Pre Draft Rookie Wide Receiver Tiers: Part 1

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The 2015 NFL Draft is fast approaching. As always, it’s a chance for Dynasty owners to add that next elite piece to their rosters.

The 2014 Wide Receiver class was one of the best in recent memory, and arguably one of the best of all time. If you have Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins, Jordan Matthews, Brandin Cooks and company on your roster, you have to be feeling pretty good about it.

The good news is, the 2015 class is pretty deep too. It’s maybe not as top-heavy as 2014, in the sense that it doesn’t contain as many elite talents. But i still believe that NFL teams will be able to grab a contributor in the middle rounds of the draft.

What does this mean for your Dynasty teams? Lets take an early look at some tiers for the 2015 wide receiver class.

TIER 1 – TOP FIVE OVERALL ROOKIE PICKS

Amari Cooper is the safest player in this rookie class and would be my number 1 overall rookie pick, even factoring in other positions. He is a fantastic route runner, which will allow him to get open from day one at the pro level. He’s not your traditional burner, but is certainly quick enough to stretch the field. He makes defenders miss in space with his balance and agility. He also has great hands and crazy ball skills. On tape you see a player willing to work without the ball too, which will undoubtedly impress pro scouts.

Pro Comparison – Keenan Allen/Jeremy Maclin

Kevin White would be my second ranked receiver in this class. After his hugely impressive combine, i actually had him above Cooper. After watching a little more tape, I dropped White back to the number two spot. White is so intriguing from a raw, athletic stand point. He’s big, he’s strong, and he’s fast. He possesses traits that win in the Modern NFL. He has an ability to make splash plays with the ball in his hands. On tape you also see some crazy catches when the coverage is draped all over him. White is ready to contribute from day 1 at the pro level.

Pro Comparison – Larry Fitzgerald

DeVante Parker rounds out tier 1, and is the last of a strong, three player group that I believe has a really high floor. None of the 3 will be a bust at the next level, the only question is how good they can be. Parker is a smooth playmaker in the A.J Green mould. He has a crazy catch radius and ideal length to win at the catch point. Great route runner. Could use a little more size, but that is knit picking. He’s just a really solid bet to be a playmaker in the NFL.

Pro Comparison – A.J Green

TIER 2 – LATE FIRST ROUND/EARLY SECOND ROUND ROOKIE PICKS

Jaelen Strong heads up tier two for me. Strong is a player that I’m extremely high on coming out of Arizona State. He very nearly snuck into my top-tier, but ultimately is raw when it comes to the fundamentals of his position. His route running isn’t as refined as his more illustrious peers in tier 1. He also doesn’t show that true deep speed on tape. What he does have is raw power and agility! He wins one on one with the ball in the air. He boxes out like a Basketball player on contested catches and makes eye-popping plays. He has shown the ability to take the top off a defense with long strides (his 4.44 forty at the combine was a nice surprise) , and my hope is a pro coaching staff will polish up his skills and help him fulfill his huge potential.

Pro Comparison – Marques Colston

My second player in tier 2 is Breshad Perriman of the UCF Knights. Another unrefined prospect, Perriman has that combination of size, speed and aggression that will ensure he is drafted highly by an NFL team. He is a little more raw than Strong in my opinion. Again, fundamentals like route running and reading the coverage need work.But as a raw asset that can be moulded at the next level, he has as much upside as any of the guys i have mentioned already.

Pro Comparison – Brandon Marshall

Rounding out my second tier is maybe a bit of a shock choice. I really like USC’s Nelson Agholor. It’s true that Trojan wide receivers have flattered to deceive at the next level in recent years, but I’m judging Agholor on his own merits. To my eye he looks like a good Football player. Solid hands, nice balance and body control and a nice burst. He also finishes runs aggressively. Despite his smaller frame, he has potential to get yards after contact. His big knock is concentration. If he falls in a nice spot in the draft, I think he can be coached up into a very solid playmaker in the NFL. I also see him being deployed across the formation, but he probably lacks the hands to be an elite slot receiver.

Pro Comparison – Golden Tate

TIER 3 – ROUND TWO OR THREE OF ROOKIE DRAFTS

Everyone plays in leagues of different sizes. Some rookie drafts go seven rounds deep, others go 3. The round grades I have placed on these tiers are very loose, and a reflection of where I would be willing to draft the player myself. I felt the need to preface this as I place Dorial Green- Beckham on top of tier three. Lets start by saying this…he is not Calvin Johnson. He is however, six-foot five inches tall, and two hundred and thirty-five pounds. Prototype size and a 4.49 Forty yard dash makes you take notice. The biggest red flag is character issues. In recent years we have seen talented players go un-drafted because of issues that were not as serious as the ones Green-Beckham was involved in. Yes he has a tantalising combination of size and speed. He dominates in jump ball situations, and makes explosive plays on the field. But do not be surprised if he goes un-drafted and pro teams make him do it the hard way. A very risky rookie pick for me, that’s why I have him in this tier.

Pro Comparison – Vincent Jackson

Next up is Sammie Coates of Auburn. A recurring theme with this class is players with the physical tools and athleticism, but possessing raw fundamental skills. Coates fits that mould as well as anyone. He is a rugged six-foot, two inches tall with a muscular frame. A man of his size should not run as fast as he does. To the point where a 4.43 forty time at the NFL Combine was seen as a slight disappointment. He has really long arms to where he can go up and pluck balls out of the air. I would even go as far as to say he is an ELITE deep threat, but I don’t see him ever being that six grabs for seventy yards guy. Those are the type of players you love on a Fantasy squad, and Coates really struggles when he has to come back to the ball and make the tougher catches.

Pro Comparison – Torrey Smith

Rashad Greene out of Florida State is a flat-out baller.He lead the Seminoles in receiving four straight seasons, with back to back thousand yard efforts in his last two years. He has the best hands of any receiver in the draft. I’d read and heard that this was the case several times, and it lead me to delve deeper into his tape. He’s very, very smooth out of the slot. Gets out of his breaks and back to the ball in a flash. He has the speed to play outside. He won’t blow by defenders, but he knows how to get open. He’s very lean and doesn’t strike me as having that NFL build, but that could change as he settles into a pro regime. As a mid round pick in a Dynasty draft I don’t think there is a safer player. The reason I have him in this tier is capped upside. I don’t see him as more than a wide receiver three in Fantasy. He will be a very good real life Football player though.

Pro Comparison – Andrew Hawkins

So that rounds out my top three tiers of Wide Receivers from the incoming rookie class. My comparison’s are more based around the Fantasy producer I think they can be, rather than apples to apples comparison of playing style. As I said at the start, this is a pretty deep class and there are more players that could come from the pack and hit your Fantasy radar. Check back in the coming days for an overview of who I think can rise up draft boards in part two.

Neil Donohoe.

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