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Transitioning from College to the NFL as a Wide Receiver is a progression, very rarely do you see anyone come in and dominate at the position. I knew it was difficult but it shocked me to see that I had to go back to 1998, Randy Moss, to find a rookie Wide Receiver that finished in the top 10 for total yards in a season. We saw flashes of greatness from guys like Josh Gordon, Ryan Broyles, Alshon Jeffery, Chris Givens, and Kendall Wright but ultimately these are guys who’s inexperience and lack of targets translates into inconsistency which Fantasy owners need to be aware of. One might argue that TY Hilton was a standout last year and an exception to the rule, and although I agree his performance was impressive the variable that you need to account for was that he was working in a new system with a rookie Quarterback which provides opportunities for much quicker growth and development at the position. With all this said when evaluating a rookie Wide Receiver for fantasy potential it is as important to look at the environment they will be playing in as their actual talent and physical abilities. Prototype Wide Receivers like Calvin Johnson and AJ Green are extremely rare and unfortunately there isn’t a single receiver in this draft that has the immediate potential of those two names. The good news is this draft has a very level playing field with lots of depth allowing teams to wait until later rounds to draft their next potential contributor. Let’s take a look at the Senior Bowl participants that try to separate themselves from a very large group before the 2013 NFL Draft and how they might impact 2013 fantasy football…

Terrance Williams Baylor: It’s pretty amazing to see the talent that Baylor is producing, last year Robert Griffin and Kendall Wright, and this year brings us Terrance Williams. Williams, with a 19 YPC average, in 2012 was Baylor’s deep threat target. He was able to back this up with some impressive catches during drills including a long sloppy pass thrown by Tyler Wilson that took major adjustment to catch. William’s ability to catch the long ball could help his cause but ultimately he is undersized and not exceptionally fast. He will need to work extremely hard on his route running and physicality to allow him to get open at the next level.

Senior Bowl Stats:

1 Catch 9 Yards 0 TD

2 Rushes 8 Yards 0 TD

Height 6’ 2” Weight 201

Cobi Hamilton Arkansas: One of Tyler Wilson’s favorite targets last year was Hamilton who recorded 90 receptions, a career high. He is silently flying under the radar and was one of the most fundamentally sound and well rounded receivers at the Senior Bowl. Hamilton doesn’t have a large physical stature but plays much bigger than he is running clean routes and using position to gain advantage over defensive backs. Hamilton is no burner and catches most of his passes in the middle of the field between 10 and 20 yards, 14 YPC average in 2012, but is quite elusive and is great at breaking tackles. This Razorback could be an asset on any team that is in need of a possession receiver but it remains to be seen how well he will grasp the complexities of NFL passing schemes and his size could concern some teams in terms of outside pass protection.

Senior Bowl Stats:

1 Catch 3 Yards 0 TD

Height 6’ 2” Weight 199

Quinton Patton Louisiana Tech: One of the most memorable moments in college football last year for me was witnessing Patton’s 21 catch 233 Yard and 4 TD game against Texas A&M (68 Points in a PPR). Can Patton reproduce these kind of numbers in the NFL? Most likely not but he is an interesting draft candidate and although he is from a small school he is leaving a big impression on scouts and analysts everywhere. Patton doesn’t have anything special in terms of size and speed but what he does have is an aggressive play style and has the ability to catch everything thrown his way. During workouts at the Senior Bowl scouts were surprised to see who well he played an compared against receivers from the bigger schools.

Senior Bowl Stats:

0 Catch 0 Yards 0 TD

Height 6’ 0” Weight 202

Markus Wheaton Oregon State: Considered one of the best receivers on the North team for the Senior Bowl, Wheaton is an exciting player to watch. He has that deep threat ability and has the uncanny ability to get open, even though his routes are somewhat sloppy and unpolished at times. He is drawing comparisons to Steve Smith and Mike Wallace but he is going to have to prove his speed and acceleration at the upcoming combine. There are serious doubts that he will have the ability to create separation against NFL defensive backs. Markus Wheaton plays with high intensity which I am sure teams like to see on tape, always fighting for yards and always contests for the ball.

Senior Bowl Stats:

4 Catches 47 Yards 0 TD

Height 5’ 11” Weight 183

Marquise Goodwin Texas: The smallest receiver at the Senior Bowl might be the one making the most noise. Goodwin is an Olympian that competed in the 60m, 100m, 200m, 4 X 100, and Triple Jump; he is a tremendous athlete. Unlike most track stars though Goodwin has found a way to translate it to the football field, he isn’t one of those guys that loses a step when he puts on pads. He has decent hands and route running and is a nightmare in open space, Texas also used him is many designed run plays which he converted into an 11 YPC average and 3 touchdowns. Goodwin had the best live game performance of any Wide Receiver in the Senior Bowl and has definitively helped his draft status, hard to believe he will struggle at all in the upcoming combine.

Senior Bowl Stats:

5 Catches 44 Yards 0 TD

 Height 5’ 9” Weight 180

Denard Robinson Michigan: We all know him as the Michigan Quarterback but Robinson made his first appearance in his new role as a possible NFL receiver at this year’s Senior Bowl. Robinson is a great athlete and a real competitor as anyone who has seen a Michigan game can tell you, but this is an extremely difficult transition and so far it is not going well. During the Senior Bowl practices Robinson’s routes were considered the worst of any participant. He struggled with some of the most basic fundamentals and looked like he didn’t belong on the field. Most surprisingly were the numerous drops, as Robinson has the largest hands of any receiver at the Senior Bowl. Few have made the transition from quarterback to wide receiver, Julian Edelman and Antwann Randal El, but it can be done. Robinson has the raw talent but it will be up to him to put in the work to become an NFL caliber receiver.

Senior Bowl Stats:

2 Catches 21 Yards 0 TD

Height 6’ 0” Weight 197

 

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