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2015 NFL Combine preview: Wide receiver

The wide receivers the Seahawks will be watching closely at this year's Scouting Combine.

Central Michigan Captain Titus Davis
Central Michigan Captain Titus Davis
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Group 2 of the 2015 combine arrives in Indy on Wednesday, weigh-in Thursday, and field-test on Saturday. This group includes QB, WR, and RB. I will not be previewing QB’s. It’s a terrible QB class and, quite frankly, we don’t need one.

The 2015 WR class is sort of like having Dave Chappelle follow Eddie Murphy. This year is so good in so many ways, but it’s just following an all-time great. This WR class will also show us subtle differences in the way in which position groups can be deep. The 2014 class was deep at the top…the 1st round obviously impressive,  but still many great names coming off in the 2nd. The 2015 class will really prove itself deep in rounds 3-4, and potentially still spiking eventual starters well into the 7th round.

I quickly took the list of WR at the combine, and added a round projection…I ended up with 4 in the 1st, 5 in the 2nd, 5 in the 3rd, 6 in the 4th. I didn’t project the entire list 5th-7th, but I did have names in each of those late rounds I would target for Seattle.

Pre-combine the WR have an interesting breakdown. We have the "elite 4" at the top…all stand 6’1"+, all list 210lbs+, all averaged 97 YPG (which is top 20 production…could also use 1000 yards receiving but Parker only played 8 games). Tough to argue they don’t belong in the 1st, although I contend Cooper’s 11% drop rate should/could drop him farther than people realize (much like Marqise Lee last year).

Quick aside: one oddity I find when setting 6’1"/210/97YPG as benchmarks for 1st round inclusion is the one guy that fits all of those specs but isn’t there: WSU’s Vince Mayle (6’3"/219/123YPG). You can’t argue it’s speed cause Mayle will be in the 4.4's and faster than Strong. You can’t argue drops cause Cooper has just as many, if not more. I guess "age" could be the factor because, whether we admit it or not, the NFL is biased against "old", and Mayle is about two years older than his peers.

The next group is comprised of guys that miss out on one of the prereqs (or miss two of the prereqs, but are elite in a 3rd): Coates/Perriman have the size but lack the production, Agholor has the production but is a degree smaller in weight, Smith/Dorsett lack the size and production, but have elite speed and were 1st-2nd in the country in YPC.

The names missing from tier 2 that could be there: the aforementioned Mayle, Titus Davis (6’2"/190/98YPG), Cam Worthy (6’3"/220/1016yards/18.47YPC), Rashad Greene (6’0"/180/97.5YPG), Tony Lippett (6’3"/185/1198yards/18.43YPC), Justin Hardy (6’0"/188/114.9YPG), Tyler Lockett (5’11"/175/116.5YPG). This, in turn, could (and theoretically should) make up tier 3. And save for Davis and Worthy, that is actually pretty close to what the 3rd round projection looks like pre-combine.

So why do Titus Davis and Cam Worthy have 6th round and UDFA projections (respectively)?? I have no answer for you there. I have a feeling the combine will answer the question by eliminating it (in the case of Worthy- more than likely skips testing at the combine while still recovering from broken foot 6 weeks ago…check back for his pro day). These are two names to monitor very closely, and two names I would expect find themselves closer to 4th-5th round when their names are actually called on draft weekend.

More quick capsules of WR’s to watch:

Darren Waller is going to be a massive target that has the potential to time better than Kelvin Benjamin (proving that statsheet/production scouting matters more than draft media care to admit). Waller will rise from his current 288th overall projection…question is how far?

Tre McBride has the potential to match the testing numbers of a very highly touted/highly drafted WR from 2014, but will still get drafted in the 4th round at earliest due to coming from a small school…proving that SEC/PAC/ACC/BIG tax is very real, and very much a ripoff.

Dres Anderson and Stefon Diggs should test well but still drop simply because they missed so much time due to injury. Deandre Smelter likely will not test due to proximity to his knee injury.

Kenny Bell may not have any one single great attribute or single great test, but he will be a huge asset to any team that gets him near the 5th round. Great blocking WR, great special teams contributor, great locker room contributor.

Finally, one last tier of WR: the return specialists. These are the guys that I wouldn’t target as WR alone, but that will get a bit of bump up by having good special teams value.

Kick Returners:

Mario Alford- 28.58 YPR with 2 TD this year

Rannell Hall- 27.50 YPR

Christion Jones- 23.00 YPR

Punt Returners:

Jamison Crowder- 12.73 YPR

All-encompassing Returners:

Kaelin Clay- 25.62YPR/1 TD on kicks, 15.04YPR/3TD on punts

Ty Montgomery- 25.24YPR on kicks, 19.83YPR/2TD on punts

JJ Nelson- 38.32YPR*/4TD on kicks, 10.65YPR on punts (*= #1 in nation)

I tend to be more interested in the guy that doesn’t have a "Power 5 conference tax", which makes me wonder about JJ Nelson. The last guy that is somewhat of an enigma is Donatella Luckett from Harding. He might be in the top 5 in the 40 of this group.

And, of course, there are WR not at the combine that I will be monitoring very closely. I’ve got one in mind that may be this year’s Charles Johnson…only better. I’ve also got a 2015 Doug Baldwin type in my mind. Stay tuned.