While Eric has done a fantastic job of giving you the top prospects in the draft, I am more inclined to look a little deeper in this draft, especially as a Cardinals fan who knows that unless a move is made, the team I root for has no chance at a second round wide receiver.
That means, just like in the matter of the offensive line, we Cardinals fans need to be informed with who is available, how they fit, and if they are worth us getting to know them leading into the last four days before the draft actually happens.
2012 NFL Draft WR prospects.
Marvin McNutt, WR Iowa
- Big, tall, muscular frame with really good strength.
- Very good straight line speed
- Good after the catch
- Great body control along sidelines and over the middle
- Lacks elite get off on line of scrimmage
- Struggles to get separation despite good frame and speed
McNutt is a type of player that you look at and say, “This is an NFL WR,” and the numbers back it up as he was ultra productive last season in a less than stellar Iowa offense.
That being said, I am not a fan of this guy for some reason. He can drop some easy catches, isn’t a guy that projects as a number one receiver down the road, and the more and more I watch him, the more and more I see a very poor man’s Anquan Boldin, meaning he doesn’t get the separation Q did in his routes but the rest of his game is similar.
If the Cardinals drafted McNutt he would be an interesting fit, in that he is a willing blocker, and should only see single coverage, and working with Fitz you would HOPE that he could develop the weak part of his game. He has been mocked anywhere from round 2, way too early, to round 4, I would be an interested buyer here if the Cards have not drafted a WR yet, so I guess that means the third round is where I will project him.
Marvin Jones, WR California
- Very good route runner
- Good footwork to get separation at the line of scrimmage
- Catches the ball away from his body with his huge hands
- Very good speed, not a burner, but a legit 4.4 long strider
- Comes from a pro style offense and knows how to run different routes at different levels.
- Thinly built frame that doesn’t have a lot of room for growth
- Can get manhandled off the line
Jones is shooting up draft boards with his off season workouts, which to me as a draft guy is always a worry. Why did it take you being out of your pads and off the field to turn heads? Don’t get me wrong Jones was a good WR at Cal, but he was never the man there.
Between the two Marvin’s I’d go McNutt if I was forced to choose one, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Jones was better, or if neither of them made it.
They both have upside, but both have questions marks and neither would upset me if picked for my team, and neither would make me say that was a great pick. Call me indifferent, I’m just being honest.
*Note: If you read a lot of draft stuff you are seeing the name Chad Johnson being thrown around by people to compare Jones to. That’s great, really it is, but the problem with player comparisons is it takes more than just one comparison, if Johnson is the high end of his skill set, what is the low end? MarTay Jenkins?
I just know someone will want to throw that in my face when I say I am indifferent on him, well “expert” XYZ says he has the skills to be the next Chad Johnson, great, he does you are right, but he has A LONG way to go to get there.
That’s just a friendly reminder that player comparison have a high end and a low end, and you hope they lean more towards the high end as a talent evaluator, but that is the reality.
Juron Criner, WR Arizona (Previously Written Scouting Report)
Criner had a much higher stock after his excellent junior season, as highlighted above, but decided that 2011 would be a special year for the Arizona Wildcats and himself.
He was mistaken on both accounts.
Criner is a big, possession type target, who uses fantastic body control and great timing ability in his jumps to make plays.
He catches the ball out in front of himself and uses his hands well, but most importantly he always puts himself in position to make a play.
While he lacks elite speed to make himself a true game changer, he should develop into a very consistent red zone target in the NFL.
Criner missed part of the season with an appendectomy, which hurt him statistically, and never played at the same high level as he did in 2010.
So what are the Experts Saying:
ESPN’s Todd McShay: “Arizona WR Juron Criner has had a sneaky-strong week, showing smoothness for his size (6-2, 220) and impressive hands. Criner uses his frame effectively when shielding defenders from the ball, and his 10-4 hands were on display today on over-the-shoulder grabs and catches in traffic. He continued to help himself with another solid effort.”
Rob Rang of CBS: “Though he certainly doesn’t possess the big play speed of Arkansas’ Joe Adams or Houston’s Patrick Edwards, he’s frankly been a more reliable target this week than either of the other two big possession receivers NFLDraftScout.com currently rates ahead of him — North Carolina’s Dwight Jones and Texas A&M’s Jeff Fuller.”
While I haven’t been able to find any substantial or even unsubstantial evidence, there are concerns about him off the field. I’ll just say the few people I know at UofA don’t have a lot of negative things to say about him, but they also aren’t chummy.
Criner needs to find a team that has a solid #1 receiver, and maybe even a passable #2 right now, and allow him to get acclimated, and not necessarily be depended on to be a game changer.
Does he fit with the Cardinals? Maybe, he is raw in his route skills, and isn’t going to come in and be an immediate threat, but he has the skills to get there.
Chris Givens, WR Wake Forest
- Physical WR that likes to mix it up with DBs and allows him to fight for position on balls.
- Great hands, that seem to get better in traffic, where he excels, see above.
- Excellent route runner with a diverse knowledge of the route tree.
- Not a special athlete gets by more on physicality and guile.
- A little stiff with not a lot of wiggle in his game.
Givens is an intriguing prospect because he reminds me of Hines Ward in his skill set, not saying he will be that good he is that type of player.
Can he be a solid second WR? Maybe, I see him more of a solid slot receiver that can use his physicalness and great work in traffic to be a solid, yet unspectacular starter, or great sub package guy.
For the Cardinals, I am not sure that fits, but a team with established WR talent, GB, Pittsburgh, that needs a solid slot WR he could work great.
AJ Jenkins, WR Illinois
- Versatile WR who can work outside or in the slot.
- Good hands that uses them to catch the ball and not let the ball get into his body.
- Excellent at creating separation off the line of scrimmage b/c of his great athleticism, quickness and moves off the line.
- Has great body control
- Needs to add muscle, has a very wiry frame, as he can get pushed around in press and man coverage.
- History of nagging injuries that have cost him games each of the last three years.
Jenkins is as raw as a prospect there is in the draft, but he is a fairly safe pick in my estimation, unless you draft him in the third round.
I think his ceiling is high, remember the player comparison thing? Well with his fantastic speed and good route running he could become a Mike Wallace type, the problem, he could become just another fast WR in the NFL that get’s pushed around.
The reason he is a safe pick is because of his speed and hands, if he gets strong enough to handle the press coverage he can be an excellent second receiver, low end number one on a lot of teams.
Joe Adams, WR Arkansas
- Excellent athlete that has great speed that can take the top off a defense.
- Good route runner, who sets them up well from the slot.
- Fantastic with the ball in his hands.
- Drops too many passes.
- Inconsistent with his routes when not running them from the slot.
Adams is another one of those prospects that should have no problem making it in this league because of his return skills, we all remember the highlight, if not check it out here, but I am not breaking down the known, what we are talking about is the unknown of his ability to be an every down WR in the NFL.
Can he develop into a WR with the drops issues and the fact that he doesn’t look like the same guy when moved around from inside to outside?
I like Adams, I think he would be a fine fit on the Cardinals roster, but the third round may be a little too high for me, especially with the needs along the offensive line.
T.Y. Hilton, WR Florida International
- Dynamic playmaker that can create separation at any level on the field and off the line of scrimmage.
- Elite level stop and go, shifty, and elusive with the ball in his hands.
- Incredible in the return game.
- Small frame, which may cause him to have trouble adjusting to getting off the line at the next level.
- Needs work in route running and progressions in the route tree.
Hilton to me could become the next DeSean Jackson, or the next Dante Hall. He is going to make it in the league, he is too good in the return game and as a slot option not to, but can he become a consistent deep threat, and really stretch the defense throughout the game?
I am a Hilton fan, and I have no shame in admitting that. I would love the Cardinals to take a shot on him in the fourth round, if he gets that far, as I think he can be a multipurpose weapon, but I just don’t see him falling that far into the fourth round, where I think he could be a viable option.
Ryan Broyles, WR Oklahoma
- Explosive player with the ball in his hands.
- Fantastic route runner who gets in and out of breaks well.
- Very good hands.
- Coming off ACL injury and already a smallish WR who has trouble getting of the jam at the line.
Another favorite of mine, maybe I have a thing for undersized speedsters, but Broyles would be a great value pick again, if he continues to fall to the fourth round of the draft.
He would be a nice compliment to Larry, but more importantly he would provide the instant offense deep threat that the Cardinals need.
Nick Toon, WR Wisconsin
- Good hands, uses them to pluck the ball out of the air.
- Excellent route runner, who needs work exploding in and out of breaks.
- Lines up all over the field.
- Lacks elite speed, and can have trouble separating off the line in non press situations.
Toon is a lesser version of McNutt, or maybe he is equal to McNutt. Either way, I am not a huge fan of his fit in the Cardinals offense, but like McNutt, it wouldn’t cause me to become upset if he was picked, I just don’t see him becoming a consistent playmaker at the next level.
Tommy Streeter, WR Miami
- Prototypical size/speed combo that has become a necessity at the NFL level.
- Excellent deep threat
- Very inexperienced player.
- Needs work at all the details at the next level.
The definition of a developmental prospect is what Streeter is. He has game changing size and speed, but is only a vertical and red zone threat at this time, as he only has one year college experience on him
Is a legit 4.4 player, with the ability to go get the ball, but needs help running routes, and is inconsistent with his hands.
Will get over drafted, maybe as high as the third round, because of all the positives he possesses, but has at least 1 year of needed learning before he becomes a real contributor, and more like 2 years.
If he was around in round 5, the Cardinals would be smart to take him and develop him because the young man has number one receiver potential oozing from him, but he needs time, and the one thing the Cardinals have at the WR position, is time to develop a new WR.
Rishard Matthews, WR Nevada
- Excellent build for a WR.
- Good speed, but not a burner at all.
- Plucks the ball out of the air and uses his hands well.
- Needs work as a route runner.
- Not overly quick off the line.
An example of a guy who works his way up the draft boards and may become a viable fourth round option because of his solid overall make up.
Needs to work on his quickness off the line, and his breaks in his routes, but he has natural hands, and good sense of timing the ball.
Dwight Jones, WR North Carolina
- NFL size
- Physical route runner who uses his body well for positioning.
- Uses his body to much to try and catch the ball instead of his hands.
- Lacks top end speed.
- Not a good route runner, relying too much on overpowering his defender as opposed to running crisp routes.
Jones came into 2011 with huge expectations, and was just not good, destroying his draft stock to the point where he is looking as a day three pick.
He needs a lot of refinement and could become a solid third receiver and possible second receiver because of his size and physical play, but it will take time.
Unless by some miracle he falls to round 6-7, I wouldn’t want the Cardinals to go after him and even then I am not sure he is the answer to the question of who takes pressure off of Larry Fitzgerald.
Greg Childs, WR Arkansas
- Big, tall, rangy WR prospect with great body control and good hands.
- Recovering from patella tendon surgery and was not the same guy after surgery.
- Wasn’t fast to begin with, but not lacks the suddenness and quickness he once had.
All the questions on Childs stem from his injury. Before the injury he had all the makings of a Plaxico Burres type possession receiver, but now, is he even going to be a solid possession guy? Not someone I see the Cardinals becoming interested in, but you never know in the later rounds.
Sorry for the other 15 or so WR’s that will get drafted, but 2600 words was more than enough to give you a breakdown on the rounds 3-6 WRs.
If you have a specific WR you are interested in, send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @sethcoxtshq and I will happily give you my thoughts.