By College Football Analyst Josh Buchanan for TonySoftli.com
Leading up to the draft and the release of my final big board and draft guide I will preview each position. Below is a look at each of the projected top five wide receivers and below that is a look at the top 70 small school pass catchers for the 2014 NFL Draft.
- Torrence Allen, West Texas A&M
It’s hard to believe he was snubbed by the combine and all-star games. Coming off a 1,40 yard and 12 touchdown season in 2012 he hauled in 123 catches for 1,668 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior. The big concern was his top end speed from tape but it surely wasn’t his route running and hands. He catches everything so once he ran a 4.4 40 at 6’0, 183 pounds that almost cemented the fact he will get drafted. Combine his speed with his 40-icnch vertical, 10’9 broad jump, position drills, and 1.49 10-yard and it would be surprising if he isn’t drafted. Because of his ability to catch everything regardless of what happens on draft weekend I have no doubt he will make a 53 man roster and be a solid NFL player.
- Jeff Janis, Saginaw Valley State
Over the last two years Janis has been the most productive receiver in Division II earning first-team All-America honors as a junior and senior. Finding players who are 6’3, 216 pounds with 4.3 speed is tough to find and he has it. Janis was a big play threat for SVSU this season showing the deep speed to stretch the field. The big concern is the fact he does body catch but nonetheless he should get drafted in the late rounds with his measurables and production.
- Walter Powell, Murray State
Powell is wildcard because he probably should be No. 1 or 2 on this list and have a 5th round projection but he got hurt late in the season and had to skip postseason all-star games. He played very well against Missouri and showed despite the troubles at quarterback that he could dominate. His ability as a kick and punt returner combined with his hands and speed make him someone who deserves to get drafted but is only on the borderline because of the injury. Keep an eye on Powell because he should have a great career.
- Erik Lora, Eastern Illinois
NFL scouts flocked to EIU for Jimmy Garoppolo but it was hard not to notice the consistency, route running, hands, and toughness of Lora. At 5’10 3/8, 203 pounds and sub 4.5 speed his measurables don’t jump out but his precise route running and ability to catch everything made him one of the best in the country. He finished his senior season with 123 catches for 1,544 yards and 19 touchdowns.. Whether he is drafted or not expect him to make a roster and contribute in the NFL.
- Matt Hazel, Coastal Carolina
While his measurables don’t jump off the charts at 6’1, 198 pounds with high 4.4 speed he has good hands, good movement skills, and is athletic. He dominated the Big South for three years earning all-league honors and despite injury had 990 yards on 70 catches as a senior. Hazel has a good chance to get drafted but if not should be signed quickly after the draft.
OVERRATED: Matt Hazel, Coastal Carolina
This is tough because nobody in this class is really overrated but Hazel got a combine invite and has been rated as a solid late round pick by outsiders while Allen and Lora both probably deserved to be ahead of him when you consider their overall careers. Hazel isn’t really overrated as a player but simply got picked for this because of the fact he got attention over others who out produced him.
UNDERRATED: John Schademan, Slippery Rock
Schademan was barely on the NFL radar during the fall and I must admit I discovered him accidentally at first while watching another player. He catches everything and has deceptive speed. The former Colgate transfer really has just one year of good production with 1,484 yards and 15 touchdowns but it just goes to show you that if a player is good enough that the NFL will find you. There is no doubt that Schademan, who was in obscurity about six months ago will get a shot in the NFL.
SLEEPER: Diante Jackson, Whittier
Jackson might have escaped the attention of the media but NFL teams have certainly paid attention. At 6’1, 212 pounds with 4.5 speed he doesn’t have flashy measurables but he has good hands, gets open, and dominated his level of competition. Jackson had 1,114 yards and 10 touchdowns with 19.2 yards per catch as a senior.
RISER: Torrence Allen, West Texas A&M
While he had some buzz during the fall his pro day workout showed people that he belonged all along and should have joined his two teammates at the combine. Since his pro day he has been busy with workouts and visits. It would shock me if he was not drafted.
FALLER: Mike Williams, California PA
Williams entered the season in the top 15 on this list but has since fallen to 25 being passed by many players who aren’t considered to be as gifted as he. The 5’11, 185 pounder ran a 4.6 40 at pro day after seeing a drop in production from 10 touchdowns to just 5 and falling from 1,006 yards as a junior to 848 yards as a senior. Williams is a solid player but just didn’t have the season scouts expected and he followed that up with an average pro day workout.
INTRIGUING: Tony Washington, Appalachian State
The App State product comes from a team who hasn’t had success in the NFL at his position but he’s different. Washington doesn’t have the flashy production or size (5’10, 195) but he is strong (21 reps), is explosive (38 ½ VJ) and he runs very good routes. His ability as a punt and kick returner combined with his intelligence, blocking, and routes make him someone who should have no problem making a 53 man roster.
SMALL SCHOOL WR RANKINGS
|Pos Rank||First Name||Last Name||School||Round|
|1||Torrence||Allen||West Texas A&M||7th|
|2||Jeffrey “Jeff”||Janis||Saginaw Valley State||7th|
|5||Charles “Matt”||Hazel||Coastal Carolina||7th-PFA|
|6||Michael Anthony “Tony”||Washington II||Appalachian State||PFA|
|17||Freddie||Martino Jr.||North Greenville||FA|
|21||Gregory “Greg”||Moore||Lane College||FA|
|24||Willie||Gibson||University of Cumberlands (KY)||FA|
|25||Michael “Mike”||Williams||California PA||FA|
|26||Tyler||McDonald||South Carolina State||FA|
|28||Robert||Armstrong||Texas A&M Kingsville||FA|
|29||Anthony||Dean||Southwest Minnesota State||Tryout|
|36||Jonathan “Jon”||Ellis||Montana State||Tryout|
|37||Nathan “Nate”||Ross||Chadron State||Tryout|
|39||Brandan||Green||Grand Valley State||Tryout|
|44||Richard||Sincere||Sam Houston State||Tryout|
|46||Ray Ray||Davis||Emporia State||Tryout|
|51||Ronnell||Pompey||Western New Mexico||Tryout|
|56||Martin||Bayless Jr.||Central Methodist (MO)||Tryout|
|60||Joseph “Joe”||Webb||Urbana (OH)||Tryout|
|66||Kyle||Linville||Franklin College (IN)||Tryout|
|69||DeAndre||Cooper||Prairie View A&M||Tryout|