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2011 NFL Draft: Top Five Wide Receivers

2011 NFL Draft: Top Five Wide Receivers

Despite the perception that first-round receivers carry with them a lot of risk, two at the position will likely be drafted within the top ten. Those players are Georgia’s A.J. Green and Alabama’s Julio Jones.

Beyond them, the picture gets cloudy quickly. This draft lacks a clear No. 3 WR and beyond. There is a grouping of four or five receivers who are likely sitting at that spot on teams’ big boards depending on the skill set they prefer and need. Is it speed? Size? The athletic mix of the two?

1. A.J. Green, Georgia (JR, 6’4″, 211)

In only nine games last season, A.J. Green had 57 receptions for 848 yards and nine TDs. If able to play those first four games, he could have had something like 75-1109-12. What has scouts drooling is his combination of size, speed and route-running.  He ran a 4.48 40-yard dash but his ability to make quick cuts is more important than pure speed. The common knock on most rookie receivers is they must learn how to run routes and make cleaner cuts. He gets off the line very well, using his hands to disengage from jams. Add in draft’s best hands and body control and Green seperates himself as the top receiver prospect.

2. Julio Jones, Alabama – (JR, 6’3″, 220)

Julio Jones really put it together statistically in 2010 with a 78-1133-7 season for the Alabama Crimson Tide. What should be further considered is Bama’s offense. They love a good power rushing attack so for a receiver to put up 1,000+ yards is quite an achievement. What Jones lacks is Green’s precision. Jones will drop more passes and secure balls with his body rather than catch them cleanly with his hands. But with his larger frame, he does a great job positioning his body to his advantage. He’s incredibly strong and a handful to bring down. He is true threat after the catch, think Miles Austin but faster and stronger.

3. Leonard Hankerson, Miami – (SR, 6’1″, 209)

During his senior season, Hankerson fulfilled all his talent. He had 72 receptions, 1,156 yards and 13 TDs. He really excelled in his Senior Bowl experience and ran a great 40-yard dash (4.43). His listed size is less than that of both Green and Jones, but he’s thickly built regardless. His high school coach was Cris Carter and it shows. He’ll need to continue on working on his consistency as he drops more passes than he should. But he’s a blue-collar worker and consider the fact that he broke a single-season receiving touchdown record at Miami. That’s tough to do when considering the great receivers Miami has put out (Michael Irvin, Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson, to name a few.)

4. Torrey Smith, Maryland – (JR, 6’1″, 204)

Smith capped his collegiate career by single-handedly destroying N.C. State with 14 receptions, 224 yards and 4 TDs. He’s very fast and gets off the line with a great burst. He’s the best deep threat in this draft, hands down. Scouts are talking about his small hands but that doesn’t matter, he’s not a possession receiver. Teams are going to utilize him deep downfield more often than not. Smith is still very raw and gets the nod over the next player on this list due to his upside. Maryland isn’t exactly known for developing players on the finer details so he will continue to grow at the next level.

5. Jonathan Baldwin, Pittsburgh – (SR, 6’4″, 228)

If Baldwin had lived up to the hype last season, he’d probably be ranked higher. The perception right now is that he isn’t as good as many previously thought. All of his numbers dropped from 2009 to 2010. But he’s still a physical freak with huge size and good speed. He’s a very tough player who willingly can work anywhere on the field. Baldwin had a crazy 42” vertical and a 4.52 40-yard dash. He’s very good at jump balls, catching with his hands and finding open spaces in the red zone. The big knock on him for me is he lacks a burst in and out of his cuts. In the NFL, everybody is talented but agility or the ability to gain separation is very important. He’ll need to work on his route-running and making consistent efforts once in the league.

Next Five…

6. Greg Little, UNC
7. Randall Cobb, Kentucky
8. Tandon Doss, Indiana
9. Jerrel Jernigan, Troy
10. Titus Young, Boise State

More 2011 NFL Draft Coverage

Bowl Game React | Mock Drafts | NFL Combine | By Position Rankings | Prospects In-Depth

About The Author

Matt De Lima is the guy behind the guy behind the guy. Born and raised near Los Angeles, CA during simpler times where the Rams and Raiders both played there. Back when Eddie Murphy was funny and people still listened to Whitney Houston's music. A graduate of Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!), he's played fantasy sports for the last 10 years and began writing down his opinions in 2010. You remember that fantasy football league you were in last season, there was that one team that somehow had Aaron Rodgers, Chris Johnson, and Andre Johnson? Matt was that guy. You should listen to him. Follow his exclusive content @ OpenSports.com

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