Evaluating two early entry wideouts

On Wednesday, Illinois wideout Arrelious Benn made it official, saying he will leave school early to enter the 2010 NFL Draft. Benn will now join Kansas’ talented wideout, Dezmon Briscoe, who also declared early for the draft this month. Here’s a breakdown of the two prospects and what their futures in the NFL might hold.

WR Arrelious Benn: Illinois, No. 9, 6-2, 220

2009 stats: 38 receptions, 490 yards, 2 touchdowns

What we like:

Showcases good power and strength as a route runner, is tough to knock off balance and does a great job fighting his way through contact and generating speed as he works down the field.

Is a savvy route runner. Does a good job disguising his routes, setting up corners and changing speeds out of his breaks. Has the ability to create separation and use his big frame to shield defenders from the football.

His physical nature. The guy is an absolute bear to bring down in the open field, knows how to break tackles and is very strong and shifty after the catch.

Displays impressive body control when asked to adjust to the football. Exhibits good initial awareness to locate the throw and has the coordination to consistently contort his body and make a play on the ball.

Demonstrates a willingness to work as a blocker down the field and does a good job sticking to defensive backs and helping out in the run game.

What we don’t like:

His senior season. Sure, he was surrounded by inconsistent quarterback play, but for a guy with his talent to have only 490 yards on the year is inexcusable.

Awareness off the snap. Too often is slow to get into his routes and will allow opposing corners to get into his frame and disrupt his timing off the line with a bump.

Lacks ideal sharpness out of his breaks and has a tendency to drift and round off his routes when asked to change directions at full speed.

Isn’t the most natural of pluckers and has a tendency to let the ball consistently get into his body.

Lacks pure straight-line speed. Is a physical route runner who picks up speed as he goes, but isn’t a threat to consistently get behind defenders vertically at the next level.


I can’t say this is the ideal time for Benn to enter the draft, considering he’s coming off his worst statistical year as a college receiver. However, there’s still plenty of good tape on him from his freshman and sophomore seasons, and he possesses the physical skill set to certainly develop into a bona fide starting wideout at the next level.

He’s never going to be that guy who can come in, stretch defenses and create over the top. However, Benn has a skill set very similar to Anquan Boldin and could end up making more of an impact as a rookie than any other wideout in the 2010 draft. His ability to separate underneath and create after the catch is an attribute that always transitions well to the next level, and if he has a guy next to him who can open up the field vertically, Benn certainly has the talent to mature into one of the better possession-type receivers in the NFL.

Grade: 6.7

Contributes first year and starts second year.…Must be able to get on the field and make a contribution as a rookie….Expected to start his second year in the league.

WR Dezmon Briscoe: Kansas No. 80, 6-3, 200

2009 stats: 84 receptions, 1,337 yards, 9 touchdowns

What we like:

Possesses an impressive combination of size, power and quickness off the line when asked to beat press coverage. Does a nice job quickly slipping the bump and forcing defenders to play from behind.

Showcases a good understanding in the pass game, does a nice job being patient into his routes, widening his angles and disguising his breaks until the last second.

Knows how to change gears when setting up corners and creates significant separation out of his breaks; is a very balanced route runner.

Displays game speed, has a second gear when the ball is in the air and plays faster than he times.

Impressive hand/eye coordination, knows how to high point the football and consistently is able to go up and win most jump-ball situations.

Is surprisingly physical with the ball in his hands after the catch.

What we don’t like:

Isn’t the most explosive wideout off the line. Takes him a couple of steps to eat up the cushion vs. off-coverage.

Is a strider who builds up speed as he goes. Is difficult to stay with the farther he gets down the field, but lacks the speed to initially run away from corners once he gains a step.

Possible character concerns. Has had some academic “issues” during his time at Kansas and was suspended for the first game of the 2009 season due to violation of team rules.


Briscoe is the one junior wideout who I think can soar up draft boards as more and more NFL officials break down his game, despite playing for a Kansas team that finished the season with seven straight losses and was kind of an after thought in the Big 12 for the final half of the year.

Briscoe displays an ability to cleanly change directions, create separation out of his breaks and beat press coverage off the line. Plus, his ability to track the football down the field and high-point the play makes him a very capable red zone/vertical threat even though he lacks ideal top-end speed. Briscoe looks like one of the few receivers in this year’s class capable of developing into a true No. 1-type threat on the outside for an NFL offense and currently grades out as my No. 2 receiver prospect behind only Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant.

Grade: 6.8

Becomes a starter during his rookie year….Develops into a solid NFL player with no real weakness….Can’t be exploited or consistently taken out of games.

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