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2011 NFL Draft Predictions – Wide Receiver Rankings

2011 NFL Draft Coverage – WR Preview

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The NFL draft moves to primetime for the second time in 2011. The first round will be in PRIMETIME, and is scheduled to take place Thursday, April 28, 2011; the second and third rounds on Friday, April 29; and the final four rounds on Saturday, April 30, 2011.

The Panthers with the worst record for 2010 have the right to the 1st pick in 2011. Note: A provision in the current NFLPA-CBA ensures that this draft will still take place even with the current labor dispute.

Wide Receiver Rankings

A.J. GREEN, Georgia
6”4, 210 lbs

All signs point to Green being the first wideout off the board in 2011. The Georgia product will be picked somewhere in the top 10, if not the top five picks. Scouts and casual fans always have a tendency to anoint a player as “The Next…(insert name)” but players like Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson have been thrown around when talking about Green. Green’s production didn’t drop off when QB Matt Stafford moved up to the NFL, and he brings everything dynamic to the table you expect in an elite NFL pass-catcher.

JULIO JONES, Alabama
6”4, 220 lbs

The early knock on Jones was that he had a tendency to lose focus and drop easy balls, but he helped his cause with a pretty water-tight finish to 2010. The junior has great size and body control, evidenced by a couple circus catches he snagged this season for the Tide. With concerns over Jones’s concentration petering out, he should cement his status as a first round pick as he has the tools to be a legitimate No. 1 WR in the pros. It will be interesting to see what kind of numbers Jones puts up at the NFL Combine.

JONATHAN BALDWIN, Pitt
6”5, 230 lbs

This massive junior understandably doesn’t have upper-echelon speed, but he rates as an excellent possession receiver in the NFL. As a sophomore, Baldwin snagged 57 passes for 1,111 yards and eight majors; for an encore he posted 53 for 822 and five in 2010, with uninspiring sophomore pivot Tino Sunseri throwing to him. Teams like a large option with which to move the chains; Baldwin fits the bill perfectly.

TORREY SMITH, Maryland
6”1, 205 lbs

The Maryland product brings a couple things to the table, but Smith has that one intoxicating thing that scouts covet in a WR – game-breaking speed. Smith can be a sub-4.4 40-time guy, and buttressing that with productive sophomore and junior seasons, he’s an attractive commodity in the late first round. Smith also busts his tail – he leaves as a junior with his completed degree. There is of course another speedy Maryland wideout, Oakland’s Darrius Heyward-Bey, who has been underwhelming in the league, but it’s dangerous to color Smith through that lens. Boise’s Titus Young is also speedy like Smith, but Smith possesses more workable size than the diminutive Young.

TITUS YOUNG, Boise State
5”11, 174 lbs

Young is another candidate with explosive skills and a couple of first-round tools, but his lack of size makes him a durability concern in the NFL. Scouts and fans may cite Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson as an example of a little guy thriving, yet it’s clear that players like Jackson are not a dime a dozen. What Young has done to bolster his case is blowing scouts away at the Senior Bowl practices, drawing strong reviews for his speed and route-running. He’s another viable option late in Round 1.

Honorable Mention: LEONARD HANKERSON, Miami-Fl The 6”2, 205-lb Miami player doesn’t have elite speed, but like Young he had a great Senior Bowl and his massive paws should be effective at soaking in a plethora of professional passes produced from polished passers.

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