Green Bay Packers NFL Draft Preview: Elite Five Wide Receivers

The Green Bay Packers have numbers at wide receiver, but could they add another playmaker? Here are the top five receiver prospects in this month's draft, with scouting and statistical analysis you won't find anywhere.

Here is a look at Packer Report’s top-rated wide receivers. The draft class is long on talent — and long on bigger receivers, with most of our top 20 standing at least 6-foot and nine standing at least 6-foot-1 1/2. However, the class is short on explosive playmakers and elite prospects. The Green Bay Packers appear to be well-stocked at receiver, especially with the returns of Jordy Nelson and Ty Montgomery and the possible emergence of Jeff Janis. But there’s no such thing as too much firepower, as the Packers learned last season.

Stats are from STATS, via RealFootball.com, though the comparisons were assembled by Packer Report. All scouting opinions are courtesy of longtime NFL scout Dave-Te’ Thomas unless indicated otherwise.

LAQUON TREADWELL, Ole Miss

Position rank: 1

Height: 6-foot-2. Weight: 221. 40: 4.63. 10: NA. Vertical: 33.

Notes: Even though he played only three seasons, he was the SEC’s active leader with 196 receptions, 2,322 yards and 18 touchdowns. He caught at least one pass in all 34 career games. In 2015, he was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the nation’s top receiver. He ranked second in the SEC with 76 receptions, first with 1,082 receiving yards and third with eight touchdowns. He caught at least one touchdown pass in six consecutive games. Treadwell had a catch rate of 64.4 percent and a drop rate of 5.08 percent, and ranked fourth in the draft class with 10 catches in the red zone. Of our top 20 receivers, he ranked sixth with 6.0 yards after the catch per catch.

FOR OUR MEMBERS: STAT COMPARISONS YOU WON'T FIND ANYWHERE BUT PACKER REPORT

Scouting: “Treadwell is a physical type who knows how to take advantage of his size to shield defenders away from the ball. He knows how to use his arm length to keep the cornerbacks off his body and can deliver a strong stiff-arm to knock the opponent back on his heels. He is more elusive than sudden after the catch, as he does not have the speed to escape in a flat-out foot race. When making contact, he does a good job of lowering his shoulders and powering through. The thing that is nice to watch (scary for a position coach, though) is that he seems to enjoy contact, especially when having to go over the middle, as he would rather run through tackles than try to escape after he gets to the ball in flight. Treadwell has exceptional hands, along with a large radius that allows him to go outside his framework to reach for the ball in stride. He has the ability to adjust and scoop up the low throws with ease.” NFL Network’s Mike Mayock compared him to Alshon Jeffery. “He's got great hands, snatches the football, is aggressive in the air, will block. I don't think he's as explosive as some of the first-round picks at wideout we've seen in the last few years.”

Personally: Late in the 2014 season, he caught 10 passes vs. Auburn but suffered a broken leg and dislocated ankle as he tried to score the game-winning touchdown. “Mentally. I just feel like I can overcome anything,” he said at the Combine. I’ve been through so much in a certain time period, coming back from the injury in 2014 and being here today. It made me appreciate the game more and made me want to work harder. Just continue to get better, continue to push myself to a new level. I just don’t take the game for granted. My mentality towards the game is completely different.”

JOSH DOCTSON, TCU

Position rank: 2

Height: 6-foot-2. Weight: 202. 40: 4.50. 10: 1.58. Vertical: 41.

Notes: Doctson spent his first collegiate season at Wyoming before transferring to TCU, where his mother is a vice-chancellor In three seasons at TCU, he caught 180 passes for 2,785 yards (15.5 average) and 29 touchdowns. That includes 79 receptions for 1,327 yards (16.8 average) and 14 touchdowns this past season, when he was a Biletnikoff finalist and a consensus first-team All-American. Despite missing the final three games with an injured wrist, he finished fourth in the nation in receiving yards, third in receiving touchdowns. His catch rate of 71.8 percent ranked first in our top 20 and second in our top 40, and his 17 receptions of 25-plus yards tied for third in our top 20. He had a drop rate of 4.55 percent. Doctson tied Coleman with a draft-high 12 red-zone receptions, with his catch rate an astounding 80.0 percent in the red area.

Scouting: “Doctson lacks outstanding speed, but he is a smooth route-runner with the ability to stretch the field and separate, along with the natural hands needed to make the difficult catches. He displays above-average balance and crisp change-of-direction agility to gain yardage after the catch. He has the ability to extend while tip-toeing along the sidelines for the soft pluck. He does a good job of gaining separation off the snap due to his initial quick step. The thing you see on the field is his natural feel for making adjustments on the move, displaying good fakes and a bit of con in him to set up defensive backs in attempts to get open. Doctson has very good explosion off the snap to instantly get into his patterns. He is active with his hands when attempting to fend off the press. He has that sudden first step that puts defenders up on their heels. Doctson has very strong hand sand is able to secure the ball from a variety of angles and pluck the ball outside his frame with ease.” Added Mayock on concerns over Doctson’s lack of bulk: “Josh Doctson, who I think has great hands, makes a bunch of catches on those 50/50 balls, but he's 6-3, 195. To put that in perspective, at 195 he's probably 16 pounds lighter than the Clemson receiver that came out a couple years ago that's with Pittsburgh, Martavis Bryant, and you know how skinny Martavis Bryant is.“

Personally: Doctson transferred to be nearer to his ill grandfather. His playing at Wyoming caught TCU’s attention after it elected not to recruit him out of high school. “I kind of reminisce everyday,” he said at the Combine. “I’m not supposed to be standing here on this stage. I’m blessed with the opportunity. I have got to take full advantage of the opportunity. Like you said, not being recruited out of high school, I don’t have any grudges, but anybody would love to be in my shoes right now. I am just fortunate I am standing right here so I am taking all of it as blessings.”

COREY COLEMAN, Baylor

Position rank: 3

Height: 5-foot-10 5/8. Weight: 194. 40: 4.40. 10: 1.51. Vertical: 40.5.

Notes: 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 and 20 touchdowns. He had four more receiving touchdowns than any other player in FBS, and his 18.4-yard average ranked third in our top 20 receivers. Of that group, he ranked first with 20 receptions of 25-plus yards and second with 7.1 YAC per catch. He tied for the draft-class lead with 12 red-zone catches and was second with nine red-zone scores. However, his drop rate of 8.0 percent was the second-worst of our top 40 — perhaps a byproduct of small hands (9 inches). 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.

FOR OUR MEMBERS: STAT COMPARISONS YOU WON'T FIND ANYWHERE BUT PACKER REPORT

Scouting: “Coleman’s best asset is his timed speed, as he has more than enough quickness to elude in the open field, with adequate strength to fight for the ball in a crowd. He is the type of player that teams covet — one with the rare playing speed to stretch the defense, showing the burst needed to beat angles. He demonstrates excellent athleticism for his position, as few opposing defenders can mirror him on deep routes due to his speed. He not only has the speed to threaten the deep secondary, but the body control, lateral quickness and change-of-direction agility to make the underneath catches. He has good eyes for locating the soft areas to settle in and shows good awareness for the comebacks. Coleman has the natural hands and decent ball security skills needed as a receiver, but those short-arm tendencies in traffic can frustrate a coach. When he lets the ball absorb into his chest, he is prone to easy drops, as he will also lose concentration when he hears the oncoming charge of a defender.”

Personally: 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.” Part of that led to his incredible competitive streak. Baylor coach Art Briles once said he’d take somebody’s heart out of their chest and watch it stop beating. “That it was accurate,” he said with a laugh. “He says that because, offseason, competing, I don’t like losing. I refuse to lose.”

BRAXTON MILLER, Ohio State

Position rank: 4

Height: 6-foot-1 3/8. Weight: 201. 40: 4.50. 10: 1.60. Vertical: 35.

Notes: What a journey for Miller. In 2012 and 2013, he was named the Big Ten’s MVP by the Chicago Tribune as a dynamic dual-threat quarterback. In 2012, he passed for 2,039 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 1,271 yards and 13 more scores. He finished fifth in the Heisman race as Ohio State went 12-0. In 2013, he threw for 2,094 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for 1,068 yards and 12 scores. He finished ninth in the Heisman voting. However, in the bowl game, he suffered a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. He re-injured that shoulder at practice in August 2014. In his place, J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones helped the Buckeyes win a national championship. So, in 2015, Miller was moved to receiver. He caught 25 passes for 340 yards and three touchdowns. Impressively for such a novice, he had a 65.0 percent catch rate and just one drop — a 2.50 percent drop rate that tied for fourth in our top 20. His athleticism is apparent from his 6.5 YAC per catch — fourth-best in our top 20.

Scouting: Said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock: “I love his tape, I love what I saw at the Senior Bowl. I really like everything about this kid. I think as good as he looked at the Senior Bowl, he's still very raw at running routes. He takes too long getting off press. There's some things he's got to learn how to do. Having said that, I think his skill set is awesome. He's probably going to run 4.4, he's quick, he's fast, he's tough, he's really competitive, so I just think it's just a developmental timeline for him to be productive, and I think he's going to go in the second round.” Noted the Senior Bowl’s Phil Savage at SeniorBowl.com: Miller showed “his well-publicized quickness and athletic ability. He has strong hands and is sudden in his release and at the top of his routes. Although there are still some rough edges to his game, he has every attribute needed to become a legitimate WR in the NFL.” The best-case scenario, a scout said, would be Miller turning into a bigger version of Randall Cobb.

Personally: Miller said he’s studied, among others, Julio Jones, in making the transition to receiver. “There’s a lot of things you have to prepare yourself for going to the next level. It’s not about who’s the fastest or the strongest. It’s about perfecting the receiver position. There’s a lot that goes into it. I’ve been doing my homework. It’s not about athleticism. It’s not about speed. It’s not about strength.”

MICHAEL THOMAS, Ohio State

Position rank: 5

Height: 6-foot-2 3/4. Weight: 212. 40: 4.57. 10: 1.55. Vertical: 35.

Notes: Thomas’ stats pale in comparison to most of the draft class because he played in the run-first Buckeyes offense. He had 56 catches for 781 yards and nine touchdowns in 2015 and 54 catches for 799 yards and nine touchdowns in 2014. Looking inside the numbers helps. Thomas caught 65.1 percent of targeted passes and had four drops for an impressive 4.65 drop rate. He averaged a ho-hum 4.5 YAC. Thomas knows how to use his size and big hands (10 1/2 inches), with 30 of his catches, 451 yards and eight of his touchdowns coming against defensive backs ranging from 5-foot-11 to 6-foot-2.

Scouting: “Thomas has the rare-sized frame that scouts covet – a muscular torso, broad shoulders, quick feet, long limbs, thick thighs and calves, good bubble and excellent body control and flexibility. Thomas is quick getting into his routes but, possibly due to his average timed speed, he does not always generate explosion coming out of his stance. He knows how to sell the route and builds to top speed nicely vs. off coverage, but you’d like to see more suddenness from his initial release. He is a quick twitch type, but is still developing his football skills. Thomas has those large mitts for hands to be a vacuum going up to secure the ball and even makes those crowd-pleasing one-hand snatches, but he needs to do a better job of catching in traffic, where he is prone to short-arming the ball. He has good ability to plant and drive, turning nicely to catch outside his radius on deep tosses. While he will pluck away from his frame and do a fine job tracking the ball on deep routes, he will revert to short-arming passes when facing the QB or working in a crowd.”

Personally: Thomas is the nephew of former NFL star Keyshawn Johnson. Johnson lobbied his alma mater to sign Thomas but USC coach Lane Kiffin didn’t. Kiffin got fired at USC and landed as Alabama’s offensive coordinator. In last year’s Sugar Bowl, Thomas caught seven passes in the Buckeyes’ win over Alabama. "See," Johnson says he told Kiffin later, "you would still have your job at USC if you'd have listened."


Packer Report Top Stories