Pre-Season 2016 NFL Draft Watch: Receivers & Tight Ends
Although he might not be the first name that comes to mind when thinking about wide receivers with the potential to be drafted in the first round, Auburn’s Duke Williams certainly fits the criteria.
Physically, Williams has a great combination of height, weight and speed, allowing him to make some spectacular catches. If there is one knock against him, it is that he is not as refined as some other receivers in this group, in part due to having just one year of experience at the Division I level.
Another potential first round receiver is Leontee Carroo from Rutgers. The best part of Carroo’s game is his hands. He shows good technique and enough strength to secure catches even with defenders draped around him. Carroo is not a guy with a ton of deep speed or quickness, but he has just enough that teams still need to respect his potential to make the big play.
Unlike Carroo, TCU’s Josh Doctson has tons of speed and quickness. He has a great release, and when not being pressed at the line of scrimmage, can reach his top speed in just a few steps.
The Horned Frog receiver also has an ability to make some spectacular catches. He might not be as refined a route runner as some other receivers, but he has the quickness to become one with some additional coaching.
As far as tight ends, Alabama’s O.J. Howard
looks like he has the making of a star tight end. He has been greatly under-utilized at Alabama, thus he is raw as far as a receiver. However, on the rare occasion he gets the ball, it is obvious that he could dominate the NFL. Like many tight ends who are more receiver than blocker, Howard really hasn't shown a strong ability as a blocker.
Other notables: Laquan Treadwell from Ole Miss and Tyler Boyd from Pitt.
Mid Round and Sleepers
South Carolina’s Pharoh Cooper is a versatile, but extremely raw wide receiver. What could propel Cooper to be a first round prospect is if he worked on his catching technique, as he is prone to drops. Aside from the drops, Cooper is fast and quick. His experience as a wildcat triggerman shows he has good ability with the ball in his hands.
From Clemson, receiver Mike Williams looks to be the next Tiger receiver to make a splash in the NFL. Like other Tiger receivers succeeding in the NFL, Williams has deep speed and gets to his top speed really quickly. Williams does not have great foot quickness, which hurts his route running ability, and limits his effectiveness with the ball in his hands after the catch.
Best of the Rest
Mississippi State receiver De’Runnya Wilson looks like a pure possession receiver. The Bulldog has a 6’4” frame and shows great effort in blocking and in battling defenders for passes. However, Wilson does not have great speed or quickness.
Dan Vitale, a tight end from Northwestern, likely looks more suited as an H-Back at the next level, considering he is just 6’2”. It’d be unwise to overlook Vitale for his height. He has a pretty good release and looks to have enough speed and quickness to at least challenge linebackers he is matched up against.
If a team is looking for a receiver who is good at racking up yards after the catch, they’d be wise to look at Penn State receiver DaeSean Hamilton. When Hamilton gets the ball, it looks like he has a plan to how he wants to elude defenders, and is aided by some good quickness. However, Hamilton does not have great long speed and does not have great size.
Florida tight end Jake McGee looks like a solid possession type tight end. His blocking is considered to be below average, but he has good size and is a savvy route runner. McGee has great hands, and combined with good size and good vertical, give him a large catch radius.
Other names to watch: Wideout Marquez North of Tennessee, tight end Nick Vannett and receiver Michael Thomas from Ohio State, Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram, Kyle Carter a tight end from Penn State, Stanford receiver Devon Cajuste, Quinshad Davis receiver from North Carolina, Oklahoma wideout Sterling Shepard, tight end Braxton Deaver of Duke, Pharaoh Brown a tight end from Oregon.