By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer
With the NFL tight end continuing to evolve into a more receiving oriented position and the spread attack gaining traction, the classic possession receiver has lost a bit of its luster. Sure guys like Calvin Johnson, AJ Green and Julio Jones have the build and strength of such a receiver but now guys like that run sub 4.4 40’s. Here are some true possession receiver who might offer some speed and athletic ability but are best suited to line up out wide and move the chains. It might not be surprising that a lot of these guys were standout basketball players as well.
Mike Evans, Texas A&M
Johnny Football gets most of the hype in College Station but people are starting to appreciate the 6’5 jump ball monster. Evan’s former basketball prowess is evident and the term “boxing out” aptly describes how he is able to position his body and abuse defenders with his size.
He does lack the speed to be an all around weapon, but he has enough quickness and athleticism to be dynamic not only in the red zone, where he will be a beast, but also over the middle and split out wide.
Kasen Williams, Washington
The Parade Magazine’s High School Player of the Year in 2011 was also a state champion at the long, high and triple jump! Is it really necessary to call him an explosive leaper?
On top of the having that lethal red zone trait he adds to it a strong 6’2 216 frame and large hands sure to make him a jump ball and fade monster. Those big mitts are strong and he uses them to pluck the ball away from his body. That being said, he also drops a lot of easy passes. His season ending knee injury put a damper on his NFL stock and he could very well return for another year at UW.
Kelvin Benjamin, FSU
Benjamin has elite size for an NFL wide receiver prospect. Not only is he 6’5 but he packs a strong 237 pounds into that frame making him a unique size and athleticism threat. The Seminole has the size to bully corners and the athleticism and body control to compete at a high level as a receiver.
He shows an innate ability to track the ball in the air and then, while using that frame, extend and snatch the ball over the helpless defender. When he does and high points the football there isn’t much corners can do to stop him. His speed isn’t top level so he projects mostly as a pure possession receiver.
Brandon Coleman, Rutgers
At 6’6 Coleman has rare size for the receiver position, yet is a very fluid athlete with good long speed. Coleman isn’t a burner, but does have to be. With his size, soft hands and athleticism he is an instant match up nightmare even in the NFL.
If he can refine his route running enough to create even the slightest of space, that towering frame and ability to high point the ball will prove to be truly potent weapon. 6’6 fluid athletes don’t grow on trees, and Coleman’s skill set is highly valued.
Cody Hoffman, BYU
Hoffman is a physical receiver with good movement skills and overall athleticism. He isn’t overly fast and doesn’t have the quickest feet but uses tremendous body control and strength to shield defenders from the ball drag them after the catch. He works well in tight spaces and isn’t very tough to re-route at the line and bring down after the catch.
His lack of speed and quickness limits his pro potential to a possession style receiver. If he can clean up some drops, which are mainly due to lack of focus, he should be a solid X receiver on the outside who can help you move the chains and exploit smaller defenders inside the twenty.
Marcus Lucas, Missouri
You might not know it, but Mizzou has some unbelievable talents at wide receiver. Dorial Green-Beckham and L’Damian Washington are the real freaks but as a third option Lucas is no joke. Essentially a tight end with some wide receiver skills the 6’5 220 lb Tiger offers some hybrid skills out wide and the frame to be seal the edge as a blocker.
Jordan Taylor, Rice
While not quite the level of athlete of 49ers rookie and former Rice Owl Vance McDonald, Taylor is a similar oversized receiving threat and solid blocker. He overcomes below average speed and explosiveness with that strong frame and strong hands to snatch the ball over defenders.
Brandon Wimberly, Nevada
He played with Colin Kaepernick earlier in his career but Wimberly is having his best season as a senior. A better than expected athlete for his size he has the ability to run a variety of routes but his best asset is his size and hands. He doesn’t bring anything overly dynamic to the table but has enough skill to make an NFL roster.