Wide receivers a scary proposition in NFL draft


(AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

The draft is just days away and NFL executives are already drooling over the depth at wide receiver. According to the latest mock draft by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay, there could be three wide receivers taken in the first 10 picks, led by Sammy Watkins from Clemson, while other mock drafts have as many as seven taken in the first round.

“I would say that’s a position where you could probably draft a player in any of the seven rounds, and I think our board stacks that way,” Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome said. “If there is an opportunity for us to add another receiver, we will definitely do it.”

Watkins, who finished his collegiate career with 240 receptions for 3,391 yards and 27 touchdowns, leads a strong list of wide receivers expected to go in the first two rounds:

PLAYER SCHOOL
Sammy Watkins Clemson
Mike Evans Texas A&M
Odell Beckham Jr. LSU
Brandin Cooks Oregon State
Marqise Lee Southern California
Allen Robinson Penn State
Donte Moncrief Ole Miss
Jordan Matthews Vanderbilt
Cody Latimer Indiana
Martavis Bryant Clemson
Kelvin Benjamin Florida State
Davante Adams Fresno State
Bruce Ellington South Carolina

“Ten years from now, when we add up the production of this entire class, I would expect the numbers would be very strong,” former NFL general manager Phil Savage said. “Are there a couple Hall of Famers in here? Perhaps. They’ll certainly get that chance because the ball is in the air.”

History suggests otherwise. Since the AFL-NFL merger of 1970, 1,181 wide receivers have been drafted but just eight have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame. And five of those were first-round picks:

Player From To Round drafted Yds TD
Jerry Rice 1985 2004 1 22895 197
James Lofton 1978 1993 1 14004 75
Andre Reed 1985 2000 4 13198 87
Steve Largent 1976 1989 4 13089 100
Art Monk 1980 1995 1 12721 68
Michael Irvin 1988 1999 1 11904 65
John Stallworth 1974 1987 4 8723 63
Lynn Swann 1974 1982 1 5462 51

“This is the scariest position to draft from,” one scouting veteran told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “There’s more busts in the top 10 at that position. There’s some really good players here, but until they do it I can’t say it’s a great group.”

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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