Last week Chase Wheetley took a look at some underrated running backs to keep an eye on during the pre-draft process. So, now it is time to do the same for the wide receivers in this class.
Da’Rick Rogers – Tennessee Tech
6’3” 215 lbs
Failed drug tests in August of 2012 led Rogers to a suspension from Tennessee. This was followed by a transfer to the smaller Tennessee Tech program. In 2011, Rogers led the SEC in receptions and yardage putting up a 67 reception, 1040 yard, and 9 touchdown season. Just like Dez Bryant, the issue with Rogers isn’t talent: it is maturity and character. Outside of failed drug tests, he has had run-ins with coaching staffs and law enforcement on a consistent basis. On talent alone, Rogers could be the best wide receiver in this class, which is why I view him as being underrated. He has a great combination of size and speed, good hands, and elite after-the-catch ability. Regardless of situation, picking him will be a high risk-high reward venture for your fantasy team. The talent is worth the risk though.
Robert Woods – Southern California
6’1” 180 lbs
After a very impressive 2011 campaign (111-1292-15), Woods regressed in 2012 due in large part to an ankle injury. The injury ruined his ability to separate from defenders and hurt his overall effectiveness. Despite the injury and the emergence of Marquise Lee at USC, Woods put up 76-846-11 touchdowns this season. This has all led to him being written off in draft circles. If you judge Woods by his 2011 season, you see a guy that can get separation with quickness or strength. He instinctively finds soft spots in coverage and then does a nice job of gaining yardage after the catch. Woods has a lean build but is a very physical wide receiver. He uses his body to his advantage to gain position and shows great awareness at all times. Woods is not an elite wide receiver but I do see him as being a great value pick when rookie drafts roll around.
Stedman Bailey – West Virginia
5’10” 193 lbs
When you have a highly touted wide receiver on the opposite side of the field, sometimes it is harder to get noticed: even when you put up a 114-1622-25 season. Those numbers are ridiculous but Tavon Austin gets far more attention than Bailey does. He wasn’t a one year wonder either. In 2011, he had a nice 72-1279-12 touchdown season. Bailey may not be a big guy but he knows how to play the position. He has the speed to blow by defenders. He isn’t afraid to go across the middle of the field. When covered by defensive backs, he routinely puts himself in great position to make the catch. Stedman has great awareness and great hands as well. When you look at the full picture, you have a small but complete wide receiver that reminds me of Kendall Wright. Too many of the small/fast receivers get lumped into the deep threat category. While Bailey is a deep threat, he will bring way more to the NFL and your fantasy teams. In fact, he runs the back corner fade route as well as any wide receiver I have seen. He is one of my early favorites of this draft class.
Marquise Goodwin – Texas
5’9” 180 lbs
This is a guy that was completely underutilized in college. His entire college receiving career totaled 120 receptions, 1364 yards, and 7 touchdowns. Goodwin’s open field skills make him dangerous in the running game, passing game, or return game. He is a small wide receiver and was used mostly for end arounds and quick slants but his skill set and tough play suggest he could be capable of much more in the NFL. He has great speed and open field ability: guys like him find their way on the field.
Denard Robinson – Michigan
5’11” 197 lbs
This one is a total projection. Robinson is making the tough transition from quarterback to wide receiver. Any position conversion is difficult but Robinson has superior athleticism on his side. He is such a natural athlete and simply explosive when the ball is in his hands. Early reports out of the Senior Bowl haven’t been positive but this is still very early in the conversion process for him. In three years as the starting quarterback for Michigan, Robinson had 4,144 rushing yards and 37 rushing touchdowns. He will be a rookie draft pick to target very late in drafts in leagues with larger rosters, but the upside is too high to ignore.
Conclusion: Values fluctuate so much between now and the NFL draft. We still haven’t seen the Senior Bowl, NFL Scouting Combine, or the three months of rumors and hype that will surely accompany them. If you can get a basic understanding of how rookie drafts will play out, you can gain an advantage now. Decide which rookie picks have good value and trade for them if possible. Happy Draft Season!!