clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What we love and hate about the 2016 NFL Draft top wide receivers

Many fans and experts are expecting the Bengals to take a wide receiver. But which one? Coleman over Doctson? Fuller over Treadwell? Where do you rank the top prospects?

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

When it comes to wide receivers, the 2016 NFL draft may not have a "top-10" pick such as A.J. Green or Julio Jones, making scouts and pundits salivate with an elite combination of hands, size, and speed. But what it does offer is a group of solid prospects. Like every year, this group of wide receivers has their share of positive attributes and negative traits. We're taking a look at these players to identify what we love about them, and what we don't love about them.

First off, which prospects reside in this top tier of wide receivers for the 2016 NFL Draft? Taking the average ranking from some of the more popular mock draft sites, we end up with four prospects who seem like the clear cut members of this group. Laquon Treadwell, Josh Doctson, Corey Coleman, and Will Fuller. For our purposes, I'll also include Michael Thomas, since the Bengals were once rumored to have him atop their draft board.

NFL CBS Sports Drafttek Walter Football SI Average
Laquon Treadwell 1 1 1 1 1 1.0
Josh Doctson 3 3 3 4 2 3.0
Corey Coleman 4 2 2 3 5 3.2
Will Fuller 1 4 4 2 8 3.8
Tyler Boyd 5 5 6 7 3 5.2
Michael Thomas 7 6 5 5 6 5.8
Sterling Shepard 5 7 7 8 4 6.2

Corey Coleman, Baylor

5'11", 194 lbs

2015: 74 receptions, 1363 yards, 20 touchdowns

What we love about him

  • Quick and physical, gets good separation and is difficult to cover.
  • Big time play maker with the ball in his hands. Is fast and elusive, accelerating quickly and breaking ankles as he weaves in and out of would be tacklers. He has the closest speed to Fuller in this group of receivers, but also add the insane weaving zig-zag ability that Fuller doesn't show.
  • Plays the ball well in the air, and has an explosive jumping ability allowing him to win 50/50 balls, despite not being a tall wide receiver.
  • Very productive at Baylor, topping 1,100 yards each of the last two years, and totaling 31 touchdowns over that same span.

What we don't love about him

  • The shortest of the wide receivers, measuring under six feet tall.
  • Dropped 10 of 84 catchable passes in 2015 for an 11.9% drop rate.

Josh Doctson, Texas Christian

6'2", 202 lbs

2015: 78 receptions, 1326 yards, 14 touchdowns

What we love about him

  • Good hands, only dropping 6 of 84 catchable balls in 2015.
  • Amazing ability to jump and adjust to the ball in flight, gives him a very large catch radius and allows him to routine make amazing catches that other receivers just don't make.
  • Two years of great production, recording at least 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns each of the last two seasons.
  • Topped PFF's college football grades for all wide receivers this past season.
  • One of the combine's top performers among wide receivers with a 41" vertical, 131" broad jump, 4.08 second 20-yard shuttle, and 11.09 second 60-yard shuttle.

What we don't love about him

  • The oldest of the top wide receivers. While not an excessively old prospect, like we have seen from some of the BYU players who went on a mission, Doctson is the oldest of the five, about two and a half years older than the youngest, Treadwell.
  • Ran a limited set of routes at TCU, and hasn't worked much against press coverage.
  • Lacks elite speed. His 4.50 time in the 40-yard dash was good, but not great.

Will Fuller, Notre Dame

6'0", 186 lbs

2015: 62 receptions, 1258 yards, 14 touchdowns

What we love about him

  • Blazing straight line speed. Fuller ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. And it's not just track speed, but shows up in the game.
  • Productive deep threat with 27% of his catches going for over 25 yards.
  • Was not a one year wonder, but produced big numbers for the Fighting Irish with at least 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns over the last two seasons.
  • His speed enables him to turn wide receiver screens into big gains with good initial blocking.
  • Exploits soft and blown coverage with his speed getting behind defenders. Runs good deep routes, and once he gets behind a defensive back, he does not get caught from behind.

What we don't love about him

  • Drops. Drops. Drops. Fuller tends to be in a competition with a bad cell phone carrier for the title of most drops. He finished 2015 with a 13.9% drop rate on catchable balls, finishing 88th out of 96 qualifying receivers this past season. He got worse in this regard, as he had a 12.6% drop rate the year before, finishing 82nd among college receivers.
  • Very small hands compared to the other receivers, which is seen as a root cause for his numerous drops - which is something that really can't be fixed, like drops due to concentration or bad form.
  • He is the Russell Bodine of wide receivers when it comes to blocking. Granted, you're not drafting him to block, but to be a one trick pony - run fast and deep.
  • Not an ankle breaking runner, but needs room to get into top gear to make his big plays.
  • Frequently given huge cushions by slower college defensive backs who feared his speed, which allowed him easy catches on shorter routes. NFL cornerbacks may not be so generous, but force him into more contested catches.

Michael Thomas

6'3", 212 lbs

2015: 56 receptions, 781 yards, 9 touchdowns

What we love about him

  • A big, strong receiver who uses his hands well to beat press coverage, and can out muscle defensive backs for contested balls.
  • Effective route runner who uses his feel well.
  • Only dropped 5 of 115 catchable balls over the last two seasons, ranking first among the top wide receivers.
  • Plays strong and is an effective runner, recording good yards after the catch, and makes it difficult for defensive backs to bring him down.
  • Uses his hands and body well to be a good red zone target.

What we don't love about him

  • Less production than his counterparts, never reaching 800 receiving yards. Although he did catch nine touchdowns in each of the past two seasons, and played in an offense that featured a stud running back, and running quarterbacks, allowing fewer opportunities for receptions.
  • Not exceptionally fast or explosive, only running a 4.57 time in the 40 yard dash.

Laquon Treadwell

6'2", 221 lbs

2015: 82 receptions, 1153 yards, 11 touchdowns

What we love about him

  • Is a king of jump balls and making contested catches with his strong hands.
  • Good body control and athleticism allows him to play the ball well in the air.
  • At 20 years old, Treadwell is the youngest member of the group.
  • Hard to bring down after the catch.
  • Beats press coverage with his size and strength.
  • Good blocker and a fierce competitor.

What we don't love about him

  • Speed. Avoided running at the combine, and only ran a 4.63 at his Pro-Day. Although it can be argued that 40 times are not a great measure of an NFL wide receiver's production.
  • Only one season of more than 632 yards or more than five touchdowns, although his junior year was shortened by an injury.
  • He has the strength to fight for 50/50 balls, but has to because he doesn't get good separation. This is partially speed based, and somewhat because he is still a little raw as a receiver who need to improve his route running.
  • Has a high ceiling and could become an elite NFL receiver, but his lack of speed and separation could make it difficult for him to live up to his draft status, becoming another Kenny Britt, with size but no production.


Each of these receivers has positive traits that could make them very good NFL receivers, but they also each possess negative traits that could turn them into NFL duds. Fuller is fast, but can't catch the ball. Defenders can't catch Coleman, but he doesn't always catch the ball either. Doctson makes amazing catches, but has limited upside. Treadwell is dominant, but slow. Thomas is physical and rarely drops the ball, but isn't very fast or explosive.

So once the dust settles, which one do you think the Bengals will draft, if any? And which one do you like the best, and why?