We continue our position-by-position preview of the NFL Draft with the wide receivers.
With Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Geronimo Allison, Jeff Janis and Trevor Davis, the Packers are set at receiver. But Nelson will turn 32 on May 31, Cobb hasn’t come close to matching his 2014 production and Adams and Janis are entering their final season under contract. So, while not a pressing need, a long-range view of the roster could result in another receiver added to the mix.
Here are our top 31 prospects. The analytical stats come from Pro Football Focus. PFF has data from 30 of them in its Draft Pass, with the exception being small-schooler Krishawn Hogan.
Mike Williams, Clemson (6-3 5/8, 218; 4.54 40; 32.5 vertical; DNP 3-cone): Junior. Williams had a breakout season in 2014, catching 57 passes for 1,030 yards (18.1 average) and six touchdowns. Big things were expected in 2015 but he suffered a broken neck in the opening game when he ran into a goalpost while making a touchdown catch. Williams wanted to be the “best receiver in the country” in 2016, and he returned in dominating fashion, hauling in 98 passes for 1,361 yards (13.9 average) and 11 touchdowns. That gave him a three-plus-year total of 177 receptions, 2,727 yards and 21 touchdowns. His drop rate ranked 14th in our 31-receiver breakdown. His size and arms — the longest in the receiver class — gives him an edge in jump-ball contests, which he routinely won. “I just believe if the ball is in the air, it's mine. You can work on it, but I feel like (reactions are) something that just naturally happens sometimes.” That showed up with him catching 14-of-26 deep passes (20-plus yards downfield) for 402 yards and two scores, according to PFF. He’s a big guy without big-time speed, putting him in the mold of the Bears’ Alshon Jeffery.
Corey Davis, Western Michigan (6-2 7/8, 209; DNP in tests due to ankle surgery): 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. Here’s why Davis ranks behind Williams on our list, beyond facing lesser competition: Only two of our top 31 had a worse drop rate than Davis. PFF charged him with 11 drops and a drop rate of 10.1 percent. He partially made up for that on deep passes, where he reeled in 13-of-25 for 515 yards and seven touchdowns. He also is a proven slot weapon, where he lined up 28 percent of the time but caught 45 passes and led the draft class with 4.99 yards per target. Part of it was competition, but Davis averaged a staggering 8.1 YAC per catch, according to PFF.
John Ross, Washington (5-10 3/4, 199; 4.22 40; 37 vertical; DNP 3-cone): Junior. Ross probably won’t be available for the Packers at No. 29. If he were, he might not be on their board, anyway. He’s got 8 3/4-inch hands; the Packers under Thompson never have drafted a receiver with hands smaller than 9 inches. However, he finished ninth in drop rate. Ross might have small hands but he’s got big speed, with a record-setting 40-yard dash. Ross caught 16 passes as a freshman in 2013, 17 as a sophomore in 2014 and sat out 2015 with a torn ACL. By that measure, he came out of nowhere in 2016, with 81 receptions for 1,150 yards (14.2 average) and 17 touchdowns. He caught 13-of-27 deep passes for 535 yards and seven touchdowns. Plus, he averaged 24.1 yards per kickoff return with four touchdowns in his three seasons. Speed is great and will give him some breathing room, but is he strong enough to win consistently — and big enough to stay healthy?
Zay Jones, East Carolina (6-2 1/8, 201; 4.45 40; 36.5 vertical; 6.79 3-cone): Jones caught 158 passes for 1,746 yards (11.1 average) and eight touchdowns. As a senior. Yes, those were his senior-year numbers. He was an All-American and one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the nation’s top receiver. He’s got small hands (9 inches) but had the second-best drop rate. He caught 12-of-29 deep passes for 429 yards and three scores. He was murder in the slot, lining up there only 30 percent of the time but catching 64 passes. For his career, Jones caught 399 passes — why not 400? — for 4,279 yards (10.7) and 23 touchdowns. “That’s a good question,” Jones said when we brought up 399 at the Combine. “A lot of my friends tease me about not getting 400. Still got the record. I’m happy with it. … You go back to all the drops that you had and you kind of pinpoint and be like, man, if only I would have caught that one.” The career and 2016 reception totals are NCAA records. Jones comes from a football-playing family — though it made little difference to recruiters, with Jones’ only offer being East Carolina. His father, Robert, was an All-American linebacker at East Carolina and owns three Super Bowl rings from his career with the Cowboys. A brother, Cayleb, played receiver at Arizona and signed with the Vikings in January. Perhaps that’s why he seems to play with a sixth sense. His 20-yard shuttle time was the fastest among receivers at the Combine. Pro Football Focus’ comparison to Anquan Boldin seems apt.
Chris Godwin, Penn State (6-1, 209; 4.42 40; 36 vertical; 7.01 3-cone): Junior. Godwin needed three years to move up to seventh in career catches (153), fourth in receiving yards (2,404) and fourth in receiving touchdowns (18). He had a strong junior year, tallying 59 catches for 982 yards (16.6 average) and 11 touchdowns. As a sophomore, he caught 66 passes for 1,101 yards (16.0 average), making him one of only three players in school history with a 1,000-yard receiving season. Godwin had a sizzling Scouting Combine with receiver-best results on the bench press (19 reps at 225 pounds) and 20-yard shuttle (4.00 seconds). Penn State loved to air it out, with Godwin catching 14-of-32 long balls for 504 yards and seven touchdowns. His body control on 50-50 balls is sublime. Surprisingly considering his acrobatic catches, he ranked 22nd in drop rate. The aforementioned weight room strength shows up as a blocker.
Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington (6-1 5/8, 204; 4.62 40; 31 vertical; 6.75 3-cone): It would be interesting to know if Kupp’s 3-cone time would save him on the Packers’ board considering his subpar 40 and vertical. A 4.08 in the shuttle saves him for this story. How does an FCS-level player get noticed? By dominating his competition. Kupp was a consensus FCS All-American not just as a senior but all four seasons. He was a two-time national Offensive Player of the Year, the 2015 Walter Payton Award winner (equivalent to the Heisman Trophy) and 2013 Jerry Rice Award winner (top FCS freshman). He was also a three-time Academic All-American. His 6,464 yards, 428 receptions, 73 touchdown catches, 124.3 average yards per game, 464 points and 1.40 average TDs per game were FCS records. The 6,464 yards is an all-divisions record; Rice held the FCS record. Kupp piled up 117 catches for 1,700 yards and 17 scores as a senior. He finished eighth in drop rate in our Top 31. Kupp was a big-play threat, catching 13-of-25 deep passes for 490 yards and eight touchdowns. He did most of his work from the slot, with 88 catches and 10 touchdowns when inside. While not a great athlete, he is surprisingly polished for a smaller-school performer. Kupp’s father, Craig, was a quarterback who was drafted by the Giants in 1991 who threw seven passes for the Arizona Cardinals. Grandfather Jake Kupp had a better pro career, with the guard part of the Saints’ Hall of Fame and all-25-year team.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC (6-1 3/8, 215; 4.54 40; 32.5 vertical; 6.88 3-cone): Junior. Smith-Schuster had three big seasons for the Trojans, with 54 receptions for 724 yards (13.4 average) and five touchdowns as freshman, 89 catches for 1,454 yards (16.3) and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore and 70 catches for 914 yards (13.1) and 10 touchdowns as a junior. That gave him 213 catches, 3,092 yards (14.5) and 25 touchdowns. Smith-Schuster’s 10 1/2-inch hands were the second-biggest among receivers at the Combine, which showed up by ranking 11th in drop rate. Smith-Schuster was not a long-ball threat, catching only 7-of-21 for 229 yards and one touchdown. Where he wins is with polish and physicality at the ball and after the catch. He wore an Elmo backpack at USC as a playful tie with his younger siblings but is all business on the field. “When teams ask me what I’m best at, obviously, I say football IQ. I played 39 games, started 38 games. I’m tough. I played through a broken hand and didn’t miss a game. Played through a torn thumb, didn’t miss a game. And just very competitive. Willing to work. Willing to put my body out there on a line.”
ArDarius Stewart, Alabama (5-11 1/8, 204; 4.49 40; 34 vertical; DNP shuttle): Junior. In three seasons, Stewart caught 129 passes. Most of that production came in his final two seasons: 63 catches for 700 yards (11.1 average) and four touchdowns as a sophomore and 54 catches for 864 yards (16.0) and eight touchdowns as a junior. His bread and butter came in turning short passes into bigger gains. According to PFF, he gained 10.7 YAC per catch. His success came with his ability to get to full speed quickly and then powering through tacklers for extra yards. Stewart was used about one-fourth of the time in the slot but was productive in those chances, with his 3.56 yards per slot route ranking fourth among receivers with at least 20 slot catches. For added perspective, Jones averaged 3.41 and Kupp averaged 3.07. He caught 7-of-14 deep balls for 283 yards and one score. However, he ranked 18th in drop rate.
Curtis Samuel, Ohio State (5-10 5/8, 196; 4.31 40; 37 vertical; 7.09 3-cone): Junior. Samuel ran the ball more than he caught the ball during three seasons at Ohio State. Regardless, he was a playmaker, which is why he’s garnered comparisons Percy Harvin. His blazing speed offers another comparison — to Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill. In 2016, he caught 74 passes for 865 yards (11.7) average and seven touchdowns and carried the ball 97 times for 771 yards (7.9) and eight touchdowns to earn first-team All-American honors. His career totals were 107 receptions for 1,249 yards (11.7) and nine scores and 172 rushes for 1,286 yards (7.5) and 15 scores. His drop rate ranked 20th.
Chad Hansen, Cal (6-1 7/8, 202; 4.53 40; 35 vertical; 6.74 3-cone): Junior. Hansen caught 45 passes at Idaho State in 2013 before transferring to Cal. After sitting out the 2014 season, Hansen made a modest impact in 2015 with just 19 catches. It was a different story in 2016, with Hansen catching 92 passes for 1,249 yards (13.6 average) and 11 touchdowns. How’s this for motivation: After his strong debut at Idaho State — the only school to offer a scholarship — Hansen began contemplating a transfer to a Power Five school. A coach at Arizona State had this to say: “You're not cut out to play at the Pac-12 level. You should just stay at Idaho State and continue your career there. That's probably the best and easiest way to go about things.” Hansen ranked third in our list of prospects in drop rate. Not coincidentally, he was one of seven receivers with 10-inch-plus hands. He was a premier deep threat, catching 16-of-35 for 480 yards and six scores. Like Davante Adams, Hansen overcomes average speed by doing everything else right.
Amara Darboh, Michigan (6-1 5/8, 214; 4.45 40; 36 vertical; 6.81 3-cone): 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. His weight-room strength at the Combine showed up when he had to block. For having almost 10-inch hands, he dropped far too many passes (26th in drop rate). He also was a nonfactor on deep passes, with a 7-of-28 success rate. 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. “I remember quite a bit. I think what I did go through has helped me out throughout my life, and I know a lot of people have gone through tough times, as well. I won’t say it’s prepared me more than others but it’s helped me out a lot in my life.”
Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky (5-11, 203; 4.50 40; 33.5 vertical; 6.57 3-cone): Taylor turned 253 receptions into 4,234 yards (16.7 average) and 41 touchdowns. That includes 17-touchdown seasons as a junior (86 catches, 1467 yards, 17.1 average) and senior (98 catches, 1,730 yards, 17.7 average), when he was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the nation’s top receiver. The 2015 numbers were the best in school history; the 2016 numbers smashed the 2015 tallies. The number would have been even better had he not finished 21st in drop rate. His 948 yards and 11 touchdowns on deep passes — coming on 20-of-43 passes — are bigger numbers than most receivers had in general. He didn’t line up often in the slot but was second in the draft class with 4.85 yards per pass route. None other than Nick Saban said Taylor would be perhaps the best receiver his team would face all season — quite a comment considering Alabama faced Smith-Schuster and the SEC gauntlet.
Jehu Chesson, Michigan (6-1 5/8, 204; 4.47 40; 35.5 vertical; 6.70 3-cone): 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, due in part to a knee injury suffered in the 2015 bowl game, 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. As a senior, he finished 12th in drop rate on our list of prospects. Chesson caught 7-of-15 deep passes for 211 yards and two scores. He’s got the second-longest arms in the receiver class, which means an enormous catch radius. While not a YAC threat, his physicality showed up as a runner (20 carries, 218 yards, three scores during his final two years) and blocker. Along with the testing numbers above, he posted one of the best 20-yard shuttles in the receiver class. 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.
Austin Carr, Northwestern (6-0 1/4, 202; 4.62 40; 33.5 vertical; 6.70 3-cone): Carr was the nation’s most productive slot receiver last year. He caught 90 passes for 1,247 yards (13.9 average) and 12 touchdowns as a senior, when he was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award and won the Big Ten Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year Award. All of that production came from the slot. In our Top 31, Carr finished fifth in drop rate at 4.26 percent. Carr was not invited to the Combine but had a great pro day, which included a 4.07 in the shuttle. Carr started his career as a walk-on. He’s also a composer, singer and pianist, “As with songwriting, you are attuned to the details. In football, there is structure on the field, but there is plenty of room for creativity at my position.”
Amba Etta-Tawo, Syracuse (6-1 1/4, 208; 4.40 40; 31 vertical; 6.95 3-cone): Etta-Tawo caught 61 passes in three seasons for Maryland before transferring to Syracuse for his senior season. The fresh start paid off, with Etta-Tawo earning All-American honors with Syracuse records of 94 catches for 1,482 yards and a school-record-tying 14 touchdowns. The yardage mark ranks second in ACC history to Torry Holt’s 1,604 yards in 1998. Among Power Five conference players, only Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook (1,524) had more receiving yards and only Clemson's Mike Williams (98) and North Carolina's Ryan Switzer (96) had more receptions. On deep passes, he caught 15-of-38 for 687 yards and eight touchdowns. But he finished 19th in drop rate. Etta-Tawo was born in Muscat, Oman. The family — father, mother and four sons — came to the United States in 1999 via a visa lottery.
Rodney Adams, South Florida (6-1 1/4, 189; 4.44 40; 29.5 vertical; 6.98 3-cone): Adams opened his career at Toledo, catching three passes in eight games as a true freshman, before returning to his native Florida after his mother died in a car accident. 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. Most of his 2016 came in the production, where he lined up more than 80 percent of the time and caught 54 passes. He’s got small hands (9 inches) but was fourth in drop rate. He did his best work underneath; on deep passes, he was 7-of-21 for 282 yards and three scores but all three drops.
Fred Ross, Mississippi State (6-0 3/4, 213; 4.51 40; 35 vertical; 6.99 3-cone): After catching 39 passes in his first two seasons, Ross caught 88 passes for 1,007 yards (11.4 average) and five touchdowns as a junior and 72 passes for 917 yards (12.7) and 12 scores as a senior. That gave him a four-year total of 199 catches for 2,528 yards (12.7) and 22 touchdowns. Plus, he averaged 8.3 yards per punt return with one touchdown. He spent about half the time in the slot, where he caught 39 passes but averaged 2.14 yards per route. Ross was 24th in drop rate. He’s an excellent blocker, which should help him in the slot in the NFL.
DeAngelo Yancey, Purdue (6-1 5/8, 220; 4.53 40; 35.5 vertical; 6.84 3-cone): Yancey provided the big plays for the Boilermakers, with senior-year totals of 49 catches, 951 yards (19.4 average) and 10 touchdowns. According to PFF, he caught only 10-of-29 deep passes but turned those catches into 449 yards and six touchdowns. His four-year total was 141 receptions, 2,344 yards (16.6) and 20 scores. Yancey ranked 15th in our Group of 31 in drop rate. His 21 reps on the bench press at pro day would have topped the fleet of receivers at the Combine. He has visited the Packers.
Kendrick Bourne, Eastern Washington (6-1 1/8, 203; 4.68 40; 34 vertical; 6.73 3-cone): 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 27 touchdowns. That includes a senior year of 79 receptions for 1,201 yards (14.8 average) and seven touchdowns. On deep passes, he caught 13-of-29 passes for 439 yards and five touchdowns. However, he ranked fourth-to-last in drop rate. Bourne’s excellent 3-cone time might not have saved him from a poor 40.
Michael Rector, Stanford (6-0 1/2, 193; 4.42 40; 36.5 vertical; 6.77 3-cone): Thompson values production among his receiver picks, so it’s possible Rector won’t be a consideration. Rector caught 104 passes for 1,681 yards (16.2 average) and 15 touchdowns during his four seasons. He had 32 catches for 367 yards (11.5) and three touchdowns as a senior. He finished 23rd in drop rate and was one of the worst deep-ball receivers (4-of-21, 124 yards, one touchdown). When he wasn’t working on his speed — Rector was the fastest player on the Cardinal roster — he was conducting stem-cell research as a human biology major.
Day 3’s tall tales
It’s well known that Thompson hasn’t drafted short receivers. But he hasn’t drafted many tall receivers, either. Only two of his 16 were taller than 6-foot-2: second-rounder Nelson (6-2 5/8) and seventh-rounder Janis (6-2 7/8). The following 11 receivers are at least 6-foot-2 1/2 and should be available on Day 3 — deep into Day 3, in most cases. They all meet the Packers’ historical parameters of speed and agility.
Mack Hollins, North Carolina (6-4, 221; DNP tests due to hamstring): Hollins led the nation with 24.8 yards per catch as a junior. His senior season, however, ended with a broken collarbone. He caught 16 passes for 309 yards (19.3 average) and four touchdowns. He caught 4-of-10 deep passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns. (In 2015, he caught 11-of-21 for 479 yards and six touchdowns.) Of our top prospects, he ranked 16th in drop percentage. He finished his career with 81 receptions for 1,667 yards (20.6 average) and 20 touchdowns. Hollins went from walk-on to four-year captain. If the Packers are worried about losing Janis, who is a special-teams standout, Hollins had 24 career tackles in the kicking game. Big and fast is never a bad combination. He’ll just need some time to hone his route-running.
Kenny Golladay, Northern Illinois (6-4, 218; 4.50 40; 35.5 vertical; 7.00 3-cone): Golladay played at North Dakota, posting a 69-catch season as a sophomore, before moving up to the FBS ranks and moving back near his hometown of Chicago. At Northern Illinois, Golladay caught 73 passes for 1,129 yards (15.5 average) and 10 touchdowns as a junior and 87 passes for 1,156 yards (13.3) and eight touchdowns as a senior. Of our top prospects, he ranked seventh in drop percentage. Not only is he tall but he’s powerful. Only Godwin and Georgia State’s Robert Davis beat Golladay on the bench press at the Combine. He was used often on deep passes but caught only 14-of-38 for 479 yards and five touchdowns.
Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M (6-2 7/8, 194; 4.52 40; 37 vertical; 6.83 3-cone): Reynolds put up outstanding production in three years at A&M, with 52 catches for 842 yards (16.2 average) and a career-high 13 touchdowns in 2014, 51 catches for 907 yards (17.8) and five touchdowns in 2015 and career highs of 61 catches and 1,039 yards (17.0) along with 12 touchdowns in 2016. He caught 11-of-26 deep passes for 450 yards and four touchdowns. His three-year total was 164 receptions, 2,788 yards and 30 touchdowns. Incredibly, the player who ranks third in SEC history in receiving touchdowns never made an all-conference team. However, he’s rail-thin, which could helps defensive backs neutralize his height and speed. Of our top prospects, he ranked 25th in drop rate.
Josh Malone, Tennessee (6-2 3/4, 208; 4.40 40; 30.5 vertical; 7.05 3-cone): Junior. Malone departed Tennessee following a breakout season of 50 catches for 972 yards (school-record 19.4 average) and 11 touchdowns. He is a premier deep threat, having caught 13-of-23 deep passes for 509 yards and 10 touchdowns. Of receivers who were targeted at least 20 times on 20-yard passes, his 56.5 percent catch rate ranked fourth (and first among our top 31). Malone builds to speed and isn’t a jump-ball artist, so the long-ball production might not carry over to the NFL. Of our top prospects, he ranked 13th in drop percentage. He finished his career with 104 grabs, 1,608 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Robert Davis, Georgia State (6-2 5/8, 219; 4.44 40; 41 vertical; 6.82 3-cone): 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. Of our top prospects, he ranked sixth in drop percentage. He finished his career with 222 receptions for 3,391 yards — both school records — with 17 touchdowns. Davis and Godwin tied atop the bench-press leaderboard at the Combine. Part of this stat is based on quarterback play, obviously, but he caught only 8-of-31 deep passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns.
Bug Howard, North Carolina (6-4 1/8, 221; 4.58 40; 37.5 vertical; 6.95 3-cone): Howard caught 146 passes for 2,048 yards (14.0 average) and 18 touchdowns in four seasons. He saved the best for last: 53 receptions, 827 yards (15.6) and eight touchdowns as a senior. Of our top prospects, he ranked 10th in drop percentage. On deep passes, he caught 10-of-25 for 357 yards and two scores. Johnathan Jamaul Howard is his real name; “Bug” is a moniker he got as a toddler. “It came from my Grandma. She said I used to bug her a lot. It used to be, ‘Bugger,’ but it got shortened down to Bug. That’s how I got that name.”
Jalen Robinette, Air Force (6-2 7/8, 220; 4.62 40; 31.5 vertical; 6.77 3-cone): Robinette provided the big-play element to the Air Force wishbone attack. In four seasons, he caught 120 passes for 2,697 yards (22.5 average) and 18 touchdowns. As a senior, he caught 35 passes for 959 yards (a nation-best 27.4 average) and six touchdowns. He took advantage of defenses focused on the Falcons’ run game by catching 17-of-31 passes for 699 yards and five touchdowns on long passes. Robinette also had the best drop percentage in our group of top prospects. That should come as no surprise, as Robinette has the biggest hands in the receiver class. However, he didn’t do much at the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game.
Jerome Lane, Akron (6-2 1/2, 226; 4.60 40; 35 vertical; 6.87 3-cone): Junior. As a redshirt freshman, Lane had five sacks as a safety and pass-rushing defensive end. Lane moved to offense at the start of fall camp as a sophomore, and caught 39 passes for 782 yards and eight touchdowns in 2015 and 62 passes for 1,018 yards and six touchdowns in 2016. Of our top prospects, he ranked 18th in drop percentage. On deep passes, he caught 9-of-31 for 303 yards and two scores. He is the son of Jerome Lane, who famously had a backboard-smashing dunk while starring at Pittsburgh.
Jamari Staples, Louisville (6-2 7/8, 195; 4.51 40; 36 vertical; NA 3-cone): Staples caught 40 passes in two seasons at Alabama-Birmingham before the program was shut down. At Louisville, he caught 37 passes for 638 yards (17.2 average) and three touchdowns as a junior and 36 catches for 615 yards (17.1) and two touchdowns as a senior. As was the case with Reynolds, he’s thin and has butter fingers (next-to-last in drop rate in our group of top prospects). On deep passes, he caught 7-of-26 for 209 yards and one touchdown.
Krishawn Hogan, Marian (6-3, 222; 4.56 40; 36.5 vertical; 6.74 3-cone): Hogan was a touchdown machine in his three seasons with 42 receiving and 25 rushing. As a senior, caught 80 passes for 1,435 yards (17.9 average) with 25 total touchdowns (15 receiving, 10 rushing). That was actually down from what he did the previous season, when he caught 101 passes for 1,824 yards and scored a total of 31 touchdowns. PFF only charts FBS schools so does not have drop data for Hogan. He piled up 263 receptions for 4,395 yards (16.7) and 42 touchdowns in his career, with another 25 rushing touchdowns.
Quincy Adeboyejo, Mississippi (6-2 5/8, 197; 4.42 40; 34.5 vertical; 6.73 3-cone): 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. Of our group of top prospects, he had the worst drop rate and caught only 2-of-14 deep passes. He’s thin and was tied for the worst bench press among receivers at the Combine. But you can’t teach tall and fast.
Potentially off the board
Of Thompson’s 16 receiver picks, only busts Craig Bragg (7.50) and Cory Rodgers (7.37) ran their three-cone drill in slower than 7.08 seconds. So, we cut off our list at 7.10, meaning Louisiana Tech’s Carlos Henderson (7.18), the LSU duo of Malachi Dupre (7.19) and Travin Dural (7.29), Miami’s Stacy Coley (7.15) and Texas A&M’s Ricky Seals-Jones (7.46) are among those not in our rankings.
Rodgers is the only receiver slower than 4.60 in the 40, so that eliminates Virginia Tech’s Isaiah Ford (4.61), Florida State’s Travis Rudolph and Clemson’s Artavis Scott (4.61). (We did, however, keep Kupp, Bourne and Robert Davis because of strong performances in other drills.)
Thompson has drafted only one receiver shorter than 5-foot-11 (Cobb, 5-10 1/4). That takes North Carolina’s Ryan Switzer (5-8 1/2), among others, out of the mix. Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook has major character issues.
Thompson has not drafted a receiver with hands smaller than 9 inches. Thus, we eliminated Washington’s John Ross, Baylor’s K.D. Cannon, West Virginia’s Shelton Gibson and Washington State’s Gabe Marks.
The bottom line
The top of the draft class isn’t great. The guys with size aren’t superior athletes. The guys with the superior athleticism don’t have size. So, it’s a good thing the Packers are set at receiver and can tap into the depth of this class for a mid- to late-round prospect. Beyond the first two or three rounds, Stewart, Taylor, Adams and Carr are interesting slot options if Cobb’s declining production is a major concern.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.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.