After weeks of studying this draft class with my elite research team, the AT&T kids, we have come to the conclusion that this Wide Receiver class is being slightly underrated, even if we can’t tape a cheetah to the back of the slow ones. It is well known that the position of Wide Receiver, unlike Running Back, has a huge learning curve when a player steps into the NFL, but can a player be successful straight away? Sure, if put in the right situation a player can and will make an impact. This is going to be an exciting year for Wide Receivers in this year’s draft mostly due to the depth at the position. While it’s unlikely there is a Megatron or AJ Green that will come in and make an immediate impact, there are several receivers in this draft, due to their athletic ability, that have extremely high ceilings in terms of Fantasy Football. Most of the players you read about here won’t be immediate household names, but you can be sure that a few will be coveted 2013 Fantasy Football assets in the coming years. Let’s take a look at some of the top receivers in the 2013 NFL Draft and where the best landing spot would be for each. Even with major moves in the off season, there are still several teams that need to improve their Wide Receiver corps as the passing game has become such a huge part of what it takes to be successful in the NFL and for your Fantasy Football teams…
1. Tavon Austin West Virginia: 29 of 32 teams were present at West Virginia’s Pro Day and while the majority were there to observe Quarterback Geno Smith, many were there to see one of the most dynamic receivers in the draft. Austin is electrifying on film to say the least and he backed it up with one of the most impressive combines of any receiver clocking a blazing 4.34 forty yard dash. He is drawing comparisons to play makers like Percy Harvin and Randall Cobb and we all know if he lives up to those expectations he could be a major asset to Fantasy Football owners. The one downside to Austin would be his size at 5’ 8” 175, his natural position is the slot and durability could be a huge concern. Will all that said his upside makes him worth the risk as the number one receiver to own in fantasy football. My dream team for Austin would be the St. Louis Rams. With Gibson departing to Miami and Amendola departing to New England, the Rams are fairly thin at the position and are lacking a true slot receiver. Austin would thrive in this system.
2. DeAndre Hopkins Clemson: One of the most polished route runners in the draft, Hopkins is just an all around great football player. He isn’t going to wow you with his combine numbers or flashy moves but he is a quick learner with the all around skills should be an immediate contributor. He is a decent blocker and is well built at 6’ 1” 215 so durability shouldn’t be an issue. When watching him on film it is clear to see that he is physical and has a passion to play the game, his work ethic and lack of off the field issues should translate well at the NFL level. My dream team for Hopkins would be the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings would be smart not to go after a replacement for Harvin and reach for Tavon Austin. Will the signing of Greg Jennings the Vikings need another solid route runner with great hands to help Ponder gain his confidence and Hopkins is that guy. He would do extremely well as a WR2 in Minnesota.
3. Keenan Allen California: One of the most underrated receivers in the draft is Keenan Allen, mostly due to poor quarterback play at Cal. At 6’ 3” 212 Allen is you prototypical WR1 and is surprisingly quick and athletic in the open field. The downside to Allen is he has not been able to progress as a solid route runner in the Cal offense and had limited production with a less than average QB throwing to him. On top of that he also drops quite a few catchable balls but with his large catch radius this should improve over time. My dream team for Allen would be the Baltimore Ravens. With Boldin departing to San Francisco to play for the other Harbaugh, the Ravens lack a legitimate WR2 opposite of Torrey Smith. He would be a great fit and could step in to an already impressive offense.
4. Cordarrelle Patterson Tennessee: Patterson is physically the most outstanding prospect in this draft. At 6’3 205 lbs while running a 4.42 forty yard dash, he looks like someone used the “create a player” feature in Madden, he is a physical specimen. On top of all this he is an absolute nightmare in the open field and pretty much has unlimited upside in terms of his potential. On the flip side he has an equal floor due to several flaws in his game. Patterson can be best described as a raw talent and it shows in his route running, catching and limited ability to block effectively. No doubt Patterson has the ceiling of Julio Jones but he also has the floor of Darius Heyward Bey but it is going to depend on his work ethic to meet his expected potential. My dream team for Patterson would be the Pittsburgh Steelers. With the departure of Mike Wallace he provides the much needed deep threat and playmaking ability that the Steeler’s offense needs. With Ben Roethlisberger being able to extend plays while scrambling Patterson would be an excellent addition to their depleted group of receivers.
5. Justin Hunter Tennessee: At 6’4″ and 200 lbs, Hunter has the size to be a great NFL receiver and with his long strides he runs the deep route as well as anyone in the draft. He also has a large catch radius as we have seen with the top receivers in the NFL – Calvin Johnson, Green, Marshall, and Bryant – which is an important aspect to being a great receiver. There is some downside to Hunter though, as he recently had a traumatic ACL injury in 2011 and many question whether he has fully recovered. He also has blocking and route running issues like his Tennessee teammate Patterson. My dream team for Hunter would be the Carolina Panthers who desperately need a big bodied possession receiver opposite of Steve Smith. It is pretty obvious that Brandon Lafell is not the answer.
6. Quinton Patton Louisiana Tech: Patton was an absolute monster in 2012 racking up 104 catches for Louisiana Tech including a 21 catch, 233 yard and 4 TD performance against Texas A&M (68 Points in a PPR) At 6’ 0” 205 he is fairly average in terms of size but he makes up for it with his excellent fundamentals and route running skills. He could be considered the most versatile receiver in the draft due to his ability to line up in the slot or on the outside. He didn’t have a great combine with an average 40 yard dash and vertical but he did excel in the shuttle run at 4.01 which shows just how quick he is. My dream team for Patton would be the Kansas City Chiefs. With Andy Reid taking over for the Chiefs and Alex Smith now the quarterback adding a sure handed versatile receiver like Patton would be great for their offense.
7. Robert Woods USC: Woods is another great all around receiver in terms of fundamentals. He is an incredibly precise route runner, one of the best in the class and is very aware of the steps and timing of his routes. He was also very efficient in the red zone and could be an immediate WR2 on many teams. Wood’s downside is he has been plagued by ankle issues and might lack the physicality to create separation from NFL defensive backs. My dream team for Woods would be the Buffalo Bills. The Bills desperately need a wide receiver to play on the outside to allow Stevie Johnson to move to his natural position in the slot. Having Woods in Buffalo, depending on how they address the quarterback issue, could pay off and add another weapon to an increasingly dangerous offense.
8. Da’Rick Rogers Tennessee Tech: Former Tennessee wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers is flying somewhat under the radar mostly due to his misconduct, off the field issues and his affiliation with a smaller school. Rogers is a great prospect overall with very few weaknesses and could end up being a very successful NFL receiver if he can stay out of trouble and focused on the game. This is a big if though and Rogers carries considerable risk. My dream team for Rogers would be the Houston Texans. The Texans need a solid threat opposite of Andre Johnson who would be an excellent mentor for Da’Rick and could be very productive as long as Kubiak wakes up and realizes he needs to open up the playbook.
9. 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. Williams’ 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. My dream team for Williams would be the New Orleans Saints. The Saints desperately need a player who can stretch the field and present a deep threat. Joe Morgan has shown promise but adding Williams wouldn’t be a bad idea; anything that gives Drew Brees more weapons is good for Fantasy Football.
10. Stedman Bailey West Virginia: Bailey doesn’t have the explosiveness of teammate Tavon Austin but he is much more polished football player, which is easily seen in his numbers as he racked up 114 receptions for 1622 yards and 25 TDs in 2012. Bailey is as sure handed as they come and he was one of the main reasons Geno Smith completed over 70 percent of his passes last season. He is extremely talented at bringing in difficult catches and he rarely drops the ball when crossing over the middle and he is fearless. Bailey has had no major injuries and has a great work ethic and excellent mind for the game as well. My dream team for Bailey would be the New England Patriots. The Patriots rarely draft a wide receiver but when they do they look for value in the later rounds. Bailey is such an all around great talent that I could see the Patriots taking a chance on him and he would be a great fit to a completely re-built group of receivers. It also never hurts to have Tom Brady throwing to you.
11. Mark Harrison Rutgers: At 6’3″, 235 lbs, Mark Harrison is another prototype NFL Wide Receiver but isn’t getting nearly the attention that he should. Harrison was plagued in 2012 with poor quarterback play and was part of a very run heavy offense so numbers alone do not show his potential. There are some questions surrounding his work ethic and his ability to quickly grasp NFL offenses but overall he is a great prospect and could be a late round steal. My dream team for Harrison would be the Cleveland Browns who have their deep threat in Josh Gordon but are missing their large target to be a solid possession receiver for Brandon Weeden. Mark Harrison would do well in what is looking like a soon to be highly effective Browns offense.
12. Markus Wheaton Oregon State: Wheaton is an exciting player to watch. He has that deep threat label 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 to see if it translates to the NFL because 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. Wheaton does lack the size and there could be some durability issues in the future. My dream team for Wheaton would be the Carolina Panthers where he could grow as true number one and be mentored by one of the best in Steve Smith who doesn’t have many seasons left.