The NFL may have changed for good with the way the passing game dominated during the season. Many Quarterbacks enjoyed their best years of their careers in 2012. With the passing game taking on a whole new meaning, teams will need to catch up to what is now very common in the NFL: have many options to throw the ball to. This year's class of Wide Receivers is very deep and talented and might produce as many as 7 drafted in the first round on the NFL Draft in April. You could argue that as many as 13 teams can/should draft one in the 1st or early 2nd rounds. We will take a look at those players and offer some insight as to what team might draft them and the kind of Fantasy Impact they will have.
Justin Blackmon – Oklahoma State
Justin Blackmon has all the NFL Scouts foaming at the mouth over his potential. As a sophomore he actually had 100+ yards in EVERY game. He then went on to have 121 catches for 1,522 yards and 18 touchdowns this past year for Oklahoma State. His combined skills of making great catches and his power moves over the middle show all the tools of a great NFL Wide Receiver. Because of that style of play, he has been compared to Terrell Owens and Anquan Boldin. We can all agree that they had some incredible seasons in their careers. Sure to be the 1st or 2nd Wide Receiver taken, he could come off the board as early as number 4 to Cleveland or number 6 to St Louis. I think St Louis is the landing spot for him. The promise of Sam Bradford to Justin Blackmon could have the St Louis Rams thinking very good about the future. Think of him as a mid-round selection in re-draft formats and much higher in Keeper/Dynasty leagues.
Michael Floyd – Notre Dame
Notre Dame struggled at the Quarterback position last year, and yet Michael Floyd still had 100 catches for 1,147 yards and 9 touchdowns. That was his 2nd season for the Irish with over 1,000 yards. Floyd impressed scouts at the NFL Combine with his time of 4.47 at the 40-yard dash. His listed stats of 6'3 and 224 lbs. tell you that he has the size and power to handle most situations. When you combine that with the speed that he showed, it makes you wonder what the potential might be. The St Paul native has actually drawn comparisons to another Minnesota native in Larry Fitzgerald. Many consider Fitzgerald a top 5 Wide Receiver. Is Floyd headed to that type of career?? He should also be drafted within the top 12 picks. With Miami trading away Brandon Marshall, I think they have their sights set on Floyd if he is still available at number 8. Jacksonville could also take him at number 7. Floyd has the skills to make it in the NFL, but he might need to grow and learn a little. The lack of good Quarterback play would hurt his value some if drafted by either of the teams listed above. Consider with a late round flyer.
Kendall Wright – Baylor
When you are the primary weapon of the Heisman Trophy winner, you better be good. That is exactly what Kendall Wright is. He led Baylor with 108 catches for 1,663 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also improved on his numbers across the board every season with the Bears. With his smallish size and speed, he was able to elude defenders often for big yardage. He did disappoint at the Combine as he ran slower then expected. His game tapes show much more speed and we will have to see how he performs at his pro day. A team in the second half of round one could very easily take him like Cincinnati at 17 or 21 and Houston at 26. In those scenarios he would land on teams with bigger, more physical receivers and take on the #2 roll on the team and transition very nicely for them. If taken by a team with a stable QB, he will definitely be worthy of drafting for your Fantasy team.
Alshon Jeffrey – South Carolina
At 6'4 and 216 pounds, he has the perfect size frame to play at the NFL level. He has dropped 13 pounds since his season ended and seems to be getting in better shape getting ready for his pro day. As a sophomore he had 88 catches for 1517 yards and 9 touchdowns. His numbers went down because of bad Quarterback play and last year they registered at 49 catches for 762 yards and 8 touchdowns. His skill set is there if utilized right and a team looking for a big receiver may just find their man. Cleveland might be a candidate at #22 or the Patriots could select him at either #27 or #31. Obviously the Quarterback play is important (as shown by his struggles last season at South Carolina), but in the right situation he could be a real steal for you.
Reuben Randle – LSU
Reuben Randle impressed at the NFL Combine, running a 4.5 40-yard dash and hitting a 10'6 Broad Jump. With questionable Quarterback play, he still had 53 catches for 917 yards and 8 touchdowns. He has the perfect size at 6'3 that NFL coaches love in Wide Receivers and could fit in nicely for a team looking for a tall Wide Receiver. Reminds scouts of Hakeem Nicks with the Giants. Randle should be attractive to the Browns, Bengals, & Patriots in round one. If he slips to round two, you can add Minnesota and Carolina into the mix. Could be attractive as the big touchdown option to teams with smaller Wide Receivers.
Stephen Hill – Georgia Tech
Rising up Draft Boards the fastest, Stephen Hill really helped himself out at the combine. He scored a 4.36 at the 40-yard dash, 39.5 at the vertical jump and 11.1 at the broad jump. He was consider a mid to late 2nd round pick prior to the combine, but no finds himself in the mix in the 1st round because of his speed. He also stands at 6'4 and everybody loves tall Wide Receivers. He averaged 29.3 yards per catch last year, but that was on only 28 catches. He is a prospect to watch because he is a little raw still. His speed and size could entice somebody to take him on his possibilities in the future. Cleveland will look hard at him at #22. If not Cleveland then he may just find himself a Patriot.
Mohamed Sanu – Rutgers
The best possession receiver in the draft, he often out-muscles or bullies his opponents for the ball. Sanu had 115 catches for 1,206 yards and 7 touchdowns for the number 99 offense in the country. How much more could he have done with a better offense around him?? Often compared to Anquan Boldin, he is not afraid to go over the middle for the ball. Might seem high for a possession receiver to go in the first round, but with the way the Quarterbacks controlled games last season, it is not that far of a reach. Because of his skill set, many teams could look at him including Miami, N.Y. Jets, Buffalo, and Seattle. He could be the real sleeper of the draft.