The NFL Draft’s first round saw six wide receivers come off the board, as Amari Cooper, Kevin White, DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Breshad Perriman, and Phillip Dorsett found new homes. But according to Mark Schofield, there are more WR prospects to be found in later rounds.
Devin Smith, Ohio State
The OSU product shined in the National Championship and is a tremendous deep threat in the vertical passing game. Smith might be the best in this WR class at tracking the football on deep routes. He was used primarily as a deep threat by Urban Meyer, and is very raw on routes that break off the vertical stem. With some work and refinement on route-running he can develop into a very solid receiver in the NFL.
Jaelen Strong, Arizona State
Strong is a physical specimen at nearly 6’3” and 220 pounds, and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds. He has phenomenal ball skills, able to out-jump and high point the ball consistently. Strong developed a nifty inside release against the press that gives him multiple ways of winning at the line of scrimmage. He does not have great separation skills, yet his ability to work while the ball is in the air makes him a massive asset to whoever is throwing passes his way in 2015.
Dorial Green-Beckham, Oklahoma
The wide receiver version of Jameis Winston in this year’s draft class, Green-Beckham put up impressive numbers for Missouri in 2013, catching 59 passes for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns. That was also the last season he played football. He was dismissed from the Tigers’ program after being investigated in a burglary and assault allegation. Green-Beckham has also allegedly assaulted a woman and has been arrested twice for marijuana-related offenses, one in January 2014 and the other in October 2012. He transferred to Oklahoma but was unable to play in 2014 because of NCAA rules. A big body, standing 6’5” and weighing 237, he has solid speed for the position and posted a 4.49 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. His size and speed make him an instant threat both in the red zone and in the vertical passing game:
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Green-Beckham tends to round off his routes, and can get swallowed up by physical cornerbacks playing press coverage. His physical traits are worthy of a first-round selection, but off-the-field concerns may cause him to fall as far as the third or fourth round.
Sammie Coates, Auburn
Coates is another receiver in this class who does his best work in the vertical passing game. His above-average speed ‒ 4.43 40-yard dash at the Combine ‒ and above-average size ‒ 6’2” and 213 pounds ‒ combine to make him a dangerous target. He backs up his straight-line speed on tape with explosive plays like this touchdown catch against LSU:
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Coates is a physical receiver with the ability to beat defenders on contested passes. While adept in the vertical game, he is raw on most other passing routes. He struggles at times with his hands when catching the football, and needs refinement on his catch point. The receiver suffered a deep bone bruise to his left knee early in 2014 that hampered him throughout the year.
Tre McBride, William & Mary
The Colonial Athletic Association standout is a versatile wide receiver who became well-known after his 4.41 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. McBride was a crucial presence in William & Mary’s offense, hauling in 64 passes for 809 yards and four touchdowns as a senior. He stands 6’0” and weighs 210, but his quickness allows him to operate underneath while his tremendous ball-skills and athleticism make him a weapon on the outside:
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One way to make an impression as a rookie is to bail out your quarterback. McBride does just that on this play, reaching back across his body on his out route to snare the pass thrown behind him.
McBride will face some questions about the level of competition, but on film he stands out against FCS defenders and is a very interesting prospect on Day Two.
Devin Funchess, Michigan
Funchess can be viewed in two ways: A hybrid TE/WR who is a matchup nightmare for defensive coordinators, or a player without a positional home. After beginning his collegiate career as a tight end for Michigan (he was named the Big Ten TE of the year in 2013), he moved outside to WR for the 2014 season, where he caught 62 passes for 733 yards and four touchdowns. He’s a big target, standing 6’4” and weighing 232 pounds, who wins one-on-one battles with his size and strength. Funchess is fearless on intermediate routes over the middle of the field, and also serves as a threat in the deep game with his size and ability to high-point the football:
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Funchess struggles at times with his hands, dropping catchable passes that an NFL wide receiver needs to secure. He ran a disappointing 4.70 40-yard dash at the Combine, but improved on that with a 4.47 and a 4.53 at Michigan’s Pro Day. His speed remains a concern as he transitions to the NFL, as on tape he seems to only have one gear and lacks the ability to run away from defenders.
Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
Lockett is a small receiver at 5’10” and 182 pounds who was used on the outside in college but needs to adapt to the slot position in the NFL. He played all four years at Kansas State, catching three touchdowns for the Wildcats as a true freshman. He put up very impressive numbers his final two seasons in Manhattan, with 81 receptions for 1,262 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior and 106 catches for 1,515 yards and 11 more scores as a senior. In the process he broke the Kansas State school records for career receptions and yards, previously held by his father, Kevin Lockett. His experience makes him a dangerous weapon for the right team, as he is adept at finding soft spots in coverage on a number of routes and can use his strong hands to make catches on contested throws:
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Lockett struggles at times against press coverage and can be re-routed by physical cornerbacks. Because of his size, he will be moved inside at the next level, where his thin build may be an issue.
Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.