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2012 NFL Draft Positional Rankings: Wide Receivers

April 18th, 2012 at 5:29 PM
By Hazem Kiswani

The New York Giants had what was arguably the best wide receiver trio in football last season in Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Mario Manningham. After his outstanding postseason in which he scored a touchdown in every playoff game leading up to the Super Bowl, then made the biggest catch of the game in Super Bowl XLVI, Manningham was signed to a two-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers worth up to $7.375 million. The third wide receiver role is now open in New York, and the G-Men are getting Domenik Hixon back from an ACL injury to compete with second-year player Jerrel Jernigan for that spot on the roster.

That being said, the wide receiver class in the 2012 NFL draft is a strong one. The class isn't led by a Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald type prospect, but it is a deep group with about eight prospects worthy of being selected in the first two rounds.

The Giants do not necessarily need to be aggressively pursuing an addition at wide receiver, as Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz profile as the best wide receiver duo in football going into the season, but it is a draft where a value pick at the position can certainly be found. With the departure of Mario Manningham this off-season, wide receiver could be an option for New York in the first three to four rounds of this draft. 

ELITE 

1. WR Justin Blackmon - Oklahoma State – 6'1 207 lbs 

Very tough, very instinctive, and a wideout that can really work the middle of the field. Blackmon is very competitive and shows the ability to use his strength and power to consistently tack on additional yards after the reception. Some of the best ball skills in the draft and shows great body control in adjusting to the football in the air. Not a burner, but a receiver that will challenge defenses for four quarters and move the chains for his quarterback. 233 receptions, over 3300 yards, and 38 touchdowns in 25 games for Oklahoma State in the past two years. 

Value: Top Ten Talent 

FIRST TIER 

2. WR Kendall Wright – Baylor – 5'10 196 lbs

One of my favorite offensive prospects in this year's draft. Outstanding skill set highlighted by an explosive combination of speed, quickness, athleticism, and burst. Great accelerator who reaches his top speed and puts a lot of pressure on defensive backs quickly. Extremely elusive after the catch and shows good balance and toughness to gain extra yards consistently. Great ball skills and tracks the deep ball particularly well. He may not profile as a pure #1 wideout, but this is a kid I can see being a very explosive playmaker for an NFL offense. 

Value: Early-Mid First Round Pick 

3. WR Michael Floyd – Notre Dame – 6'3 220 lbs 

Big, physical wide receiver with arguably the best combination of hands and ball skills in the draft. Difficult to press at the line of scrimmage, just too big and physical for most cornerbacks. Good power moves after the catch and isn't easy to bring down on contact. Very competitive and comes from a pro style system in which he developed strong route running skills. Definitely has all the tools to become a pro-bowl caliber receiver at the NFL – but comes with substantial concerns, both in his off the field concerns and injury history. Dealt with hamstring, knee, and collarbone injuries in his time at Notre Dame. Was also arrested three times on alcohol charges. 

Value: Early-Mid First Round Pick 

SECOND TIER 

4. WR Stephen Hill – Georgia Tech – 6'4 215 lbs 

Intriguing prospect with an exceptional combination of length, athleticism, and speed. Extremely explosive athlete who takes a very tough and physical approach to the game as a wide receiver. Excellent blocker on the outside who is consistently looking to help out in the running game. Fantastic leaping ability and can certainly be a red zone threat. Speed is explosive and will consistently challenge defenses vertically. A raw prospect certainly, but a lot of physical tools here. A lot of work to be done, but upside is immense. 

Value: Early Second Round Pick 

5. WR Mohamed Sanu – Rugers – 6'1 211 lbs 

A prospect I find to be underrated due to a lack of flashiness, Sanu is a very, very tough and competitive wide receiver who has great hands and ball skills. Crafty and instinctive, Sanu does a good job of creating separation and runs tough with the football. Very strong and will give cornerbacks trying to press him a lot of trouble. Shows very good effort as a run blocker and will be a factor in that aspect. The type of player coaches rave about because of his unselfishness and versatility. Played some running back in his college career – carrying 125 times for 653 yards, and also returned punts. 

Value: Mid Second Round Pick 

6. WR Rueben Randle – L.S.U – 6'3 210 lbs 

Tall and athletic receiver with excellent ball skills. Crafty route runner who plays with good awareness and knows how to help out his quarterback. Hard worker who works hard off the field and plays very hard on the field. Tracks the ball well over the shoulder and has reliable hands. Not particularly explosive and won't dominate football games but can contribute as a possession receiver at the NFL level. 

Value: Mid-Late Second Round Pick 

BEST OF THE REST 

7. WR Alshon Jeffery – South Carolina – 6'3 216 lbs 

8. WR Brian Quick – Appalachian State – 6'3 220 lbs 

9. WR Chris Givens – Wake Forest – 5'11 198 lbs 

10. WR Ryan Broyles – Oklahoma – 5'11 192 lbs 

Also…

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Tags: Alshon Jeffery, Football, Justin Blackmon, Kendall Wright, Michael Floyd, Mohamed Sanu, New York, New York Giants, NFL, NFL Draft, Ryan Broyles

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29 Responses to “2012 NFL Draft Positional Rankings: Wide Receivers”

  1.  Samardzija says:

    Many of the same players but slightly different from mine. Major difference would be that Im a fan of Jeffery, while not so much of Sanu..

    Heres mine btw, not sure if link is working:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AjLQEuP2RvQ7dHN0enNaWUVWQ3h6aEd5ZkZNVnZVMUE#gid=0

    •  kujo says:

      Phuck Chelsea!

    •  JBeast says:

      Nice list, why is Jeffery so high. He is such a high bust risk factor and didn’t he show up extremely over weight for the combine or am i thinking of some one else? What do you guys think of Nick Toon?

      •  Samardzija says:

        Hes so high because of his talents. Major, major upside. He weighed in at 215 at the combine, far from overweight.

        Nick Toon is meh to me. Does a lot of things good, not much great. Late round pick..

        •  JBeast says:

          What does Jeffery do that makes his upside so high, I’m just trying to learn more about him. Thanks for your feedback

          •  Samardzija says:

            Big, fast, strong hands, good ball skills, runs routes well had great production in the best division in college football with a complete hack QB. He can be an elite wideout at the next level.

  2.  Samardzija says:

    Ive made the comparison to Greg Jennings when talking about Kendall Wright. Still think thats a good one..

    •  Hazem Kiswani says:

      That’s a very good one. Same type of smooth, fluid athlete. Good call.

      It’s interesting you don’t have Sanu in there. I usually avoid ranking guys in his mold high – but his toughness, versatility, and ball skills are off the charts. Stiff arm, drops the shoulder, has great instincts in the open field. I think he can be a very strong addition to a good passing game.

      Jeffery has a lot of talent but I had a lot of red flags I had to dock him for in grading. His bust number was a little high for me so I dropped him to a late second round grade.

  3.  GOAT56 says:

    Haz what are you thoughts on Greg Childs? I think I asked Samardzija already.

    •  Hazem Kiswani says:

      The knee is obviously what drops him down boards a lot – there’s a question as to whether he made a mistake even playing this past season.

      Big receiver, very good athlete, strong, has a chip on his shoulder – so you don’t worry about him giving it his all to reach his potential.

      I think the risk/reward matches up to a 4th round pick. Possibly late third if you’ve done your homework and know exactly how healthy he is.

      •  GOAT56 says:

        Thanks. I don’t see him in WR rankings even when expanded to 25 which confuses me. Your assessment seems fair. I like Childs as our WR pick if we chose one in that 3-4 round area.

  4.  JBeast says:

    BTW Haz i love these pieces that you do very informative. I noticed you didn’t have Nick Toon on you top ten whats your thoughts on him?

    •  Hazem Kiswani says:

      Appreciate that, I’m glad you enjoy them.

      Toon is a fifth round pick for me. Not very explosive, limited upside because of limited physical skills. Good hands, makes every catch you expect him to but nothing that when you watch him makes you think he will consistently challenge #1 and #2 NFL cornerbacks.

      Complementary receiver at best in my opinion.

  5.  fanfor55years says:

    The Giants won’t get a sniff of any of Haz’s “top tier” wide receivers, so the question becomes what they think of the Hills and Sanus and Jefferys of the draft. Frankly, I’m not sure that once you get past Hill (and maybe Jeffery, another high ceiling but risky pick) it makes sense to grab any of these guys. I think selecting Fleener would put more pressure on defenses than any of the “best of the rest” players. He is a match-up nightmare, more so than even Graham and Gronk because of his football speed.

    So, I’m saying that you either go Hill or Jeffery at #32 (provided you don’t decide you’d rather have a pass rusher, an offensive lineman or Jenkins) or you pick a receiver later unless you got a shot at Fleener and choose to draft him at #32. I would be delighted with Hill. I’d be more than okay with Jeffery. I’d be delighted with Fleener. I’d be delighted with any of 3-4 pass rushers and 2-3 offensive linemen. I’d be okay with Janoris Jenkins (because if Reese selects him he knows there’s a good chance he will be a good teammate).

    If you’re going receiver go Fleener if you think you can get a pretty decent wide receiver in the 4th round. Go Hill if you think you can get a decent tight end in the fourth round. Obviously, that assumes both of them are still available at #32. I think the chance for that hovers around 35%.

    •  JBeast says:

      I love the idea of taking Fleener if he is there, he can cause so many problems for the defense. Im also one on the Jenkins bus. If Fleener is gone and Jenkins still there I’m going with Jenkins ( IF my evaluators have given me their assurances he will not be a problem). His talents are undeniable plus we have a strong locker room and Mr. Tom Coughlin to keep him in check. I agree with you that unless a top tier guy falls to 32 we should go Fleener or Jenkins and look for WR in round 3 ( Nick Toon, B Quick etc) OL or DL in 2 and RB in 4.

    •  norm says:

      I’m going to go out on what I see as a very short, strong limb here and repeat my belief that Fleener won’t be the pick at 32 if he’s there.

      If the multiple scouting reports on him I’ve read are accurate, and Fleener is someone who still “needs to work on his blocking,” then I’d think that would pretty definitively rule him out.

      As we’ve already seen with the ill-fated Travis Beckum experiment, the Giants have little to no interest in giving playing time to tight end who is not a capable in-line blocker. Fleener may be 10x the receiving threat that Beckum is but unless they believe he can carry out the blocking assignments expected of a tight end in the Giants offense, I very much doubt they are willing to wait around a year or two for him to figure it out. Rather, I’d think whoever they select at 32 will be someone who they feel can step in and contribute right away… or a DE who they see as a prospective replacement for Osi or Kiwi next year (less likely)

      •  Hazem Kiswani says:

        Have to disagree Norm. Fleener is a substantially bigger, more capable receiver than Beckum – and also isn’t a flat out bad blocker. He gives effort, he’s certainly not polished as a blocker by any means but he can certainly hold his own and has the frame to improve.

        I think it would take a substantial value at another position for the Giants not to go Fleener should he be there at 32.

        •  GOAT56 says:

          Also, I think Fleener with his frame can gain weight pretty naturally. He can be 255-260 without too much effort. IMO Beckum’s issue partly was his frame couldn’t hold any weight. He played at 235 which is just too light in the NFL.

      •  Luv2Salsa says:

        I have a tough time visualizing the Giants offense with Fleener as tight end. Would they use him as a point of attack blocker in the run game? If so, he’ll have a shorter NFL career than one would hope, and might not be the best value at #32. If he isn’t used as a POA blocker, defenses will go nickel as soon as he steps on the field. I’m not sure #32 should be spent on a situational player.

  6.  BBWC says:

    I’ve also read several reports that say, “Fleener needs to work on blocking”. From what I’ve seen on film, he blocks fairly well for his size, and he has the frame to add weight. Is there room for improvement, absolutely…. But Comparing Fleener to Beckum is like comparing Victor Cruz to Sinorice Moss….lol.

    •  BBWC says:

      Finding a replacement for Osi or Kiwi is definately a high priority, and may be what the Giants elect to do, but I wouldn’t rule out Fleener in the first round.

    •  BBWC says:

      to-shay! Hazem posted nearly the same exact answer, at the same time 8:53…..lol

  7.  GmenMania says:

    Haz and Samard; What are your thoughts on Brian Quick?

  8.  BLU-82 says:

    As we await the draft, wondering what JR will snatch out from the bottom of the first round (And among the less optimistic of us, hoping it’s not a bust!), I thought I’d remind everyone just how lucky we are to have Reese as a GM, not that we really need too much reminding.

    http://www.reclinergm.com/the-very-simple-reason-the-eagles-cant-reach-the-next-level/

    “So why can’t we draft defensive talent? Let’s take a look, by round, at the Eagles’ defensive draft picks over the last 9 drafts. And try not to think about Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyura (all Giants’ draft picks in the last 9 years) taking down Tom Brady (again) and lifting the Lombardi.”

    Going to and winning the Super Bowl is sweet- not only did we get to watch the Giants hoist the Lombardi, but we got a few more weeks of Giants football. But tidbits like that help to make the long offseason a little better.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      Wow! Great read! Some should write up a similar piece on us. It really shows the value of JR and drafting well. It’s amazing Philly has still fielded a good defense most years. Free agency I guess?

  9.  lemonjello says:

    Great work as always. I’d probably take Floyd over Wright, but that’s likely academic because I don’t think either of them will be there at #32.

    I’m also somewhat higher on Jeffery. I think his production has been very impressive against some great SEC secondaries, especially considering the crappy quarterbacking he has endured over the last few years. I think the weight issue has been a bit overblown (his pro day 40 time was pretty good, 4.47-4.55 depending on who was timing), and I could see him being a Colston/Plax type player if all works out. I’d probably take him over Randle/Sanu at this juncture.

    Broyles definitely intrigues me as a mid-round guy who was incredibly productive in college (albeit in the Big 12) who might be undervalued because of his injury (ACL). The injury could prevent him from helping out much in 2012, but long-term he could have some value.

    Tommy Streeter also intrigues me as a mid-round guy who could be a poor man’s Stephen Hill. He’s definitely a raw prospect and not a great route runner (probably should have stayed in school) but he has the kind of size (6’5″) and speed (4.34 40) that Jerry Reese seems to look for in his draftees. He also would probably not help much next season, but could be a monster in the long-term.

    It seems very likely that the Giants will go wideout with one of their first few selections this year. However, if they end up with Fleener in the 1st, they may be able to kill 2 birds with one stone by getting a guy who is big enough to block as a TE, but also has the speed to be a major receiving threat.

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