2011 NFL Draft Preview: Top 10 Wide Receivers in the Draft

Last Updated: April 20th, 2011 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist)
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Over the next two weeks, Bankroll Sports will provide you an in-depth look on the NFL Draft, examining the top prospects at each position. Today, we look at the top ten wide receivers for the 2011 NFL Draft.

1. AJ Green (Georgia) – Despite failing to record a 1,000 yard season during his time in Athens, AJ Green is at the top of our list for best wide receivers in the 2011 NFL Draft. Green caught 57 passes for 848 yards with nine touchdowns despite being the constant target of double coverage. Green’s 6’4 207 lb frame has scouts drooling over him along with his feather-soft hands and fantastic route running ability. Green is a lock for a Top 10 pick and even though he didn’t put up fantastic numbers in college, is easily the best receiver in the draft.

2. Julio Jones (Alabama) – Coming into the NFL Draft Combine, Jones was seen as the second best wide receiver in the class and solidified that position with his awesome workout. Jones ran a blazing fast 4.34 40 and put up a 38 ½ inch vertical jump in Indianapolis to ensure his position as a first round selection and should be drafted in the top half of the first round. Like Green, Jones didn’t put up numbers befitting his ability at Alabama but was burdened by playing in Head Coach Nick Saban’s pro-style set. During the 2010 college football betting season, Jones caught 78 passes for 1,133 yards and seven touchdowns as Greg McElroy’s go-to wide out.

3. Leonard Hankerson (Miami) – Hankerson has the size and speed befitting of an NFL prospect, but his lack of upper body strength and questionable hands make him less of a talent than Green and Jones. Hankerson was the leader of one of the best wide receiving corps in college football last season and put up great numbers in his senior season in Offensive Coordinator Mark Whipple’s pro-style passing offense. Hankerson hauled in 72 passes for 1,156 yards and 13 touchdowns in one of the best seasons by a wide receiver in Hurricanes’ history. He is seen as an early second-round pick by most scouts.

4. Torrey Smith (Maryland) – The most versatile wide receiver in the draft might be Torrey Smith of the Terrapins. Smith set the ACC record for kickoff return yardage in a career with almost 3,000 return yards and was one of the most productive wide outs in the ACC with 67 receptions for 1,055 yards and 12 touchdowns. Smith made the Terrapins’ passing attack respectable virtually by himself, with no other Terrapin recording more than 350 receiving yards on the season. His 4.41 40 time wasn’t amazing, but was respectable and should make him a late first to early second round pick.

5. Jerrel Jernigan (Troy) – At Troy State, Jernigan was not only a three-time 1st team All-Conference selection, but also the Sun Belt’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards, receptions, and receiving yards. Jernigan caught 84 passes for 822 yards and six touchdowns in his senior year, and also impressed out of the Wildcat formation, carrying the ball 45 times for 322 yards and three touchdowns. Jernigan also had a punt return touchdown and a kickoff return touchdown this past NCAA football betting season and will probably be asked to be both a wide out and returner at the professional level. Jernigan is one of the most elusive wide receivers in the draft and should be a second to third round pick.

6. Randall Cobb (Kentucky) – Cobb came to Kentucky as a quarterback but after a respectable freshman season, was asked to become the quarterback of Kentucky’s Wildcat offense and learn the wide receiver position. Cobb quickly impressed in his new dual role and led one of the most successful Wildcat schemes in the country. He totaled 1313 yards and 22 touchdowns on the ground during his three seasons in Lexington and had a breakout campaign as a wide out in 2010, catching 84 balls for 1,017 yards and seven touchdowns. Cobb is projected as a second to third round pick.

7. Jonathan Baldwin (Pittsburgh) – Despite having substandard quarterback play during most of his time as a Panther, Baldwin established himself as one of the best deep threats in the country. Baldwin averaged close to 20 yards per reception over his career as a Pitt Panther with 128 receptions for 2,337 yards and 16 touchdowns. Baldwin lacks elite speed and clocked in with a 4.49 40 at the Combine, but his 6’4 228 lb frame allows him to leap over smaller defenders in jump ball situations. Baldwin is seen as a second to third round pick and has fantastic potential with the right scheme.

8. Titus Young (Boise State) – Young was a three time All-WAC first team selection during his time at Boise State and dazzled opposing teams and fans alike with some of his amazing plays. Young had two straight 1,000 yard seasons with the Broncos and didn’t disappoint as a returner either with 56 kick returns for 1,449 yards and two touchdowns in his career as a Bronco. His lack of size will hurt him at the next level, but Young is quick and versatile enough to make a place for himself in the NFL. He is seen as a mid-round selection in the upcoming draft.

9. Greg Little (North Carolina) – Little is one of the North Carolina products whose draft stock plummeted after being suspended for the entire 2010 season due to inappropriate contact with an agent. Little played both running back and wide receiver during his time as a Tar Heel, but it is likely that he will be used as a wide out in the pros. In 2009, Little hauled in 62 passes for 724 yards and five touchdowns despite the limitations of learning a new position and having to catch passes from the subpar TJ Yates. He is projected as a mid-round pick.

10. Greg Salas (Hawaii) – No wide receiver put up the numbers that Salas did over the past two seasons. In 2009, Salas caught 106 passes for 1,590 yards and eight touchdowns to be one of the top wide outs in the country. Last season, Salas outdid himself and snared 119 balls for 1,889 yards and 14 touchdowns and led all of college football in receiving yards. However, Salas was the beneficiary of Hawaii’s wide-open spread and probably will fail to make a dent as a professional. Salas is predicted to be a mid-round selection.

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Posted in NFL Football - Last Updated on Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 @ 2:33 pm (EST)
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