Scouting Combine Research Series: Receivers (Part 1)

Who showed he was recovered from a broken leg with a four-touchdown game? Which teammates were born in Liberia and Sierre Leone? Who set the NCAA yardage record? Those answers and more in our five-part breakdown of the top receivers.

Here are the 57 wide receivers who have been invited to the Scouting Combine. Players are listed in alphabetical order. Heights and weights come from CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com. All players are seniors unless noted

Rodney Adams, South Florida (6-1, 190): Adams opened his career at Toledo, catching three passes in eight games as a true freshman, before returning to his native Florida. He caught 23 passes for 323 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore, 45 passes for 822 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior and 67 passes for 822 yards and five touchdowns as a senior. As a senior, he had an 84-yard touchdown vs. Florida State and 92-yard touchdown run vs. Memphis. As a junior, he returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. That gave him a four-year total of 137 receptions, 1,982 yards (14.5 average) and 16 touchdowns. He was second-team all-conference as a sophomore and junior and ranks second in school history in catches, yards and touchdowns. The coaching staff liked his speed and resiliency.

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Adams transferred and was immediately eligible to play so he could be nearer to home after his mom died in a car accident. "When the coach told me, honestly, I went to try breaking windows because I couldn't believe it," Adams said. "It was heartbreaking." He found a kindred spirit in his new receivers coach, Ron Dugans. In 2008, Dugans’ 8-year-old daughter died in a school bus-vs.-cement truck accident.

Quincy Adeboyejo, Ole Miss (6-3, 192): Adeboyejo provided consistent production over his final three seasons, with 26 catches as a sophomore, 38 as a junior and 35 as a senior. His four-year total was 106 catches for 1,454 yards (13.7 average) and 11 touchdowns. His biggest year was his junior year, when he turned those catches into 604 yards (15.9 average) and seven touchdowns. While he didn’t earn any playing honors he was a member of the all-SEC academic team.

He worked on getting more physical before his senior season as he moved from the slot to the outside. He made some impressive catches during his career. But here’s one that got away.

Victor Bolden Jr., Oregon State (5-9, 172): Bolden did a little of everything for the Beavers. Catch the ball? 167 catches for 1,849 yards (11.1 average) and seven touchdowns for his career, including 72 receptions as a sophomore and 46 grabs for 542 yards (11.8) and two scores as a senior. Run the ball? He carried the ball 95 times for 727 yards (7.7 average) and three touchdowns, including 28 carries for 329 yards (11.8) and two scores as a senior. Return the ball? On kickoffs, he averaged 22.4 yards for his career and 23.8 as a senior with a total of three touchdowns; on punts, he averaged 9.8 yards on 19 career runbacks, with a 78-yard touchdown as a junior. Added together, Bolden had 5,182 yards and 14 touchdowns. "He's like the Energizer Bunny, just running everywhere," said cornerback Treston Decoud. "He's fast. He's quick. He's a vet ... I don't know nobody that really works harder than him. Hats off to that guy. He's a hell of a player."

That work ethic comes from growing up in a family full of track stars. That speed showed up early in his life as he tried to escape a ferocious dog. Well, it was a dog, anyway. “I've never seen a kid run that fast," said Bolden's mother, Zelda. It was the funniest thing ever. It was adorable. It wasn't even a big dog ... That's when we discovered, 'Hmmm, this kid is kind of fast.’”

Kendrick Bourne, Eastern Washington (6-2, 197): After catching only seven passes as a freshman, Bourne piled up a four-year total of 211 receptions for 3,130 yards (14.8 average) and seven touchdowns. That includes a senior year of 79 receptions for 1,201 yards (14.8 average) and 27 touchdowns that earned him second-teal all-Big Sky. Bourne struggled with grades while growing up in Portland. His life changed when his parents sent him to a charter school, the Milwaukie Academy of Art.

Noah Brown, Ohio State (6-2, 222): Redshirt sophomore. Brown missed all of the 2015 season with a broken leg suffered in fall camp. He returned and caught 32 passes for 402 yards (12.6 average) and seven touchdowns to earn second-team all-Big Ten. And with 33 career receptions, it was off to the NFL. "It just made me appreciate the game that much more with every chance I got onto the field," Brown said of the injury. "Luckily, it wasn't long-term, but I saw how football can be taken away from you. That just gave me more of a passion for the game, the drive to get back to where I was at and to cherish every moment."

This catch against Oklahoma — one of four touchdowns in the game — was certainly a moment to cherish. “Allison Brown recounted her son's four touchdowns this way,” reads Pete Thamel’s story in Sports Illustrated. “The first catch made her excited. The second one put her in shock. She got so excited talking about the third touchdown that she forgot to mention her reaction on the fourth. By the end of the night, she had 300 texts, some from people whom she hadn't heard from in two decades. ‘I almost started to cry,’ she says. ‘And my oldest son, Kenny Little, was with me and he said, 'Mom, don't you dare cry!’” Said Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer: “Sometimes good things happen good people.” ...

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K.D. Cannon, Baylor (5-11, 180):
Junior. Cannon racked up 195 receptions for 3,113 yards (16.0 average) and 27 touchdowns in three seasons, ranking third in school history for catches, yards and touchdowns. He was all-Big 12 all three seasons, including first-team honors as a freshman and junior. In 2016, he caught 87 passes for 1,215 yards (14.0), including 14 catches for 226 yards in the bowl game vs. Boise State. He caught a pass in all 38 career games and joined 2016 first-round pick as the only Baylor players with a pair of 1,000-yard receiving seasons.

Speed is the name of Cannon’s game, which allowed him to surprise himself by making an immediate impact. “I've honestly never seen anybody like him,” former quarterback Bryce Petty said. “KD has got an extra gear that not a lot of people have. We've heard all of the stories about him coming in. But once you get a chance to watch him play, it's just crazy. He's got a whole other game speed than what he practices at, which is kind of ridiculous.”  Cannon also wanted to run on the track team. What did then-coach Art Briles say? “He just told me to kick ass. Nothing else.”

Jehu Chesson, Michigan (6-2, 203): Chesson had a career-best season of 50 receptions for 764 yards (15.3 average) and nine touchdowns as junior, when he was voted team MVP. That made him one of the top senior receivers entering the season. However, he slipped back to 35 catches for 500 yards (14.3) and two touchdowns as a senior to give him a four-year total of 114 receptions, 1,639 yards (14.4) and 12 scores. He also carried 20 times for 218 yards and three scores during his final two years.

Chesson was born in Liberia. From there, it was to the Ivory Coast and, at age 5, St. Louis as an escape the war-torn country "I think that's one of the reasons that I kind of have a chip on my shoulder," Chesson said, "because coming to a country with nothing and then establishing your family and setting your kids up to be successful — I mean, God first, but ... a lot of things that my dad did and sacrificed for his family, he's one of the greatest role models in my life. It means a lot that someone would be that selfless."

Chesson “runs like a deer,” one of his teammates said. And, indeed, Chesson was a state sprint champion. "I'm very proud of my country. I'm very proud to be Liberian," Chesson said. "It's not something I talk about all the time. I grew up in St. Louis. I consider St. Louis home, but I do know that I was born in Liberia, and I'm proud to be Liberian."

Stacy Coley, Miami, Fla. (6-1, 193): Coley was an impact player throughout his four seasons, which included 31 starts. He finished his career with 166 receptions for 2,218 yards (13.4 average) and 20 touchdowns. That includes career-best figures of 63 receptions for 754 yards (12.0) and nine touchdowns as a senior. He returned punts and kickoffs for his first two seasons, averaging 24.3 yards and one touchdown on kickoffs and 13.0 yards and one touchdown on punts. Coley earned all-ACC honors three times and ranks as one of the top receivers in school history.

Without football, who knows how his life would have turned out. His high school coach, former Hurricanes running back Donnell Bennett, called Coley a “knucklehead.” One day, he was called into the principal’s office and, as Coley puts it, the “craziest thing” happened. “I got a whooping. That was a real life-changer.”

Amara Darboh, Michigan (6-2, 215): After not catching a pass as a freshman and missing the 2013 season with a foot injury, Darboh’s career flourished. He caught 151 passes for 2,062 yards (13.7 average) and 14 touchdowns the next three seasons. That includes back-to-back all-conference seasons of 58 catches, 727 yards and five touchdowns as a junior and 57 catches for 862 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior.

Darboh was born in Sierra Leone. His parents, Solimon and Kadita, died in a civil war when he was 2. He lived with relatives in the capital city of Freetown amid the violence, eventually seeking refuge in Gambia and then Senegal before coming to the United States when he was 7. Fourteen years later, on Sept. 24, 2015, he became an American citizen in a U.S. District courtroom in Detroit.  "Being a citizen and being part of a great country is hard to put into words. I guess I'm very fortunate. I know where I am from and I'll never forget my past. But to be a citizen is awesome; it means a lot to me."

A Christian group sponsored the remainder of Darboh’s family, and they landed in Des Moines, Iowa. "I’d have to repeat words over and over and over for my teachers, so they would understand me," Darboh said in 2012. "It was frustrating. You think you’re saying it right, but other people are like, 'Where are you from?’" When he was 8, he played Little League baseball. He became friends with one of the boys, and that boy’s father, Dan Schaefer, became the leading male role model in Darboh’s life.

Corey Davis, Western Michigan (6-3, 213): The numbers are ridiculous. Davis caught 67 passes for 941 yards and six touchdowns. As a freshman. And that was his “worst” season. Davis caught 78 passes for 1,408 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore, 90 passes for 1,436 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior and 97 passes for 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior to become the school’s first consensus All-American. That’s a four-year total of 331 receptions for 5,278 yards (15.9 average) and 52 touchdowns. For his career, he averaged 106.4 yards per game. The 5,278 yards is an NCAA record.

Davis is the second-youngest of seven children; one of his brothers is Tutus Davis, who spent 2015 on the Jets’ practice squad but quit the game in August. There was poverty, sleepless nights and isolation. “It’s ridiculous,” Davis said. “I don’t understand how I got through that. It was definitely hard. I don’t blame anyone. It helped make me who I am today, playing Division I football for a great coach and a great program.” In youth football, Davis would hitch a ride home from his coach, Dan Graham. Graham is now Davis’ legal guardian.

Robert Davis, Georgia State (6-3, 225): Davis caught 67 passes for 968 yards as a senior. His five touchdowns averaged 43.8 yards. Against Wisconsin, he caught eight passes for 93 yards and one touchdown. He finished his career with 222 receptions for 3,391 yards — both school records — with 17 touchdowns. He averaged 15.3 yards per catch and caught at least one pass in each of his 49 career games. Only T.Y. Hilton finished with more yards than Davis in Sun Belt Conference history, and Davis is the school’s only three-time all-Sun Belt selection. Not bad for a player who had no other scholarship offers.

 “Honestly, I've been blessed to be in this situation at Georgia State, coming from the high school situation I came from,” said Davis, who played in a run-oriented offense at Northside-Warner Robins (Ga.) High School. “I've seen myself come a long way. I feel like I have a long way to go, but I'm proud of what I've seen myself be able to accomplish as well as the program in its short history.”

Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.


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