1. Justin Blackmon – Oklahoma State
6’ 7/8”. 207lbs. 4.54 40 yard. Top 15
It is hard to argue with production. And because of that, Blackmon has a slight edge over the fast, up-and-comer, Michael Floyd. Blackmon plays larger and faster than his numbers indicate. He absolutely dominated in college aided, perhaps, by the spread offense in which he played, the strong QB production, and the level of competition he faced. Blackmon will, undoubtedly, see a decline in his performance at the NFL level, but his football skills (body control, hands, YAC) are second-to-none. He occasionally garners comparisons to Larry Fitzgerald, based solely on his tremendous catching ability and his less-than-elite timed numbers, but a more accurate comparison would be to Anquan Boldin. Blackmon will be a tremendous WR, but unable to carry a team, like a true #1 (Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson).
2. Michael Floyd – Notre Dame
6’ 2 5/8”. 220lbs. 4.46 40 yard. Top 15
Michael Floyd has quickly, and quietly, pushed his way into the conversation for the draft’s best wideout. When you do a numbers-to-numbers comparison between Floyd and Blackmon, Floyd wins hands down on paper, Blackmon takes the cake on the stat sheet. Determining which is more valuable, production or potential, could end up becoming the 2012 draft’s biggest gamble. His moderate character issues in college are quickly being drowned under the talk of his untapped potential. Having suffered through horrendous-at-best, QB play in South Bend, Floyd could flourish with a solid quarterback under center. His game is well-rounded; routes, hands, body control, are all significant pluses. He’s blocking in the run game are a testament to his tenacity and professionalism. Based solely on numbers Floyd is a better candidate to be the top WR drafted. Production holds him back. In the right system, Floyd could become an elite NFL wide receiver.
3. Kendall Wright – Baylor
5’ 10 ¼”. 196lbs. 4.41 40 yard / 1.66 10 yard. Top 20
Hands down, the premier slot receiver in this year’s draft. Kendall Wright’s draft stock took a significant hit after a poor showing at the NFL Scouting Combine. Following the Baylor pro-day, however, he erased any doubts about his speed. Will quickly become one of the leagues premier deep threats, but also possesses the ability to burst across the middle of the field, with quick feet and sudden route changes. He is difficult to bring down and can even provide a boost in the return game. His best fit would be on a team with an established possession receiver, allowing Wright’s speed and game-breaking abilities to shine. Wide receivers under 6’ are often difficult for teams to stomach drafting in the first round. However, which ever club drafts him in the second half of round 1, will provide their teams with one of the league’s best #2 receivers.
4. Stephen Hill – Georgia Tech
6’ 4”. 215lbs. 4.34 40 yard / 1.5 10 yard. 1st Round.
After a meteoric rise, post combine, Stephen Hill has vaulted himself into first round consideration. Tall, fast and a serious deep threat, Hill will look to be a long-term investment in the NFL. He ran very few NFL-type routes at Georgia Tech, spending most of his career trying to blow the top off opposing defenses. He has garnered some questions about his hands, having dropped some easily catchable balls this last season, but that was more from a lack of concentration, than poor hands. Stephen Hill could do very well in the NFL, but it will take some time, most likely a few years, before he reaches his full potential (which should easily surpass the most recent major draftee from his alma mater, DeMaryius Thomas).
5. Alshon Jeffery – South Carolina
6’ 2 7/8”. 216lbs. 4.56 40 yard. Late 1st Round.
Alshon Jeffery began the 2011 season vying for top billing with Justin Blackmon. He was plagued by the bane of all wide receivers, a sad situation at QB, at South Carolina. He saw a near 50% drop in production from 2010 to 2011, which impacted his stock dramatically. He doesn’t possess the elite speed teams covet, but his size makes him an easy target downfield or across the middle. Jeffery should project as a solid, mid-tier WR in the NFL; nothing special, but few, if any, issues. Depending on the situation, could see a production ceiling similar to Brandon Marshall.