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2015 NFL Draft: Top 10 Wide Receivers

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This year's crop of NFL Draft receivers is one of the more intriguing groups to come along in recent years, particularly when looking at those prospects projected to go in the top 2-to-3 rounds. There's a lot of size in the group, and quite a bit of speed, but it's the combination of size and speed that several of these prospects possess which makes this particular class so unique. Guys like Kevin White, Dorial Green-Beckham and Sammy Coates are all 6'3 or taller, yet have the burst to take the top off any defense.

Here are my general Top-10 WR rankings based on quite a bit of tape watch, without consideration of scheme or system.

My Rankings:

1. Amari Cooper

6'1, 210lbs

Strengths: Elite natural burst from a stop, in a straight-line. Second gear is deceptive and allows him to get behind first layer of defenders rapidly. Sudden and agile off the line, to beat press and evade any contact off the ball. Long arms, seemingly large hands, and good coordination to catch off the frame. Times the leap well to high-point, and demonstrates good vertical to go up and get it.

Good foot awareness in terms of proximity to sideline. Great suddenness on double-moves, and glides with ease in the open field. Good suddenness on stops to shake off defender on hook routes. Good option on WR screens due to his ability to turn on the thrusters and explode upfield from a stop. Good muscular build and long frame.

Does a good job of identifying space in zone, flipping and sitting down quickly. Locates and tracks as well as anyone in the country. Crafty when separating in space, often juking, start-stopping, etc. Toughness and physicality after the catch to extend plays. Can break down in the open field and make you miss as well.

Weaknesses: When asked to break sharply in or out, tends to round off rather than stick his foot in the ground and create immediate separation - this allows for defenders to recover and make good breaks on the ball. May not run away after the catch, whereas his initial burst is where he gains most of his separation.

Summary: Cooper can do it all, and has it all. Speed, routes, hands, size, play-making ability after the catch and intelligence. He'll get sloppy on his routes at times and isn't a track star, but he's a legitimate No. 1 type target who needs little refinement yet still has room to improve.

2. Kevin White

West Virginia
6'3, 210lbs

Strengths: Big, lean, but muscular frame with impressive length and definition throughout. Does a good job of exploding off the line for his size. Can small-step to change direction, but demonstrates long-strides in space. Extends and makes catches off his frame routinely. Utilizes his body and length to create space and shows good toughness through contact to remain on course en route. Tough to bring down after the catch.

Explosive jumper who can reach the ball at the high-point and out-jump a gathering of defenders. Strong hands to come down with it in a crowd. Nice burst across the field on drag routes and explodes upfield after the catch. Can pull away in the open field. Can break down and make you miss. Threat to go all the way when in space with the ball in his hands. Tracks well, and demonstrates great body control and timing for the leap. Loose enough hips to run the whole tree with above-average precision. Determined run blocker who has the arm length and natural strength to sustain.

Weaknesses: Could be more crafty as a route-runner as he has the speed and agility to separate better than he does. Needs to fight better with his hands at the LOS. Drops some catches. Has trouble separating when asked to cut sharply and is more of a vertical athlete at this point than a refined route runner. Will get grabby at times when blocking.

Summary: Though not quite as big, White reminds some of Kelvin Benjamin in terms of his combination of size, vertical speed, and leaping ability. He's rough around the edges as a route runner, but may be the premiere size/speed prospect in this class, who - like Benjamin - could surprise with immediate impact at the next level.

3. DeVante Parker

6'3, 209lbs

Strengths: Superb length and build throughout. Huge wingspan. Demonstrates the ability to shake free of press at the line with a nice jab-step and quick feet despite length. Locates the ball and secures nicely off his frame. Soft, strong hands to go up in a crowd. Routinely catches with his hands and adjusts feet and body nicely to snare off-target throws. Uses hands and physicality to create space for himself in man-coverage down the field. Tracks the deep ball well, and understands where the coverage is when going up for the ball. After the catch, Parker demonstrates impressive shiftiness despite being a long-strider and has a nice second gear to create distance once he's in the open field.

Weaknesses: Not a burner, and won't run by many outside corners on speed alone. Rounds off in routes, and lacks great burst out of cuts. Doesn't demonstrate high motor off the snap consistently. Can be chased down when he seems to have a clear path to the end zone.

Summary: Parker may not be the greatest WR in the class at any one thing, but he's a great athlete who does just about everything well. He's big, quick, explosive, has great hands, has a knack for making tough catches in traffic, and can run after the catch. He's exactly what NFL teams need on the outside, to match up against physical press corners.

4. Jaelen Strong

6'3, 215lbs

Strengths: Special and unique ability to catch balls in traffic, seemingly through defenders at times. Great size and strength, to muscle through traffic for the ball, and drag defenders after the grab. Though not a burner, Strong does demonstrate enough initial burst to end up in position to win vertically. Impressive hand-eye coordination to make circus catches, one-handers, etc. Tracks extremely well, and is tough to disrupt with contact off the line.

Weaknesses: A bit stiff in the hips and lacks great precision as a cutter when running routes. Relies more on body/strength to win the catch which won't translate as well to the next level. He'll need to work on disguising routes better, and creating separation out of his breaks. Isn't a very sudden athlete, so will need to continue developing his technique to be a routing separator in any direction on the field.

Summary: Strong's size, physicality, competitive demeanor and unique ability to catch the tough one make him really hard to defend despite the fact that he's not a great route-runner and isn't that fluid, pretty athlete that others in the class are. Though not a finished product, there's room for growth, and there's a reel of highlights to prove he has a knack for making big plays over and over.

5. Dorial Green-Beckham


Strengths: immense length and size. Big hands and long arms allow him superb catch radius. Smooth strider with deceptive speed and impressive shift in the open field for his length. Demonstrates the ability to attack the ball at the high point. Surprising burst and elusiveness after the catch for his size, and can pull away in a straight line. Doesn't need a lot of time to get up to speed. Good body control and adjustment.

Weaknesses: Can be out-muscled in press by smaller corners, and he's too easily disrupted off the line considering his physical tools. Slighter frame makes him easier to push around than one might think when looking at his listed size. Lacks concentration at times, dropping some easy ones when defenders are around, and works best in space. Doesn't explode out of sharp cuts.

Summary: Green-Beckham might possess the most devastating combination of physical tools of anyone in the class, but his questionable off-field behavior, along with an under-developed frame and struggles against press coverage could cause him to drop, despite his natural ball skills and rare size/speed combination.

6. Nelson Agholor

6'1, 190lbs

Strengths: Lean, muscular athlete with long arms. Fluid mover in space who exhibits great sink and burst as a route runner, with the ability to routinely separate across the field. Soft hands and great coordination allow him to consistently catch the ball away from his body. Great vision and cutback ability after the catch, with great acceleration to pull away. Explosive first step and shiftiness make him an ideal target for quick-hit plays behind the line of scrimmage. Precise route runner with craftiness and suddenness to separate on double-moves, hitch-and-go's, etc. Big-play threat in the return game.

Weaknesses: Could stand to add a bit of bulk to his frame. Can get out-muscled by press coverage, and needs to learn to use his hands better at the line of scrimmage. Inconsistent as a run-blocker.

Summary: Agholor's combination of length, athleticism, hands, and clean route-running, along with the threat he presents in the return game make him one of the most NFL-ready receivers in the class, and one that should contribute immediately.

7. Devin Smith

Ohio State
6'0, 190lbs

Strengths: Athletic looking frame with long arms, and muscular definition throughout. Elite straight-line speed. Utilizes hands nicely to fight press and get a good release at the line, particularly on vertical routes. When given any kind of space off the snap, is a threat to blow by any defender, and pull away. Great coordination and tracking when asked to haul in the deep ball over the shoulder. Makes nice adjustments to poorly thrown balls, and demonstrates good concentration when having to make the drop-in catch with defenders bumping him. One of the nation's elite home run weapons who's a threat to score on any play, from anywhere on the field. Great burst and explosive first step off the snap. Can hurt you after the catch, in space.

Weaknesses: Isn't the most sudden when asked to jab-step, or work around press coverage with is feet. Is more of a "run by you" receiver than a "run around you" receiver, meaning he's not as naturally gifted at juking, shaking or moving laterally with any great foot quickness or agility, as he is at beating you in a straight line. Though he exploits space after the catch, Smith isn't going to break down and juke a lot of defenders in the open field, or work his way out of tight quarters with his feet. Lacks route precision, and gets sloppy in and out of breaks.

Summary: Smith is the prototypical burner who will stretch the field, and has a knack for getting behind secondaries. He's raw in many areas still, particularly as a route runner, and he may not contribute all over the field immediately at the next level, but football speed is something you can't teach, and this guy may have more of it than anyone else coming out this year.

8. Devin Funchess

6'5, 230lbs

Strengths: Massive frame with superb length and thickness throughout. Long arms and large, strong hands are put to use consistently in securing the rock off-frame, and presenting a mammoth catch radius for the QB. Surprising initial burst off the snap for his size, enables him to sneak past the first layer of defenders and find space in zone, particularly when lining up in the slot. Caught a lot of inaccurate throws at Michigan, demonstrating great body control and hand-eye coordination.

Uses his large frame and active, strong hands to fight through press coverage and stay the course on his routes. Tracks and high-points well. Attacks the ball in the air and will win the jump ball consistently. Utilizes a strong "box-out" approach to beating smaller corners. Good sideline awareness. Possesses the strength and flexibility to be a good blocker in the run game. Shifty in the open field, and can change direction without bogging down. Isn't afraid of contact and indicates a bit of a chip on his shoulder at times.

Weaknesses: Needs to work on working back to the ball, as he'll tend to sit and wait, leaving opportunities for defenders to close the gap. Rounds off his routes at times, and lacks suddenness when asked to sink his hips and snap out of his breaks. Doesn't create a lot of separation in man coverage, and has to fight for a lot of his catches. Though possessing the physicality and strength to be a strong blocker, he's inconsistent technically here and should be more dominant than he is.

Summary: There aren't a ton of 6-5 WRs flourishing in the NFL today, which is why some project Funchess as a tight end. But he does possess enough quickness to contend with corners, and has some raw tools that suggest he has room to grow as a route-runner. His explosive jump-ball ability and great hands make him an intriguing target either way, and we should see plenty of him in red zone situations right out of the gate at the next level.

9. Sammie Coates

6'2 209lbs

Strengths: Big, muscular frame with nice length for the position. Straight-line speed is among the best in the nation, and rare for his size. Tracks the ball extremely well vertically. Physical at the point of attack both as a receiver facing press coverage, as well as when asked to block for the run. Isn't afraid to get his hands on the defender, and is rarely bothered by the jam. Is a good option for screen passes considering his explosive first step, elite straight-line speed and ability to exploit creases. A threat to go the distance every time when in the open field. Will drag, truck or slam would-be tacklers to keep the play going. Good run-blocker.

Weaknesses: Very little fluidity in his lower half, as he runs tall and struggles to sink his hips when asked to break on routes. Lacks suddenness and agility when asked to shake or move laterally and is much better at running through you than around you. Will sit and wait rather than work back to the QB, and doesn't seem to have a great natural feel for what is going on around him when asked to find a hole and sit in it. Doesn't have the look of a natural pass catcher, as he tends to fight the ball, and is inconsistent when attempting to secure the catch away from his body.

Summary: Coates is one of the more unique prospects to come along in a while. He's big, strong and extremely fast, but he'll let the ball slip right through his hands at times, lacks natural ball skills. His ability to get behind secondaries though, and pull away, combined with his toughness after the catch may be too good to pass on, between the late first and middle-second rounds. Guys who can score from anywhere, anytime, usually command a premium, and Coates, though a one-trick pony, is a game-breaker.

10. Rashad Greene

Florida State
6'0, 180lbs

Strengths: Nice combination of size, quickness and speed. Has the straight-line speed to line up outside and challenge the top of the defense consistently. Explosive first step allows him to catch-and-go on the quick screen. Quick into and out of cuts, demonstrating good hip sink and burst to separate on routes vs. man coverage. Fluid mover in space with the ability to make defenders miss after the catch.

Suddenness when asked to stop and shake off defenders on hitch routes. Good body control and timing to the high throw. Deceptive 2nd gear to exploit space down the seam. Tracks the ball well, and shows good sideline awareness. Adequate blocker in the run game. Extremely effective from the slot demonstrating smarts and awareness to exploit quickness mismatch, find space and sit down.

Weaknesses: Will drop balls that he shouldn't at times, due to concentration lapse or reliance on his chest plate to trap the ball. Can get out-muscled in press coverage. Slighter frame may prompt questions about durability.

Summary: Greene, like Agholor, has a knack for getting open, and then extending plays with his athleticism after the catch. He's not the "freak" that some of the other guys in the class are, but he's solid in all areas of the game, and has room to continue to improve.

The Seattle factor:

We've heard both Pete Carroll and John Schneider repeatedly talk about how they're always looking for guys with unique qualities that stand out from the rest of the pack, and have something different about them that Seahawks can utilize in their scheme.

We've all seen what the lack of a true defense-drawing presence at WR has done to Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, forcing them to play the roles of a No.1 or a No.2, allowing defenses to man up on them, therefore exposing their lack of explosiveness and ability to consistently separate in one-on-one coverage. It's not a knock on them by any means. But they're much better suited exploiting mismatches and finding space where defenders have been pulled away to deal with a more deadly target.

With that said, it doesn't take a Dez Bryant or a A.J. Green to draw the attention of multiple defenders. Rather, there are two factors to consider when looking for such a game changing target - 1. Range and 2. Speed. "Range" can manifest in several different ways. It could mean size and catch radius. It could mean leaping ability. It could mean arm length. In most cases, a combination of size, length and leaping ability are the deadliest manifestation of range, because the QB doesn't have to throw a perfect ball. The degree of precision required to execute is lessened, thus expanding the number of opportunities throughout a game and season, to convert in situations that would otherwise result in a turnover or wasted play. Even Sidney Rice, though not the most explosive athlete, gave Seattle an element of range that it hasn't seen since, at the receiver spot.

"Speed" is self-explanatory for the most part, but not just straight-line speed. Football speed. Ricardo Lockette has great straight-line speed, but we haven't seen a ton of plays whereby he's gotten behind the secondary and created a ton of space for himself. Yet we see this type of "speed" out of guys like Terrance Williams in Dallas, who would most likely clock in at a slower 40-time than Lockette, but finds himself open downfield quite a bit. Therefore, we've got to find guys who can beat press, then demonstrate craftiness with jab-steps, small hitches, head-fakes and double-moves to create routine separation.

Taking this into consideration, here are five guys in the top-10 who have something really unique that jumps out, despite perhaps having other areas of glaring weakness, and who could still be on the board when Seattle picks at 31:

1. Jaelen Strong - Strong's unique ability to repeatedly make the circus play or the tough catch in traffic despite lacking cleanliness in his routes and fluidity in his movement, make him someone I could see the Seahawks taking a strong interest in. Particularly in light of the fact that he plays with a bit of a chip on his shoulder and has a highly competitive nature. Plus, he's big, physical and doesn't shy away from contact. In some ways, though much bigger, Strong's style reminds me of Golden Tate - not the cleanest or smoothest looking athlete, but he finds a way to make the catch and stay on his feet through contact.

2. Dorial Green-Beckham - There aren't a lot of 6'5 guys with Beckham's speed and ball skills. There also aren't a lot of guys who would be considered in the first round with a track-record of troubling off-field behavior that he has - particularly one of not taking coaching well at Missouri. These polarizing factors could present the perfect storm for Seattle, and result in an opportunity to grab the freakish Beckham at 31. On the flipside, don't be surprised if he's still on the board in the 4th or 5th round. That's how big of a gamble some feel this guy is.

3. Devin Smith - Speed kills, and Seattle needs more of it at the receiver position. Smith is thought by many to be the top deep threat coming out this year, as he's as good as anyone at getting behind the secondary and creating a ton of space between he and the defender. He's raw in other areas, but that big-time speed and the thought that he can continue to develop as a route-runner make him intriguing. He's also effective against press coverage with active hands, and an explosive first step to blow by defenders.

4. Devin Funchess - Remember when we all thought Mike Williams was going to have a long, prosperous career with Seattle? It was probably right about the time that he plucked 12 catches against Arizona, including several of them in traffic, a couple of one-handers, and a jump ball or two. Unfortunately, he got lazy and stopped caring at practice, but what we learned from that experiment was that massive WRs with great hands draw and command the attention of multiple defenders - something that is lacking in Seattle and is the main reason why guys like Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse aren't as open as they should be, as often as they should be. Funchess reminds me of the former Trojan and Seahawk, Williams, in that he's a huge body with above-average athleticism and burst for his size, and he can catch anything.

5. Sammie Coates - Size, blazing speed, and physicality - these are the unique traits that Sammy Coates brings to the table. Like Smith, Coates is viewed by many as a one-trick pony who's a home run threat on the outside, but may not give you much else. Coates's toughness after the catch, however, is something we don't see with Smith, and something that we all know fits well here in Seattle. He's a willing blocker too, and has the strength to dominate corners in this area. His ball skills are lacking and he's not a make-you-miss athlete in the open field, but he'll run you over, and he'll find a way to extend plays.