Rating the NFL draft prospects: Wide receivers, tight ends
By Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel
April 18, 2013

The Journal Sentinel's Bob McGinn assesses the top receivers in the draft next week.

Included is each player's height, weight, 40-yard dash time and projected round.


WIDE RECEIVERS

1. TAVON AUSTIN, West Virginia (5-8 ½, 173, 4.30, 1) - Most exciting player in the draft. "He's a 'Holy (expletive)' player," one scout said. "I don't like little guys, but I love that guy. He can do the same stuff that (Randall) Cobb did in the slot. And he's never missed a game." Moved to RB against Oklahoma on Nov. 17 and rushed for 344 yards in a 50-49 defeat. "You throw that game on, you think you're looking at Reggie Bush," another scout said. "More exciting. I think he's the best player in the draft. Very soft-spoken but he's football-minded. Well-built. It's not like he's some miniature guy." Finished with 288 receptions for 3,413 yards (11.9 average) and 29 touchdowns. Also rushed for 1,031 (9.5) and six TDs. Native of Baltimore. "He is (better than Cobb)," a third scout said. "He'll carry the ball, run reverses, play in the slot and try to match against a slow corner on the outside. You're trying to give him the ability to make one or two really big plays a game. Whether he can hold up is the $64,000 question."

2. CORDARRELLE PATTERSON, Tennessee (6-2, 217, 4.34, 1) - Junior-college transfer from Rock Hill, S.C. "Really competitive, really athletic, really raw," one scout said. "When he catches the ball he never gives up on a run. He might drive people crazy because he will back up, he will run laterally, he will do whatever. I thought he caught it well." Played just one season of major-college football before declaring a year early. Caught 46 passes for 778 yards (16.9) and five TDs. "No, heavens no," exclaimed another scout when asked if Patterson was as good as Dez Bryant. "I don't know that he's not as athletic as Dez, but Dez is freakish strength-wise. He could be really good but he's not very smart." Should be a threat returning kickoffs while learning how to play on offense. "He's the best returner I've seen since Devin Hester," a third scout said. "He's got a background that's a little bit scary but, boy, is he explosive."

3. KEENAN ALLEN, California (6-2, 210, 4.55, 1-2) - Third-year junior from Greensboro, N.C. "Not as dynamic as Hakeem Nicks but he's a good player," one scout said. "He's big, catches the ball and is smart. Not a big-play threat by any stretch, which is what Hakeem gives you." Golden Bears' all-time reception leader with 205. Gained 2,570 yards (12.5) and scored 17 TDs. "Very smooth for a big man," another scout said. "Good hands. Good athlete." Suffered a posterior cruciate knee ligament injury in November and, in a workout April 9, ran 40 yards in just 4.71. "Complete player," a third scout said. "His half-brother (Zach Maynard) was the quarterback and he sucked. Just an awful player. It probably cost him six or seven touchdowns and 30 more receptions. He compares to Michael Floyd from a year ago."

4. ROBERT WOODS, Southern California (6-0 ½, 200, 4.45, 1-2) - Third-year junior set the Trojans' record for receptions with 252. "He and Patterson are probably the two best after the catch," one scout said. Gained 2,930 yards (11.6) and scored 32 TDs. "He was limited by comparison because of (Marqise) Lee," another scout said. "Good avoiding bump. Gets on the cornerback quickly. Quick out of his cuts. Lays out well. He's a speed and quick guy." USC coach Lane Kiffin compared his playing style to all-time great Jerry Rice. "Seems to me everything he does has been manufactured," a third scout said. "There's something missing with him." From Carson, Calif.

5. DeANDRE HOPKINS, Clemson (6-1, 212, 4.54, 2) - Third-year junior rewrote the Tigers' record book. "Real natural receiver," one scout said. "Great ball skills. Natural route runner. Competes in a crowd. Got size, got quickness. He makes himself easy to throw to. He can make plays with the ball. Not the best tester in the world." Finished with 206 catches for 3,020 yards (14.7) and 27 TDs. "Possession guy all the way," another scout said. "But he's got damn good hands, he's big and he's a great kid." Concentrated on basketball in high school, even playing seven games for Clemson in 2010-'11 season. From Central, S.C. "I'm not entirely sold on his hands," a third scout said. "Pretty good route runner. Not a speed burner. Not special."

6. JUSTIN HUNTER, Tennessee (6-4, 198, 4.40, 2) - Third-year junior. "Probably the most physically gifted of any of the receivers," one scout said. "You go back and look at sophomore film, he's special. Long arms. Lean body. Ripped up. He's really got good hands, too, but didn't show it as well this year." Blew out an ACL in Game 3 of 2011 and wasn't as good in '12. "From a skill set, he's probably the No. 1 (WR)," another scout said. "He just drops the ball a little bit too much. At the end of the day, Hunter could be the best receiver in that class if he can put it all together." Finished with 106 catches for 1,812 yards (17.1) and 18 TDs. "He short-arms balls in traffic at times," a third scout said. "Straight-line speed. Long strider. I question his strength and aggressiveness as a receiver and blocker. He appears to have deep speed but he wasn't explosive." Out of Virginia Beach, Va. Exceptional vertical jump (40 ½ inches) and broad jump (11-6).

7. TERRANCE WILLIAMS, Baylor (6-2, 207, 4.50, 2-3) - Spent five years in Waco, redshirting in 2008 and starting his final three seasons. "Coming out of that offense all those guys are behind because they haven't run a lot of different routes," one scout said. "Really strong. His 40 isn't as great as some other guys' but they talk about carrying your pads. That's him. Guys put their hands on him and he's still running as fast. He's just really raw." Caught 201 passes for 3,294 yards (16.4) and 27 TDs. "I don't like him as much as the guy from there last year (Kendall Wright)," said another scout. "He's a deep threat outside the numbers." Calls Dallas home.

8. QUINTON PATTON, Louisiana Tech (6-0, 202, 4.49, 2-3) - Ex-junior college player with whopping production in two seasons for Bulldogs. "Real good player," one scout said. "He's tough, competitive, productive and knows how to play." Two-year numbers were 183 receptions for 2,594 yards (14.2) and 24 TDs. "There's a lot more to him than just being a spread receiver that caught 100-plus passes," another scout said. "He's got the balance and the run-after-catch ability. Good strength. And he's competitive." Carries himself with a swagger. Out of La Vergne, Tenn.

9. STEDMAN BAILEY, West Virginia (5-10, 196, 4.53, 3) - Played in the shadows of Austin and surprised some scouts by declaring as a fourth-year junior. "He's a very smooth, fluid guy," one scout said. "Good sure-handed receiver. I thought he would run better and elevate himself into at least a top second-round pick. Good kid." Finished with 210 receptions for 3,218 yards (15.3) and 41 TDs. Long arms (32 ¾) and large hands (9 7/8). "He's a little stiff and not a real tough guy and not true speed," another scout said. "But he's not a bad player." From Miami.

10. DA'RICK ROGERS, Tennessee Tech (6-2 ½, 219, 4.53, 3) - Dismissed by coach Derek Dooley eight days before the first game for repeated violations of the school's substance-abuse policy. At least one team has removed him from its board. "Talent-wise, he is a first-round pick," one scout said. "Complete disaster off the field." Rated as Volunteers' No. 1 WR in 2011. Enrolled almost immediately at Tennessee Tech and started 11 games last fall. The combined stats for the third-year junior were 139 catches for 2,100 yards (15.1) and 21 TDs. "He's got some Brandon Marshall in him," another scout said. "He's got some self-entitlement, some things that kept Brandon from being drafted high. He is a very good football player." Out of Calhoun, Tenn.

11. MARKUS WHEATON, Oregon State (5-11, 187, 4.43, 3) - Set the Beavers' school record with 227 catches. "He has a chance to be a really solid No. 2," said Phil Savage, the Senior Bowl executive director and former personnel man for Cleveland and Baltimore. "He's got the innate body quickness and good hands, and there's not a drop-off from his 40 time to his play speed." Finished with 2,994 yards (13.2) and 16 TDs. "Good pattern runner," another scout said. "Good after the catch." From Chandler, Ariz.

12. CHRIS HARPER, Kansas State (6-0 ½, 232, 4.50, 3-4) - Spent the first five games of his true freshman year at Oregon playing QB before transferring to be closer to home (Wichita, Kan.). Moved into the lineup in 2010. "More a physical than an explosive player," one scout said. "Most catches are in traffic. Does not play as fast as his 40 time. Good in the red zone. He's not a quick guy." Finished with 123 catches for 1,734 yards (14.1) and 12 TDs. "He's kind of different," one scout said, comparing his build and style of play somewhat to Sterling Sharpe. "Some people think he might end up being a tight end. He's got ability." Paced the top WRs on the Wonderlic intelligence test with 33.

OTHERS: Aaron Dobson, Marshall; Marquise Goodwin, Texas; Ace Sanders, South Carolina; Josh Boyce, Texas Christian; Ryan Swope, Texas A&M; Corey Fuller, Virginia Tech; Aaron Mellette, Elon; Marcus Davis, Virginia Tech; Tavarres King, Georgia; Kenny Stills, Oklahoma; Marquess Wilson, Washington State; Denard Robinson, Michigan; T.J. Moe, Missouri; Rodney Smith, Florida State; Ryan Spadola, Lehigh; Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas.


TIGHT ENDS

1. TYLER EIFERT, Notre Dame (6-5 ½, 256, 4.67, 1) - Replaced Kyle Rudolph as the starter in 2011. "He's a quasi-wide receiver," one scout said. "Very (acrobatic). He's the most predictable of all the wide receivers and tight ends." Scouts really struggle to find a hole in his game. "He reminds me a little of when (Todd) Heap came out," another scout said. "He's an easy guy to grade. If he was another position he'd probably be more highly regarded. He'll go somewhere between 18 and 32 and will be a very, very good player." Caught 140 passes for 1,840 yards (13.1) and 11 TDs. Lightly recruited out of Fort Wayne, Ind. "Jason Witten was a crappy blocker when he came out as a junior but he learned how to position," a third scout said. "That's what I think Eifert will be." Wonderlic of 23.

2. ZACH ERTZ, Stanford (6-5, 245, 4.70, 1-2) - Fourth-year junior and 1 ½-year starter. "He really runs good routes," one scout said. "He knows how to get open, which makes a big difference." Finished with 112 catches for 1,434 yards (12.8) and 15 TDs. "Now he's strictly a receiver," another scout said. "He's not even their base tight end. He lines up in the slot or split. I don't think he'll ever become a good blocker because he doesn't have that lower-body power. He's really smooth and runs well." From Alamo, Calif. "He's Stanford, smart (Wonderlic of 26) and all that, but I think he's just a middle-of-the-road talent," said a third scout. "Good underneath possession guy. I don't think he's a playmaker and he's not a blocker."

3. GAVIN ESCOBAR, San Diego State (6-6, 250, 4.80, 2) - Fourth-year junior plays faster than he timed, according to several personnel people. "He ran better at pro day than at the combine, but it doesn't matter," one scout said. "He can really catch. He's what people are doing now. But he doesn't block at all." Three-year starter with 122 catches for 1,646 yards (13.5) and 17 TDs. Bench-pressed 225 pounds just 12 times, far below Ertz's 24 and Eifert's 22. "He's not a blocker. They don't even use him as a blocker there," another scout said. "They've got two other guys they use. As a pass catcher, he's not a nifty, athletic guy. Kind of a big target who runs on a straight line down the field." Scored 28 on the Wonderlic. Out of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. "Appears to be a taller Aaron Hernandez," a third scout said. "I had him in 4.84, but he sure plays faster than that."

4. TRAVIS KELCE, Cincinnati (6-5, 257, 4.63, 2-3) - A big, fast, conventional TE. "He's very athletic," one scout said. "Very big. Can catch and block. He's a complete tight end." Worked extensively as a wildcat QB in 2009 (eight carries, 47 yards, two TDs) before being suspended for the entire '10 season. "I wouldn't touch that guy," another scout said. "He's a smart (expletive) and a dumb (expletive). He's got ability, but I wouldn't fool with him." Finished with 59 catches for 875 yards (14.8) and 10 TDs. Regarded as one of the two or three best blocking TEs. From Cleveland Heights, Ohio. His brother, Jason, started at center for the Eagles in '11. "He's a talent," Savage said. "If he hadn't gotten the sports hernia (surgery Jan. 20) there was a chance he may have passed Eifert up as the first tight end off the board. He can block, he can catch and he's fast enough to get up the seam. He will get drafted a little bit later than he probably should and probably end up being a really good player." Wonderlic of 22.

5. VANCE McDONALD, Rice (6-4, 267, 4.66, 3) - Three-year starter with 119 catches for 1,504 yards (12.6) and 15 TDs. "Maybe not the first year but eventually he will (start)," one scout said. "He's 260 pounds, can run and is smart. I like the traits, you know?" Led TEs in the Wonderlic (30) and on the bench press (31 reps). Has long arms (34 3/8). "His hands are questionable," another scout said. "He's got a good body and a good frame." From Winnie, Texas.

6. JORDAN REED, Florida (6-2 ½, 235, 4.71, 3-4) - Fourth-year junior threw 46 passes as a QB in 2010 before moving to TE in '11. "He's a great athlete," one scout said. "He doesn't know how to bend his knees and block. Doesn't understand leverage. The closest comparison is Dustin Keller of the Jets. He's got great hands." Operating mostly away from the formation, he caught 79 passes for 945 yards (12.0) and six TDs. "He's like Hernandez," another scout said. "He's really not a tight end." From New London, Conn. Ran a disappointing 40. Could struggle to grasp a complex offense.

7. DION SIMS, Michigan State (6-5, 262, 4.74, 4) - Might be the best blocker at the position by default. "Of all those guys, he might have the best potential to be a blocker," one scout said. "But he's so damn inconsistent it's unbelievable." Fourth-year junior redshirted in 2010 after being suspended for his involvement in computer theft. "If he was an All-American boy I wouldn't have any problem with him in the third round," another scout said. "Underachiever. He's got talent. He could block better. He certainly can catch short underneath. Not a bad athlete." Highly-rated prep basketball and football player at Orchard Lake St. Mary's (Mich.). Finished with 59 catches for 707 yards (12.0) and eight TDs.

8. LEVINE TOILOLO, Stanford (6-8, 259, 4.82, 4-5) - Fourth-year junior with 50 catches for 763 yards (15.3) and 10 TDs. "He's probably the best blocker," one scout said. "Just because of his size he can get on people and block them. He's just not very fast. Underneath he can catch it." Three uncles have played in the NFL. From La Mesa, Calif. "I mean, he made some really circus catches," another scout said. "Not a good blocker. No leg drive."

OTHERS: Chris Gragg, Arkansas; Nick Kasa, Colorado; Matt Furstenburg, Maryland; Mychal Rivera, Tennessee; Ryan Otten, San Jose State; Jake Stoneburner, Ohio State; Michael Williams, Alabama; Justice Cunningham, South Carolina; Kyler Reed, Nebraska; MarQueis Gray, Minnesota; Demetrius Harris, UW-Milwaukee; Jack Doyle, Western Kentucky; D.C. Jefferson, Rutgers.