2014 NFL Draft: Day 3 Slot Receivers, Possession Receivers, and RB Options

Streeter Lecka

Part 1 of this series addressed the players currently on the roster. The Day-3 big-and-tall receivers were discussed in Part 2. This final article will focus on the remaining later-round prospects, including shifty slot receivers, scatbacks, and receivers who would compete as overall #3's rather than specific role-fillers.

Here is the chart of available WR's who have the speed and shiftiness to be Wes Welker-type slot receivers. All are also kick-return capable. ALL CAPS AND RED TEXT indicates a player who is already on the Steelers' roster. Having them there makes comparisons a lot easier. Text in italics indicates a player who clearly deserve to be picked in the first three rounds, and will therefore be omitted from this discussion. [Lord knows they've been discussed enough elsewhere!]. If you think someone is missing and he happens to be tall, be sure to check Article 2 in the series - the Big & Tall Day 3 Options.

Fast & Shifty Slot Receivers, Organized By Grade

Round

Player

Height

Weight

0

ANTONIO BROWN

5-10

186

0

MARKUS WHEATON

5-11

182

0

LANCE MOORE

5-9

190

0

KASHIF MOORE (4.4 SPEED, SHIFTY COMBINE-KILLER)

5-10

175

0

JASPER COLLINS (4.47 SPEED, VERY SHIFTY)

5-10

190

1

Sammy Watkins

6-1

211

1

Odell Beckham, Jr.

5-11

198

1

Brandin Cooks

5-10

189

1-2

Marqise Lee

6-0

192

3-4

Bruce Ellington

5-9

197

3-4

Robert Herron

5-9

193

5-7

Tevin Reese

5-10

170

5-7

Jalen Saunders

5-9

165

6-7

John Brown

5-10

175

7

Josh Stewart

5-10

178

Bruce Ellington, WR/KR, South Carolina (Round 3-4) - 5'9-3/8", 197 lbs. In college Ellington was a starting point guard first and a receiver second. For this reason he's a little behind the Beckhams and Cooks of the world. But it's a 2-3 round difference, no more, and his athleticism may well be on a par even with those first round talents. He was and may continue to be a real difference-maker at both receiver and returner. Had a team visit. A faster and better version of Jasper Collins.

Robert Herron, WR/KR, Wyoming (Round 3-4) - 5'9-1/8", 193 lbs. Does he look a lot like Ellington to you on the measurables? It's amazing how closely Herron and Ellington match up. Both are faster and better versions of Jasper Collins. Herron ran two blistering times at his pro day (4.25 and 4.29) and he flashed some good, precise route-running at the Senior Bowl practices. Kevin Colbert apparently was there and commented on it. The only issue is height. Not size, just height.

Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor (Round 5-7) - 5'10", 170 lbs. Reese is a lot more like Kashif Moore than Collins. Just look at the measurable. He also has enough questions in his game to send up warning signs. There's no big, glaring flag - it's more along the lines of a long series of small flags that could add up into something more serious.

Jalen Saunders, KR/WR, Oklahoma (Round 5-7) - 5'8-7/8", 165 lbs. A teeny, tiny waterbug with a rocket in each pocket. Saunders is electrifying to watch, and he plays a lot bigger than he measures. (Heck, if he didn't he'd be invisible). Nor is he the next coming of Reggie Dunn. The reviews emphasize that Saunders is a decent route runner who has reliable hands despite their tiny size. He would make the team as a kick returner but would actually have a chance to contribute as a slot receiver too.

John Brown, WR/KR, Pittsburg State (Round 6-7) - 5'10", 175 lbs. See Kashif Moore. Brown is a Division II player who ran a ridiculous 4.34 at the Combine, and caught almost all that was thrown his way. The Mike Wallace comparisons began before the day was over. The limitation is size, which is only okay, and level of competition, which was weak. The NFL.com site adds: "Playmaking ability as a receiver and return man. Has worked as a gunner. Well respected, coachable team captain." A favorite of the BTSC posters who like to show off their Fanspeak mock draft triumphs.

Josh Stewart, KR/WR, Oklahoma State (Round 7) - 5'9-7/8", 178 lbs. Sort of in between the others, but with fewer up-spikes to his game.

All-Around, Would-Be #3  Receivers, Organized By Grade

Round

Player

Height

Weight

ANTONIO BROWN - THE #1.

5-10

186

MARKUS WHEATON - THE #2.

5-11

182

LANCE MOORE - THE #3/SLOT.

5-9

190

 

DARRIUS HEYWARD-BEY. - THE WANNABE #3.

6-2

219

 

DEREK MOYE - MORE A BIG & TALL, BUT THAT'S WHAT THE PROSPECTS HAVE TO BETTER.

6-5

210

JUSTIN BROWN - BIGGER AND TALLER, BUT COULD BE BEATEN.

6-3

209

DANNY COALE (WORKS HARD HANDS GUY, FORMER 5TH ROUND COWBOYS PICK WITH INJURY ISSUES)

6-0

187

LANEAR SIMPSON (4.3 STRAIGHT LINE SPEED)

5-11

185

JASPER COLLINS (4.47 SPEED, VERY SHIFTY)

5-10

190

KASHIF MOORE (4.4 SPEED, SHIFTY COMBINE-KILLER)

5-10

175

1

Sammy Watkins

6-1

211

1

Mike Evans

6-5

231

2

Jordan Matthews

6-3

212

2

Allen Robinson

6-2

220

2

Davante Adams

6-1

212

2-3

Jarvis Landry

6-0

205

3-4

Paul Richardson

6-0

175

4-5

Jared Abbrederis

6-1

195

5-7

Shaquelle ("Shaq") Evans

6-1

213

5-7

Alan Hurns

6-1

198

5-7

Josh Huff

5-11

206

5-7

Kain Colter

5-10

198

5-7

Michael Campanaro

5-9

192

5-7

Ryan Grant

6-0

199

5-7

Mike Davis

6-0

197

5-7

T.J. Jones

6-0

188

6-7

Benny Fowler

6-1

217

6-7

Matt Hazel

6-1

200

7

Jeremy Butler

6-2

224

Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado (Round 3-4) - 6'0-3/8", 175 lbs. Richardson is hard to grade because there are a lot of unknowns, and what is known can leave you thinking "1st Round" or "4th Round" depending on what you value. The big upsides are liquid speed and really good athleticism. As in F-A-S-T fast. The downsides? He has a reputation for hearing footsteps, which you can't blame him for with that build. A classic stretch-the-field speed guy. Compare him to Lanear Simpson but with better college production.

Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin (Round 4-5) - 6'1", 195 lbs. No need to expand on a prospect everyone knows. Abbrederis was the walk-on who got no scholarship because of his "lack of athleticism;" made the team on effort and grit; became the best college route-runner in the nation; and proceeded to make waves by destroying a series of supremely talented but not-as-skilled corners such as Bradley Roby. The question is whether you project him fading from the scene before a Roby with professional training, or continuing with the same edge and turning into a Biletnikoff for the 21st century.

Shaquelle ("Shaq") Evans, WR, UCLA (Round 5-7) - 6'1", 213 lbs. The comparison here is the guy we lost - Jerricho Cotchery. Evans has good hands, runs good routes, and has been consistently productive, but lacks the special speed or quickness that would allow him to beat out Wheaton or Brown. A solid move-the-chains guy. Which is not a slam - we all loved Cotchery, and for very good reasons. He would be competing against Danny Coale with the advantage of being an inch taller and 25 pounds bigger. Fair disclosure: I like that pocket story at a personal level, and would love the pick if I knew he had Abbrederis' internals, but that is pure speculation on my part. Don't be fooled by any subconscious bias.

Alan Hurns, WR, Miami (Round 5-7) - 6'1", 198 lbs. Again, he's more like Cotchery than anyone currently on the roster. Shaq Evans or Danny Coale, but somewhere in the middle size-wise.

Josh Huff, WR, Oregon (Round 5-7) - 5'11-1/4", 206 lbs. Huff came onto the Board because of a great first day of practice at the Senior Bowl. He continued that as the week went on, earning praise for his good body control and overall level of effort. Another solid, hard-working prospect with athletic limitations who is a little bigger than Danny Coale or Lance Moore.

Kain Colter, WR, Northwestern (Round 5-7) - 5'10", 198 lbs. Played QB in college but will convert for the pros. The combination of brains and attitude make him sound a lot like a younger Lance Moore - who's made himself a fine journeyman career over the years. Colter has good physical tools plus a massive boatload of high-quality intangibles, but he's never played WR so there is a good bit of projection in this rating.

Michael Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest (Round 5-7) - 5'9-3/8", 192 lbs. As summarized by cbssports.com, "Campanaro is a smart football player and has an extremely detail-oriented skill-set. Flashes natural hands with excellent focus and tracking ability." He was above average at the Combine too, though he didn't set records. You could have written the exact same review about Danny Coale when he came out two years ago.

Ryan Grant, WR, Tulane (Round 5-7) - 6'0-3/8", 199 lbs. Grant may not actually be the best of this 5-7 cluster, but you could make the argument. If he'd played as well as he did at an SEC school instead of Tulane he'd be ranked 2-3 rounds higher. Again, he's the kind of receiver who does everything right but lacks any particular athletic genius (height, speed, shiftiness, etc.) to set him apart from the rest. Very impressive at the Senior Bowl practices.

Mike Davis, WR, Texas (Round 5-7) - 6'0", 197 lbs. Another player who started to stand out at the Senior Bowl practices, with notes about crisp cuts and good routes. That was particularly encouraging since the rap on him had been "good straight line speed, but not too nimble." It didn't show up as much at his pro day. May be a little shiftier than the other guys in the 5-7 cluster other than...

T.J. Jones, WR/KR, Notre Dame (Round 5-7) - 5'11-5/8", 188 lbs. The thing Jones offers that the other possession receivers may lack is an extra quantum of field vision and shiftiness. He was a sneaky-good kick returner at Notre Dame despite his lack of world beating speed (4.48 at the Combine, which is very good but not special). That prowess also speaks well of his spatial awareness, a subtle but important skill for receivers who will make their living finding a hole in the zone. Would rank a lot higher if he was 2"-3" taller or a solid tenth of a second faster.

Benny Fowler, WR, Michigan State (Round 6-7) - 6'1", 217 lbs. Fowler has the physical potential to be great. He topped out the broad jump at the Combine, which is just one of the indicators for his really top-notch athleticism. Also has good hands, good size, and he can run good routes. The knock is that he's been less physical than he should be and the reports hint at questions about whether he's the sort of kid who settles for "good enough." Fowler is one of those perfect storms where only a person who has met him, looked him in the eye, talked things over, and actually worked with him could form a judgment about whether to take him early on the 3rd day or not at all.

Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina (Round 6-7) - 6'1", 200 lbs. As with Fowler, there is a lot to like about Matt Hazel's physical skillset but there are questions that need to be answered about the internal part. He's tall enough; has decent hands; has excellent body control; and he has good speed and quickness. The questions in this case go to a reputation for hearing footsteps rather than potential issues with his work ethic. It could be as simple as adding 10-15 pounds of muscle and confidence, or it could be a deal killer. The Steelers can figure some of that out, but we at BTSC cannot.

Jeremy Butler, WR, Tennessee-Martin (Round 7) - 6'1-3/4", 224 lbs. Jeremy Butler is just like Shaq Evans, Hurns and the other big guys with a Day 3 grade except that he's a little bigger and comes from a tiny Division II school. That requires more projection and thus a lower grade, but from the little that's available he seems like a promising possession guy nevertheless. Will suffer a lot from the depth of the WR class. In another year he'd go in the 5th or 6th round, but this year he may well be undrafted.

3RD Down, Receiving-Capable RB's, Organized By Grade

Round

Player

Height

Weight

 

LAROD STEPHENS HOWLING [UNSIGNED AT THIS POINT]

5-7

185

2-3

RB Bishop Sankey

5-10

203

4-6

RB Lache Seastrunk

5-9

201

4-6

RB/KR Dri Archer

5-8

173

4-6

RB DeAnthony Thomas

5-8

174

5-6

RB Jerick McKinnon

5-9

209

5-6

RB Marion Grice

6-0

208

5-7

RB/KR LaDarius Perkins

5-7

165

6-7

RB Henry Josey

5-8

194

RB Lache Seastrunk, Baylor (Round 4-6) - 5'9", 201 lbs. A little lower on the blazing speed than Archer and Thomas (mid- 4.4's instead of 4.2's and 4.3's), but every bit as shifty and a better running back out of the backfield. If Seastrunk miraculously falls to the late 5th and the Steelers nab him there, we will instantly have the best set of running backs in the league if you average out the top 3.

RB/KR Dri Archer, Kent State (Round 4-6) - 5'8", 173 lbs. Think super-fast, super-tiny, and agile as a superball bouncing around a closet lined with marble. This is Reggie Dunn all over again with a much better pedigree. Indeed, every review I've seen includes the words "Tavon Austin." The downside is size, pure and simple. He was already injured in college and there are real questions if he could survive the NFL. But it he can, that 4.26 speed and kick return ability could be really special.

RB/KR DeAnthony Thomas, Oregon - 5'8-1/2", 174 lbs. Another stereotypical fast and elusive scatback. Thomas had a truly spectacular career at Oregon, with a few health issues toward the end. And he has a cool nickname: the Black Mamba. Which shouldn't be a problem since we have no "Bills" on staff to worry about.

RB Jerick McKinnon, Georgia Southern (Round 5-6) - 5'9", 209 lbs. McKinnon is an option QB who will convert to RB in the pros, and was the hands-down winner of the Underwear Olympics. At the Combine McKinnon actually ran the second-fastest 40-time for a running back (after Dri Archer) and tied Archer for the fastest 10-yard split. He also had the best bench of all the RB's, and put up phenomenal numbers in the vertical and broad jumps. In other words, the kid is an absolute physical specimen who is way, way bigger than his height. Aside from that, he's supposed to be one of the best receiving backs in the draft.

RB Marion Grice, Arizona State (Round 5-6) - 6'0", 208 lbs. An excellent receiver out of the backfield with a reputation for being a good blocker too, and a dawdle-and-slash running style that would fit perfectly in a zone blocking system.

RB/KR LaDarius Perkins, Mississippi St. (Round 5-6) - 5'7", 195 lbs. Shorter but stouter than Archer and Thomas, Perkins is a pure scattback who might be available a little later on? Like those guys he was also an accomplished kick returner in college, though only in his Sophomore and Junior years. They took him off those duties as a Senior when he was getting more touches out of the backfield.

RB Henry Josey, Missouri (Round 6-7) - 5'8", 194 lbs. Josey fits the classic profile of a late round steal who fell because of injury concerns. He had a gruesome knee injury early in his college career that required two-year layoff from 2001-2012. Now he seems to have recovered enough to post a few eyebrow-raising statistics such as a 4.43 at the Combine and a 6.7 yard per carry average in 2013. So ... if the doctors green-flag the knee, he could be a genuine steal.

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