The 2015 NFL Draft is a year away, yet we just can’t help ourselves. Don’t worry, it’s not just the real life draft we obsess ourselves with. We’re already knee deep in fantasy football coverage, too.
But the NFL Draft has a different feel to it. Maybe because it’s, you know, real. Regardless, now feels like as good a time as any to take a long look ahead and see which wide receivers may grace the stage early on in next year’s draft.
This past season it was all about Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans. Who are the next studly pass-catchers in line? Here’s a few we think rank out as the best. The order is set, but you can be the judge of whether or not we nailed that part:
1. Amari Cooper – Alabama
After limping through a mediocre 2013 with a bum toe, Cooper is reportedly healthy once again as he prepares for his junior season with the Crimson Tide. Cooper packs a lot of muscle into his 6’1 frame, making him a big, powerful target with great speed. If he can return to his freshman form (nearly 60 catches, 1,000+ yards), he could be a top 5 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
2. Rashad Green – Florida State
With Kelvin Benjamin gone, Green is the Seminoles top wideout. He only has average size, but he has quality speed, runs some of the most crisp routes in the country, and has great hands to make up for what he lacks in height. He may not have the most exciting God-given tools, but his fundamentals are so sound, that he projects to be a quality NFL wide receiver for years.
3. Stefon Diggs – Maryland
Simply put, Diggs is a playmaker. Scouts will be watching him closely to see if his blazing speed lost a step after breaking his leg last fall. Diggs is a threat to score from anywhere, be it running deep routes or returning kicks. He’ll get a chance to showcase that speed against more talented defensive backs in the Big Ten, which could give his draft stock a boost.
4. Jaelen Strong – Arizona State
Strong is a matchup nightmare in the Pac-12, as he generates great speed from his 6’4” frame. Despite a few injury issues last year, he put together a very consistent sophomore season. He’s a former Juco transfer, and will use this season to get more exposure before heading to the NFL.
5. DeVante Parker – Louisville
Parker has great size, at 6’3”, 205 lb, but he doesn’t have the blazing speed that the other elite wide receivers do. He has good hands, and has shown the ability to make tough catches, but we’ll get a good look at what he’s made out of in 2014, as he won’t have Bridgewater throwing him the ball anymore. Currently, he projects as a #3-#4 receiver in the NFL, but if he can improve his route-running, he’ll be a solid weapon in the pros.
Honorable Mention #1: Dorial Green-Beckham – Missouri?
Green-Beckham is without a doubt, a top collegiate talent, but there’s one big issue. He doesn’t currently appear to be a collegiate athlete. He was reportedly kicked off Mizzou’s football program, but hasn’t officially transferred to a new school. If he plays this year, no matter where that may be, he’ll use his massive size and tremendous skill set to make an impact. He’ll likely be a first rounder if he plays, but as of now, that’s up in the air.
Honorable Mention #2: Ty Montgomery – Stanford
Montgomery has a very nice combination of size and speed that he used to put up nearly 1000 yards last season. He’s improved every step along the way, and if he continues to improve his routes this season, he’ll be an upper 2nd round pick. If not, he’ll likely fall somewhere in the 3rd or 4th rounds, but he’s a weapon that any NFL team would love to have on their roster.
*Photo Credit – Perry Hubbard via Flickr.