The wide receivers in the 2014 draft class entered the NFL Scouting Combine with plenty of buzz around them. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock called this the “best wide receiver draft I’ve seen in years,” and other draft experts echoed that sentiment.
The group didn’t disappoint once they got on the field in Indianapolis.
The receivers put great speed and pass-catching ability on display, and the class might have even more hype now than ever.
“The receivers were exceptional,” wrote ESPN’s John Clayton. “A receiving class billed as the best in years dominated the day. The concept that this is the best wide receiver draft in years is true. This group has size, speed and great pass-catching ability.”
The top receivers in the class all helped their causes with on-field workouts, and a few others emerged as possible first-round picks by impressing the scouts.
“Cases can be made for more than seven wide receivers going in the first round,” Clayton wrote.
Clemson’s Sammy Watkins, considered by many as the top receiver in the draft, likely solidified his place as top-five talent. He officially clocked in at 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash, and he still has the size (6-foot-0 , 211 pounds) to win battles in traffic. He also showed good hands and explosion during the receiving drills.
Texas A&M’s Mike Evans answered concerns about his speed by running the 40 in 4.53 seconds. Some analysts predicted that he would be the in 4.6- to 4.7 range, but the big target (6-5, 231) proved he has the speed to run from defenders. Evans has been linked to the Ravens in multiple mock drafts, but may have vaulted himself ahead of the No. 17 overall pick.
Evans admitted he was impressed after seeing his counterparts at the combine.
“I haven't seen a draft stacked like this with receivers in a long time,” Evans said.
Other receivers who helped themselves with strong workouts Sunday were Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks and LSU’s Odell Beckham. Cooks shined by clocking a 4.33 in the 40, the best time among all receivers.
“This kid is special with the ball in his hands,” Mayock said after watching Cooks run.
Beckham wasn’t too far behind Cooks in the 40, as he clocked in at 4.43 seconds. Beckham was already considered a first-round prospect, and now he may end up as a top-20 pick.
USC’s Marqise Lee and Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin are two of the other top receivers, but they didn’t do quite as much to help their draft stock. But they also didn’t hurt themselves.
Lee’s 4.52-second 40 was a little slower than expected, but he had impressive hands during receiving drills. Benjamin ran a 4.61 in the 40, but he is known much more for his size (6-5, 240) than breakaway speed.
Other players who helped themselves are Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthew and Wake Forest’s Michael Campanaro, who both ran 4.46-second 40s.