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March

2013 NFL Draft Preview: Ranking Wide Receiver Prospects

Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson

Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson

There may not be a Julio Jones or A.J. Green at the top of this year’s wide receiver crop, but the position is among the deepest in the 2013 NFL Draft.

This year’s classes is led by former JUCO transfer Cordarrelle Patterson, who played at Tennessee in 2012. Patterson, although raw, is a freakish athlete with seemingly limitless potential. He’s the No. 1 receiver on my board, and his college teammate, Justin Hunter, isn’t too far behind.

Along with Patterson, West Virginia speedster Tavon Austin also appears to be a surefire first-round pick. Austin is more of a Percy Harvin-type matchup nightmare than a true perimeter wide receiver, but he may be the most explosive offensive prospect in the entire draft.

Many have Calfornia’s Keenan Allen as a first-round pick as well, but I’m not 100 percent sold. To me, Patterson and Austin are clearly the top two guys at the position, and after them, Allen is one of a handful of guys that could sneak into the end of round one or fall to the middle of round two.

Louisiana Tech’s Quinton Patton, Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins and Southern Cal’s Robert Woods fall into the same boat as Allen.

The Packers certainly have a need at wide receiver. On top of Greg Jennings leaving Green Bay for Minnesota, the team faces uncertainty with Jordy Nelson, whose contract is set to expire after 2014, and James Jones, who is scheduled to be a free agent after this season.

Ted Thompson has done some serious damage on Day 2 of the draft since taking over as general manager. Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Jennings were all selected in the second round by Thompson, while Jones was a third-round pick. It’s very possible that the Packers will look to address the position in either the second or third round.

1. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee (6-2, 216)

  • Draft stock: Early-Mid 1st
  • 40 time: 4.42, 10-yard split: 1.55, Vertical jump: 37″
  • One-year starter in D1; transferred to Tennessee in 2012.
  • There isn’t a “can’t-miss” guy at the top of the draft, but Patterson has a chance to develop into a pretty special player. He’s remarkable after the catch and was often given the ball in the running game at Tennessee. If he can polish up his route running, Patterson could very well end up being a Pro Bowl player.

2. Tavon Austin, West Virginia (5-9, 174)

  • Draft stock: Mid-Late 1st
  • 40 time: 4.34, 10-yard split: 1.45, Vertical jump: 32″
  • Three-year starter; was also one of the best return men in college football throughout his career.
  • Austin was a matchup nightmare at West Virginia, and I think that will continue at the NFL level. In his final two years with the Mountaineers, Austin caught 215 passes for 2,475 yards and 20 touchdowns. As a senior, he also carried the ball 72 times for 643 yards. Faster than fast.

3. Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech (6-0, 204)

  • Draft stock: Late 1st/Early 2nd
  • 40 time: 4.53, 10-yard split: 1.56, Vertical jump: 33″
  • Two-year starter, transferred from Coffeyville Community College in 2011.
  • In my opinion, Patton could be one of the hidden gems in this draft class. Perhaps a team like Houston or San Francisco would consider taking Patton late in the first round, but it seems likely that he’d fall to the top of round two. He’s a crisp route runner and crafty after the catch.

4. Keenan Allen, California (6-2, 206)

  • Draft stock: Late 1st/Early 2nd
  • 40 time: DNP, 10-yard split: DNP, Vertical jump: DNP
  • Three-year starter; declared for the draft as a junior.
  • Allen has been unable to work out this offseason due to a lingering knee issue, but he’s scheduled to work out on April 9. He does a good job of going up and catching the ball at its highest point, and he shouldn’t last past the first few picks of round two.

5. DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson (6-1, 214)

  • Draft stock: Late 1st/Early 2nd
  • 40 time: 4.57, 10-yard split: 1.59, Vertical jump: 36″
  • Three-year starter; exploded onto the scene in 2012 with 18 touchdown catches.
  • Clemson’s offense was loaded with speed, and Hopkins was one of their top offensive playmakers. Hopkins is one of the more polished receivers in this class, but it’s surprising he didn’t run a faster 40-time.

6. Justin Hunter, Tennessee (6-4, 196)

  • Draft stock: 2nd Round
  • 40 time: 4.44, 10-yard split: 1.54, Vertical jump: 39.5″
  • Two-year starter; sophomore season ended early due to a torn ACL.
  • As far as height-weight-speed, there aren’t many receivers as impressive as Tennessee’s duo of Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter. While Patterson looks like a safe bet to be drafted earlier, Hunter was actually the more productive player this past season. There’s some talk about Hunter going late in round one, but round two is his most likely landing spot.

7. Markus Wheaton, Oregon St. (5-11, 189)

  • Draft stock: 2nd Round
  • 40 time: 4.45, 10-yard split: 1.52, Vertical jump: 37″
  • Two-year starter, also excelled as a track athlete at Oregon St.
  • Fast. As a senior, the Beavers’ offense centered around getting Wheaton the ball in space. As a senior, he caught 91 passes and also carried the ball 20 times. Some compare him to Mike Wallace, but I think he’s closer to Antonio Brown.

8. Robert Woods, USC (6-0, 201)

  • Draft stock: 2nd Round
  • 40 time: 4.51, 10-yard split: –, Vertical jump: 33.5″
  • Three-year starter; first USC true freshman to start a season opener at wide receiver post-World War II.
  • Complete wide receiver; good route runner with a solid build who played in a pro-style offense with Matt Barkley. W00ds should help a team as a rookie, and for what it’s worth, NFL.com compares him to Packers wide receiver James Jones.

9. Stedman Bailey, West Virginia (5-10, 193)

  • Draft stock: Early 3rd
  • 40 time: 4.52, 10-yard split: 1.58, Vertical jump: 34.5″
  • Three-year starter; part of one of the highest-scoring offenses in college football.
  • Bailey isn’t a burner (4.52) but he runs crisp routes and always seems to be open. He looks like a natural fit for what the Packers are trying to do on offense; however, I think picking him at No. 55 would be a slight reach, but I don’t think he’ll last until the end of the third round. Bailey caught 114 passes and 25 touchdowns as a junior in 2012.

10. Terrance Williams, Baylor (6-2, 208)

  • Draft stock: Early 3rd
  • 40 time: 4.52, 10-yard split: 1.52, Vertical jump: 32.5″
  • Three-year starter; enters the draft as a fifth-year senior.
  • With Kendall Wright playing in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans, Baylor’s offense was centered around Terrance Williams this past season. Williams responded well, catching 97 passes for 1,832 yards and 12 touchdowns. Once thought to be a first-round pick, Williams will be a solid pick on Day 2.

Current state of the Packers’ WRs: For as long as Aaron Rodgers has been the starting quarterback, the Packers have had one of the deepest receiving corps in the league. But now that Greg Jennings, their former No. 1 receiver, is playing in Minnesota, the team could certainly use another playmaker on the perimeter.

One could argue that the Packers currently lack a true No. 1 receiver on the roster. On the other hand, between James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, the Packers top three are among the best in the NFL.

With Jennings’ departure, the door is wide open for Jarrett Boykin to make an impact in his second NFL season. Last summer, there was a great deal of conversation as to whether or not the Packers would keep a sixth wide receiver on the roster. They did, but it wasn’t Tori Gurley or Diondre Borell. Instead, the Packers kept Boykin–an undrafted rookie.

Other than a first-down catch in week 17 at Minnesota, Boykin didn’t make much of an impact on the team’s offensive success last season. But at the very least, cracking the 53-man roster on a roster flooded with capable wide receivers is an impressive accomplishment and should be encouraging to fans.

Jeremy Ross could also be in for an expanded role with the team, especially if the team relieves Cobb of his duties on special teams.

But still, even with the current depth and young talent on the depth chart, the Packers will likely address the wide receiver position at some point in the 2013 NFL Draft.

When might the Packers address WR in the draft? Packers general manager Ted Thompson has an extremely impressive track record finding wide receivers in the second and third round.

Jennings, Jones, Nelson and Cobb were all selected by the Packers on Day 2. One can only wonder what might have with Terrence Murphy, who was the team’s second-round pick in 2005. Murphy’s career was cut short after suffering a severe neck injury just three games into his NFL career.

Fortunately for Thompson and the Packers, there will be wide receivers galore on Day 2 of this year’s draft. In my opinion, there isn’t a glaring difference between No. 3 (Patton) and No. 8 (Woods) which suggests there will be plenty of depth at the top of the draft.

Of all the receivers that could be available in the second round, Patton and Wheaton each possess a skill set that would likely appeal to the Packers at No. 55. It seems unlikely that Patton would last until the end of round two, but weirder things have happened on draft day.

If there’s an NFL-ready receiver that could appeal to the Packers in the third round, Stedman Bailey would be a home run. Some project Bailey to go at the end of round two, which is certainly possible, but I think it’s likely that he’ll come off the board in the middle of round three. Another option in the third round may be Texas A&M’s Ryan Swope, who clocked a 4.34 in the forty-yard dash at the combine.

But while history would suggest drafting a wide receiver on Day 2 is likely, the Packers could very well wait until Day 3 to address the position, especially if they’re optimistic about Boykin moving forward. At any rate, the team will likely add a receiver at some point in this year’s draft.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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8 Responses to “2013 NFL Draft Preview: Ranking Wide Receiver Prospects”

  1. Big T says:

    Bring Favre back and convert him to wide receiver… problem solved

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  2. Savage57 says:

    I sure hope that the Pack makes a run at Ryan Swope. ‘White Lightning’ version 2.0.

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  3. Stroh says:

    I see Thompson waiting till 3rd or 4th. Get Williams end of 3rd would ideal IMO. Have a year to develop his game before he’s needed.

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  4. Ron LC says:

    I like Hunter if they can pick him up in the 3rd or, even better in the 4th. He needs to get on a high calorie diet but he has the hieght and speed you need. I’m afraid that at 196 he may be a bit too brittle.

    A nice development project!

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    • Dobber says:

      Yeah, those off-kilter weight-height combinations just don’t make it (cough-cough—Randy Moss) ;)

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    • Dan "FireMMNow" Blakley FireMMNow says:

      justin hunter is probably a second round pick. no way he is there at the bottom of the third.

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  5. Lars1 says:

    Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas, is in my top ten instead of Williams. Watch some film and you’ll see why. Williams falls down A LOT after the catch. Timid over the middle, runs out of bounds. Hamilton will surprise come draft day—size, speed, YAC acceleration, upside. Hands could be a little better, but he’s improving all the time.

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    • Dan "FireMMNow" Blakley FireMMNow says:

      i am not a fan of terrance williams either. poor body control and a body catcher. not strong at all after the catch. one of the more overrated prospects in this draft.

      not a whole lot to argue with in the rankings. i would put stedman bailey ahead of markus wheaton and woods. but i am a huge fan of patton as well. not sure he is better than allen, but i really like him. do not think there is a chance he goes in the first round. might be there for the packers at the bottom of the second.

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