – Tall, angular receiver who has long arms and can make tough grabs in traffic. Jackson has been one of the Bulls' primary punt return men even though he is nearly 6-5, 195 pounds.

Big Ten

Paul Hubbard, Wisconsin – Hubbard has been slowed by injury which has made some forget about his ideal size (6-4, 213) and speed. He is still raw in terms of his hands and routes, but if he can get healthy, he could regain his status as a possible top-three round prospect.

Dorien Bryant, Purdue – Smallish receiver who is on pace for a second consecutive 1,000-yard season and has become one of the best go-to guys in the league. He lacks ideal size for the next level (5-9, 180 pounds) but is very quick and runs the type of routes that allow him to get open. He has been very productive on kickoff returns, averaging nearly 30 yards.

Ernest Wheelright, Minnesota – A relative unknown outside of the Gophers program and conference. He has caught eight touchdown passes this season. Wheelright enters this week having had back-to-back 100-yard games, using his size (6-5, 215 pounds) to get in front of defenders. Has average speed, but plays faster than he times.

Big 12

Limas Sweed, Texas – Rated as the top prospect at this position entering his senior year, but has been stopped by a wrist injury that required surgery and put him out for the season. Sweed should be ready for the NFL scouting combine. There have been concerns about his burst in the open field and if he was physical enough to be a top-flight receiver at the NFL level.

Adarius Bowman, Oklahoma State – One look at his prototype size (6-4, 220), physique and ball-catching skills makes you realize why some have fallen in love with his potential. The North Carolina transfer has become one of the nation's most feared go-to receivers over the past two years, but has suffered from mental lapses. He is not a guy who takes downs off, but needs to learn to do everything at full speed. Most expect him to run in the 4.5 range. He had past off-field issues that led to his transfer, so proving he is mature and of solid character will be important.

Todd Blythe, Iowa State – Blythe first jumped on the scene with his performance as a sophomore in the Cyclones' Houston Bowl loss to TCU when he earned offensive MVP honors. He caught five passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns. He has great size (6-4, 210), plays physical against man-to-man coverage and shows deceptive speed. He's a player on the move since he seems capable of being a solid No. 2 receiver in the NFL.

Will Franklin, Missouri – An under-rated prospect who is overshadowed in a conference stacked with strong senior receivers and overshadowed by the Tigers' two-headed tight end connection. Franklin has above-average speed and would be seen as more of a vertical threat. He is not nearly as good in traffic as when running down the field.

Jordy Nelson, Kansas State – Nelson has made plenty of big plays for the Wildcats using his size (6-2, 215) and better-than-expected straight-line speed.

Maurice Purify, Nebraska – Has the physical tools to be successful, but his off-field issues have raised questions from evaluators who wonder if he has the maturity to handle being a professional athlete.


Lavelle Hawkins, California – One of the most explosive skill position players on the West Coast outside of teammate DeSean Jackson. Hawkins has taken his game to another level, exhibiting game-breaking speed, securing the ball and running improved routes. His 40-time should open eyes. A pair of scouts noted that he could now own about a third-round grade.

Mark Bradford, Stanford – Will go down as a folk hero in Stanford history for his game-winning catch in the last seconds of the USC game on Oct. 6. Bradford has a chance to earn a shot in an NFL camp. He has come back from a foot injury and is providing a steady target in the middle of the field for the Cardinal. He catches the ball well and runs good routes.


Andre Caldwell, Florida – Caldwell might regret his decision to return to the Gators. He had received a second-round grade after his junior season. A knee injury has hampered his season, but it is still too early to write him off. He has just two catches for 18 yards since his 100-yard performance the first week of the season.

Keenan Burton, Kentucky – Burton entered the season rated as one of the top senior prospects at his position. He had 77 catches, 1,036 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior. He is among the SEC's top-5 receivers in catches and yards, but his big plays are down and he has had some drops. He has been productive on kickoff returns (25.4 yard average). Scouts are unsure of his straight-line speed.

Marcus Monk, Arkansas – A summer knee injury has sidelined the 6-6, 210-pounder. He had a pair of surgeries. Monk averaged 19.2 yards per catch with 11 touchdowns as a junior. He needs to get himself back on the field and prove that his knee is healthy before scouts can consider him a day one prospect.

Steve Johnson, Kentucky – A JUCO transfer who has gone from benchwarmer to All-SEC possibility. Johnson shows better straight-line speed than Burton and more upside. He is the Wildcats' second leading receiver in yardage and seventh overall in the SEC (469 yards, six TDs). The big plays Johnson made against LSU last weekend fueled the upset. He is a potential mid-round draft choice.

DJ Hall, Alabama – Hall has the tools to be a deep threat, but has had some issues on and off the field. He is currently ranked third in the SEC in receiving yards (37 catches for 579 yards, three TDs). He flashes an extra burst of speed when the ball is in the air, but has struggled with consistency. His work ethic during his postseason practices will make or break his draft grade.

Tony Burks, Mississippi State – Burks has started to show consistency with both his hands and routes. He is averaging nearly 17 yards per catch while helping rejuvenate the Bulldogs' passing offense.


Donnie Avery, Houston – Avery is coming off his best game with 13 catches for 346 yards and three touchdowns against Rice last weekend. He is Conference USA's leading receiver in yards and catches (46 catches, 884 yards, five TDs). He also returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown against East Carolina on Sept. 29.

Jason Rivers, Hawaii – An ideal route runner, Rivers catches everything with his hands and is always in the right spot. He has good, but not great straight-line speed, but shows a good knowledge of the game and finds a way to get open. He has scored in five of six games, while gaining more than 100 yards four times. His hands, routes and quick decisions are the primary reasons he could end up being a solid mid-round choice.

Jabari Arthur, Akron – One of the MAC’s best receivers, Arthur has ideal size (6-4, 228 pounds) and runs faster than his reported 40-times. He was player of the week with 15 catches for 223 yards and three touchdowns against Central Michigan. A big receiver, he plays with a physical flair. A native of Montreal, he was a first-round pick of the Calgary Stampeders in last year's CFL Draft.

Marcus Smith, New Mexico – He leads the Lobos and Mountain West Conference in receiving (47 catches, 566 yards, TD). Smith also returns kickoffs. He has a solid 6-1, 210-pound frame and is not afraid to go up and challenge for the ball.


Jerome Simpson, Coastal Carolina – Simpson has 18 catches for 351 yards and four touchdowns, averaging nearly 20 yards per catch. He moves smoothly in and out of cuts and his overall route running has improved. His ability to accelerate while the ball is in the air and also catch it at its highest point gives him the chance to continue against a higher-level of competition. He could earn as high as a second-round grade.

Bruce Hocker, Duquesne – Hocker has averaged more than 18 yards per catch. Nearly one out of every four of his receptions has gone for a touchdown. He has 32 catches for 459 yards and five touchdowns this season. He has shown toughness, the willingness to block downfield and should run in the 4.5 range.

Pierre Garcon, Mount Union – A Division III standout who has good size (6-foot, 205 pounds) and speed (4.40 range) to go with strong stats. He is also an outstanding track athlete who has won races in the 100, 200 and 4x100 meters. He has run 4.40 or better 40-times on campus. His ability to separate from defenders is matched by his physical play while the ball is in the air. Has great red-zone ability, scoring 18 touchdowns as a junior and averaged more than 24 yards per kickoff return. He is a rare athlete for Division III and someone worth keeping close tabs on.

Jaymar Johnson, Jackson State – Johnson has exciting speed and big-play ability. He has 12 catches for 196 yards and three touchdowns, but has been heavily covered. Johnson is a dangerous return man and had brought back a punt 75 yards for a touchdown against Texas Southern. He will need a big postseason.

James Banks, Carson-Newman – Recruited as a quarterback by Tennessee, Banks has had his ups and downs off the field. He has 11 catches for 242 yards and four touchdowns, and also returns punts. At 6-2, 215 pounds, he has ideal size and speed.

Edward Williams, Lane (Tenn.) – The former tag team partner of Jacoby Jones (Houston Texans) he has good size (6-4, 215 pounds) and runs well. The Alabama State transfer is second on the team with 22 catches for 244 yards and one touchdown. He has missed two games because of injury. Should get an invite to the NFL combine.

Wes Doyle, San Diego – Doyle (6-4, 205 pounds) has steady hands, run after catch skills and better-than-advertised speed. He has scored 21 touchdowns over the past two seasons on 96 receptions, including 10 touchdowns this season.

Dexter Jackson, Appalachian State – An all-purpose threat, Jackson is being evaluated because of his straight-line speed and return skills. He has returned a pair of punts for touchdowns. Jackson was timed as fast as 4.33 last spring, which will earn him a free-agent shot.

Micah Rucker, Eastern Illinois – A tall, lanky receiver who has long arms and the ability to make big plays after the catch. He leads the Ohio Valley Conference with 41 catches for 601 yards and five touchdowns. He transferred from Minnesota. At 6-5, 221 pounds, he has averaged more than 19 yards per catch.

Shaheer McBride, Delaware State – McBride has good size (6-2, 200 pounds) and shows the ability to out-leap defenders. He has 21 catches for 347 yards and five touchdowns and is averaging 16.5 yards per catch. Scouts are seeing him as more of a priority free agent.

Paul Raymond, Brown – Raymond is quick in-and-out of his cuts and secures the ball. He is averaging 31.8 yards per kickoff return. If he can run in the 4.4's combined with his return skills, he could be a priority free agent.

Jason Jones, Arkansas Pine-Bluff – An interesting SWAC prospect who has come on in recent weeks. He is averaging nearly 22 yards per catch, including 21 touchdown catches on just 88 career receptions. He has a long, slim frame, but room to fill out. To improve his final grade, he will need to prove to scouts that he has better straight-line speed than currently estimated (4.50-4.55).

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