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Introducing the Future Stars at Wide Receiver From the 2014 Draft Class
The importance of having a good passer
In the 2013 draft class, there were three receivers taken in the first round, but only one of them posted solid numbers as a rookie. Instability and injuries at the quarterback position were common among all three teams that drafted wide receivers in the first round last year. Cordarrelle Patterson appears to have star potential with the Vikings, but their quarterback situation did not allow him to produce at a high rate in the passing game. He showed flashes of brilliance when given the opportunity to produce though, so he could very well be a star in the future. Sam Bradford only played seven games for the Rams in 2013, so rookie receiver Tavon Austin, did not have a very productive season. In Houston, Matt Schaub lost his job after getting injured and Case Keenum was able to throw for a lot of yardage in his absence. Between catching passes from Schaub and Keenum, DeAndre Hopkins put together an impressive rookie campaign. With the 2014 draft class being very deep at receiver, we will now take a look at the potential stars from this draft class that play the wide receiver position. Having stability at the quarterback position, will play a key role in how quickly some of these talented wide receivers will be able to break out at the NFL level.
Along with being the top receiver drafted in 2014, come very high expectations for the former Clemson star. The good news for Watkins is that he joins a team with a solid quarterback in youngster EJ Manuel of the Buffalo Bills. With Watkins being so strong in the screen game, he should catch a lot of passes during the upcoming season, especially after the Bill traded Stevie Johnson. After running a 4.43 second forty yard dash at the combine, Watkins has proved that he can be a deep threat in the NFL. His intensity and effort on jump balls is rarely matched by the opposing defenders, so Watkins is likely to be a primary red zone threat for the Bills as well.
Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham is one of the faster receivers to be drafted in 2014, and he will have a chance to start on the Giants after the departure of Hakeem Nicks to the Colts. He is a great route runner with ability as a return man, which makes him dangerous when he catches the ball in stride with open field ahead. Being a featured receiver with a very good veteran quarterback is what give Odell Beckham the advantage in becoming a star over some of the other receivers taken in this draft.
With the Panthers having lost all of their primary targets from last season, they drafted Kelvin Benjamin in the first round to provide Cam Newton with a solid number one option. As a spectacular athlete, Benjamin gives the Panthers a big target to throw to on the perimeter. He is good after the catch because his size allows him to break tackles. He also has good hands, but without elite speed his route running will need to improve in the NFL when he gets the opportunity as a number one receiver.
The Eagles drafted one of the most productive college receivers in the draft when they took Matthews in the second round. After cutting DeSean Jackson, the Eagles needed some depth at receiver and they got much more than that in Jordan Matthews. Matthews excels in areas of the game where Jackson had flaws, as he is willing to make tough catches in traffic and his large frame makes him tough to tackle. In a wide open offense, Jordan Matthews should excel as a great route runner and pass catcher. Even if he is the third option to start the season, Nick Foles will soon find that Matthews is a reliable target.
Bryant's college production was not where some teams would have liked it to be, due to being the second option at Clemson, opposite Sammy Watkins. When Bryant was drafted in the fourth round by the Steelers, his chances of becoming a star grew. With a quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger, who has completed a high percentage of his passes over his career, Bryant should excel. The Steelers have not had an impact receiver this big since Plaxico Burress left after the 2004 season. Bryant's 6'5" frame and 4.42 second forty yard dash, should make him one of Roethlisberger's favorite targets right away.
Cooks may be one of the quickest receivers and better route runners of all the wide receivers drafted in 2014. With Lance Moore gone in New Orleans, expect Cooks to be targeted early and often by Drew Brees in 2014. The production capabilities of Cooks are what will allow him to become a star in the NFL. His reliable hands and great route running abilities, combined with having a veteran quarterback that is as efficient as Drew Brees, will result in big numbers for the rookie wide receiver. The sky is the limit for Cooks' potential in the NFL because he possesses all the qualities that can make him a quarterbacks favorite target.
Although receivers like Marqise Lee and Davante Adams may becomes stars in the NFL, they do not possess all of the same abilities of the other receivers on this list. The receivers on this list will provide their new teams with dynamic weapons as they replace veteran receivers who have moved on. Ultimately this group of receivers is very likely to become the next group of household names among NFL pass catchers. That talent that they possess, will make the NFL season all that much more exciting going into 2014.