NFL Draft Preview: Wide Receivers

What a difference a year makes.  Six wide receivers were round one selections at the 2005 NFL Draft but only two wideouts are expected to be first round selections this April.  Florida's Chad Jackson and Ohio State's Santonio Holmes headline one of the thinnest wideout classes in recent memory.

Jackson, 6'0 7/8", 213 pounds, may have vaulted himself ahead of Holmes by running a 4.32 at the Indy Combine.  His production increased dramatically each season at Florida, and he posted an 88 catch, 900-yard junior season.  Jackson possesses good size, quality hands, and has a nice upside.  He is a physical player who can produce big yardage after the catch.

At 5'10 ½", 185 pounds, Holmes isn't as big as Jackson but he's also a 4.3 burner.  Holmes is coming off a junior season at Ohio State where he averaged a gaudy 18.4 yards per reception.  Eleven of Holmes' 53 receptions last season went for touchdowns and he amassed 25 receiving touchdowns in just three seasons of college play.  The former Buckeye is a defensive back's nightmare because Holmes will continually make people miss.  He is a deep threat who can also help a professional team with his return ability.

While Sinorice Moss is not a clone of older brother Santana, he does share similar characteristics with the former Jet.  Moss, 5'8", 185 pounds, is another small receiver with terrific speed and big-play potential.  He caught only 37 balls at Miami and was limited by injuries and spotty quarterback play, but Moss plays at another speed.  He improved his stock with an MVP performance at the Senior Bowl, catching three balls including a 30-yard touchdown.

Arizona State's Derek Hagan is a bigger target than the top three, and he consistently registered prolific numbers in the Big 10.  Hagan averaged 80 catches and 1,229 receiving yards over the past two seasons despite dropping a few balls.  He will be more of a possession receiver on the next level, and he's considered a good route runner who needs to show more of a willingness to cross the middle of the field.

Anthony Avant blossomed as a senior at Michigan following the departure of Braylon Edwards to the NFL.  Avant hauled in 87 receptions during his first three collegiate seniors and then exploded for an 82 catch senior campaign.  He is also blessed with good size, 6'0", 209 pounds, and the Michigan product will go over the middle.

Another receiver who saw his stock rise during Senior Bowl workouts was Maurice Stovall.  The Notre Dame alum, 6'4 3/8", 217 pounds, excelled in Charlie Weiss' pro offense at Notre Dame.  Stovall's senior numbers included 69 receptions, 1,149 yards and 11 touchdowns.  His size will create mismatches against smaller cornerbacks.

Travis Wilson was slowed by injuries at Oklahoma in '05, catching only 25 balls for 310 yards.  Still Wilson, 6'2", 214 pounds, is a physical player and a very good blocker.

Will Michael Robinson became the next Antwaan Randle-El?  Robinson, who played quarterback at Penn State, will need to develop his receiving skills but displayed some raw tools in Mobile, Alabama.  Robinson ran for 63 yards on nine carries and led two scoring drives at the Senior Bowl.  This is a player who might be a perfect fit with the Super Bowl Champion Steelers.

Gregg Lee chose to forgo his senior season at Pittsburgh and will enter the pro ranks.  Lee averaged a healthy clip of 19.4 yards per catch while at Pitt.   The 6'1 5/8", 197-pound Lee has good hands and possesses adequate game speed.

Oregon State's Mike Haas was a numbers machine at Oregon State, recording 90 receptions in '05 for 1,532 yards.  The 6'0 5/8", 207-pound Haas is an excellent route runner with good hands and long arms.  He is not a speed player who is going to create a lot of separation but Haas will make receptions in traffic.  Haas walked his way on to the Oregon State team and has been producing even since.

*Other Notables *
Demetrius Williams (6'1 ¾", 197, Oregon): Needs to add some weight but has play-making ability. Williams scored 10 touchdowns last season.
Skyler Green (5'9 1/8", 192, LSU): Green is small, but he's got big-time speed. He will also help in the return game.
Martin Nance (6'4 3/8", 214, Miami, Ohio): As a sophomore, Nance caught 90 balls thrown by "Big" Ben Roethlisberger for 1,498 yards and 11 scores. Nance has valued size and could become a threat near the goal line.
Hank Baskett (6'2 ½", 220, New Mexico): Big, physical player who also contributes with his run blocking. Baskett, a former high jumper on New Mexico's track team, didn't face elite competition in the Mountain West Conference.
Brandon Williams (5'9 3/8", 179, Wisconsin): Williams has been timed in the 4.4s and broke Lee Evans' catches mark at Wisconsin, averaging 50 grabs during his four-year stay.

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