The 2014 NFL Draft produced a bumper crop of talented wide receivers. With three of the first twelve picks of the draft, five in the first round and twelve receivers selected in the first two rounds; it would be improbable for this year’s group to be as top heavy as last year’s class. The class of 2015 may not produce a Sammy Watkins type of franchise receiver; but it should be talent laden with great depth into the latter rounds.
Ty Montgomery, Stanford, Sr. 6’2 215
Montgomery enjoyed a stellar 2013 for the PAC 12 Champions with 2,208 all purpose yards, earning consensus All American accolades as a kick returner. As a wide receiver (WR) Montgomery proved to be a formidable force against PAC 12 defensive backs, with 61 receptions for 958 yards and 10 receiving touchdowns; the Ty Montgomery draft buzz is deafening. He combines good speed with surprising shake and agility that belies a man of his stature. Montgomery is a legitimate deep threat that shows good burst after the catch. He thrives in David Shaw’s quick screen attack, where Montgomery utilizes his size and strength to break tackles, for huge gains. The preseason Maxwell, Biletnikoff, and Hornung watch lists include Montgomery. Unfortunately for Ty Montgomery the injury list also includes him. Montgomery missed all of spring practice due to surgeries on his knee and arm that are expected to sideline him for the first couple of games in 2014. If Montgomery can recover and come close to replicating the 2013 magic, look for him to be a first round pick next spring.
Antwan Goodley, Baylor, Rs Sr. 5’10 225
The pass happy Baylor offense continues to put up video game statistics and in 2013 Antwan Goodley was one of its primary beneficiaries. The Midland, Texas native (Midland High) enjoyed a breakout year with 71 receptions for 1,339 yards (109.9 per game) and 13 touchdowns; earning him All Big 12 First Team honors. While Goodley isn’t blessed with sprinter speed, he runs crisp routes and is phenomenal after the catch. He’s as tough to bring down as any receiver in the country and at 225 pounds he’s the equivalent of a power back lined up in the slot. With a decent 40 time at the NFL Combine in February, I project Goodley as a 3rd-5th round pick.
Josh Harper, Fresno State, Rs Sr. 6’1 184
The draft stock of Josh Harper depends on who can emerge and fill the void left by QB Derek Carr (2nd round pick Raiders). If Brian Burrell or Zack Greenlee can ascend to the heights Carr’s offense reached in 2013, it bodes well for Harper’s immediate future. In 2013 Harper lined up primarily in the slot, flanked by Davonte Adams (2nd round pick Packers) and Isaiah Burse (UFA Broncos); 2014 will be the year for him to be the feature receiver in Fresno State’s high powered attack. Harper had 79 receptions for 1,011 yards with 13 touchdowns in 2013; earning him a 2nd Team All MWC distinction.
Deontay Greenberry, Houston, Jr. 6’3 198
When I watch college football and subsequently evaluate prospects, future NFL players usually jump off the screen at me. Deontay Greenberry is that type of standout prospect whose talent is undeniable. The first 5 star (Scout.com) recruit ever to sign with the Cougars, Greenberry thrived in Offensive Coordinator Doug Meacham’s no huddle attack in 2013. Greenberry had 82 receptions for 1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns last season; earning him First Team All AAC. He starts this season on the Biletnikoff and Maxwell watch lists. With a healthy and productive season look for Greenberry to declare early for the draft and be a 1st-2nd round draft pick.
Amari Cooper, Alabama, Jr. 6’1 202
A toe injury hampered Cooper last season but he still managed 45 receptions for 736 yards in Alabama’s conservative offense. As a freshman, Cooper exploded on the national stage for 1000 yards and 11 touchdowns for the 2012 National Champions; earning Freshman All American accolades. The Miami (Northwestern HS) native needs to remain healthy and put up numbers similar to his freshman season, to ensure his place at the top of this year’s receiver class.
DeVante Parker, Louisville, Sr. 6’3 209
The homegrown (Ballard, HS) Parker enjoyed a stellar season with 12 touchdown receptions in 2013. Parker lacks elite straight line speed but possesses great body control, soft hands, and superior athleticism that allows him to high point the football. Parker makes an abundance of catches when he is well covered. He has an uncanny knack for using his big frame to position himself to make the play. I look for Parker to thrive in Bobby Petrino’s offense and continue to elevate his draft stock.
There are lots of games to be played, film to be scrutinized, and workouts to go through before next year’s draft. All six of these receivers have separated themselves with their previous body of work, enough to be on the NFL radar. Follow me on twitter @purebredwarrior for random ruminations about draft prospects, football, pop culture or whatever else comes to mind.