2008 NFL Draft Watch: Wide Receivers

will schmidleyAnalyst ISeptember 10, 2007

IconHoly cow—this group is deep.

I didn't fully realize it until I looked at all the eligible prospects. Here's my top eight:

1. Early Doucet, LSU, Sr.

Doucet is as complete a wide receiver as you'll find in the college ranks.

He explodes off the line, has first-rate speed and reliable hands, and has shown some razor-sharp agility that serves him well as a route-runner and YAC threat. He's also got fantastic ball skills, and his concentration is excellent.

He's plenty tall (6'0") with a bulky frame (207 lbs.) that will allow him to shed press coverages and be an effective blocker in the NFL.

How did this guy not see the starting lineup until his senior year? They've got some talent down in Baton Rouge, huh?    

Bottom Line: Doucet is an elite athlete with a complete package of tools. Top 10, maybe even top five.

2. Malcom Kelly, Oklahoma, Jr.

Kelly is a supreme athlete with a nice combination of size (6'4", 219 lbs.) and speed.

He gets off the line well, and knows how to separate from defenders—as evidenced by his otherworldly 27.5 yards per catch thus far this season. He also has excellent leaping ability and sticky hands.

Perhaps Kelly's most impressive trait is his outstanding body control—I watched his highlight video on YouTube, and I was in awe of the number of difficult catches he's had to make in years past as a result of poor quarterback play.

Now that he's got an accurate passer tossing him the pigskin, Kelly's stat line should go off the charts. If he has a weakness, it's his route running and occasional lack of focus.

Bottom Line: Kelly is another elite talent with a chance to go in the top 10—and it wouldn't surprise me to see him surpass Doucet.

3. DeSean Jackson, Cal, Jr.

Jackson lacks the bulk of a pro wide receiver (he's only 6'0", 172 lbs.), but he's got fantastic hands and an ability to make the tough catch in traffic.

Though he'll need to add girth if he wants to be a #1 or #2 receiver in the pros, he's an elite playmaker who can run by defenders.

Jackson also has excellent field vision and patience with the rock in his hands, as evidenced by his punt return vs. Tennessee in Week One. Very few college athletes would have let a play develop like that before knowing when to turn on the jets and head for paydirt.            

Bottom Line: A human highlight reel with hands and toughness to boot. The only thing holding Jackson back is his lack of size. It still wouldn't surprise me if he were picked in the top 10.

4a. Limas Sweed, Texas,Sr.

Sweed's combination of size and athleticism makes him first round butter.

The 6'5", 219 lb. senior has some serious hops, hands, and ball skills. While he's not especially quick off the line and doesn't run the most precise routes, he's got plenty of speed once he gets rolling.

If there's a knock on Sweed, it's that his career to date hasn't been as productive as his physical tools suggest it should have been. I'm still taking my chances.

Bottom Line: A lock for the first round, with a chance to go as high as the top 10-15.

4b. Adarius Bowman, Oklahoma State, Sr.

I couldn't really distinguish between Sweed and Bowman—they're more or less clones of each other. Bowman is a hair smaller, which is why he's the "b."      

Bottom Line: See Sweed.

6. Harry Douglas, Louisville, Sr.

Douglas isn't considered by most to be a first-round prospect, but he certainly should be.

Though he lacks ideal size, he's an agile burner, excellent route-runner, and big-time YAC man. He's also as sure-handed as they come.

I'm a big believer in Douglas' potential to be a productive #2 WR at the next level, perhaps even a #1. His effortless, efficient strides remind me a lot of Jerry Rice—though by no means am I drawing an all-encompassing comparison here.   

Bottom Line: A rock solid first-round prospect, in the 20-32 range. He probably won't go that high, though.

7. Mario Manningham, Michigan, Jr.

"Super Mario" defines the term deep threat.

The Michigan junior is a silky smooth athlete with the best double-move in all of college football. He explodes off the line of scrimmage, and his top-end speed allows him to separate from slower defensive backs and pick up big gains after the catch.

What really distinguishes Manningham is his ability to track and judge the deep ball—he always seems to be in perfect position to make the catch, and his ball skills are up there with anyone's.

Where Manningham needs work is in the short and intermediate passing game. He lacks the size to consistently handle press coverage, and right now he's the type of receiver who can disappear from a game for a long stretch of time.

Bottom Line: A late first/early second round guy right now, with the capacity to move way up.

8. Mario Urrutia, Louisville, Sr.

Urrutia forms what is arguably college football's premier receiving tandem with Harry Douglas. He's got freakish size (6'6", 228 lbs.), nice hands, and pretty good speed for a guy his size.

If there's a single word that describes Urrutia, it's "upside." It wouldn't surprise me to see him rocket up draft boards in April. 

Bottom Line: Like Manningham, a late first/early second guy with the chance to shoot way up.


I realize Indiana WR James Hardy (6'7", 220 lbs., and pretty productive in an average offense) should probably be on this list , but I hadn't ever seen him play. By all means, fill me in.


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