As many of you already know, I have a lot of free time during the winter months. I spend some of this time analyzing draft prospects, because I absolutely love scouting players and predicting what they'll be like in the NFL. When I'm watching film, I usually keep a pen and notebook close-by so I can take notes on the prospects I’m analyzing.
The first position I like to scout every year is wide receiver, because it's the most exciting position to scout. It's also one of the hardest, as wide receivers bust at a very high rate in the NFL.
A few days ago, I decided that instead of letting these notes rot in my notebook like they do every other year, I’d type them up and upload them onto CSR to benefit the entire community here.
Note that this isn't a full analysis like you'll find in a detailed scouting report on an individual player. This post is really just a combination of the various notes and observations I had on the wide receivers while watching film. If you'd like me to fully analyze a specific wide receiver and do more in-depth stuff, feel free to comment below and I'll let you know what I can do about it.
Also, you may not fully agree with some of my observations or analysis. That's fine. Just have a good reason in the comments section ;-)
Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee*
- Explosive athlete with good acceleration. Very, very fast on tape.
- Mostly lined up on the outside, but saw snaps in the slot and in the backfield as well
- Very good on kick and punt returns - excellent field vision.
- Heavily used in the screen game and on end arounds.
- Moves really well in tight spaces.
- Raw route runner. Mostly used his speed and athleticism to gain separation in college, but that won't work in the NFL. He might need a year or two to polish his route running
- Needs to get stronger - got rerouted on his routes a few times. He’ll struggle against more physical cornerbacks in the NFL.
- Too much of a body catcher at this point, and drops some passes as a result.
Patterson is an athletic freak. He’s a guy who can immediately make an impact on punt and kickoff returns, but might need time to refine his game as a wide receiver. He has a very high ceiling.
Justin Hunter, Tennessee*
- Excellent size
- He’s fast, but he’s not explosive. Rather, he’s a strider who builds his speed down the field.
- Was used on a lot of in routes and post routes; he seems best on intermediate routes where he can attack the middle of field and be a mismatch on linebackers playing in cover two, or on smaller safeties.
- Needs work on route running – not good at cutting in and out of his routes
- Good jump ball ability, but doesn’t adjust his body to play the ball in the air well. He could still be a great red zone target though because of his size and vertical ability.
- Appears to play scared. Doesn’t display much physicality or aggressiveness, possibly due to ACL injury.
- Like teammate Patterson, Hunter lets passes come into his body too often - not a natural hands catcher. Makes some easy drops.
Hunter may be an impressive athlete, but his 2012 film does not reflect this. He’s big and fast, but a poor route runner. He also drops a lot of passes. Obviously he’s got potential, but there’s significant risk as well, especially coming off of the ACL injury.
* I’ve recently been hearing a lot about how Patterson and Hunter were both limited by the offensive scheme at Tennessee; along with poor quarterback play from Tyler Bray. However, this is not the case – the Vol’s passing attack comprised mostly of shorter screen passes mixed with intermediate passes over the middle, with a few deep shots down the field off of play action. This is what Hunter and Patterson’s strengths were – they’re both excellent receivers on intermediate routes, and showed some ability to stretch the field. Regarding Bray, he had some accuracy issues, but overall, he was a decent quarterback last year. He wasn’t anything special, but he wasn’t as awful as some people are making him out to be, either. So, neither Patterson nor Hunter were held back by offensive scheme or quarterback play.
Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
- Might have the best set of hands of any wide receiver – a truly natural hands catcher.
- Made a lot of touch catches in traffic
- Excellent YAC ability
- Doesn’t have elite speed, but is a very smooth route runner. Can run the full route tree.
- Mostly lined up outside, but saw a lot of work in the slot as well.
- Underrated because of all the attention Tavon Austin has been receiving. Austin might be the better athlete, but Bailey is the better receiver.
- Great red zone weapon – 25 touchdown catches!
People might look at Bailey’s size and immediately write him off as a slot receiver, but that couldn’t be any further from the truth. If you watch his film, you’ll notice a truly special receiver who as able to make an impact from the outside as well as the slot. If he were a few inches taller, most people would be talking about him being the best wide receiver in the draft, because he really has all the tools to be one. I think he’s the most underrated wide receiver in the draft. He'll be a steal in the second or third round.
Tavon Austin, West Virginia
- Lined up all over the field – in the backfield, slot, outside. Also worked on punt and kick returns.
- Very athletic.
- Excellent speed and acceleration
- Has the field vision of a running back.
- A threat to score anytime he has the ball in his hands.
I don’t think Austin is a true wide receiver, or a true running back. He’s a mixture of both. Regarding his size, who cares? If the guy can play football, then he can play football. 5-9 isn’t the best size for a wide receiver, but there have been plenty of successful sub-6 feet wide receivers in the NFL. He could be dynamite in the Panthers offense.
Keenan Allen, California
- Explosive first step helps him get separation early in his routes
- Makes good catches in tight spaces – attacks the ball in the air and has good body control. Tall frame also helps.
- Ran a lot of slant and drag routes. Overall he’s a smooth route runner.
- Frequently lines up a lot in the slot where he dominates against safeties and slot corners
- Has the field vision of a running back – lethal YAC potential.
I really like Allen. Knee issues aside, I think he can be a true #1 wide receiver.
The only thing I’m not sure about is if he’s a good fit in the Air Coryell offense the Panthers run here. He didn’t really make any intermediate or deep catches at Cal, but then again, he had a terrible quarterback throwing him the ball. He might have been limited by the scheme at Cal. If Allen's knee ends up being fine, I have no problems taking him at #14.
DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
- The best deep threat receiver in the entire draft
- Deceptive speed - he caught a lot of passes deep down the field.
- Ran a lot of go routes and post routes. Also good at the comeback route. Overall, a very polished route runner. Excellent in and out of his cuts.
- Mostly an intermediate - deep target. Not good for YAC on shorter passes, as he's indecisive as a runner in crowded areas.
- Might have the best set of hands of all of the wide receivers in the draft. Soft hands, catches away from body.
- Great body control. He adjusts to the ball in the air and attacks it at the highest point.
- An excellent red zone weapon - 18 receiving touchdowns.
You all probably know that I’m really high on DeAndre Hopkins. I think he’s the best wide receiver in the draft. He uses a combination of size, speed and route running to get separation. He attacks the football in the air, and has great hands. You’ve heard the Roddy White comparisons – it’s not exaggeration. He’s got the potential to step in day one and contribute, and be a perennial 1000 yard receiver.
Terrance Williams, Baylor
- Describe him in five words or less? Okay. Williams is a burner. That’s it, really.
- Ran a lot of go routes, but little else. Overall a raw route runner who will need time to learn the full route tree.
- Led the nation in receiving yards.
- Mostly lined up on the outside, but worked the slot as well. Was a huge mismatch at times on safeties.
- Rarely pressed at the LOS because of his deep threat ability. Cornerbacks gave him 5 - 10 yard cushions on most plays.
- Used to have problems with some drops in 2011, but worked on being more of a hands catcher. Showed a lot of improvement this year, as he caught the majority of passes thrown his way.
- Decent red zone weapon, but not as physically dominant for a guy of his size. You’d like to see him use his large frame to his advantage more often.
- Like Justin Hunter, he’s a long, striding receiver. Not explosive, but gradually builds his speed down the field.
- Good run blocker.
Williams is a true burner wide receiver. There really isn’t much to his game at the moment other than his size and speed. I’ve heard a lot of comparisons with Torrey Smith, and I think it’s appropriate. Smith is big and fast, and makes a lot of catches down the field, but can’t run the full route tree. Same with Williams. He’d be a good fit in Carolina because of his size and ability to vertically stretch the field.
Robert Woods, USC
- Has good athleticism, and is explosive in the open field
- Can run the full route tree, but is a sloppy route runner. Might be the ankle injury what affected him all of 2012.
- He’s a hands catcher, away from his body. However, he has concentration issues - drops a lot of easy passes. Often starts running up the field before he fully makes the catch, resulting in drops.
- Inconsistent from game to game.
- Sort of like a jack of all trades, master of none type of wide receiver.
- Looks like a decent #2 WR if he can focus and work on his route running.
Woods is a solid prospect. He’s got decent size and speed, and can do everything, but just not very well. He looks like a poor man’s Justin Blackmon.
Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
- Very willing blocker. Good technique. The best blocking wide receiver in the draft
- Strong, physical receiver with amazing jump ball ability
- Good, but not elite speed.
- Drops some passes in tighter coverage
- Gets separation with his excellent route running. Very precise and technical.
- Ran a lot of in and out routes, along with the occasional post or go routes. Mostly used in the intermediate passing game.
- Mediocre at YAC on shorter passes.
Patton has a lot of potential. He’s a physical receiver with good hands and excellent route running ability. My only concern is that there’ll be a huge jump in competition in the NFL, so there’s definitely going to be an adjustment period. The question is, how long will that be? Patton is another guy who I'd love to see in the Panthers offense.
Da’rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech
- Big, physical receiver with elite speed
- Plays with aggression and has a mean streak
- A very good blocker
- Excellent at finding soft spots in zone coverage
- Best wide receiver in the draft at attacking the middle of the field – he’s dynamite on slant, in and post routes
- Wide catch radius, but still lets some passes bounce off of his chest.
Da’rick Rogers reminds me of a more aggressive Brandon LaFell on tape. I think Rogers is more physical and athletic than LaFell, though. Skill wise, I think he’s legitimate first round talent. However, his work ethic concerns and personality issues will probably be a major turn off for most teams, and that'll probably drop him to the third round. I could see a team like the Bengals taking a chance on him. Lined up across from A.J Green, I think that would make them one of the best young wide receiver tandems in the NFL.
Aaron Dobson, Marshall
- Excellent size.
- Great hand eye coordination
- Makes big catches in traffic
- Showed the ability to stretch the field and work underneath routes
BONUS: You HAVE to check out this UNREAL catch he made against ECU.
I’m not going to lie – there’s really not a whole lot of film available on Dobson. I didn’t watch any Marshall games live, either, so it’s tough for me to come to a conclusion on him. From what I did see though, I like him as a mid round prospect. His size/speed combination is definitely intriguing.
Marquees Wilson, Washington State
- Big target who can stretch the field
- Playmaking ability in the red zone
- Poor route runner - only good at the go route
- Good ability on screens
- Has bad hands – drops a lot of passes
Wilson is a very inconsistent receiver. The potential is there, but I think he’s a guy who will need a lot of work at the next level.
Tavarres King, Georgia
- Can run the full route tree
- Deceptive speed
- Good hands
- Made some big catches down the field
- Inconsistent receiver – had a mediocre season up until two big games in the SEC Championship and in the Capital One Bowl Game against Nebraska.
King is an underrated wide receiver. I think he’s a poor man’s DeAndre Hopkins. Their game styles are very similar. Like Hopkins, King can get down the field and make plays. He also has good route running ability and good hands. I think he’s a solid third or fourth round prospect.
Markus Wheaton, Oregon State
- Very, very fast. Another burner receiver.
- Lined up all over the field at OSU.
- Great body control and adjusts to ball in air nicely
- Excellent at running the slant route and go route
- Nice end around potential
- Plays like a defensive back on bad passes where it’s likely to become an interception
I’ve heard some Mike Wallace comparisons, and they’re legitimate. Like Wallace, Wheaton is a smaller burner receiver who has elite speed to stretch the field. I think he’d be a great fit here in Carolina, especially if they can draft him in the fourth round.
That's it for now, folks. Depending on the feedback I get from this post, I might upload my next set of notes on defensive backs once I'm finished watching all the film.
Let me know what you think, and if you have any questions with any of my analyses on these guys. I would love to hear your feedback.
Thanks for reading!