Will a wideout spark the Cardinals interest?

NFL Scouting's Michael DiJulio assesses the top dozen receivers in the draft, listing their strengths and weaknesses. Who has the size, speed and intangibles to spark the Cardinals interest?


The top two receivers available in the 2011 draft are unquestioned, but which comes off the board first remains a mystery. For a long time, Georgia's A.J. Green was the consensus top receiver available and the top overall prospect according to a few. That was until Alabama's Julio Jones turned heads with a spectacular combine performance. It will likely come down to an individual team's preference, but both have a good chance to go in the top 10 and neither will slip past St. Louis at 14.

The most interesting aspect of this group will be seeing who emerges as the third wide receiver. Pittsburgh's Jon Baldwin gets the nod in my book thanks to his outstanding size, but a disappointing 2010 season has caused some to sour on him. Other teams may prefer the speed of Maryland's Torrey Smith and even Miami's Leonard Hankerson has been getting some late first-round hype after a good Senior Bowl showing. One of the three could factor into the draft's first day, but none will escape round two.

The second and third rounds will also feature a group of versatile performers who offer big-play ability in a smaller package. Kentucky's Randall Cobb is a converted quarterback who served as the Wildcats' "Mr. Everything," as he produced in every aspect including receiving, rushing, returning and passing. Boise State's Titus Young has heard comparisons to the Eagles' DeSean Jackson for his explosiveness, but failed to provide the same special teams impact as the former Cal standout and isn't as good of a prospect. Troy's Jerrel Jernigan is the smallest of the trio and is sure to move to the slot at the next level, but has rare speed and run-after-the-catch ability.

The third and fourth rounds will feature several intriguing prospects. Indiana's Tandon Doss has second-round ability and could develop into a terrific No. 2 receiver in the NFL, but surgery on both groins has prevented him from working out thus far in the pre-draft process, raising red flags about his durability. North Carolina's Greg Little is a converted running back who offers great size and physicality with great hands, but he was suspended for the entire 2010 season and may end up spending well over a year and a half away from football considering the current labor situation. Nebraska's Niles Paul is another thicker receiver whose build is more commonly seen on a running back, but his inability to consistently gain separation is starting to earn comparisons to former Redskins' busts Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas. The biggest steal in the mid-tier group could be Abilene Christian's Edmond Gates. The Division II standout turned some heads with a solid performance at the combine, but turn on the tape and he can back up his numbers. Gates displays blazing speed to challenge vertically and can turn a short pass into a big gain.

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