2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Wide Receivers & Tight Ends
The top wide receivers and tight ends in the 2013 NFL Draft
By AJ Young - March 21 2013
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These draft profiles are designed to provide you with a better insight into the prospects detailed in our mock drafts and on our 2013 NFL Draft Board:
[Editor’s note: Some of these prospects were covered in our NFL Combine previews, in which case, the profiles have been updated in light of the Combine]
1. Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia (17)
That guy Geno Smith is throwing to on all the tape? That's Tavon Austin. Over the last two seasons in Morgantown, Smith caught 212 receptions for 2,473 yards and 20 touchdowns. If Austin was 6-3, 220 lbs, he would be a shoe-in top 10 pick come April's draft. Instead he’s 5-9, 174 lbs but what he lacks in size he makes up in speed, as can be seen by his 4.34 forty time. He's quick off the line of scrimmage, gets good separation from defenders and exploits zone coverage with his smooth route running. He's not always consistent with his hands and can sometimes get in trouble going East-West whilst trying for the homerun but he’s nevertheless the best receiver in the draft. If Al Davis was still with us, he'd be gone by the third pick.
2. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee (18)
Patterson only saw 12 starts for the Volunteers during his time in Knoxville but that would be because he spent the first two seasons of his career lighting up the junior college ranks to the tune of 113 receptions, 1832 yards and 36 touchdowns. Patterson carried on in Knoxville where he left off, amassing 1,858 all-purpose yards for 10 touchdowns in his lone season as a Vol. He has good size and strength to compliment his speed (ran a 4.42 forty at the Combine) which allows his to gain separation from defenders and make plays down the field. He returned two kicks for touchdowns last year and should be able to contribute on special teams at the next level. He’s psychical downfield and can out-position defenders to make a play on the ball; this can be a negative however as he has the tendency to push off and in the no-contact league that is the NFL these days, he’ll likely be flagged for similar move at the next level. He needs to improve his route running and maintain his concentration to avoid unnecessary drops but on the whole he is a very talented prospect.
3. Keenan Allen, WR, California (23)
Allen has both the ability and potential to be a number one wideout in the NFL. He was recruited by practically every school in the nation coming out of high school due to his polished route running ability, good hands and ability to gain separation. He put up good numbers during his sophomore year and was on task to put up similar numbers in his junior year before injury. He's fearless over the middle and shows great strength to hold onto the football whilst absorbing big hits. There are some injury concerns however; he missed spring practice in 2012 after sustaining an ankle injury whilst playing basketball that required surgery and later missed the final three games of the season with a left knee injury. Injury worries aside, he’s of the best receivers in the draft and is a first round talent.
April 24: Concerns regarding Allen’s potential ankle issues and a rumored failed drug test could result in him dropping out of the first round though his potential might just save him.
4. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson (35)
The Chick-fil-A Bowl was possibly the best game of the 2012 Bowl season after Clemson topped LSU in a 25-24 thriller. Anyone not familiar with Clemson left that game thinking "who was the receiver with the long hair that caught EVERYTHING?" That was DeAndre Hopkins and his 13 receptions for 191 yards and 2 touchdowns against LSU will hopefully be an indication of what he’s capable of doing against NFL caliber cornerbacks. Hopkins had a stellar junior year with the Tigers, amassing 1,405 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns on 82 receptions. He may not be the most fluid of route runners but he has solid hands and top end speed to go alongside his 6-1, 214 lbs frame. Hopkins is among the best receivers in this year’s draft and falls just short of a late first round grade.
5. Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech (38)
After a successful two years at Coffeyville Community College, Patton signed for LA Tech (yes, the same Louisiana Tech side that narrowly came out on the losing side of a 59-57 contest with Johnny Manziels Texas A&M Aggies last season). In his two years in the WAC, Patton caught 182 receptions for 2,594 yards and 24 touchdowns. Patton is the type of receiver that, had he played in a bigger college program, would likely be among the first three receivers off the board. He doesn’t possess elite speed and can struggle to gain separation on deep balls but he’s a fluid route runner that has great hands and can make plays on short and immediate patterns. At 6-0, 204 lbs he could do with adding a bit more bulk but he has a good build that he uses effectively when blocking down field as well to gain separation when the defense is in press coverage.
6. Robert Woods, WR, USC (47)
After a rookie season good enough to earn Pac 12 freshman of the year honors and a monster sophomore campaign, Woods' production dropped off dramatically in his junior year. This is partly because Matt Barkley's production also dropped off but more likely because on the other side of the field was Biletnikoff Award winner Marqise Lee who ate into Woods' numbers. Despite the good numbers and prototypical size and athleticism, it's questionable whether Woods is a number one receiver at the next level. He has too many drops and may lack the size to gain separation from NFL cornerbacks. Whilst he's a solid route runner, he might not contribute at the next level right away and may need to use his first season as an adjustment period.
7. Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee (48)
After playing only three games during his sophomore year due to an ACL tear, Hunter averaged over 90 yards receiving per game in 2012, finishing with over 1,000 yards on the season. At 6-4, 196 lbs, Hunter has the size to transition well at the next level though he will need to add bulk to a rather wiry frame. He was a top high school recruit that started his career in Knoxville somewhat slowly but in only 17 career starts, he leaves Tennessee ranked in the top-five for career touchdown catches with 18. He has long strides and looks similar to Randy Moss when running deep routes; unfortunately he lacks Moss’s top end speed and hand skills. He’s not great at going over the middle, catching with alligator arms rather than corralling the ball in. Hunter’s effort and body language also leave something to be desired at times; he reacts negatively to off-target balls which doesn’t bode well if he’s drafted by a team with a questionable starter at quarterback. All in all, he looks like a wideout who’s only played 17 career games but he has a high ceiling and the potential teams look for.
8. Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor (54)
Williams had a monster 2012 season, leading the nation with 1,832 yards off of 97 receptions for 12 touchdowns. At 6-2, 208 lbs, he could do with filling out his frame but an off-season in an NFL strength and conditioning program will go some way to doing that. He's quite raw and not particularly polished; he does everything well but nothing is really excellent implying that he hopefully has a high ceiling. I'm not sure he's a player that will necessarily contribute from day one and will probably spend his first year learning the ropes so to speak. His potential is unquestionable and a number of teams will likely be tempted by him but he nevertheless projects as a second round talent.
1. Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame (19)
With 140 catches for 1,840 yards and 11 touchdowns during his three year career, Eifert more than followed on from where Kyle Rudolph left off in South Bend. At 6-6, 250 lbs and a proven track record catching the football, Eifert is your prototypical tight end for the next level. Notre Dame lined him up both in tight formations as well as out wide against cornerbacks and his versatility was a big reason why Notre Dame ran the table on their way to the BCS National Championship last season. He’s a capable blocker in pass protection that could do with a little technique work but he shows good strength to sustain blocks and seal off the edge in the run game. He runs good routes and has the ability to make athletic catches, showing great ability to adjust to balls mid-air. He’s the best tight end in the draft and in an era where teams are utilizing big bodied receiving tight ends more and more, he’ll be very tempting for a number of teams.
2. Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford (36)
In today's NFL, the fullback faces extinction. By contrast, the tight end position has enjoyed a rebirth over the last few years as more and more teams employ two tight end sets, looking to spread defenses by utilizing big bodied tight ends in the passing game. Ertz ticks all the boxes for what teams look for in the modern tight end. He's a solid route runner who catches the ball away from his body as he looks to gain yards after the catch. He snagged 69 receptions for 898 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2012, following on from Coby Fleener's success in Palo Alto. Although he's 6-5, 249 lbs, blocking is Ertz's Achilles heel. He lacks the requisite lower body strength to anchor himself whilst also struggling up top to sustain and finish blocks. Nevertheless, he has huge potential and will be a great red zone target for any quarterback.
is the editor of Down at the One.