Draft preview: Receiver analysis

Receiver isn't a big need for the Packers, but they could use someone with kick-return skills. Michael Crabtree is the top talent and as many as six could go in the first round, with some intriguing talents in later rounds.

Editor's note: This is Part 8 of our 14-part position-by-position breakdown heading to the April 25-26 NFL Draft. We continue with the wide receivers. The prospects are listed in order based on analysis by Scout.com draft expert Chris Steuber and Packer Report, with the comments that follow them based on the beliefs of league experts and insiders.

The Packers' perspective:

Unless the Packers have hired Matt Millen, there's no chance the team drafts a wide receiver with its ninth overall pick (though all bets are off if a certain receiver from Texas Tech inexplicably tumbles).

With Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Ruvell Martin, the Packers are about as good as any team in the league.

But that doesn't mean the Packers won't add a receiver at some point. From a common-sense standpoint, the Packers will draft or sign at least one just to keep the primary receivers' legs fresh during camp. And if one of them breaks through — someone who can return kickoffs would be a bonus — he could make a run at Martin for the fifth spot. If nothing else, the Packers could stash a receiver on the practice squad for when Driver begins to show his age.

Cream of the crop:

Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech: The 6-foot-1 Crabtree would be a no-doubt-about-it top-five pick had he not suffered a stress fracture in a foot before the Scouting Combine. The injury required surgery and kept him from running for scouts during the pre-draft process. It probably won't matter. Teams know he's not a burner, but his stats (231 catches, 3,127 yards and a record 41 touchdowns over the previous two seasons) are off the charts. He's strong with long arms and great hands.

First-round prospects:

Jeremy Maclin, Missouri: Fast, productive and smart. Knee injury ruined his true-freshman season of 2006, but rebounded with two of the most productive seasons in NCAA history. The 6-footer scored as a receiver, runner, kickoff returner and punt returner in 2007 and 2008. Caught 102 passes for 1,260 yards and 13 touchdown last season while averaging 11.7 yards on punts and 24.0 yards on kickoffs.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, Maryland: Heyward-Bey is the fastest player in the draft (4.30 40 at the Scouting Combine), and when you pair that with his 6-foot-1 height, he could be something special. Or not. Inconsistent hands and lacks polish, and his production of 42 catches for 609 yards and five TDs last year was nothing special.

Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina: Nicks is a lot like Crabtree. Decent size, OK speed and great hands. Put on 13 pounds between the Combine and his pro day, which sent up red flags. Huge production with 68 catches for 1,222 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2008, including eight for 217 and three TDs vs. West Virginia in the bowl game.

Percy Harvin, Florida: Could be the third receiver off the board, depending on what a team is looking for. He reminds some scouts of Reggie Bush because he can run, catch and return kicks. Drug rumors are an issue. Could be special if paired with the right coordinator. An electric athlete who plays to his timed speed.

Kenny Britt, Rutgers: At 6-3 with good speed, he's a dangerous weapon. Career receiving yardage leader in Big East history. Height makes him a down-field target and his strength at 214 pounds makes him a weapon with slants and underneath routes.

Just a notch below:

Brian Robiskie, Ohio State: Scouts' views are torn. They all like him, but to varying degrees. His dad, Terry, played running back for Oakland and is a longtime coach. So, he's been around the game his whole life, so you wonder about his upside. But he's 6-3 with good speed (4.59 40 at Combine).

Juaquin Iglesias, Oklahoma: At 6-1 and 209, he's got good size and good wheels (4.54 40 at Combine). Caught 202 passes and 19 TDs for the Sooners. Polished route runner and smart. Added dimension with 28.5-yard average on kickoffs in 2007.

Ramses Barden, Cal Poly: An intriguing talent who overwhelmed lesser competition. He's 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, yet ran a 4.50 40 at his pro day after a slow 4.68 at the Combine. His height and a 34-inch vertical leap make him almost unstoppable in the red zone. Had six catches for 83 yards and a touchdown at Wisconsin in November. Eighteen TD grabs each of last two seasons.

Others to remember:

Louis Murphy, Florida: At 6-2 with 4.43 speed in the 40, he's a major talent without major production. Some of that was a byproduct of playing in Florida's loaded offense. Had 38 catches for 655 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior. Long arms but needs to show he can handle a physical corner.

Derrick Williams, Penn State: The 6-foot Williams went from perhaps a late first-round pick to a third- or fourth-rounder because he ran one of the slowest 40 times among receivers at the Combine (4.68). Never a breakout performer in college, but he's a proven kick returner (one touchdown on punts, two on kickoffs as a senior) and could run the Wildcat.

— Jarrett Dillard, Rice: Remarkably productive with 60 receiving touchdowns, including 55 over the last three seasons and 20 as a senior. Had nine catches for 158 yards and a touchdown against Texas. Great initial quickness and hands make him an intriguing slot prospect. Only 5-11, 168.

Mohamed Massaquoi, Georgia: Part of a dynamic duo with Matthew Stafford. Used to catching Stafford's fastball, with 58 catches for 920 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior. He's 6-1, 208 with good hands and superior intelligence. His 4.66 at the Combine didn't help.

Patrick Turner, USC: USC receivers have struggled in the NFL, and that knock is hurting Turner. He's 6-5 with OK speed. Caught 49 passes for 741 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. Reminds some of one big USC receiver who did make it big in the NFL: Keyshawn Johnson.

Austin Collie, BYU: Played three years at BYU but is 24 because of a two-year Mormon mission. Caught 106 passes for 1,453 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. He's 6-foot-1 and strong. More quick than fast with good hands. Big-time kickoff returner.

Kevin Ogletree, Virginia: Had 110 catches and nine touchdowns combined in 2006 and 2008. Sat out 2007 with knee injury. Left school with degree but one year of eligibility remaining. At 6-foot-1, has good straight-line speed (4.46 at Combine) but is a possession receiver.

Quan Cosby, Texas: Cosby is 26 after playing minor league baseball. Whopping 92 catches for 1,123 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. Only 5-9 with decent speed (4.57 at Combine), but is quick, knows how to get open and has good hands. Proven punt and kickoff returner, with career averages of 11.3 and 23.7, respectively.

Aaron Kelly, Clemson: He's 6-foot-5. Caught 67 passes for just 10.8 yards and four touchdowns as a senior. Had 88 catches and 11 touchdowns as a junior. Good hands and knows how to use size. Ran OK at Combine with 4.53 40.

Brandon Tate, North Carolina: The 6-foot Tate tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee in October, ruining his surging draft prospects. A big-play performer early in his senior year with 16 catches for 376 yards and three touchdowns. Six career touchdowns on returns. Didn't run during pre-draft process.

Mike Thomas, Arizona: At 5-8 and 195, obvious comparisons to Wes Welker. Returned two punts for TDs as a senior, and is the Pac-10's career leader with 259 receptions. Great hands and route-running skills. Fifth-fastest 40 at Combine at 4.40.

— Demetrius Byrd, LSU: The 6-footer scored seven touchdowns as a junior but regressed to 37 catches for 499 yards and four scores as a senior. Good in open field but not strong enough. Eighth-fastest 40 at Combine (4.42).

Mike Wallace, Mississippi: The 6-footer ran a 4.33 40, which trailed only Heyward-Bey at Combine. Big-play performer who averaged 18.9 yards as a junior and 20.1 as a senior. Raw but obviously has intrigue.

Jamarko Simmons, Western Michigan: The 6-foot-2, 231-pound Simmons broke Greg Jennings' school receiving records. Caught 104 passes for 1,276 yards and seven TDs as a senior. He's physical but not especially fast.

Marko Mitchell, Nevada: The 6-foot-4 Mitchell is a big-play performer. Had 61 catches for 1,141 yards (18.7 average) and 10 TDs in 2008 and 53 for 1,129 (21.3) and eight TDs in 2007. Good 40 time (4.49) but not especially quick because of his height.

Eron Riley, Duke: The 6-foot-3 Riley ran a 4.27 40 at his pro day. A big-play performer as a sophomore and junior who caught 61 passes for 693 yards and eight TDs as a senior. A proven kickoff returner. He was the guy catching passes in front of a Packers scout when basketball player Greg Paulus worked out at quarterback.

Deon Butler, Penn State: Ran the fourth-fastest 40 at the Combine (4.38). Four-year starter who averaged 44 catches and five touchdowns. Being 5-10 with no return experience hurts his prospects.

Darius Passmore, Marshall: In two years at the school, Passmore caught 101 passes for 1,605 yards and 12 touchdowns. Seven catches for 95 yards vs. Wisconsin in September. Was listed as 6-foot-3 by Marshall but is actually just over 6-foot. Good route-runner who ran some Wildcat last season.

Tiquan Underwood, Rutgers: Underwood (6-1) tied Harvin for sixth-fastest 40 (4.41) at the Combine. Went from 65 catches for 1,100 yards in 2007 to 40 for 494 in 2008. Was an OK kickoff returner the last two years.

Sammie Stroughter, Oregon State: Caught 74 passes in 2006 and 70 in 2008. Missed most of 2007 with depression and lacerated kidney. Just 5-foot-9 but strong. Quick but not fast. Ran three punts back for touchdowns in 2006 and averaged 10.3 yards in 2008.

Brooks Foster, North Carolina: Never a standout performer, though he had two elite receivers around him. His 27 bench-press reps were tops among receivers. Athleticism, size (6-1) and strength never equated on the football field, though.

Chris Steuber's sleeper:

— Domonique Edison, Stephen F. Austin: The 6-foot-2 Edison dominated a lower rung of competition with 67 catches for 1,106 yards and a whopping 18 touchdowns last season. His 4.47 40 at the Combine ranked ahead of Maclin (4.48). Strong upper body and great ability on jump balls, but not quick off the ball and must prove he can handle NFL-caliber corners.


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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. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport


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