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NFL Draft 2017: Mel Kiper’s top 10 wide receiver prospects

Wide receiver isn’t a huge need for the Bengals right now, but they’ll likely still consider prospects among the top 10 at the position to bring in some young talent for the unit.

Citadel v Clemson Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images

The Bengals did a great job of fixing their problems at the wide receiver position in last year’s draft. They lost Marvin Jones Jr. and Mohamed Sanu to other teams in free agency, but they brought in Tyler Boyd and Cody Core in the draft. In addition, they signed Alex Erickson as a college free agent and brought Brandon LaFell in to be the No. 2 behind A.J. Green.

There was a notable amount of turnover at the position, with only Green and James Wright returning from 2015. But, the Bengals’ numbers in the passing game didn’t take much of a dip. Passing touchdowns were significantly down, but that had a lot to do with the absence of Tyler Eifert through half of the season, Green missing essentially seven games and the new receivers needing time to generate chemistry with Andy Dalton.

The Bengals’ wide receiver position is in much better shape now than it was last year. But, with Wright not contributing much in 2016 and LaFell a free agent, the Bengals could certainly take a receiver in this year’s draft. A speedster to add into the group should be something the Bengals are seeking. Mel Kiper’s top 10 receivers in the 2017 Draft should provide a solid blueprint for who the Bengals could target if they opt to go for a receiver early. Though, it seems more likely that the Bengals would wait a few rounds before adding a receiver in this year’s Draft.

*1. Mike Williams (Clemson)

It would be ssurprising to see the Bengals use their No. 9 overall pick on a receiver, especially a guy with Williams’ build and skill set. He fills out the prototypical measurements for a wide receiver, has incredible awareness of the ball when it is in the air, and makes eye-popping catches with the best of them. However, he does struggle with route running and has a tendency to drop catchable balls at inopportune times.

All that said, the Bengals already have a No. 1 receiver with size and spectacular catch ability in Green, so go ahead and assume this guy isn’t coming to Cincinnati.

2. Corey Davis (Western Michigan)

If the Bengals were planning to take a wide receiver early, Davis would probably be the guy they want. Their primary struggle in the passing game in 2016 was scoring touchdowns, which is exactly what the Western Michigan standout has built his name on. 29 touchdowns in his final two seasons in college show exactly why he would be a great fit with the Bengals. Although he isn’t quite as perfectly built as Williams, he still has the desired height and arm length for a receiver to win balls more often than not over defensive backs.

*3. John Ross (Washington)

Ross’ athletic ability reminds you of Marvin Jones. He is a deep-threat receiver who knows how to track the ball and rarely drops passes. However, unlike Jones, his small stature is holding him back from being a top prospect. If you’ll recall, Jones fell to the Bengals in the fifth round because he lacked the desired speed traits for an NFL receiver. Ross, however, has never been accused of not being fast enough and will be taken much higher in the draft as a result. Unlike Jones, his short stature (5’11) holds his value in the draft back, but he has shown enough talent and production in college that he will still probably be taken by the end of the second round.

*4 Curtis Samuel (Ohio State)

Ohio State’s best receiver also happens to be one of the best receivers in the 2017 Draft. Like Ross, he is a fast, deep-threat who lacks the ideal height and arm length to truly be a top prospect. However, he plays and carries himself like a professional and is no stranger to clutch situations. If you don’t tackle him immediately after he catches the ball, good luck bringing him down before he busts out for a big play. He is also fairly versatile as an athlete, which raises questions about his ability to find a natural position, but also makes him a desirable offensive weapon. The Bengals might be able to wait until their second round pick to select him, if he is on their radar.

*5. JuJu Smith-Schuster (USC)

The USC junior standout plays with a very physical, defensive style that seems to fit well in the AFC North. He isn’t going to blow by many defenders, but he will fight for every yard after he makes the catch and will be very difficult to bring down. Furthermore, the Bengals don’t have many blocking wide receivers (Boyd is particularly poor in this area), which is an area in which Smith-Schuster excels. If he can just improve his in-play concentration to reduce his drop rate, he can become a force for any team he plays for. As he is likely to fall to the Bengals’ third round pick, he seems like the wide receiver with the best value for his potential.

Here’s the rest of Kiper’s top 10:

6. *ArDarius Stewart, Alabama

7. *Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech

8. *Isaiah Ford, Virginia Tech

9. Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma

10. Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington

One asterisk denotes a junior, and two asterisks denote a redshirt sophomore for the 2016 season.