New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Wide Receivers
by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56
*These rankings and grades are based somewhat on NYG schemes and perspective.
WHERE THEY STAND
For such a highly ranked passing offense (#7 in the NFL last season), the NYG receivers sure are an unintimidating group. Odell Beckham is one of the most dangerous weapons in the league and proved his record setting rookie season was no flash in a pan. As long as he is on the field, defenses will fear every Eli Manning drop back. That doesn’t mean this is a group that is all set, however. Outside of Beckham, the team’s next leading wide receiver that is set to return in 2016 is Dwayne Harris who went for 36/396/4. Behind him? Myles White with 7/88/1. Yes, that’s on the season. Even though nobody was upset to see Reuben Randle leave for PHI, there is no denying the hole that exists. They are really banking on Victor Cruz returning to full strength. It will be almost 2 full years between his last game and week 1 of the 2016 season.
TOP 20 GRADES AND ANALYSIS
1 – LAQUON TREADWELL – 6’2/221 – OLE MISS: 83
Third year junior. Some questioned his career after a broken fibula and dislocated ankle late in 2014. However Treadwell showed a tremendous drive and work ethic to fight his way back for an SEC leading 1,153 yards and 11 TD campaign. Treadwell has elite-level ball skills and strength for the position. He is a reliable target to throw to no matter where he on the field. He does things with and without the ball that impact the game from start to finish. Treadwell may still be bouncing back from his injury, as he’s been quoted saying he doesn’t quite trust his quick twitch yet. He is an immediate contributor in the NFL that has the drive to be great.
*Now I know there is a lot of negative talk about the poor 40 time and overall workout. I actually did decrease his grade a bit as a result. But I think he still is the top WR in the draft. He is a classic example of playing “faster than he times” and to be honest, speed isn’t what he’s built on. He can out-physical anyone and won’t need the room that some others do. You don’t lead the SEC in receiving and TDs without very good athletic ability. My Dez Bryant without the attitude comparison still exists.
Upside Pro Comparison – Dez Bryant/DAL
2 – COREY COLEMAN – 5’11/194 – BAYLOR: 82
Fourth year junior. All American and Biletnikoff Award winner, given to the nation’s most outstanding receiver. Coleman has proven to be one of the country’s top deep threats and playmakers over the past two years. Despite lacking ideal height and length of a number one receiver, he hauled in 31 touchdowns since the start of 2014. He outplays his size with a blend of aggression, ball skills, and toughness. The speed and quickness are NFL-ready, as he owns the top 40, 3-cone, and vertical among the Baylor team that is always known for having more than their share of workout warriors. Coleman has the ability to be a game changer but his lack of effort and consistency is worrisome. He will need to apply more effort to the small details if he wants to be a star in the NFL. Boom or bust type prospect.
*I really like the talent here. There may not be a better “mover” in the class when considering the explosion off the line and legit speed downfield. He has shown flashes of Steve Smith (not the NYG one) type toughness and attitude. There are simply inconsistencies in his game that I see every time I study him. I don’t think he is a level behind Treadwell at all, I just don’t trust him as much.
Upside Pro Comparison – Antonio Brown/PIT
3 – JOSH DOCTSON – 6’2/202 – TCU: 81
Fifth year senior that started off at Wyoming. Transferred to TCU after one productive season there. Two very successful years at TCU and was on pace to go after single season receiving records before a broken wrist ended his 2015 campaign a few weeks early. Doctson is an All American player that was somewhat a product of a friendly system. He essentially ran three routes weekly. He caught a lot of uncontested balls and was often put in position to make easy plays. That said, there is an undeniable skill set here that translates very well to the tools he possesses. Doctson has very good hands and ball skills. He is a very sure and balanced mover. He can be sneaky fast off the line and he tracks the ball with ease. While he may lack the ideal top end speed and agility, Doctson can get open in the NFL and make catches in traffic. There is an upside with him once he can learn the NFL system.
*There was a point early in the year where I thought he was going to be the top guy in this class. He is as fluid as it gets when it comes to tracking the ball and plucking it out of the air on the move. His top tier body control and savvy movement can make him a dangerous weapon with the right QB. My main concern is how tough he can be against NFL defenders. Will hr back off in traffic? Can he take hits? He looks on the frail side.
Upside Pro Comparison – AJ Green/CIN
4 – STERLING SHEPARD – 5’10/194 – OKLAHOMA: 81
Four year senior and three year starter. Has elite slot receiver potential. Shepard has all the movement ability to run himself open underneath but also the strength and toughness to factor in traffic. He has made plenty of receptions in traffic and shows no hesitation doing so. He has very good concentration and ball skills. Shepard will surprise defenses with his ability to run deep routes and make catches on the vertical move. His work ethic is second to none and the attention to detail is what makes receivers get to the next level in terms of production and consistency. Shepard may be limited to slot duty in the NFL, but it’s a role that almost every team is using more and more each year. He has a bright future.
*Although the long term upside of Shepard may not be as high as some of these guys, I think he is the safest bet among all the WRs to at least be a solid contributor. He has the ideal physical ability and mental approach for the vital slot presence. But when you watch him you notice he can do more than run quick routes over the middle. This kid competes as hard as anyone in the entire class. If NYG has any ounce of doubt about Cruz coming back all the way, Shepard needs to be strongly considered if he is there in round 2, which I highly doubt is the case.
Upside Pro Comparison – Doug Baldwin – WR/SEA
5 – CHARONE PEAKE – 6’2/205 – CLEMSON: 80
Five year senior. Came to Clemson as a top tier high school recruit but failed to break in to the consistent rotation in Clemson’s consistently star studded wide receiver groups. Peake finally got his every down opportunity in 2015 and thrived, finishing second on the team in both catches and yards. Peake has tremendous body control and ball skills. He is the kind of receiver that does not need to be open in order to be thrown to. He can beat most defensive backs in 50/50 situations.
*I don’t think you will find many people with a 1st round-ish grade on Peake like I do. But I started to think this way halfway through the season and it was only strengthened during their playoff run and pre-draft process. Peake’s biggest problem was how often he would disappear at Clemson but I think that was mostly a result of the Clemson offense just being stacked year after year with big time talent. Just not enough balls to go around. Peake’s skill set is unique and it something most of the NFL is looking for, NYG included.
Upside Pro Comparison – Alshon Jeffery/CHI
6 – TYLER BOYD – 6’1/194 – PITTSBURGH: 78
Third year junior that burst on to the scene right away in 2013. First player in ACC history that recorded 1,000+ receiving yards in both freshman and sophomore seasons respectively. Boyd was an All American in 2014. He failed to take the next step up in 2015 but he lacked star power around him and defenses were putting their sole focus on stopping him only. Boyd is a high floor, high ceiling type player. He does enough to make him a reliable player when it comes to getting open and catching the ball. His ability after the catch is something to note as well. His limits have more to do with speed and overall athletic ability. He can be an immediate contributor in the NFL with big time upside.
*I know some people that have Boyd at the top of this list and I really don’t blame them. He had a little bit of a raw deal at Pitt. I didn’t like the way he was used. I don’t say this often but I do think he could have been top 5 in this class if he was at Alabama these past few years. If the speed were better, he’d be in the top 10 discussion I think. Another guy that plays faster than he times with big time ball skills and concentration. I did have to take a few points off because of some off-field red flags.
Upside Pro Comparison – Eric Decker – NYJ
7 – PHAROH COOPER – 5’11/203 – SOUTH CAROLINA: 75
Third year junior. First Team All SEC two years in a row. Only player in the country that has rushed, thrown, and received touchdowns each of the past three years. Cooper is truly a jack of all trades threat. He has a running back type build and approach with the ball in his hands and is a threat to score every time he’s in possession. He has the potential to be a quarterback’s best friend because of his yards after catch and savvy movement when plays break down. He is a very smart, heady player. Cooper is a raw route runner and may not be a ideal fit for a strict system that requires a lot of responsibility out of receivers. If he can find a role that allows him to freelance a bit and just make plays after the catch, he can be a star.
*There is something about this kid. He is just a gamer, plain and simple. Loves the game and plays it hard, always finding ways to make things happen. He lacks he ideal athletic ability but Cooper can make a big difference in several ways. He won’t be a guy that is running downfield and making plays. He is a guy you want underneath for the sole purpose of easily getting the ball in his hands. Cooper can make broken plays in to touchdowns. It’s hard to find anyone that plays harder and smarter than him.
Upside Pro Comparison – Julian Edelman – NE
8 – MALCOLM MITCHELL – 6’0/198 – GEORGIA: 75
Fifth year senior. Split time between cornerback and wide receiver in 2012. Missed the 2013 season after tearing an ACL in week one. Mitchell earned the team’s comeback player of the year award in 2014 and showed steady progress all around in 2015. Mitchell is a tough, hard nosed gamer. He is a guy that consistently finds a way to get the job done. He lacks size. He lacks top end speed. But he is a smart and savvy route runner that can adjust on the fly. Mitchell is the kind of receiver that quarterbacks love to throw to. He out-performs his tool set. He is very clean off the field and his intangibles could bring him to a higher level than what his talent tells.
*Mitchell might be the best route runner within this second tier of receivers. Don’t underestimate the importance of that, as it is something I feel a lot of people do not take seriously. It was one of Beckham’s main positives coming out of LSU. Mitchell is tough and hard nosed that does the little things right. Maybe not a high upside guy but has a high floor.
Upside Pro Comparison – Michael Crabtree/OAK
9 – WILL FULLER – 6’0/186 – NOTRE DAME: 75
Third year junior. Won the team’s Offensive MVP award in 2014 after a breakout campaign. All American in 2015. Fuller, in a traditional NFL style offense, showed consistent production that can be matched up with the nation’s top receivers over the past two seasons. He is a big play threat with the kind of speed that can take a top off a defense. He has a well developed skill set that came from a tireless work ethic. His approach is very professional. When combining talent, intangibles, and performance like his, it’s hard not to label him a safe bet to produce in the NFL.
*Fuller’s main negatives revolve around his hands. Physically, they are smaller than ideal. On the field, he has some of the worst drop rates among the names on this list. That’s something that usually carries over in to the NFL from college, so that has to bump him down a bit. He has decent ball skills though. Very good at tracking the deep ball while maintaining speed and body control. He isn’t just a fast guy that lacked production. Fuller has legit playmaking ability and he proved it for 2 years. He could be a huge get for the NYG offense.
Upside Pro Comparison – Mike Wallace/BAL
10 – LEONTE CAROO – 6’0/211 – RUTGERS: 75
Three year starter and Rutgers’ all time touchdown receptions leader. Team MVP award winner in 2015. Carroo has been a very productive big play receiver each of the past three seasons despite poor quarterback play. Carroo is a thickly built, sneaky fast receiver that already has pro-level ball skills and route running. His top end potential is limited due to a lack of vertical speed and short area agility, but he can be a part of a rotation. His off field concerns need to be looked in to, however. He will need to clear a lot of red flags in pre-draft meetings.
*Carroo’s pre draft process could not have gone better. The off field concerns were enough for some people to say he could be crossed off board but according to some people I know, they shouldn’t impact his draft grade too much. On the field and in workouts, Caroo has been “wow-ing” some people that didn’t know much about him. Carroo is a physical kid with toughness and ball skills. He is a better athlete than some think. He may not run himself open with ease but he can do it well enough considering how productive he is in traffic. Again, not a high upside guy but he can be a player that sticks for awhile if the maturity concerns don’t arise.
Upside Pro Comparison – Pierre Garcon/WAS
11 – BRAXTON MILLER – 6’1/201 – OHIO STATE: 75
Fifth year senior that spent his four years as a quarterback. While missing the 2014 season because of a shoulder injury sustained in practice, his position was taken over by younger, more capable players. Miller willingly made the unselfish move to wide receiver in 2015 despite being a Heisman Candidate at his original position. Miller’s greatest traits are better fits for receiver. He has explosive speed and agility. Once the ball is in his hands, his potential to score is a credible fear of any defense. Miller has a ways to go when it comes to route running and ball skills, but while he develops those he still poses as a gamebreaker. Miller has as much upside as any receiver in the draft.
*It’s been an up and down 7 months for Miller. He started the year off showing the natural ability to come down with the ball and make plays. As the year went on he had trouble getting open on more difficult routes. He showed poor ball skills. Telling him to do anything other than catch a screen pass just seemed so unnatural. He really is a raw WR that has athletic ability on his side but to be honest, guys like that can always be found. Miller’s name hypes his grade up higher for some than me. I think he is a 3rd rounder at best but I can see why people like him. His explosion and speed with the ball is dangerous.
Upside Pro Comparison – Randall Cobb/GB
12 – RICARDO LOUIS – 6’2/215 – AUBURN: 75
Fourth year senior that was in and out of the starting lineup for a few years. Had to wait his turn early in his career while Sammie Coates and Duke Williams formed the team’s 1-2 punch. Shined at moments in 2015 showing explosive straight line speed and big play ability. Has a very good size/speed combination. Was given more opportunity in 2015 when Williams was suspended and he responded well. He can make things happen with the ball in his hands. Simply put he is bigger, stronger, and faster than most defensive backs. Upside-based prospect but not a guy that failed to produce in college. He has some really good tape.
*I have a higher grade on Louis than most and I admit it’s based mostly on upside, much more so than his tape. However, he did show more versatility in 201t5 than I think people thought he had. Mainly Louis is a straight line athlete that can really burn through a secondary. When you tell him to change direction and show fluid hips, he doesn’t stand out as much. But remember this kid is 6’2/215 with toughness over the middle. Tools-wise he has a lot of “plus” marks. Maybe not an early contributor type but I love the upside.
Upside Pro Comparison – Kamar Aiken/BAL
13 – JALIN MARSHALL – 5’10/204 – OHIO STATE: 75
Third year sophomore entry. Was an overlooked redshirt in 2013, but performed his way on to the field and put together two playmaking seasons. Marshall is an ideal fit for the Urban Meyer scheme, but has a skill set that is questionable to work in the NFL. He has quickness and explosion to go along with reliable hands. He needs space to be effective though. Marshall gets overwhelmed by bigger defenders and will disappear a times. He was a jack of all trades player that ran the ball out of the backfield, returned punts and kicks, and of course caught the ball. Versatile threat that may need a gimmick type role to stick around.
*Marshall grew on me after the season ended when I focused more on what he is capable of rather than what he did at Ohio State. Simply put, this kid is a slot receiver that is thicker than most at that spot. He can break tackles in traffic, he can make defenders miss. He has quick acceleration and a good sense of where to go after the catch. I just think there are limitations with him that some of the other slot guys may not have.
Upside Pro Comparison – Golden Tate/DET
14 – KENNY LAWLER – 6’2/203 – CALIFORNIA: 74
Fourth year junior. Led the Bears in touchdown catches the past two seasons respectively. Lawler lacks standout physical attributes. He does however have a nice blend of length and body control. He can make plays with defenders draped all over him. He has a certain level of savvy-ness to him that quarterbacks love. He shows a lot of potential as a route runner as well. His upside is limited but his basement is high. Smooth receivers with easy hands and easy hips can be molded in to very good players.
*Lawler is a smooth operator that can easily move from point A to point B quickly while maintaining his balance and body control. Very good ball skills and underrates athletic ability. I think he has good potential for a team needing an outside guy.
Upside Pro Comparison – Terrence Williams/DAL
15 – DEVON CAJUSTE – 6’4/234 – STANFORD: 74
Fifth year senior. Didn’t really see the field until 2013 and when he did, it was pretty situational. He broke out in 2014 with a 16.4 yards per catch finish, proving to be the team’s deep threat. Has the big time size and strength advantage that can easily combat the more physical CBs in the league. Some teams view him as a TE. Has WR type physical ability when it comes to speed and quickness, however. Took a step back production wise in 2015 but that had more to do with the offense than anything. When looking at the combination of skills and tools here, Cajuste has to intrigue you. We aren’t talking about a big, stiff guy.
*This is an intriguing player. I got to watch Cajuste warm up pre game and you want an Odell Beckham type show (crazy 1 hand grabs), look no further than Cajuste. I think we are talking about a very unique player here. He stole the show at the combine at 230+ pounds and he is a physical presence on the field. He does a lot of things right. I don’t see him as a TE. He isn’t Aaron Hernandez. I think this kid is a legit WR that can be a dangerous player if used correctly.
Upside Pro Comparison – Vincent Jackson/TB
16 – MICHAEL THOMAS – 6’3/212 – OHIO STATE: 73
Fourth year junior. Redshirt in 2013 as a sophomore. Burst on to the scene in a crowded wide receiver group in 2014, but failed to take the leap many were expecting in 2015. Thomas is a specimen. He looks the part and will occasionally show big play ability. His size and strength can dominate. However as a route runner and overall movement athlete, he lacks the special attributes. Thomas has an upside that few can possess, but he will need time and a lot of work to get there. Raw, high risk/high reward prospect.
*This is an upside-based WR and I wouldn’t disagree that if Thomas reaches his ceiling, he can be the top guy in this class. There is a lot that needs to happen, however, and his weaknesses are things that always bother me extra in the scouting process. I just don’t like the guys that lack the suddenness to quickly react and adjust. Upside, yes. Unlikely to get there, yes.
Upside Pro Comparison – Allen Robinson/JAC
17 – KOLBY LISTENBEE – 6’0/197 – TCU: 73
Fourth year senior with several accolades as a sprinter for the TCU track team. Was a 2 year contributor for the football team after riding the bench prior. Was the team’s main top threat that almost averaged 20 yards per catch. One tricky pony that can outrun almost anyone downfield but struggles to make an impact underneath and intermediate. Looks frail and weak when in contact with defenders. Not sure he has the fire to really get after it. Doesn’t always hustle. For a team that wants to lengthen the secondary, he’ll be in demand. Deep threats are always nice to have and that’s what he can be.
*He might be the fastest WR in this class. He has very good acceleration and straight line movement but he doesn’t turn well. It’s just not how his body is programmed and/or trained. He isn’t only a track guy though. He has decent ball skills with good tracking and body control. But he did drop the ball too much and he seemed to struggle in workouts when getting to the ball in and out of routes. Upside is there enough to spend a mid round pick on him.
Upside Pro Comparison – Ted Ginn/CAR
18 – RASHAWN SCOTT – 6’1/199 – MIAMI: 73
Fifth year senior that has had a roller coaster career for the Hurricanes. His time on the field was very inconsistent because of injuries and suspensions. Very good mover with a combination of agility and explosion. Hard guy to cover because of the straight line deep speed and easy ability to stop and change direction. Good after the catch as well. Might not be the most physical player. Will shy from contact often and shows the lapse in concentration over the middle. All in all a very good prospect that could have been a top 100 guy if his injuries and suspensions never happened.
*Watch Scott for a few games and its hard not to raise your eyebrows. He has ability and there is no denying it. He’ll make catches that a lot of guys can’t, he’ll move with the ball in his hands that a lot of guys can’t, and he’ll run routes better than most. The consistency is the main issue with him. He’s immature and frail. Tough combination but if a team sees enough talent he could go pretty high.
Upside Pro Comparison – Marvin Jones/DET
19 – CAYLEB JONES – 6’3/205 – ARIZONA: 72
Fourth year junior that played one season as a backup for Texas. Redshirt in 2013 because of the transfer. Father, Robert, was a 10 year NFL veteran. Nephew to former NFL quarterback Jeff Blake. Jones has football in his blood and showed big time upside in his two years at Arizona despite inconsistent quarterback play. His frame alone is worth a second look, but he also possesses some natural ability to track balls downfield and out reach most defenders. He is a limited speed guy and has holes in his game when it comes to consistency and aggression, but there is no denying his long term upside. It can be hard to find the combination of tools and skills that Jones has in his arsenal.
*There are teams with a top 100 overall grade on Jones. I don’t think he is quite there but I can see why someone has him there. He has excellent ball skills and he has the size/toughness combination. I think he is a few pounds away from being that kind of guy in the NFL though. Another guy that may have been impacted a lot by poor surroundings. High upside.
Upside Pro Comparison – Reuben Randle/PHI
20 – RASHARD HIGGINS – 6’1/196 – COLORADO STATE: 72
Third year junior entry. Had a consensus All American season in 2014, leading the nation in yards and touchdowns. Leaves Colorado State as the school’s all time leader in receiving yards, receptions, and touchdowns after playing just three seasons. Higgins’ production took a few steps down in 2015, as the team implemented a new offensive system with a new quarterback. Higgins also fought through a nagging foot sprain. His production outweighs his talent and potential, but he still has the skills and tools to be a rotational receiver in the NFL. He shows a natural feel for the position and has enough speed to pose as a deep threat. His lack of strength and lateral quickness will limit him to specific roles.
*If you are someone that looks at stats-only, you probably had Higgins as one of the top WRs in this class heading in to 2015. That was never really the case but there are reasons to like him. He doesn’t get himself open that well but at the same time he has the ball skills to make catches in traffic. Although he could use some more meat on his bones, he is a tough kid. He’ll compete hard.
Upside Pro Comparison – Rishard Matthews/TEN
THE REST (21-30)
21 – CODY CORE – 6’3/205 – OLE MISS: 72
22 – DEMARCUS ROBINSON – 6’0/203: 71
23 – TREVOR DAVIS – 6’1/188 – CALIFORNIA: 71
24 – DEMARCUS AYERS – 5’9/182 – HOUSTON: 71
25 – MARQUEZ NORTH – 6’2/223 – TENNESSEE: 70
26 – JORDAN PAYTON – 6’1/207 – UCLA: 70
27 – DARIUS POWE – 6’3/220 – CALIFORNIA: 70
28 – KJ MAYE – 5’8/194 – MINNESOTA: 69
29 – BYRON MARSHALL – 5’9/201 – OREGON: 68
30 – TAJAE SHARPE – 6’2/194 – MASSACHUSETTS: 68
Plain and simple here. There is less talent at the WR position than a good passing offense needs, even if the QB is playing at his all time best. Victor Cruz is the wild card here but I don’t think plans should be made around him returning to form. If he does, great. But NYG cannot waste the back nine of Manning’s career with their current WR group. They’ve had good success with rookie WRs coming in and making an impact and there are plenty of guys on here that could add to that. The question is now, how early do they look at one? Corey Coleman and Laquon Treadwell should be available at #10 overall but they are borderline top 10 talents. Josh Doctson could be there in round 2 presenting great value and Sterling Shepherd is a day one impact guy. The further in to the draft you get, the more these guys get grouped together grade wise. There are plenty of 3rd-4th round grades that could trickle down in to the 4th-6th round area of the draft. A lot of those guys really don’t stand out among each other so patience could be the way to go. NYG can’t be too patient though or else they are going to have to hope and pray Cruz returns to full strength and someone comes out of nowhere to contribute 50+ catches at least.