While the 2015 wide receivers can’t hang with the absurdly talented and deep 2014 class, this is shaping up to be another good year for pass-catchers. These grades aren’t final, as there is more film to watch and players to add. Final grades will be posted in April. Until then the board is fluid, but I don’t anticipate much movement among the top-10. After the draft, you can expect dynasty rankings to be posted here at LTL.
1. Amari Cooper, Alabama
Such a smooth athlete. Gets up to top speed instantly and maintains it in and out of breaks. Best route runner in the class and gets open at will. Somehow a 4.42 40-yard time doesn’t get much attention anymore, but the dude is fast vertically and laterally. Big, natural hands. Not the long, big-framed type of receiver that is trending throughout the league, but should be a starter from day one in training camp and could be insanely productive if paired with a good QB in a precision passing game, ala Reggie Wayne. Extremely high floor. Top 15.
2. Kevin White, West Virginia
Neck and neck with Cooper. A power player that is a deep threat who can out-muscle defenders for the ball. Saw double and triple coverage at times and still came down with his fare share of passes when they forced it to him. Also strong after the catch. Although explosive, White is a little tightly wound and doesn’t play quite as fast as his 4.35 40 would indicate. Needs work on intermediate routes and was used mostly on hitches, crossers, fades and comebacks. Good blocker, giving effort and utilizing strength advantage over cornerbacks. Like Sammy Watkins in 2014, the upside is obvious, but might need some time to fully develop his game. Will most likely be the first receiver drafted. Top 15.
3. Dorial Green-Beckham, Oklahoma
Freaky specimen with 4.49 speed paired with surprising wiggle and body control in a 6-5, 237-pound frame. Eats up cushion quickly. Can be un-defendable at times due to “above the rim” basketball-type athleticism. Can make big plays after the catch too, especially on routes where he can catch it on the run. Was still very raw in 2013 and sat out 2014 due to off-field issues after getting booted from Missouri. Those character questions might keep DGB out of the 1st round, even though he has top-10 talent. Should have value as a deep threat and redzone weapon while developing the rest of his game. Much of his stock will depend on things most of us aren’t privileged to know, like how he worked at Oklahoma practices, interviews with teams and results from background investigations. 1st round.
4. Devante Parker, Louisville
I’m not as high on Parker as some evaluators that have him in the top 10. What I do like is his catch radius at 6-2 5/8 with an 80-inch wingspan, 4.45 speed and natural hands. Parker’s speed is more of the build-up variety with long deer-like strides, but he can put pressure on defenses deep and use his length to pluck the ball over coverage. He really needs to get stronger and that could be a problem at the next level both getting off press coverage and winning contested balls. No value as a blocker. Shows some quick feet off the line, but takes too many steps to get out of his breaks once he’s moving. Better on slants/posts/fades than sharper breaking routes. 1st round.
5. Jaelen Strong, Arizona State
Another player that ran faster at the combine (4.44) than he looks on tape. Doesn’t really run by guys or create a ton a separation in his routes. Would like to see Strong attack the ball in the air more, since contested balls have been his bread and butter. Sometimes plays more like a small forward than a power forward. His size and strength are obvious (6-2 3/8, 217, 42″ vertical jump), so it’s more of an attitude thing. Should develop into a starter, but I don’t see a WR1 in the NFL. 2nd round.
6. Devin Smith, Ohio State
Smith might be the best vertical threat in this draft class due to his speed and toughness at the catch-point. Competitive player with average size at 6-0, 196 pounds. Ran a 4.42 40 at the combine and had one of the best 10-yard splits at 1.56. Effortlessly tracks the deep ball over his shoulder. Performed well in explosion drills too, with a 39-inch vertical and 10-foot-2-inch broad jump. Will need work on short-to-intermediate routes and beating press coverage, but is a big play waiting to happen as witnessed by his 28.2 yards per catch at Ohio State. 2nd round.
7. Breshad Perriman, UCF
A boom or bust prospect. Looks like an explosive athlete on tape with very good speed and change-of-direction for his size (6-2, 212). Didn’t work out at combine, though, which is a shame, because he might have helped himself by posting really good numbers. Perriman’s pro day will be important for confirming the athleticism you see on the field (like here, running by combine darling CB Byron Jones). Plays with toughness and gives effort as a blocker. Does not always display natural hands. Lets balls get into his body, leading to drops, and will double-catch receptions. Perriman is a tough player to evaluate due to lack of top competition and poor QB play last season. Although he did have Blake Bortles throwing to him in 2013. Some are touting Perriman as a 1st round pick, but I can’t get on board with that. A bit of a project. 2nd-3rd round.
8. Rashad Greene, Florida State
Greene’s obvious flaw is a lack of prototype size (5-11, 182). Plays faster than his 4.53 40 time. Wins with quickness and slick routes. Natural hands catcher. Shows toughness to go over the middle and isn’t afraid to mix it up as a blocker. Might always struggle with stronger defenders at line of scrimmage and at catch-point. Was a better player at Florida State than former teammate and 2014 first round pick, Kelvin Benjamin. Someone could get a steal in the 3rd-4th round. Should flourish as a slot receiver in an offense that spreads it out, but he can play outside as well. 2nd-3rd round.
9. Nelson Agholor, USC
Agholor is a lean, speedy playmaker (6-0, 198, 4.42), who unlike most of the guys above him on this list, has value as a return man. He filled in nicely when Marqise Lee was hurt in 2013, but Agholor is a step behind his former USC teammate as a prospect. Had a rough start to 2014, but finished strong and made a ton of big plays down the stretch. I see him as more of a No. 3 slot receiver that can excel on special teams. Needs to learn how to beat corners with more than athleticism and doesn’t play physical enough to compete outside and be a chain-mover in the NFL. 3rd round.
10. Sammie Coates, Auburn
A frustrating player to grade. Similar to Breshad Perriman, Coates displays explosive athleticism, but leaves you wanting more as a pass-catcher. He put on a show in Indy with a 4.43 40, 1.55 10-yard split, 41-inch vert and 23 bench press reps. Some team will probably fall in love with his measurables and take him very high, but his lack of natural ball skills and instincts put him in the 3rd round for me as a high ceiling, low floor prospect.