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Top Five 2016 NFL Draft Prospects- Wide Receiver
These guys will look to become the future playmakers of NFL franchises. Today I rank the top five wide receiver prospects for the upcoming NFL Draft.
1. Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
Bio: Joining Ole Miss in 2013, Laquon Treadwell was named the SEC freshman of the year after registering 72 catches for 608 yards and five touchdowns. Things were going great for him as a sophomore until he broke his leg in the last month of the season. He rehabbed in the offseason and was able to play in the 2015 season opener and eventually helped the Rebels upset Alabama for the second straight season. Treadwell got better as the year went on finishing the season with 82 receptions for 1,157 yards and 11 touchdowns; three of those touchdowns coming in Ole Miss' Sugar Bowl victory over Oklahoma State.
Strengths: Good height and overall length. Smart receiver with a competitive drive when the ball is in the air. Catch winner. Has a natural feel for the position. Has feel for defender and is careful to work back to throws while shielding cornerbacks from the ball. Hands catcher with good body control who can high point catches over defenders. Truly shines at tracking the ball and rarely gives away location of the ball with early movements. Great shiftiness in his routes thanks to his clean footwork. Can stagger feet while still working through his routes. Zone defense destroyer. Uses quality stiff arm after the catch for additional yards. Willing to block.
Weaknesses: Doesn’t have the vertical speed to scare cornerbacks. Defenders will crowd his underneath routes from off man coverage. Benefitted from several easy catches in space against zone coverage. Struggled to free himself from press coverage against LSU’s Tre’Davious White and may have same issues in he pros against quick cornerbacks like Patrick Peterson and Joe Haden. Takes time to slow down into breaks once he gets speed up. Could stand to be more physical in his release against press coverage. Had more focus drops last year than over the previous two seasons. Broken leg and ankle injuries in 2014 are concerning for longevity.
Projected Round: 1
Possible landing spot: Los Angeles Rams
2. Corey Coleman, Baylor
Bio: In three seasons playing at Baylor, Corey Coleman developed into one of the most productive receivers in school history. As a redshirt junior, Coleman lead the nation and set a school record with 20 touchdown receptions and was awarded the Fred Biletnikoff award as the nation's top wide receiver.
Strengths: Quick off the snap. Feet turn over at a fast pace and eats up cushion before cornerbacks know what hit them. Able to get over the top of every corner he faced and requires safety help over the top. Works back to the ball. Explosive leaper with ability to win the 50/50 balls and has the body control to secure the spectacular catch. Touchdown maker. Smooth and speedy stems to the post will be difficult to mirror and match for NFL cornerbacks. Makes route adjustments on the fly. Easily thwarts off press coverage. Able to make tacklers miss. Has experience as running back and punt returner. Heavily targeted in Baylor's spread attack.
Weaknesses: Did his best work on the edge, but doesn't have the desired size to play outside in the NFL. Allows cornerbacks to force him against the sideline on deep throws. Takes longer than expected to slow down for comeback routes after hitting top speed. Ran limited number of simple routes in Art Briles' offense. Inconsistent hands. Many of his catches were with the help of his body. Dropped 10 passes in 2015. Loses focus and concentration on routes that work towards the middle of the field or when defenders close in. Had sports hernia surgery that forced him to miss his bowl game.
Projected Round: 1
Possible landing spot: San Diego Chargers
3. Michael Thomas, Ohio State
Bio: Over the past two seasons, Michael Thomas has shown why his the best all around receiver at Ohio State. In 2014, he ended the season leading the team in receptions with 54 for 799 yards and nine touchdowns while helping Ohio State win the first ever college football playoff. The next year, Thomas once again lead the Buckeyes with 56 catches for 781 yards and nine touchdowns.
Strengths: Well built frame with ideal height and muscle definition for the position. Natural hands to attack the ball away from his body. Great hand-eye coordination. Reliable on 50/50 balls using his body strength and powerful hands to establish position and out physical cornerbacks. Precise route runner and very deliberate in his movements. using his footwork to get defenders second guessing. Athletic boundary receiver as shown by his touchdown catch in the 2015 Sugar Bowl against Alabama. Strong strides to accelerate and builds up speed as he goes. Determined leaper to highpoint passes. Reliable production the past two seasons despite limited opportunities due to changing of quarterbacks. NFL pedigree with uncle being former first overall pick Keyshawn Johnson.
Weaknesses: Lacks above average start and stop athleticism to easily create outside separation of the route. Cornerbacks can match his burst and vertical speed which limits his ability to consistently separate. Mechanical at times in his movements lacking ideal lower body flow. Strong hands, but will have some focus drops. Thinks too much about his surroundings. Gets good pop as a blocker, but doesn't consistently sustain blocks. Wasn't asked to run a diverse route tree in Ohio State's offense. Had trouble picking up the offense early in his career which forced him to redshirt as a sophomore. Not a proven consistent deep threat. Had consistent production, but wasn't asked to be a workhorse receiver in Urban Meyer's system.
Projected Round: 1-2
Possible landing spot: Baltimore Ravens
4. Josh Doctson, TCU
Bio: After spending his first year at Wyoming, Josh Doctson transferred to TCU in 2012. After sitting out the 2012 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Doctson went on to set the school records for single season receiving yards and single season receiving touchdowns twice. His senior year he was named an All-American.
Strengths: Trevone Boykin targeted him over 36% of the time and has the mentality of a number one receiver. Silky vertical routes with ability to make subtle shifts to get past corners waiting to get hands on him. Consistent in his play speed. Good accelerator off release. Able to create late separation down the field. Endzone regular who has racked up 25 receiving touchdowns over last two years despite missing three games this season. Climbs to snare jump balls and has body control to adjust midair. Hands are very strong, helping him secure catches through contact. Has ability to put up yards after the catch. Isn’t overwhelmed by physical cornerbacks trying to force him to the sidelines and can play through it to make winning catches downfield.
Weaknesses: Tall, but needs to add more muscle mass to prepare for physical, press cornerbacks in the NFL. Played in offense that created plenty of space to work for receivers. Needs to show greater commitment as a blocker. Was rarely pressed, but had issues coming out cleanly when he was. Doesn’t show urgency in his routes and is upright into his breaks. Rounds off on a majority of his routes. Suffered a broken wrist in early November.
Projected Round: 1-2
Possible landing spot: San Francisco 49ers
5. Will Fuller, Notre Dame
Bio: As a freshman at Notre Dame, Will Fuller led the Fighting Irish with a 26.6 yards per catch average. The following year, he established himself as a starter recording 76 receptions for 1,094 yards with 15 touchdowns, tying GoldenTate for the single season record in school history. As a junior he continued his big play ability by being named second team All-American.
Strengths: Possesses gazelle like acceleration to create proper depth in his routes to drive cornerbacks off their assignment and work back to the ball. Has a knack for creating defensive pass interferences by using excellent judgment to gain proper position at the catch point causing defenders to go through him to make a play. Ideal route running skills. Smart enough to know when to make adjustments on routes.
Weaknesses: Average size with a below average body type and lean muscle tone that will allow him to be knocked off his routes. Not much room to build muscle without sacrificing explosiveness. Struggled with too many drops in key situations in 2015, most notably in Notre Dame's key losses to Clemson, Stanford, and Ohio State.
Projected Round: 2
Possible landing spot: Chicago Bears