2015 NFL Draft: Top Big 12 WR Prospects

Antwan Goodley of Baylor has the speed and bulk to post tremendous receiving numbers catching passes from fellow NFL prospect Bryce Petty (Photo: US Presswire)

By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer

The Big 12 has taken its hits, most notably losing Nebraska to the Big 10, and Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC, and it shows when breaking down their NFL prospects. One position they do offer some talent in is at the wide receiver spot. This is no surprise given the wide open, defense optional style most of the conference plays. Let’s take a look at the top WR prospects for the 2015 draft class.

1. Antwan Goodley, Baylor
5’10 225

Baylor has become a factory for speedy slot receiver prospects and Goodley might be next in line. I’ve read the comparisons to former Bear and current Titan Kendall Wright who was picked in round one, which are pretty accurate, at least to a degree. Some would say its accurate because both are crafty route runners with average at best straight line speed, but I think Goodley is underrated in that department. Watch him vs Kansas St. take it to the house after giving a defender a stiff arm and turning on the jets from there. His hands are far too unreliable to be a top 50 pick in my opinion. That said, if he can improve his concentration and turn in another solid season without the drops, he has fringe first round ability.

2. Tyler Lockett, Kansas St.
5’10 175

When looking for an ideal slot receiving prospect draft evaluators sometimes overvalue speed and underestimate the importance of consistent hands. But sometimes the importance of the former is justified. In the case of players like Tavon Austin, they are much too small to line up outside, therefore limiting them to the slot, but the value they possess there is not though traditional slot qualities like savvy route running, toughness and reliable hands but explosive speed and quickness. Lockett certainly falls into that category as well. He drops far too many passes and doesn’t look that natural reeling it in, but his speed and ability to create separation and breakaway from the defense are valuable in their own right.

3. Levi Norwood, Baylor
6’1 195

Yet another Baylor wide out with NFL level talent Norwood looks more like a running back (even at 6’1) and runs like one in the open field. He has tremendous agility to run effective routes but really becomes a weapon in the open field, especially on returns. Norwood doesn’t look to have long arms but does a nice job extending away from his body and quickly pulling it in as he surveys the field in front of him. With an underrated skill set and an uncanny ability to slip tackles Norwood could sneak his way up the rankings, especially given that he’ll likely posts gaudy numbers in Art Briles’ offensive machine.

4. Jaxon Shipley, Texas
6’1 195

While not a standout athlete Shipley has utility as a savvy slot receiver who is unafraid going over the middle of the field and finding soft spots in the defense. The UT senior also shows toughness and great hand eye coordination bringing in difficult and contested balls among defenders. Much like his older brother Jordan, who last played for the Jags but is now retired, Jaxon will make a team because he is a reliable target not an explosive one.

5. Brandon Carter, TCU
5’11 186

A very talented but volatile prospect Carter has the burst to catch and explode upfield but also the athleticism and soft hands to attack the ball at its apex even over defenders or stretch out to make a difficult one handed grab. He is on the smaller size for sure but his ability to make acrobatic grabs in addition to his top end speed (I would guess mid 4.4s) is enough to challenge defenses vertically. If he can stay on track off the field and focused on it, he has the talent to be a top 100 type prospect, but that’s assuming a lot at this point.

6. Nick Harwell, Kansas
6’1 193

Harwell played most of his career at Miami OH catching passes from current Bronco backup Zac Dysert before being booted off the team. He transferred to Kansas and will look to put up a solid senior campaign and attract NFL interest. He has decent size and only average explosiveness and top end speed but has a smoothness to his movements that translates to route running and body control in the air. He has too many double catches and drops without the elite athleticism to buoy those shortcomings for my liking, but is still a guy to watch this fall.

7. Daje Johnson, Texas
5’10 180

Texas has been down for a few years now so when you see two potential NFL receivers on this list they are certainly not in the same sphere as a Roy Williams but are intriguing nonetheless. Johnson is comparable to current Bill Marquise Goodwin without the world class speed and Olympic pedigree. That’s obviously no knock on him as his speed is still a major asset and has proven to be quite valuable on returns and bubble screens that highlight that acceleration and breakaway speed. He’ll be challenged to handle NFL level physicality and might need to bulk up some to earn legitimate interest from NFL scouts.

8. Justin McCay, Kansas
6’2 210

A heralded recruit McCay originally chose to suit up for Oklahoma but later transferred back home to the Kansas-Missouri area. With a strong and well built frame including good height McCay has an NFL ready body, but his game is lagging behind. If he can refine his technique he has the talent to take a major leap forward and become one of the better receivers in the conference.

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12 Responses to “2015 NFL Draft: Top Big 12 WR Prospects”

  1. J H TARBORO says:

    Dorial Green-Beckham is going to Oklahoma Sooners this season.

  2. J H TARBORO says:

    None of the above! Only ones worthy right now is Michigan’s Devon Funchess and Dorial Green-Beckham and we need next year RB Todd Gurley Geogia.

    • steve earle says:

      With you, none of the above. Gurley would be Okay though I’m hoping for a DE early next draft at this point, but who can tell how our need may be next May?

  3. Kevan says:

    The only question I have with the Pats offense, is can they stay healthy, or atleast relatively healthy? If they do that, it’s a guaranteed top 5 offense(atleast), in my opinion. I don’t think it would have been smart to draft a WR this year, unless it was a clear upgrade to what the Pats have on the team. That would have required a trade up in the first rd. I don’t think they were willing to do that. They took a shot a Steve Smith, he chose Baltimore. Lafell, is not a bad consolation prize, he is younger and versatile. You gotta give young guys time to develop, good teams do that. While there is not that stud, elite guy in the WR corps, they have really good depth with players that can offer different things. The elite guy is of course the gronk, who will make everyone’s job easier. Barring injury, Boyce is a patriot. No way he gets cut in his 2nd year. He will go to PUP or IR or be on the 53.

    • steve earle says:

      Your on the mark here Kevan. Our young WR’s got much needed experance last season and a year of off season to digest that experance so I’m expecting a strong show up the learning curve this year. Time next draft to replace anyone who can’t take advantage of their oppertunity here. Only thing holding Boyce back, it seems to me, is reinjuring himself. His speed is a much needed asset.

      • Kevan says:

        For sure Steve, I think all 3 rookies from last year will improve. The 5 weeks Gronkowski played the Patriots had the best offense in the league. 100% correct about next year too. If Amendola gets hurt again, it will probably be his last in FOXBorough, or a huge pay cut. We’ll see if Lafell can fit in the system too. Edelman is a known commodity at this point he’s good. After the “year two jump” the picture will be a lot clearer for the Pats at that position. Vereen plays all season he could have close to 100 catches too.

  4. JB says:

    All that said Pats still were third in scoring offense last year (less than a td difference total btw. them and second place bears). The additions on defense as well as having several pro bowlers back from injury on both sides means the pats will once again be in the thick of it despite BB’s absolute refusal to sign any real outside receivers (Moss notwithstanding that trade was highway robbery).

    • steve earle says:

      Thinking about what you said that BB refuses to sign any “real” WR I believe that’s a bit unfair. There have been limited chances for real WR’s over the years and when they do become available there is great competition to sign them plus they are demanding top dollar to sign. Signing one of these real WR’s could cut into BB’s ability to sign or resign others as I’m sure you are aware. Right now I believe we are in a very good place as WR’s go, barring a rash of injuries. Let’s see how things play out in camp before boiling the tar and plucking the chickens.

  5. JB says:

    A major knock on last years team was the lack of established talent/weapons at the wide receiver/TE positions. I think it’s fair to argue that on paper the pats have failed to upgrade once again.

    Edelman: Had a breakout season, catching over 100 balls for around 1,000 yards. This was also the first time he made it through an entire season without injury. He was solid all year and would have had even better numbers if Brady got him the ball consistently when he beat guys up the seam. I think his ypc will go up but I don’t see him playing another full 16 game season and catching 100 balls.

    Amendola: Flashed serious skill but was plagued by injuries. If he could ever make it through a season he would put up Welker-like numbers in the slot but that is an if that is yet to happen in his six years as a pro.

    Lafell: Best year in the pros came last year 49-627-5tds. He has good size so maybe will contribute in the red zone. He’s not much of a deep threat but should be solid working the intermediate game. Interested to see if the pats attempt to utilize him similarly to hernandez as he has good size (not quite as big or athletic however).

    Dobson: Looked good at times last year, struggled with foot injury. He also seemed to run the incorrect route/make improper route adjustment several times last season. He’s still not back from that injury and might start season on pup. An offseason with little to no on-field work certainly isn’t great for a raw second year player who struggled to learn the system in his first season.

    Boyce: Couldn’t crack the game day roster much last year as he was often banged up and he has already been nicked up in ota’s. IMO he will struggle to make the team over Kenbrell Thompkins.

    KT: Came out strong as a udfa rookie then kind of disappeared after a hip/back injury. I think he makes the team and has the most productive year of the sophomore receivers as you could tell that he and Brady had a good rapport.

    Gronk: He’s the best tight end in the game when healthy. Offense without him is drastically worse. Only concern is that there is no contingency plan in the event that he misses time either from his recovery from the acl or anything else.

    All in all, the pats added Lafell. He is a solid if unspectacular player. The hope/line of thinking seems to be that the second year guys will improve and that amendola/edelman/gronkowski stay healthy. This seems more wishful thinking than anything as only KT will have gotten in a full offseason (Dobson severely limited). Edelman has made it through one full season in five years, Amendola has never started more than 8 games in a season. Finally, our one transcendent offensive player besides 12 is coming off acl surgery and has no backup (sorry hooman).
    Still think the pats can have a top offense and I guess you can hope for the best but to me it doesn’t seem that much has changed from last year with regards to our offensive skill guys.

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