By College Football Analyst Taber Small for TonySoftli.com
The 2014 NFL wide receiver class was the deepest and most talented group in this past year’s draft with a total of 33 pass catchers selected; 14 of them being underclassmen. The 2015 NFL Draft WR prospects have the potential to be another deep and talented class with Stanford’s WR Ty Montgomery, Louisville DeVante Parker and Baylor’s Antwon Goodley leading the way. There are also smome dynamic playmaking juniors in Alabama’s Amari Cooper, Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong and Maryland’s Stefon Diggs.
Below is a look at some pass catchers to watch for the 2015 NFL Draft
1. Ty Montgomery*, Stanford (6-2/215)
Positives: He is a naturally smooth and shifty receiver with great size. Montgomery is an explosive athlete who is extremely dangerous after the catch and attacks the ball in the air displaying strong hands. He shows a nice burst of speed and can easily separate from defenders. Montgomery led the nation in kick-off returns in 2013 and is an all-purpose threat with exceptional ball skills. He is a good blocker and uses his frame to control defenders.
Negatives: He doesn’t always run precise routes and needs to improve in this area. Montgomery loses focus at times and will have some occasional drops. He is more of a finesse receiver and scouts would like to see him be more physical when releasing off the line of scrimmage.
2. DeVante Parker, Louisville (6-3/210)
Positives: Parker is an athletic receiver with NFL size, speed and ball skills. He possesses the length and physicality that makes him difficult to jam at the line of scrimmage. This receiver displays soft hands and will make tough catches in traffic. Parker is a very fluid athlete with great body control. He runs precise routes and is an effective blocker in the run game.
Negatives: Parker is not very quick or elusive and doesn’t possess the top end speed to vertically stretch the secondary. He doesn’t quickly separate from defenders and is projected as a possession receiver for the next level. Parker has battled some injuries so durability is a concern.
3. Antwon Goodley, Baylor (5-10/225)
Positives: He is a short but stocky receiver that is an extremely quick and explosive athlete. Goodley possesses the initial burst to quickly release off the line of scrimmage and get into his routes. He is a very productive receiver that finds the open spots in the defense and will go over the middle. Goodley is a big playmaking receiver who is elusive in open space and is dangerous after the catch. He displays excellent hand/eye coordination and shows good value as a return specialist. Goodley has the speed to stretch the defense and is a vertical threat.
Negatives: Goodley’s height is not ideal for the receiver position in the NFL and is built more like a running back. He freelances at times and doesn’t always completely finish his routes. Goodley needs to improve and be more physical as a blocker.
Underclassmen receivers to watch
Jaelen Strong*, Arizona State (6-4/205) Strong is a tall big playmaking receiver with great size and athleticism. He consistently finds open areas on the field and is a fluid athlete. Strong plays with both balance and body control and is elusive running after the catch. He still needs some refinement in his route running and concentration to limit occasional drops.
Stefon Diggs*, Maryland (6-0/195) the former 5-star high school recruit has been a dynamic receiver so far during his college career. He is a speedy and sure handed receiver with a unique skill set to be an impact player at the next level. Diggs is very explosive and quickly gets in and out of his routes. He’s a superb return specialist and can score in many ways. Diggs is very effective working out of the slot but can also make plays lining up outside as well. I am interested to see how he will bounce back from his season ending leg injury last year.
Amari Cooper*, Alabama (6-1/202) Cooper is an explosive and savvy big play receiver. He moves very well laterally and can easily juke defenders in space. Parker is a good route runner and can read coverages on the fly. He shows exceptional hand eye coordination and will make tough catches in traffic. Parker had a bit of a down year in 2013 with a slow start to the season but scouts love his upside and potential as a game breaker at the next level. I expect him to regain the form and potential that he showcased as a freshman.
Sleeper WR Prospect to watch:
Geremy Davis*, Connecticut (6-2/215) Davis is an athletic receiver with good speed and size at 6-foot-2, 215-pounds. He had a breakout 2013 season with 71 catches for 1,085 yards and three touchdowns. Davis is a physical strong-handed receiver who snatches the ball out of the air making acrobatic catches. He is a fluid athlete that shows impressive balance, strength and ball skills. Davis did a good job of getting open last season and was productive despite having very little consistency from the quarterback position for the Huskies in 2013. Davis is not very shifty or elusive and his long speed is a question for scouts. Look for Davis draft stock to rise with another productive year in his final season.
Small School WR Prospect to watch:
Tre McBride, William & Mary (6-0/200) McBride is an extremely fluid, decisive and explosive playmaker. He is an ideal slot receiver prospect for the next level and is very effective in the open field. McBride catches the ball naturally and is dangerous after the catch. He uses his deceptive speed and quickness to separate from defenders. McBride brings great value as a returner as he led the CAA in kick return average. He’s a little undersized for the receiver position at the next level and scouts will question the level of competition. He could also become sharper in his route running. Overall McBride’s playmaking ability has put him on the radar of NFL scouts as he will be closely evaluated this season.
Follow Taber Small on Twitter: @Tabersmall and NUCSport.com