The 2014 NFL Draft by Position: Wide Receiver

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Once considered the most glaring need on the roster for the Baltimore Ravens, the wide receiver position now has some flexibility as the team heads into next month’s NFL draft.

After signing Steve Smith and re-upping Jacoby Jones, the team currently has a quality four-deep group of Smith, Jones, Torrey Smith and Marlon Brown. 2013 draft pick Aaron Mellette also figures to come into play for a roster spot next season.

That doesn’t take the Ravens out of the running for a wide receiver in the draft, and quite frankly, they need one more receiver to add to the puzzle, particularly one who could provide an instant impact while also holding long-term potential starting value.

This year’s receiver class is loaded with different molds of receivers, and there’s a type of receiver for everyone.

Let’s take a look at the diverse types of receivers in this year’s draft, and ones that could fit well in Baltimore.

INSTANT IMPACT

Mike Evans, Texas A&M – The total package. Evans possesses a filled-out 6’5, 231-pound frame, and at only 20 years old, his long-term development figures to yield impressive results for whichever team drafts him. His best assets are his willingness to work toward the ball, as well as a physical demeanor at the catch point. His top end speed is underrated, and he can still be a vertical threat for an offense, though his short-to-intermediate value is highest. He only has two years of college football experience, but Evans’ positive traits should translate to an instant impact

Jarvis Landry, LSUYou can read up more on the rare traits Landry possesses, but long story short, he has extremely consistent hands, adjusts when the ball is in the air as well as anyone in this draft class, and wins at the catch point on a consistent basis. Throw in Landry’s violent run-blocking style, and he presents everything teams desire in a receiver. Below average athleticism (4.77 40-yard dash, 28 ½ inch vertical) is his negative, but just remember: Keenan Allen ran a 4.71 and 4.75 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day and he turned out just fine, so not all slow receivers struggle in the NFL.

COMPLETE RECEIVER

TJ Jones, Notre Dame – For an extended look at the former Fighting Irish captain, check out a breakdown of Jones here. Similar to Landry, the appeal of Jones comes in his rare ability to consistently adjust to the ball in the air and pluck it out at its highest point. Possessing a 6’0, 188-pound frame, Jones’ first year in the NFL may be spent filling in his body and relying on his quickness after the catch, but long term, he can be a quarterback’s favorite target. He willingly works back to the ball, and consistently goes up for 50/50 balls. Jones also possesses top-end, downfield speed to be a vertical threat.

Marqise Lee, USC – A prospect who the Ravens have already met with, Lee has the upside of a #1 receiver in an NFL offense with refinement. He isn’t necessarily a physical receiver at the catch point and needs to fill out his frame, but he is as explosive as any receiver in this class, and plays the boundaries with a Santonio Holmes-like ability. The physical attributes are there, and if Lee can limit his drops – his biggest drawback right now – he can be the complete package. His drops should be more easily correctable than those of some other receivers, as his issue is that he body catches too often, as opposed to the less ideal problem of having stone hands.

NEEDS DEVELOPMENT, BUT POTENTIAL STARTER

Cody Latimer, Indiana – As a prospect who has received plenty of recognition in recent weeks, Latimer is becoming more than a well-kept secret. At 6’3, 215 pounds, Latimer has the ideal build, and his effortless adjustments when the ball is in the air and his ability to work the sidelines could make him a favorite of Joe Flacco.  The improvement for Latimer needs to come in his route running, where he often rounds off routes and plays hesitant. A more physical playing style and an improved sense of urgency at the beginning of the play could lead to a starting role for Latimer in the NFL.

Davante Adams, Fresno State – Possessing as much upside as any receiver in the class, Adams’ vertical ability and tendency to high-point the ball are his strong suits. For a quarterback like Flacco who often sails his throws when trying to get the ball out quickly, having Adams’ rare jumping ability would be a valuable asset. His development will need to come in experience of an expanded route tree, as Fresno State’s spread offense lacked diversity. If he grows his repertoire, Adams could be a dangerous all-around threat.

Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss – Moncrief has everything that’s desired in an NFL receiver: size (6’2, 221), speed (4.40 40-yard dash, and a quick burst after the catch) and effortless execution of routes. What holds Moncrief back is the consistency in which he executes his often refined game. An improved ability to win contested catches, a more physical style of play and more consistency as an open-field threat after the catch could make Moncrief is the complete package.

SLOT RECEIVER

Bruce Ellington, South Carolina – If you’re looking for a smaller but quicker and more athletic version of Landry, Ellington fits the bill. At 5’9, he figures to be limited to the inside in the NFL, but as a strong, thick receiver who can track the ball in the air and win contested catches, Ellington will find his niche as a pro. He plays bigger than his size, and his after-the-catch ability makes him a big play threat.

Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest – The local product (Clarksville, Md.) provides intrigue as the prototypical slot receiver whose route running and burst after the catch should translate well. He doesn’t excel by winning at the catch point, but rather doing his damage after the catch on quick-hitting, in-stride passing plays, the opposite of what Baltimore will likely look for in the draft. Campanaro isn’t exactly the ideal Flacco receiver, and he may be better suited for a quick-release offense such as New England, but as one of the best slot receivers in this year’s class, Campanaro is still a worthy candidate.

Josh Huff, Oregon – Quick and powerful in the short passing game, Huff also packs a punch as a blocker, and is a near-complete package as an ideal slot receiver in the NFL. He has a well-built 5’11 frame that should ease his transition to the NFL, allowing him to make an instant impact, and his willingness to make catches in traffic gives hope for Huff to have consistent success at the next level.

Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma – A quick, shifty, pint-sized receiver who provides little to no value as an in-traffic target, Saunders’ short area quickness and top-end speed after the catch make him an intriguing late-round possibility. His sub-170 pound frame likely limits how much of a role he could have in an offense in his early years, but he can provide value in the slot, and his speed makes him a prime special teams candidate.

Not all wide receiver prospects could be covered in this article; there’s simply too many. Didn’t see one above that you’d like to see in Baltimore?

Leave a comment and let us know!

9 Raves on “The 2014 NFL Draft by Position: Wide Receiver

  1. Jason on said:

    Allen Robinson and Jordan Matthews are two very intriguing propects as well. Also martavis Bryant. There are so many quality wideouts in this year’s draft that there will be future starters available in the fourth round or later and the ravens have set themselves up perfectly to take advantage of that. More pressing needs such as free safety, right tackle, corner and running back should and I assume will be taken care of first.

  2. Cheri on said:

    i’ll touch on this if I may.Evans, you might as well not even discuss his name anymore, just like Watkins it’s a waste time as he won’t even come within sniffing distance of us.I now have Watkins going to St.Louis and Evans to Cleveland in my mock draft.
    M. Lee I made very very clear on many of these postings I still say and i will stand my ground that Lee will be the second best wr in this class better then Evans. Again judging this guy from what I saw when he was 100 percent healthy and had Matt Barkley throwing him the ball and Robert Woods helping take some attention away from him was a complete stud in 2012.
    Latimer call it the T. Doss stink or whatever it is but I’m still scar from the the Doss exp. to take another Indiana WR so soon. LOL but seriously this seems like a guy who had a better pro day and scouting combine then he did a career at Ind and those guys always worries me.
    Landry would be a solid second round pick if he is there no complaints for me if it happened.
    Adams from Fresno those wr who plays in those funky offenses always scare me as I always think the pro game is going to come so much harder on these guys and also it makes their numbers inflated.All the other guys you mentioned are late round guys and I truly truly hope we don’t wait until the 5th or 6th round once again to address this position like we always seem to do I hope we attack it early.
    Other wr’s that I like a lot that has been discuss quite a bit on here are guys like Michael Robinson, Jordon Mathews and of course the three other wr’s who are going to go in the first round OBJ , Cooks and Travis Benjamin.

  3. Scott on said:

    Kelvin Benjamin. Imagine our red zone threat with Marlon Brown and him. Having two 6-5 WRs has worked for the Bears. Just sayin. Having said that, I like Landry as a young successor to Steve Smith and Boldin as a fierce baller willing to go over the middle.

  4. unclewilly on said:

    from rotoworld

    LSU WR Jarvis Landry ran a pair of 4.58 forties at the Tigers’ Pro Day on Wednesday.
    Landry also dropped “three to four passes” in what is being described as a “rough” day. This all comes on the heels of a disastrous Combine that saw Landry run a painfully-slow 4.77 forty before dropping out of the drill altogether with a calf problem. He was also significantly shorter than LSU listed him in college. Landry is staring at a slide possibly into the 4-7 round range.

  5. Scott on said:

    So here’s my mock draft using an online simulator:

    17 Eric Ebron, TE, UNC
    48 Allen Robinson, WR, PSU
    79 Billy Turner, RT, NDSU
    89 Carlos Hyde, RB, OSU
    134 Tre Boston, FS, UNC
    138 AJ McCarron, QB, UA
    175 Aaron Colvin, CB, OU
    194 Crockett Gilmore, TE, CSU

    Tell me you wouldn’t demand a statue of Ozzie for that draft.

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