Scouting the Draft: Wide Receivers

In Part 5 of our Packers draft preview, we look at the final four rounds of a loaded class of wide receivers. We break them down into the big guys (at least 6-foot-2), the receiver-returners and the best of the rest.

In Part 5 of our Green Bay Packers draft preview, we examine the wide receivers who are projected to go in Day 3 of the draft. If you missed the first three rounds, CLICK HERE .

TALL RECEIVERS

Chris Conley, Georgia (6-2, 213; 4.35): 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. For his career, he averaged 16.6 per catch and scored 20 times — fourth-best in school history. With his speed, explosion (45-inch vertical) and character (part of the 11-man Allstate Good Works Team), he sent scouts scurrying back to the film room.

“You can see that Conley takes full advantage of his height and wingspan, especially when having to combat cornerbacks in attempts to get to the ball at its highest point,” reads a snippet of his scouting report. “He has very quick feet, along with possessing an array of open-field moves that makes him a very shifty runner. As most big receivers, he must be conscious for keeping his pad level down, especially when he is not as sharp with his change-of-direction agility.”

Tony Lippett, Michigan State (6-3, 192; 4.61): Lippett, the Big Ten’s Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year, recorded career highs in receptions (65), receiving yards (1,198) and touchdown catches (11). He averaged a gaudy 18.4 yards per catch and hauled in 62.5 percent of targeted passes. Lippett was a throwback in that he also started seven games at cornerback, including the Cotton Bowl vs. Baylor. When he started at corner vs. Penn State, he became the Spartans’ first two-way starter since 1968.

“Lippett has the size and vertical jump to go up and make the catch over the middle, but you sometimes wonder if he has the strength and body to take a pounding there,” reads his scouting report. “He is better when using his long stride and deceptive vertical speed to stretch the field. “

Vince Mayle, Washington State (6-2, 224; 4.67): Mayle, a former junior-college basketball player, was second-team all-conference and one of 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award as a senior. He tied for Pac-12 lead with a WSU-record 106 receptions, led the Pac-12 with a WSU-record 1,583 yards and hauled in nine touchdowns. He caught 66.3 percent of targeted passes.

“Mayle is like a locomotive once he gets the ball in his hands. On 37-of-97 non-touchdown receptions in 2014, it took more than one defender to bring him down,” notes his scouting report. “He might not be sudden in his moves, but is too hard to tackle in one-on-one situations due to his great leg power.”

Dezmin Lewis, Central Arkansas (6-4, 214; 4.58): Lewis caught 64 passes for 945 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior. He concluded his career with 197 receptions for 2,668 yards and 24 touchdowns, figures that rank second, second and third in school history.

“Scouts feel that Lewis has the athletic talent, but based on the low level of competition he faced, they reckon that he should have had a more dominating performance during his college career,” notes his scouting report. “His size and speed will definitely earn him a draft selection, but because he is still raw in several areas, he will likely be taken during the third day of that event.”


CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL SCOUTING REPORTS from the NFL’s head scout, Dave-Te’ Thomas.


Darren Waller, Georgia Tech (6-6, 238; 4.46): In Tech’s run-heavy wishbone attack, Waller managed 26 receptions for 442 yards (17.0 average) and six touchdowns. He saved his best for last — five catches for 114 yards and one touchdown in an Orange Bowl victory over Mississippi State.

“In Waller, some team will get a boom-or-bust type of receiver, depending on if he turns out to be another Stephen Hill (limited production, poor route runner) or turn into another version of Demaryius Thomas,” reads his scouting report. “Based on his straight-line speed, he is a player that eats up the cushion in an instant, one that glides down the field and makes the most of his frame and leaping ability to get to the ball quickly when working vertical sideline routes. He has that initial burst to immediately get over the top on man coverage.”

Austin Hill, Arizona (6-2, 212; 4.54): In 2012, Hill caught 81 passes for 1,364 yards (16.8 average) and 11 touchdowns. However, he missed all of 2013 with a torn ACL and caught 48 balls for 630 yards (13.1) and four touchdowns as a senior.

“He’s a sharp, savvy route-runner who varies his speeds and can sink his hips to generate separation,” reads his scouting report. “He also demonstrates a good burst laterally and does a nice job working his way back to the ball if he sees his quarterback in trouble. He appears to have soft hands, as he snatches the ball out of the air and is quick to put it away.”

Jordan Taylor, Rice (6-4, 206; 4.54): Taylor started 32 games in four seasons and accounted for 175 receptions, 2,585 yards (14.8 average) and 20 touchdowns. He ranks third in school history in receptions and second in yards and touchdowns. As a senior, he hauled in 54 passes for 842 yards (15.6) and seven touchdowns.

“Taylor presents a nice sized target on slants, hitches and other short routes,” reads his scouting report. “He has enough functional strength to get a decent push off the opponent and shows outstanding concentration looking the ball in, especially when working in a crowd. He doesn’t appear to present the deep speed needed to separate in the secondary.”

FOUR BIG WILD CARDS

Bud Sasser, Missouri (6-3, 216; 4.69): The senior had a monster season with 77 receptions for 1,003 yards (13.0 average) and 12 touchdowns to earn first-team all-SEC. That’s after posting 39 receptions with two touchdowns in his first three seasons.

Geremy Davis, Connecticut (6-2, 216; 4.49): Davis caught 44 passes as a sophomore and again as a senior. In between, he hauled in 71 passes for 1,085 yards as a junior. He caught a pass in all 36 career games but scored just seven times on 165 career catches.

Deontay Greenberry, Houston (6-2, 198; 4.52): Greenberry tallied 72 receptions for 841 yards and six touchdowns in 2014. Over his three-year career, he played in 37 games and had 201 receptions for 2,612 yards and 20 touchdowns. He’s one of the strongest receivers in this draft class but dropped too many passes (11 in 2014) for a player with his skill.

Jake Kumerow, UW-Whitewater (6-5, 202; 4.54): Kumerow, the son of former NFL first-round linebacker Eric Kumerow, started his career at Illinois. When coach Ron Zook was fired, Kumerow decided to transfer and landed at the Division III juggernaut. After a quiet sophomore season, he won All-American honors with 77 receptions for 1,331 yards and 19 touchdowns. As a senior, he hauled in 66 balls for 1,116 yards and 14 touchdowns in 11 games. He impressed scouts at Wisconsin’s pro day with his incredible combination of size and athleticism.


CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL SCOUTING REPORTS from the NFL’s head scout, Dave-Te’ Thomas.


RECEIVERS/RETURNERS

Stefon Diggs, Maryland (6-0, 195; 4.46): Diggs, the No. 2 receiver in the nation coming out of high school, chose to stay home and starred in his three seasons with the Terps. In 2014, he was second-team all-Big Ten with 62 receptions for 792 yards and five touchdowns in 10 games while operating out of the slot. For his career, he averaged 9.2 yards on punt returns and 25.8 yards on kickoff returns with two touchdowns.

“His best attribute is generating yards after the catch, mostly due to his agility, straight-line speed and vision,” reads his scouting report. “He’s a smooth, gliding runner who accelerates quickly and changes directions without sacrificing speed. He can easily make defenders miss in the open field, and also possesses elite lateral agility to juke in tight quarter.”

Jamison Crowder, Duke (5-8, 185; 4.56): Crowder capped a dominant career by catching 85 passes for 1,044 yards (12.3 average; 59.4 percent catch rate) and six touchdowns. During his final three seasons, he caught 269 passes for 3,478 yards and 22 touchdowns. For his career, he averaged 13.4 yards per punt return with three scores and 21.4 yards on kickoff returns. The lightly recruited Crowder’s career total of 283 receptions tied the ACC all-time record.

“Crowder has a small frame with marginal muscle development, thin hips, small lower-leg structure and minimal room to add additional bulk without having it affect his speed,” reads his scouting report. “He compensates for a lack of size and bulk with very quick feet, excellent in-stride balance, very loose hips to generate stop-and-go action that makes the initial tackler miss and the body control to make adjustments to haul in the off-target throws.”

The Packers under Thompson have shown no interest in short receivers, with Randall Cobb (5-10) being the shortest he’s drafted. However, with a bigger emphasis on special teams, there’s a chance guys like Crowder and some of the others in this list could be in play.

Ty Montgomery, Stanford (6-0, 221; 4.55): The senior was a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award, which goes to the nation’s most versatile player, a second-team All-American as an all-purpose player and an honorable mention on the all-Pac-12 team at receiver. He caught 61 passes for 604 yards (9.9 average) and three touchdowns, averaged 19.8 yards with two touchdowns on punt returns and 25.2 yards on kickoff returns. From an offensive standpoint, it was a disappointment for a player considered the top receiver in the class entering his senior season. He was a consensus All-American as a junior when he caught 61 passes for 958 yards (15.7 average) and 10 touchdowns.

“He is a physical blocker with nimble footwork and explosive acceleration, but is not as well-versed as a route runner as advertised,” reads his scouting report. “Still, he has the leg drive to break arm tackles, but for a player of his size and speed, using him on underneath routes this year wasted his talent level.”

Mario Alford, West Virginia (5-9, 180; 4.43): In two seasons, the former junior-college running back caught 92 passes for 1,497 yards (16.3 average) and 13 touchdowns. He had no success in minimal punt-return chances but finished third in school history with a 26.3-yard average on kickoffs and two touchdowns.

“Where Alford needs refinement is that he still plays with a running back’s hands, as he will let the ball absorb into his body at times,” reads his scouting report. “He has the extension skills to reach, pluck and run with the ball without throttling down after the catch, but he has to get out of the habit of allowing the ball into his frame. When that happens, he will revert to double catching or letting the ball bounce out of his hands.”

JaMarcus Nelson, UAB (5-10, 156; 4.28): Nelson caught 35 passes for 655 yards (18.7 average) and four touchdowns as a senior. Plus, he averaged 10.7 yards on punt returns and a stunning 38.3 yards with four touchdowns on kickoff returns. Not surprisingly, he was a first-team All-American returner. He was the fastest player at the Scouting Combine but unbelievably small.

Rannell Hall, Central Florida (6-0, 198; 4.60): The senior caught 49 passes for 500 yards (10.2 average), rushed 25 times for 129 yards and averaged 27.5 yards per kickoff return in 10 games. He finished his career with a 25.4-yard average on kickoff returns.

“When healthy, Hall shows good foot speed, but the lateral agility in his change of direction could use improvement,” reads his scouting report. “He does display solid body control, though. He is still learning to use his speed to explode into a route, but has very quick acceleration and thrust. You have to love the way he uses his head-and-shoulder fakes.”

Antwan Goodley, Baylor (5-10, 209; 4.44): Goodley ranks ninth in school history with 150 receptions, sixth with 2,366 receiving yards and fourth with 21 touchdowns. His best season came in 2013, when he caught 71 passes for 1,339 yards and 13 scores. He boasts a career average of 23.1 yards on kickoff returns.

“Goodley is a strong, physical receiver (660-pound squat) who makes tough catches in traffic and is not afraid to go over the middle,” reads his scouting report. “He is constantly looking for ways to power through or juke a defender in order to gain extra yardage after the catch.”

Kaelin Clay, Utah (5-10, 195; 4.51): 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.


CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL SCOUTING REPORTS from the NFL’s head scout, Dave-Te’ Thomas.


BEST OF THE REST

Dres Anderson, Utah (6-1, 187; 4.54): 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 (52.4 percent catch rate) but missed the second half of the season with a knee injury.

“The lanky pass catcher seems frail-looking especially with his lack of lower-body development, but he runs precise routes and uses his exceptional lateral agility, balance and initial burst to elude the initial tackler when working in a crowd,” reads his scouting report. “He’s been utilized more on screens, crossers and simple route assignments (mostly due to the Utah QBs lacking), but gets most of his success after the catch, as he easily locates the soft areas in the zone and has an array of moves and head fakes to slip past second-level defenders to generate big gains on short throws.”

Kenny Bell, Nebraska (6-1, 197; 4.42): 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. Bell, who is the son of former Broncos kick returner Ken Bell., averaged 23.9 yards per kickoff return.

“He has sudden quickness and impressive deep speed, building his acceleration nicely, as he shows the body torque to get in and out of his breaks cleanly, which is fortunate, as he is one of the weakest receivers in this draft class (seven reps in the 225-pound bench press),” reads his scouting report.

Titus Davis, Central Michigan (6-1, 196; 4.51): Despite missing almost three full games with a knee sprain, he managed to collect 54 passes for 843 yards (15.6 average). He boasts a career average of 18.0 per catch. Davis is the first player in major college history with eight or more receiving touchdowns in four seasons. He’s a big-time YAC receiver, with 469 of his 843 yards coming after the catch in 2014 and 663 of 1,109 in 2013. He has the smallest hands of any receiver in the class.

“Davis has very good concentration and is capable of making the tough catch,” reads his scouting report. “He also has good footwork and awareness at the sidelines. His blocking effort is one of his better assets, whether as a crack blocker, stalking, picking up the blitz or on special teams.”

Josh Harper, Fresno State (6-1, 191; 4.64): Harper, a first-team all-Mountain West selection, was a one-man band with 90 receptions for 1,097 yards and seven touchdowns. Nobody else on the team had more than 35 catches or 419 yards. He caught 61.6 percent of targeted passes. Even with Davante Adams leading the nation in receptions in 2013, Harper had 79 catches for 1,011 yards and 13 touchdowns in 11 games. Harper is the son of Willie Harper, a three-time All-American at Nebraska who played linebacker for the 49ers for 11 seasons.

“Harper is a smooth route-runner with the cutting ability to make sharp breaks, along with showing above-average ability when stemming his route off the line, keeping his feet under him to create a burst for himself, even when operating in tight spaces,” reads his scouting report. “He lacks the deep speed and explosion to go vertical, but has good quickness in his stride when working horizontally.”

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.


Packer Report Top Stories