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2011 NFL Rookie Profiles: Wide Receivers

The 2011 Class has plenty of Receiver talent to build a championship Dynasty team around

AJ Green and Julio Jones are the headliners, but the 2011 WR Class is full of talented pass catchers. From tall, strong prospects like Jonathan Baldwin and Greg Little to speedy playmakers like Jerrel Jernigan and Edmund Gates, there is something for every team's needs. The offensive system and QB that these prospects get drafted into will play enormously into their Dynasty impact, but let's take a look at the top WR prospects. 

Beast Potential - A cornerstone only reserved for the truly elite prospects. Example from 2010 - Dez Bryant
Starter Potential - Will never be elite but a long term, reliable starter is a high probability. Example - Brandon LaFell
Raw Product - This player has tremendous upside, but also comes with a huge amount of risk. If things break right, though, a Beast or definite starter could be had. Example - Emmanuel Sanders
Developmental Product - These players are extremely raw talents but possess the upside necessary to eventually grow into legit flex options and maybe someday weekly starters on your Dynasty roster. Example - Carlton Mitchell

A.J. Green

College:
 Georgia (Junior)
Height-Weight: 6'4" 211 lbs.
Upside: Beast Potential
Player Comparison: Sidney Rice
Comments: The unquestioned top wideout of this year's class, A.J. Green is about as sure a Dynasty Rookie Draft selection as they come.  Undoubtedly one of the top receivers to come out in the last 5 years, Green has the potential to be an immediate and long term Dynasty Beast.  While his Combine numbers were shadowed by his good buddy Julio Jones (their pre-NFL careers have paralleled since each entering college as the two top WR's in the nation) Green's ability will not be overlooked by teams looking for a player that becomes a monster once the football is in the air.  Green was recruited (and offered full scholarships) by numerous Division I Basketball programs (Georgia Tech, among others) so his athletic ability to "go up and get it" is unquestioned. While his collegiate stat line looks consistent, keep in mind he bettered his top seasonal receiving numbers while also sitting four games in his Junior season because of suspension.  Green gets the edge over Jones because of durability and hands.
Tools/Skillset:  Green is as polished as a NFL rookie prospect can be entering the Draft.   While he is a legit deep threat, he also shows no fear going over the middle and his run after the catch turn into big time plays.  He catches everything.  If this profile doesn't convince you to take Green over nearly any other rookie prospect in your Dynasty Rookie Draft, then you likely will be selecting early again in 2012.  
Dynasty Rookie Draft Grade: 1st Round - Top 2 Selection



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Julio Jones

College: Alabama (Junior)
Height-Weight: 6'3" 228 lbs.
Upside: Beast Potential
Player Comparison: Marques Colston
Comments: Julio Jones is a special talent that some will argue is more impressive than A.J Green.  A pre-NFL career that has been tied closely to Green, it will be interesting to see which one emerges as the better Dynasty Prospect.  No one was questioning the skills Jones had entering this Draft Season, however we watched as his Draft Stock soar at the combine as he busted out (by far) the most impressive overall receiver workout that weekend.  Even more impressive when we found out he did it on a fractured foot. While Jones has the physical makeup and overall skill set to succeed in the NFL as a true #1 WR, he is not as polished as his counterpart Green and will likely take some time to develop.  He does however have the chance to make an impact in his rookie season as he will surely be taken early by a WR needy NFL squad.
Tools/Skillset:  Jones's size allows him to play aggressively and his willingness to block is a good indication of that.  Despite his occasional lack of concentration and drops he is too much of an on-field presence to not emerge quickly as a starter.  Almost certainly a surefire Dynasty Draft selection.    
Dynasty Rookie Draft Grade: 1st Round - Top 5 Selection



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Jonathan Baldwin

College: Pittsburgh (Junior)
Height-Weight: 6'4" 228 lbs.
Upside: Raw Product
Player Comparison: Brandon Marshall
Comments: Jonathan Baldwin absolutely has what it takes to develop into a #1 receiver at the next level.  While his ball skills are above average, and his size gives him an advantage over most defensive players, his lack of elite speed will force him to refine his game at the next level.  We expect him to be more of a possession type receiver at the next level rather than big play type wideout, but should the proverbial "light switch on" the sky is the limit for the potential monster. His Dynasty stock is all over the map at the moment, but do not discount his very impressive physical gifts on your draft day. 
Tools/Skillset:  Put up solid numbers at Pitt, specifically his reception and yardage totals, however his inability to get into the end zone consistently keeps him out of the elite class.  He does have ridiculous measurables that could carry him into a big time role at the next level, but some definite refinement in his game is necessary.  Baldwin's upside is totally worth taking a shot on the potential he will develop into a weekly must start Dynasty WR.      
Dynasty Rookie Draft Grade: 1st Round - Top 5-8 Selection

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Randall Cobb

College: Kentucky (Junior)
Height-Weight: 5'10" 191 lbs.
Upside: Starter Potential
Player Comparison:  Hines Ward
Comments: An extremely versatile prospect that plays as tough as he is to bring down.  As an explosive playmaker, he set the SEC record for all-purpose yardage in 2010.  In his Junior season, Cobb exploded on the scene catching 84 receptions in 2010 establishing himself as a legit talent that can grow into a valuable offensive weapon at the next level.
Tools/Skillset: We tend to look at these "tweener" type players with a high level of scrutiny.  They tend to be quite appealing on paper and the success of the few players like Bush and Percy Harvin make us forget that only the most talented tweeners will succeed in a way that will provide adequate fantasy value.  We believe Cobb's receiving, rushing, returning and quarterbacking skills will serve him well to drop some serious fantasy points at the next level.       
Dynasty Rookie Draft Grade: 1st/2nd Round - Top 12-15 Selection

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Greg Little

College: North Carolina (Junior)
Height-Weight: 6'3" 220 lbs.
Upside: Starter Potential
Player Comparison: Andre Johnson
Comments: We are touting Greg Little as this year's Mike Williams (Bucs).  Clearly the similarity exists because of character issues and collegiate suspension, but Little has legit skills and must be seriously considered as an early Dynasty Draft Pick.  It can be expected that someone in your Dynasty Rookie Draft will reach for Little, but the important decision here is to decide if that person will be you.  Because of this he clearly comes with an element of risk, but of course the upside very well may be worth it.  
Tools/Skillset:  There is no question regarding Little's ridiculous Andre Johnson type build and skill set.  He was a top performer in many of the combine workouts and his WR leading 27 reps on the bench is a clear indication he has remained committed during his suspension.  A solid indication this stud is ready to get Beastly.      
Dynasty Rookie Draft Grade: 1st/2nd Round - Top 12-15 Selection

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Torrey Smith

College: Maryland (3rd Year Junior)
Height-Weight: 6'1" 204 lbs.
Upside: Starter Potential
Player Comparison: Robert Meachem
Comments: While we really like Smith as a prospect, his overall upside may be limited to deep threat type player.  He will likely post some decent TD totals at the next level, but his overall reception and yardage totals will likely relegate him to a WR2/complimentary player in the NFL and on your Dynasty Roster. Should Smith find himself on a roster with a big armed QB and a desperate need at the deep threat position (Baltimore Ravens), be comfortable reaching for him some, but early round Dynasty Draft picks should be relegated to potential Beast not a long term WR2, so choose wisely here.
Tools/Skillset: Smith has some legit straight line speed and a solid overall skill set to set him near the top of this year's deep class of NFL caliber receivers. While he is a solid athlete and his high character will serve his well toward a long term career and an emerging skill set, he likely lacks the overall upside to become a true #1.      
Dynasty Rookie Draft Grade: 2nd Round - Top 15 Selection

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Tandon Doss

College: Indiana (Junior)
Height-Weight: 6'2" 201 lbs.
Upside: Starter Potential
Player Comparison: Steve Johnson
Comments: Tandon Doss was an NCAA Top-5 performer with regard to all purpose yardage leaders in 2010.  We view Doss as one of the top players in the second tier of 2011 rookie wideouts, but also see him as a player that could easily develop into one of the top long term prospects when this year's group shakes out 3 seasons from now.  A High Character player that will hopefully find a solid landing spot to grow into a solid NFL wideout.
Tools/Skillset:  Some of the best hands in this year's group, Toss will not have a problem catching the football at the next level.  He does however have some refinement needed in his route running.  A strong player that is quicker than he is fast.        
Dynasty Rookie Draft Grade: 2nd Round - Top 20 Selection

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Best of the Rest:

Titus Young (Boise State) - Listed among the top receiver by most, Young is a concerning Dynasty Prospect in our eyes due to small size and past behavioral/attitude issues.  Very skinny legs, does not have DeSean Jackson speed.  Obviously worth a mid to late round Dynasty Rookie Draft selection, but not worth the risk in the early rounds with so many other potential Beasts in this group.  Let someone else overdraft him.
Player Comparison:  Johnny Knox
Upside: Starter Potential
Dynasty Rookie Draft Grade: 3rd Round Selection

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Austin Pettis (Boise State)
 - Pettis has played second fiddle to his Boise State teammate Titus Young, however we remain impressed by Pettis as a developmental player that could eventually develop into a decent wideout at the next level.  While his intangibles are not exemplary, you will notice his 3.9 second short shuttle was the best of all receivers at the combine and a indicator of his quickness compared to straight line speed.  As he slides because of his average 40-time, land him in the mid rounds of your Dynasty Rookie Draft at superb value.
Player Comparison: Jerricho Cotchery
Upside: Starter Potential
Dynasty Rookie Draft Grade: 3rd Round Selection

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Edmund Gates (Abiline Christian) - Edmund Gates would be one of our highly profiled, high upside players if it wasn't for the fact he will be entering his rookie season at 25 years old.  Following in the footsteps of Johnny Knox from last season, Gates looks to emerge as an NFL stud coming from a small school program.  We are highly intrigued by his combine performance which essentially put him on the map as one of the most explosive wideouts in this years class.  A top performer in the 40, Broad Jump and Vertical Jump are clear indications he has the measurables to excel at the next level.  The BIG question mark here is whether he can develop his route running skills and actually learn to play the position against competition that will put his athleticisim to the test - unlike what he experienced at the collegiate level.
Player Comparison: Santonio Holmes
Upside: Raw Product
Dynasty Rookie Draft Grade: 3rd Round Selection



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Leonard Hankerson (Miami) - Hankerson is a late bloomer who was generally quiet in his first two collegiate seasons at Miami.  Drawing comparisons to former "U" receivers like Michael Irvin and Andre Johnson is a little overzealous.  While Hankerson did break Mike Irvin's single season TD total in 2010, he has a good deal of developing to do entering the NFL.  Hankerson doesn't impress with intangibles or overall skill set, but his consistent development is something to keep an eye one on Draft day.  Should an NFL team reach for him, then so should you.
Player Comparison: Braylon Edwards
Upside: Raw Product
Dynasty Rookie Draft Grade: 3rd Round Selection



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Niles Paul (Nebraska) 
- Niles Paul does nothing great, but his overall collection of skill set is intriguing.  Paul is an intelligent player that will find a roster spot somewhere out of upside alone. Played in a run first offense, so his stat line wont blow you away, but his athleticism is apparent on kick return highlights.  He is a strong big body player that can beat presses off the line, but definite refinement in his game will be required.  Can grow into a solid complimentary WR.
Player Comparison: Pierre Garcons
Upside: Raw Product
Dynasty Rookie Draft Grade: 3rd Round Selection

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Darvin Adams (Auburn) - It's tough catching a significant number of footballs when Cam Newton is rushing nearly 50% of the time.  Well, in his Sophomore and Junior seasons, Adams managed to get into the end zone 17 times.  Over a collegiate career this is basically as often as the more highly touted players in this class for example Johnathan Baldwin.  Keep an eye on where Adams ends up.  While he is way too light to carry his 6'2" frame at the next level, he surely can grow into his body and develop into a solid #2 in the future.
Player Comparison: Lee Evans
Upside: Raw Product
Dynasty Rookie Draft Grade: 4th Round Selection

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Jerrel Jernigan (Troy) - Jernigan had a highly productive collegiate career catching 70+ balls each of his last three seasons.  He leaves Troy as the reception, receiving yards and all purpose yard leader in school and Sun Belt Conference history.  Jernigan has used his ridiculous athleticism to carry him to monster success at the lower levels.  While he is surely a developmental project, his ability to run in the open field (his best intangible) will surely find him on an NFL roster somewhere however concerns about his overall football IQ may cause him to slide some.  Grab him as a steal in the later rounds of your Dynasty Draft.
Player Comparison: A WR version of Darren Sproles
Upside:
 Developmental Product
Dynasty Rookie Draft Grade: 4th or 5th Round Selection

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Ricardo Lockette (Fort Valley State)
 - Lockette is a long way from being an NFL reciever.  He does however have a great size/speed combination that for the patient Dynasty owner could pay off in the long run.  A superbly fierce competitor, you can be sure Lockette will challenge for a backup position as he learns his trade...if he gets drafted.  Lockette earned some legitimate attention at the Combine tying Edmund Gates for the fastest 40-time of the wideout group.  Keep an eye on his landing spot and should he fall to you in the final round of your Dynasty Rookie Draft, take a stab on the former track star.
Player Comparison: David Gettis
Upside: Developmental Product
Dynasty Rookie Draft Grade: 5th Round Selection