Columnist and 95.7 The Game personality John Lund continues a position-by-position look at the top players available in the 2014 NFL Draft with the wide receivers.
The Raiders could use a true number one receiver to steer coverage away from
Since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970, a wide receiver has been taken in the top five picks 18 times. In the last 10 years it has happened seven times with boom or bust results. In 2003, the Lions selected Charles Rogers second overall, the Texans took future All-Pro Andre Johnson with the next pick, third overall. In 2004, the Cardinals grabbed star Larry Fitzgerald third overall. In 2005, the Browns selected Braylon Edwards third overall. In 2007, the Lions took the NFL’s current best receiver Calvin Johnson second overall. In 2011, the Bengals drafted Pro Bowler A.J. Green fourth and in 2012 the Jaguars nabbed embattled Justin Blackmon fifth overall. Four of the seven players are Pro Bowl caliber and Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson could be in Canton someday.
Sammy Watkins – Clemson - 6’1” – 211 pounds: Ran a 4.43 at the combine. Watkins had 16 catches for 227 yards in the Tigers win over Ohio State in the 2014 Orange Bowl. Yes, 16 catches. He plays faster than his time and I was told the consensus is he is the best receiver prospect since Calvin Johnson in 2007. He has started and starred since his freshman year, so he has shown the ability to adjust to the next level quickly. He can legitimately take the top off of the defense to open things up for other players. Has returned kicks and punts in college. A real playmaker.
Where I think he’ll go: I think he’s a consideration for the Rams at number two. Will not be on the board after the top 10.
Marqise Lee – USC - 6’1” 192 pounds: Was once considered a top 10 pick, but injuries in 2013 derailed his stock somewhat. Ran a 4.52-second 40-yard dash at the combine. Was hurt by the issues surrounding the Trojans head coaching change and uncertainty at quarterback last season.
Where I think he’ll go: Probably in the 20’s of the first round, though there are many players in the mix for the number two receiver slot behind Watkins and it depends on what type of receiver a team is looking for.
Mike Evans - Texas A&M - 6’5” - 231 pounds: Ran a 4.53 at combine. Many people feel this guy made Johnny Manziel in 2013. Huge size, can go up and get the ball but doesn’t have speed to run by NFL defensive backs. Will be a factor in red zone and on third down.
Where I think he’ll go: First round. A Scout told me he’s not a true number one, but would be great getting single coverage and taking advantage of mismatches.
Brandin Cooks - Oregon State - 5’10” – 189 pounds: Ran a 2014 Combine- wide receiver-best 4.33-second 40-yard dash. Cooks is more of a slot receiver in the NFL, but with has speed and production. He had 128 receptions for 1,730 yards in 2013. Born and raised in Stockton, Calif.
Where I think he’ll go: I think some team near the end of the first round with a need for a slot receiver will take Cooks. He reminds me of the Panthers Steve Smith. Small, but fast, strong, quick and tough.
Kelvin Benjamin - Florida State - 6’5” – 240 pounds: Tight end size, long arms and can jump. A developing player who caught the game-winning touchdown in the National Championship game for the Seminoles. Ran a 4.61 at the Combine. Has 34 1/2 inch arms, which is a massive wingspan for a player his size. Can be a factor in red zone until he earns more playing time.
Where I think he’ll go: Because of his physical gifts, will likely be over-drafted by a team late in the first round who can afford to take a chance. He would be a nice weapon to develop as a safety net on third down and in the red zone.
Jordan Matthews - Vanderbilt - 6’3” – 212 pounds: He’s the all-time leader in receptions and yards in SEC history, so he has to be good. Ran a 4.46 at the Combine with 21 reps on the bench press. He’s smart, quick and I was told he studies tape better than any receiver in the country.
Where I think he’ll go: Second or third round. He’s not flashy, but I think if he’s on the board in the third, he would be tempting and will out-perform his draft status.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed in John Lund's Wheel Route column represent those of John Lund, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Oakland Raiders organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. The author's views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Raiders officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.