Over the next few weeks the Patriots.com/Patriots Football Weekly staff will break down the prospects for the 2015 NFL draft by position. Today we take a look at wide receivers.
After the wide receivers crop enjoyed an historic rookie year in 2014, this year's group is considered only slightly below. There are many quality players in this class and they come in various sizes and levels of ability. There are deep threats like West Virginia's Kevin White, Louisville's DeVante Parker and Ohio State's Devin Smith, solid route-runner's such as Alabama's Amari Cooper and Auburn's Sammie Coates and even a talented yet troubled question mark like Oklahoma's Dorial Green-Beckham. NFLDraftScout.com lists 43 wideout with potential draftable grades. Lots to choose from in this class.
Top of the Crop
Depending on which mock drafts you prefer, anywhere from 3-7 wideouts could potential go in the first-round. Many of those list Cooper as the No. 1 guy and it's easy to see why. He has decent size at 6-1 and is a physical, strong runner who gets open with solid routes. But I prefer White, who is bigger at 6-3 and appears to be a better athlete with more big-play ability. His size/speed combination is rare and that separates him from the pack in my mind. Parker also is worthy of consideration with a similar skill set to White.
A lot has been made of the eye-popping speed showcased by Central Florida's Breshad Perriman with Bill Belichick in attendance at his Pro Day. He could be a mid-round target if the Patriots are in the market. Belichick has spent a lot of time assessing various wideouts and with the team holding nine draft picks eliminating virtually any position wouldn't be wise. The talent and depth of this class could have guys like Coates, Perriman, Arizona State's Jaelen Strong and perhaps Michigan's Devin Funchess in the mix. Strong is big and fast while Funchess is more of a hybrid tight end/wide receiver type. The third round seems like a possible area for the Patriots to strike.
Keep an eye on
Honestly, pretty much everybody. Like the running back class this group of wideouts is deep and talented. There will be quality players selected throughout the draft, even in Day 3. Coates has a sterling off-field reputation to go with his solid production with the Tigers, although his college drops are a concern. Devin Smith is the ultimate one-trick pony with excellent deep speed to track the long ball. Michigan State's Tony Lippett uses his body well and has strong hands while Kansas State's Tyler Lockett is tough and productive out of the slot. Notre Dame's DaVaris Daniels could be a late-round gem with decent size (6-2) and strong hands, and Nebraska's Kenny Bell is an outside target who could provide some late value as well.