The Cincinnati Bengals' wide receiver position group is in flux after losing two of their three options via free agency in Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones. The team added Brandon LaFell after the departures, but it still seems like the team will be looking at the position throughout the entirety of the upcoming NFL draft.
Given the amount of teams who regularly employ multiple wide receiver formations, impact players can still be found in the late rounds. One such player could be Washington's Jaydon Mickens. The slight speedster made a name for himself in the Pac-12, even though the Huskies had quarterback issues during his tenure. Though he wasn't high on many draft boards early in the process, a sound showing at the NFLPA Bowl this January caused his stock to rise.
Height/Weight: 5'10", 174 pounds
Pro Day Stats: 4.51 40-yard dash, 35 1/2-inch vertical jump, 10'1" vertical jump, 15 bench press repetitions, 6.58 seconds on three cone drill.
2015 Stats: 58 catches, 692 yards, two touchdowns; seven rushes 44 yards, one rushing touchdown
Draft Projection: Rounds 5-6
Strengths: He has good speed and shiftiness to make up for a lack of athletic dominance. In prior NFL decades, players in Mickens' mold might not have held much value in previous decades, but with the common utilization of multiple wide receivers in today's offenses, he seems to suit the role of an NFL slot receiver well. At the NFLPA Bowl this January, Mickens was one of the best players on the field and overcame a number of quarterback issues while at the University of Washington. Ironically, some of his biggest plays in college came as a flanker who came down with a deep ball. He also brings potential kick return ability, but would need more development there.
Weaknesses: While speedy and intelligent in getting first downs, Mickens only had 12 touchdown receptions in four collegiate seasons. He was a crafty player at the NCAA ranks, but a lack of dominant athleticism could hinder his ability to have a huge impact as a pro. Mickens could be one of those late-round draft steals who unexpectedly becomes a Wes Welker type, but also could end up being an irrelevant pick, based on offensive scheme, proper usage and his ability to acclimate to the pros.
Outlook: Mickens projects as a niche player in the NFL and will benefit from the proper system, likely as a slot option. He is a bit more versatile than the standard slot guy, but also might need a year or two before his true professional potential is discovered. He'll need to develop his physicality, but with a decent quarterback, the former Husky wideout could be an impactful pro.
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