Feb. 15: Plenty of Value at WR
Just to follow up on my blog from Friday, plenty of talented wide receivers can be found after the first round, and this year is no different. In fact, 22 of the top 30 receivers -- based on receiving yards -- in the NFL last season were drafted after the first round, including 17 that had been taken between the second and the fourth round.
So, who are this year's "sleepers" that could go on to eventually outperform their first round counterparts?
Here are a few to keep your eye on:
*Highlight tapes attached
Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas (6-foot-3, 200, 3rd round)
Positives: Big and physical with good size ... Will make the tough, acrobatic catch in traffic ... Has tremendous balance and will do some damage after the catch ... Rangy, and a very good leaper ... Has impressive body control and has shown a flair for making the spectacular catch ... Extremely productive, had 176 catches for 2,744 and 24 touchdowns over the last two seasons, although Kansas operated out of a spread offense and threw the ball over 40 times per game.
Negatives: Doesn't have great speed and is a little stiff in the hips, which could limit his abilities as a route runner, as well as his ability to separate at the next level ... Lanky and could stand to get stronger ... Numbers are a bit inflated because of the offense he played in.
Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati (6-foot-1, 187, mid-late 2nd round)
Positives: Very smooth and fluid ... Possesses exceptional quickness and cutting ability ... Polished route runner that accelerates well out of his breaks, creating separation ... Natural pass-catcher with soft hands ... Slippery and elusive ... Patient runner with excellent vision ... Also an excellent return man ... Had five returns for touchdowns over the last two seasons (four kick returns, one punt return).
Negatives: Is more quick than fast and lacks elite top-end speed ... Undersized, desperately needs to get stronger and add muscle mass ... Has struggled some against press coverage ... Not a great vertical threat ... Good at evading tacklers but will go down too easily from initial contact because of a lack of lower body strength.
Shay Hodge, Ole Miss (6-foot-2, 207, 4th round)
*No highlight tape for Hodge, but keep an eye out for #3 in the attached video
Positives: Underrated receiver with decent size, speed and athleticism ... Has very good hands and ball skills ... Pretty good leaping ability ... Quick with good acceleration and is a solid route runner when he asserts himself ... Led the SEC in catches (70) and receiving yards (1,135) last season and had 22 touchdowns over the last three years ... Finished his career with 96 yards or more in six of his last eight games.
Negatives: Lacks elite top-end speed ... Has been plagued by some lapses in concentration in the past leading to drops ... Doesn't always assert himself as a route runner.
Mike Williams, Syracuse (6-foot-2, 205, 3rd round)
Positives: Physical with good size and decent speed ... Impressive leaper with tremendous ball skills ... Gets great body position and is a serious weapon on jump balls ... Very good hands ... Aggressive and doesn't go down easily after the catch ... Extremely productive when on the field ... Averaged eight catches and 119 yards per game through the first six games of 2009 before being suspended for one game, and ultimately quitting the team ... Had 15 touchdowns over his final 16 college games.
Negatives: Not overly quick or fast ... Has legitimate character concerns ... Quit the team in 2009 and was suspended for all of 2008 over an academic issue ... Suspended for a game in 2009 due to a violation of team rules.
Others to watch: Taylor Price, Ohio (6-foot-1, 196, 2nd-3rd round), Riley Cooper, Florida (6-foot-3, 215, 3rd-4th round), Freddie Barnes, Bowling Green (6-foot-0, 206, 5th round), Danario Alexander, Missouri (6-foot-5, 215, 5th-6th round), Joe Webb, UAB (6-foot-4, 220, 7th round).