You can’t seem to have too many quality wide receivers. Passing attacks in the NFL are changing the game and teams are looking for the next AJ Green or Julio Jones to provide an immediate impact. In years gone by, one might have to wait a few years for a wide receiver to develop into a productive player, but those days are gone. Teams expect results quickly.
What to Watch
It’s all about the 40 yard dash times for the wide receivers. Scouts will watch how they get in and out of breaks and how well they run their routes, but let’s face it, people could move up and down in the draft based on the stopwatches. Just look what Michael Floyd did last season, where a fast 40 time moved him up at least a few spots in the first round.
- Keenan Allen, Cal
- Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
- Terrence Williams, Baylor
- Tavon Austin, West Virginia
- DeAndre Hopkins, Baylor
The 2012 draft class was well hyped leading into the draft, with four pass catchers selected in the first round. Justin Blackmon went to the Jacksonville Jaguars with the fifth pick; Michael Floyd 13th to the Arizona Cardinals; Kendall Wright 20th to the Tennessee Titans and AJ Jenkins to the San Francisco 49ers at number 30.
No one in the 2013 class comes in with the hype that the Class of 2012 had, but a lot of the top names didn’t live up to the hype in their first year. Justin Blackmon led the class but hardly made the impact that the Joneses and Greens made the year before. The Combine will be a key to have one of these guys jump to the head of the class.
Phil Emery did more to address the wide receiver position for the Bears in one offseason than his predecessor did in years when he traded a pair of third rounders for Brandon Marshall and traded up in the second round to draft Alshon Jeffery. Marshall was a revelation and Jeffery made steady progress when he was on the field.
Despite the progress that the Bears made with the talent at the wide receiver position, they still have a long way to go. Their top receiver from 2011, Johnny Knox, just announced his retirement after failing to recover from a serious back injury. Knox was supposed to be the speed receiver to blow the top off opposing defenses. Devin Hester is disenchanted and his days could be numbered with the Bears.
The sleeper for 2013 is Earl Bennett. He doesn’t possess the top end speed to challenge opposing defenses but he could be a great fit in Marc Trestman’s West Coast Offense. Either way, the Bears will be looking for another burner to make opponents pay when they choose to double team Marshall or Jeffery.
Don’t be surprised if the Bears invest one of their few draft picks on a mid-to-late round speedster to fill that fourth wide receiver spot.