Earlier today, Jason Garrison wrote a piece on how there is currently a very inconsistent barometer around the league regarding the opinions on this year's wide receiver prospects. Draft guru Rob Rang explained that the same players apparently have two very different grades amongst two different teams. With the league becoming one dominated by passing, this year's very deep group of wideouts will likely come flying off the board at a rapid pace--especially in the first few rounds.
The Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy produced a writeup of the analyses courtesy of ESPN's Todd McShay (via a teleconference) regarding this year's group of receivers. With the Bengals likely to take a player at the position in the first three or four rounds of the draft, Reedy and McShay provide an interesting insight.
One receiver that the Bengals have been connected to in the first round is Baylor's Kendall Wright. McShay is lukewarm on the idea of Cincinnati selecting him with one of their two picks:
"I would not draft at 17. He has a lot of work to do. Consistency as a pass catcher and also improving his routes. But when you start to get down to 21, he’s right in that range, put it that way. If other guys aren’t available that you’re looking for at different positions like cornerback or guard ‑‑ probably corner and guard to me are the top two. I think that’s a possibility as well there."
The "corners and guard" that are also frequently connected with the Bengals are Dre Kirkpatrick, Stephon Gilmore (Reedy had the Bengals selecting him in his most recent mock draft) and David DeCastro. It may be a stretch to believe that Gilmore and/or DeCastro will be available when the Bengals are on the clock.
One prospect that has been rising up draft boards is A.J. Jenkins from the University of Illinois. He had a solid 2011 campaign with 90 catches, 1,276 yards, eight touchdowns and a 14.2 yards per catch average.
"I’ve got him 69th overall in the class, but he’s a receiver that’s moving up. I think Jenkins, people are realizing he’s a lot more explosive than what we expected because he just came out of nowhere this year and disappeared in the second half of the year. But he’s a better athlete than I expected and can get down the field."
Jenkins may be a fringe second to third round prospect, but has worked out well and has decent size at 6'1" and 190 pounds. He seems to have been forgotten a bit amongst some of the bigger names out there.
McShay also spoke on a polarizing wideout in South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery. He has first round measurables, but his weight and inconsistency issues have seemed to have dropped him into the second round.
"I think he’s proven that he can carry that weight if he’s willing to focus on it and work to be in good shape. I think running the time that he did only can help him. The fact that he can get down the field and go up and make plays is what I like. I watch tape after tape after tape of him. I don’t like his route running. I don’t think he’s sudden. Every catch he makes is contested. He’s not polished, and he has work to do. You can go on and on and on with the negatives. Bottom line is he can do a few things that most guys can’t. When you have a player like that with his size and straight line speed and his ability to go up and get the ball and his rare ball skills ‑‑ when I say rare, I think he’s in the top two or three of all receivers in his class."
McShay's analysis of Jeffery is likely how scouts feel about him. He definitely has the potential to be special, but he frustrates many with eyebrow-raising "red flags" that many of the other prospects don't have. McShay also touched on the value of the bigger-bodied wideouts slated for the middle rounds. Marvin McNutt of Iowa, Nick Toon of Wisconsin and Mohammed Sanu all could provide great value in the second to fourth rounds.
It's very likely that we see one of these players end up in stripes later this month to provide competition to Armon Binns and maybe even Jerome Simpson, if the team elects to re-sign the embattled veteran.