NFL Scouting Combine Research: Receivers, Part 1

What player accounted for touchdowns in four different ways? What two-time All-American grew up playing football between gunshots? Those stories and more as we get to know this year's receiver prospects.

Bralon Addison, Oregon (5-10, 190): Underclassman. After missing the 2014 season due to a torn ACL, Addison led the Ducks with 63 receptions for 804 yards while tying for fourth in the Pac-12 with 10 touchdowns. He accounted for touchdowns receiving, rushing, returning and passing. He piled up 236 all-purpose yards vs. powerhouse Michigan State, including an 81-yard touchdown on a punt return. “I'm just happy and blessed to be playing again," Addison said. "I missed the game so much last year as far as not being able to be a part of the team and be able to compete every week. I've been taking it all in this season.” His uncle is Bubba McDowell, a former NFL safety for the Oilers/Titans and Panthers.

Geronimo Allison, Illinois (6-3, 197): In two seasons with the Illini, Allison caught 106 passes for 1,480 yards (14.0 average) and eight touchdowns. That includes 65 grabs for 882 yards (13.6 average) and three touchdowns as a senior. He had a four-game stretch vs. Middle Tennessee, Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin in which he had at least eight catches and 91 yards in every game. Allison, who didn’t play high school football as a sophomore or junior, spent his first two years of college at Iowa Western, a junior college powerhouse. None of this would have happened without Dale and Anne Caparaso. Dale was his high school coach and Anne an academic evaluator who got his grades in order so he could play as a senior. "Man, that's my second family. I wouldn't have made it this far without 'em. Miss Anne really took me up under her wing, Coach Cap really molded me into a young man and they really helped me stay focused. Anything I need, they're always there for me." Allison, his brother, his mom and grandparents share a three-bedroom home.

DeMarcus Ayers, Houston (5-10, 190): Underclassman. Ayers made his mark as a freshman, winning American Athletic Conference Co-Special Teams Player of the Year with 27.6 yards per kickoff return, including a 95-yard touchdown vs. BYU. In 2015, his only season as a full-time starter on offense, he caught 98 passes for 1,222 yards (12.5 average) and six touchdowns. Plus, he returned a punt for a touchdown as he was named first-team all-conference as a receiver and returner. Ayers almost quit. New coach Tom Herman was incredibly hard on Ayers but knew he needed the talented receiver to be a driving force. "He had a lot of juice when things were going good," Herman said. "And then when things got hard, he went in the tank." His brother, Hatley, was shot and killed on July 4. Hatley was about to pick up his brother to enjoy the holiday. "I could've been there," Ayers said. "I was supposed to be with him."

Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh (6-2, 200): Underclassman. In just three years, Boyd became Pitt’s career leader in receptions (254) and receiving yards (3,361). His 5,243 all-purpose yards are second most in program history only to Tony Dorsett. In 2015, he caught 91 passes for 926 yards and six touchdowns. No one else on the team had more than 26 receptions. with 78 receptions for 1,261 yards in 2014 and 85 receptions for 1,174 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, he joined Larry Fitzgerald as the only players in school history with a a pair of 1,000-yard receiving seasons. He’s a multithreat player, with a 27.6-yard average on kickoff returns and a 10.1-yard average on punt returns in 2014. His reception count in 2013 broke Sammy Watkins’ ACC record. He declared for the draft by writing a poem. He was a high school running back. He credits his mom for putting him in this position because she put the boys in one sport after another to keep them out of trouble. “We were the men,” Boyd said, recalling his childhood in Clairton with a single mother. “We didn't feel like a woman could overpower us. She just kept pushing and pushing and pushing.”

Chris Brown, Notre Dame (6-2, 180): Brown was the complementary piece to star Will Fuller, hauling in 48 passes for 597 yards (12.4 average) and four touchdowns as a senior. He also emerged as a key leader. Along with his 39 catches for 548 yards (14.1 average), Brown finished his four-year career with 104 receptions for 1,410 yards (13.6 average) and six touchdowns. Despite the mediocre average, Brown is a tremendous athlete. As a high school junior in 2011, he was South Carolina’s Gatorade track and field athlete of the year and the nation’s top-ranked triple-jumper with a state-record jump. He also competed on the U.S. Junior National Track team in 2011. As a senior, he scored more points than all but seven teams at the state track meet by winning the triple jump and finishing second in the 100, 200 and high jump. Brown and Fuller are competitive, especially in video games. They’ve never challenged each other to a race, though. “Me and (Brown) talk about who is faster,” Fuller said. “He tells me I have the 0-to-60 speed and he has maybe that 40-yard dash speed.”

Aaron Burbridge, Michigan State (6-0, 210 ): Burbridge had 165 catches for 2,174 yards (13.2 average) and 10 touchdowns in 51 career games (23 starts). He finished his career ranked among MSU's all-time leaders in receptions (second), 100-yard receiving games (fifth with eight), receiving yards (seventh) and touchdown catches (tied for 20th). He’s one of only two Spartans with 150-plus receptions. He won the Big Ten’s Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year Award as a senior with a school-record and conference-leading 85 receptions for a conference-best 1,258 yards. This touchdown was unbelievable. It was a come-out-of-nowhere season that the coaching staff expected entering his senior season. "It wasn't a long conversation," he said. "They told me: 'You gotta be the guy, right?' And I'm like, 'Yeah.' That was that."

Devon Cajuste, Stanford (6-3, 234): Cajuste caught 27 passes for 383 yards (14.2 average) and three touchdowns as a senior. His long big game came against Notre Dame — five catches for 125 yards and one score. That came on the heels of 34 receptions for 557 yards and six scores as a junior and 28 receptions for 642 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore. His 22.9 yards per reception in 2013 set a school record. If you look at his height and weight, you might think he’s a tight end. That’s what most schools thought, too, when they recruited him. And that’s why Cajuste went to Stanford — the Cardinal would let him play receiver. For a big guy, he’s got good speed, which Cajuste says comes from his dad, a former athlete and Marine, and from racing the family Rottweiler.

Leonte Carroo, Rutgers (6-0, 217): Despite being limited to eight games by a suspension and ankle injury, Carroo led the team with 39 receptions for 809 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was named honorable-mention all-Big Ten and was voted the team’s MVP. One of his big games — seven catches for 157 yards and three touchdowns — came against Michigan State. He allegedly slammed a woman into the concrete outside the football training center in September but she did not press charges. He scored nine touchdowns in 2013 and 10 in 2014 to finish with a school-record 29 touchdowns. While learning under four offensive coordinators in four years, he averaged 19.5 yards on 122 career receptions.

Corey Coleman, Baylor (5-10, 190): Underclassman. After earning honorable mention All-American in 2014, he was a unanimous All-American and the Biletnikoff Award winner in 2015, when he caught 74 passes for 1,363 yards (18.4 average) and 20 touchdowns. He had five more receiving touchdowns than any other player in FBS. Sports hernia surgery sidelined him for this year’s bowl game. He’s expected to have a big Scouting Combine. listed him as “College Football’s Most Explosive Player” before the season. The Baylor coaches timed him with a 4.38 in the 40, a 6.62 in the three-cone drill and with a 45.1-inch vertical jump. In three seasons he caught 173 passes for 3,009 yards (17.4 average) and 33 touchdowns. He also boasts a career average of 26.0 yards on kickoff returns. Competitiveness oozes from his pours. "I don't like losing," Coleman said. "If you get tackled, you pretty much lost. Especially if it's the first guy." The draft will provide a happy ending for Coleman, who grew up on the mean streets of South Dallas. "We'd be playing tackle football on the street, and you'd hear gunshots," Coleman recalled. "My mom would come out and make me come in. And after an hour, I'd sneak back out to play again. That's just the way it was. Police were always coming around. People were getting arrested, and sometimes people got shot. I guess you got used to it." His father is in prison. He credits his mom and his sisters for being where he is today.

Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina (5-11, 208): Underclassman. Cooper earned first-team all-SEC honors as a wide receiver and all-purpose back as a captain in 2015. He led the team with 66 receptions for 973 yards and eight touchdowns, finishing second in the league with 81.1 receiving yards per game. His reception total was more than the rest of the team’s receivers combined and ranked seventh in school history in receptions and sixth in receiving yards. In three seasons, he finished with 138 catches (ninth all-time) for 2,163 yards (eighth all-time) with 18 touchdowns (sixth all-time). He added 513 rushing yards, 118 passing yards, 359 kickoff-return yards and 172 punt-return yards, and tallied six plays of 70-plus yards (two rushing and four receiving). That’s big-time production from a player who thought he was going to South Carolina to play defense.


Wide receivers, Part 1 (FREE)
Wide receivers, Part 2
Wide receivers, Part 3
Wide receivers, Part 4 (FREE)

Running backs, Part 1 (FREE)
Running backs, Part 2
Running backs, Part 3
Fullbacks (FREE)
Quarterbacks, Part 1 (FREE)
Quarterbacks, Part 2 (FREE)
Quarterbacks, Part 3 (FREE)

Bill Huber is publisher of and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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