Scouting Combine Research: Receivers, Part 1

A total of 44 receivers were invited to the Scouting Combine. We have their stats, accolades and inspiring stories. Part 1 is led by two quiet stars, USC's Nelson Agholor and Alabama's Amari Cooper, and a couple with famous dads. (Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY

Nelson Agholor, USC (6-0, 189): Agholor had a monster junior season with 104 receptions for 1,313 yards (12.6 average) and 12 touchdowns to earn first-team all-conference and be one of 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the nation’s top receiver. Plus, he averaged 10.4 yards per punt return with two scores — giving him back-to-back seasons of two scores on punt returns. He is the Anti-Receiver. Agholor is an explosive playmaker without the explosive personality. One of the best receivers in the nation, Agholor isn’t so big that he can’t put a sweaty paper towel in the trash at practice. “Guys that care about each other. Coaches that care about each other. Those are the kind of teams that do special things. When the coaches care about their players and the (players) care about each other and they care about the coaches. That’s when you have a special team.”

Mario Alford, West Virginia (5-8, 175): Alford played a mean second fiddle to Kevin White, who figures to go in the top 20 of the draft. He caught 65 passes for 945 yards (14.5 average) and 11 touchdowns as a senior. He returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown against Alabama in the 2014 opener. He was a running back at Georgia Military College who averaged 10.4 yards per carry in 2012. In high school, he was an all-state quarterback and 100-meter champion. He was one of 14 children but he didn’t go hungry.

Dres Anderson, Utah (6-1, 187): Anderson, the son of former NFL star Willie “Flipper” Anderson, caught 134 passes for 2,077 yards (15.5 average) and 17 touchdowns for his career. He caught 22 passes as a senior but missed the second half of the season with a knee injury. Flipper let his son pave his own route in the sport. "He's not caught up in the whole, 'I'm Flipper's kid' thing," Flipper said. "He's out there trying to break Flipper's records. He's that guy. He's not following in the footsteps — he wants to crush them."

Kenny Bell, Nebraska (6-2, 186): Bell became the first all-conference first-team receiver for Nebraska since Jon Bostick in 1991. He finished his Nebraska career with 181 receptions for 2,689 receiving yards — both are records, with the yardage mark breaking the legendary Johnny Rodgers’ record by 210 yards. As a senior, Bell led Nebraska with 47 receptions for a team-high 788 yards (16.8 average). It was a career full of highlights and challenges for the son of former Broncos kick returner Ken Bell. Without power and water at his house, he worked as a bartender rather than ask his father or stepfather for help. "I'm from affluence," Bell said. "They could give me money if I needed it, but that's embarrassing, you know?"

Da'Ron Brown, Northern Illinois (6-0, 196): Brown, an all-state quarterback in high school who became a second-team all-MAC receiver as a college senior, paced the team in every major receiving category: catches (64), receiving yards (1,003) and receiving touchdowns (6). It was the seventh 1,000-yard receiving season in school history.

Kaelin Clay, Utah (5-10, 193): In his only season playing Division I ball, Clay was a first-team All-American as a returner with a 24.9-yard average and one touchdown on kickoffs and a 15.0-yard average and three touchdowns on punts. On offense, he caught 43 passes for 523 yards and four scores. It should have been five. Against Oregon in November, Clay should have scored on a 78-yard touchdown catch. Instead, he dropped the ball at the 1 as he prematurely celebrated. It was a big pot hole on Clay’s long road to Utah. At Cal, Clay redshirted in 2010 and was injured in 2011. He spent 2012 and 2013 at Mt. San Antonio junior college.

Sammie Coates, Auburn (6-1, 201): Coates was a big-play machine as the counterpoint to the Tigers’ zone-read scheme. As a junior in 2014, he caught 34 passes for 741 yards (21.8 average) and four touchdowns. As a sophomore he caught 42 passes for 902 yards (21.5 average). Coates’ wrists are covered in rubber wristbands, each of which tell a story. Those stories are rooted in the death of his father, who died in an industrial accident when Coates was in fifth grade. "When I was growing up, when I lost my dad, I was like, I can't let this bring me down, I've got to keep fighting and do what I can to help others that have been through the same tragedies, been through a lot and had nobody to help them."

Chris Conley, Georgia (6-2, 205): Conley produced the big plays for Georgia’s offense. He caught 36 passes for career highs of 657 yards (18.2 average) and eight touchdowns. He produced yards in a hurry, which was a good thing because Conley is always in a hurry. Among his passions: director, screenwriter, musician, “Star Wars” and the Bible. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” he said. It started at an early age: He won a third-grade science fair and got to meet Bob Vila of “This Old House” fame. He was picked for the 11-man Allstate Good Works Team.

Amari Cooper, Alabama (6-0, 205): As a scout put it, Cooper was the “first, second and third read” for quarterback Blake Sims. And for good reason. As a junior in 2014, Cooper set Alabama and SEC records with 124 receptions while finishing second in SEC history with 1,727 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. He won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver and was one of three finalists for the Heisman Trophy. Quiet confidence lies beneath the veneer of shyness. “He’s always been quiet and kind of shy,” said Michelle Green, the proud mother of Alabama’s next All-America wide receiver. Where did this reserved, calm and seemingly bashful superstar gain his self-assuredness? “Me, of course,” she said with a hearty chuckle. “I’m confident.” Cooper is the seventh All-American receiver in school history, with the legendary Don Hutson being the first. One of those All-Americans compared Cooper to Jerry Rice, with Dennis Homan saying, ““He was a great receiver no doubt and a great player. But I’m telling you that Amari Cooper is the best athlete I’ve ever seen, bar none.”

Jamison Crowder, Duke (5-8, 173): Crowder capped a dominant career by catching 85 passes for 1,044 yards (12.3 average) and six touchdowns. During his final three seasons, he caught 269 passes for 3,478 yards and 22 touchdowns. He added another score on a punt return, giving him three for his career. The lightly recruited Crowder’s career total of 283 receptions tied the ACC all-time record. Crowder was involved in a jet ski accident that changed several lives and, perhaps, the Duke program.

DaVaris Daniels, Notre Dame (6-1, 203): Daniels didn’t play in 2014 after being suspended for academic fraud. Rather than apply for reinstatement or transfer, he entered the draft. In 2013, he caught 49 passes for 745 yards and seven touchdowns as a redshirt sophomore. He is the son of former NFL standout defensive lineman Phillip Daniels.

Devante Davis, UNLV (6-2, 210): Davis finished his career ranked second in school history with 2,785 receiving yards, third with 22 touchdown catches and fourth with 186 receptions. He missed half of his senior season with a wrist injury, but was honorable mention all-Mountain West with 34 catches for 599 yards (17.6 average) and four touchdowns. Davis, who earned his degree in 3.5 years, was the first UNLV offensive player to be picked for the Senior Bowl since running back Ickey Woods in 1987. He was a second-team choice in 2013 with his 87 receptions for 1,290 yards and 14 scores and seemed prime to enter the NFL but instead showed his loyalty by returning to the school that saw him as a football player and not a potential track star.

Geremy Davis, Connecticut (6-2, 207): Davis led the Huskies with 44 receptions for 521 yards while adding three touchdowns. He caught at least one pass in each of his final 36 games. Davis had a banner junior campaign with 71 receptions for 1,085 yards and three scores. His 165 receptions rank No. 1 since the school joined the FBS ranks. Davis stayed upbeat and became a team leader even after playing for three head coaches and seeing his numbers decline.

Titus Davis, Central Michigan (6-1, 182): Davis dominated the MAC. He earned all-conference accolades all four seasons. He led the Chippewas with 60 receptions for 980 yards (16.3 average) and a school-record 13 touchdowns despite missing three games because of injury. He is CMU’s all-time leader in TD receptions with 37 and yardage with 3,705. Davis ended his career in incredible fashion. In the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, Davis caught six passes for 137 yards and four touchdowns. He is the first player in FBS history to catch at least eight TD passes in each of his four collegiate seasons. Davis was a first-team all-league selection last season, a second team pick in 2012, and a third-teamer in 2011. Davis’ brother, Corey, plays receiver for conference-rival Western Michigan. Their stardom is inspiring. “I just remember my mom taking (a Christmas gift) away and she took it with her to a drug dealer to try to sell it for drugs and I just remember crying,” Titus said. “I remember him turning it down because he obviously saw how much that it affected me.”

Stefon Diggs, Maryland (6-0, 195): Diggs, the No. 2 receiver in the nation coming out of high school, could have played anywhere. He chose to stay home and starred in his three seasons with the Terps. In 2014, he was second-tam all-Big Ten with 62 receptions for 792 yards and five touchdowns in 10 games. He was honorable mention all-ACC as a sophomore even while missing the final six games due to a broken leg. And as a freshman, he ranked eighth in the nation in all-purpose yards. He was suspended for one game in 2014 because of his actions vs. Penn State. He suffered a lacerated kidney in that game and missed a few games, anyway.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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