The big story coming out of the 2014 NFL combine was the speed of the wide receivers. As a group, these gentlemen put on a show for all the NFL to see. For a receiver to run a 4.4 second 40 yard dash used to be the barometer of top end speed in the NFL; no longer is that the case.
Oregon State standout Brandin Cooks ran a blazing 4.34 to lead all receivers. Last season Cooks had 128 receptions, 1730 yards, and 16 touchdowns. His downfall is the fact that he stands just 5’10. His height won’t be a problem if he is running away from defenders. Bleacherreport.com did a mock draft with Cooks going No. 30 to the San Francisco 49ers.
I’d be shocked if he lasted that long.
A receiver to watch is Jordan Matthews of Vanderbilt. He jumped off the screen during the season but many scouts thought he did not have the top end speed to play at a high level in the NFL. He ran a 4.46 and that should ease the concerns of scouts. CBSsports.com has him rated as the eighth best wide receiver in the draft, his showing at the combine could change that. Depending on what the Raiders do in free agency he could be a value pick early in the second round.
Sammy Watkins is the biggest name of all the receivers and his showing at the combine did nothing to diminish that. The former Clemson star ran a 4.43 40 and that should keep him high on most draft boards. It will be hard for the St. Louis Rams to pass up on him. Last season the Rams selected Tavon Austin and he never fully got into the groove of things in the offense. Having a player of Watkins caliber on the outside would help the entire offense.
The Pac-12 receivers did not impress in the speed department in Indianapolis. USC star Marqise Lee ran an unofficial 4.44 but some scouts had it at 4.52. Former UCLA receiver Shaq Evans ran a 4.50. Those times are not horrible, but they don’t make either receiver stand out among the crowd.
The NFL is a quarterback-driven league but if the quarterback does not have quality weapons to throw to, there is only so much he can do. This year’s receiver’s class is as deep as we have seen in a decade and it will be interesting to see how these young talents impact the league.
AP Photo/Richard Shiro