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NFL comparisons for potential Bengals wide receiver targets

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Pro Football Focus broke down some of his year's top pass-catching targets and who their NFL counterparts may be.

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

It seems more and more likely that the Bengals will draft a wide receiver in the first round of this year's NFL Draft.

But who that receiver will be is anyone's guess right now. While reports suggest the Bengals really like Ohio State's Michael Thomas, there are plenty of doubters who don't think he should go in Round 1.

You can probably count Pro Football Focus among them, at least based on their player comparison post for the top receiver prospects in this draft. They compared guys like Thomas to current and former NFL receivers who had similar frames, measurables and production before entering the NFL.

Thomas drew some...unfavorable comparisons.

Name School Draft Year Draft Pos Draft Age Height Weight Forty Career Rec MS FY Rec MS FY TD/Gm FY Yds/Rec
Michael Thomas Ohio State 2016 NA 23.3 75 212 4.57 0.20 0.32 0.69 13.9
Austin Pettis Boise State 2011 78 23 75 209 4.56 0.19 0.23 0.77 13.4
Brandon LaFell Louisiana State 2010 78 24 75 211 4.58 0.21 0.26 0.85 13.9
Maurice Stovall Notre Dame 2006 90 21 77 217 4.57 0.21 0.29 0.92 16.7

* MS = market share; FY = final year

Michael Thomas is a somewhat polarizing prospect. He's ranked outside of the top five by some scouts, but is supposedly the top receiver on at least one team's board. His numbers-based comps say that he would likely be a poor early selection.

Yikes. I wasn't that high on Thomas to begin with, and that paints an even bleaker picture of his pro career. Given, he could turn out to be a star, but I do think we can agree his floor is much lower than at least a few of this draft's receivers.

I would include TCU's Josh Doctson in the bunch. While his ceiling as an NFL receiver may not be as high as someone with Thomas' abilities and athleticism, I do think Doctson's floor is higher and the likelihood is, he'll make a big impact as a rookie, whereas Thomas will need time to develop. At the very least, Doctson should give the Bengals what Mohamed Sanu gave them at any point in his career in Cincinnati.

And PFF seems to agree with the sentiment that Doctson will shine early and often in his NFL career.

Name School Draft Year Draft Pos Draft Age Height Weight Forty Career Rec MS FY Rec MS FY TD/Gm FY Yds/Rec
Josh Doctson Texas Christian 2016 NA 23.6 74 202 4.50 0.28 0.38 1.40 17.0
Koren Robinson North Carolina State 2001 9 21 74 211 4.61 0.36 0.36 1.18 17.1
Deandre Hopkins Clemson 2013 27 21 73 214 4.57 0.29 0.34 1.38 17.1
Austin Collie Brigham Young 2009 127 24 73 200 4.56 0.30 0.38 1.15 14.5
Quinton Patton Louisiana Tech 2013 128 23 72 204 4.53 0.33 0.30 1.08 13.4

Josh Doctson has been a trendy name and post-combine riser following an impressive athletic display in Indianapolis. Not only did Doctson run a solid 4.5 forty, but was also one of the combine's top performers for the receiver group in the vertical (41 inches), broad (131 inches), and agility drills.

Both DeAndre Hopkins and Koren Robinson were first-round selections, and both match up well with Doctson's production numbers. However, they were substantially younger prospects than Doctson, and were bigger, but slower.

For those of you who don't remember Seahawks receiver Koren Robinson, he was a star in the making after catching 182 balls for 2,672 yards and 10 scores over his first three seasons, but  repeated violations of the NFL substance abuse policy and knee issues plagued his NFL career after that.

Doctson by all accounts is a great person who shouldn't have those issues. If he can put up those type of numbers early in his career, he'll be a great pick for whoever drafts him. Even Colts receiver Austin Collie was a solid No. 3 receiver early in his career but concussions forced him into early retirement.

Another receiver in this class who's been getting a lot of Bengals buzz is Baylor's Corey Coleman. Like Doctson, he too drew some favorable PFF comparisons that suggest he'll be a productive NFL player.

Name School Draft Year Draft Pos Draft Age Height Weight Forty Career Rec MS FY Rec MS FY TD/Gm FY Yds/Rec
Corey Coleman Baylor 2016 NA 22.0 71 194 4.37 0.26 0.39 1.67 18.4
Brandin Cooks Oregon State 2014 20 21 70 189 4.33 0.27 0.36 1.23 13.5
Greg Jennings Western Michigan 2006 52 23 71 197 4.42 0.31 0.46 1.27 12.8
Golden Tate Notre Dame 2010 60 22 70 199 4.42 0.30 0.38 1.25 16.1

Corey Coleman is a consensus top-three prospect in the 2016 class, and our football scouts place the electric Baylor wideout at the top of the class.

Based on Coleman's impressive 4.37 pro day forty time and strong collegiate production, especially in the touchdown department, he comps with NFL successes Brandin CooksGreg Jennings and Golden Tate. Only Cooks was a first round pick, and both he and Jennings had the benefit of elite quarterback play at the next level.

Coleman's comps probably justify having him at the top of this year's wide receiver prospect board, but that might be more an indictment of the rest of the class than endorsement of Coleman.

If you told me Coleman would end up having the same careers as any of those guys, I'd take it. Golden Tate has been a Pro Bowl-caliber receiver. Brandin Cooks looks like a star in the making, and Greg Jennings was great early in his career (averaged over 1,000 yards per season from 2006-11) before falling off in recent years.

Ultimately, I think the Bengals are most likely to draft a receiver from among these three, but be sure to read PFF's full article on player comps for Pitt's Tyler Boyd, Notre Dame's Will Fuller and Ole Miss' Laquon Treadwell.