Scouting The Senior Bowl 2016: Wide Receivers


With two days in the books at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., here are five receivers who have stood out thus far:

Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma*5-foot-10, 191 pounds; Draft projection = second or third round
2015 stats: 86 receptions, 1,288 yards, 11 touchdowns
*Shepard might be undersized, but he sure did produce for the Sooners last season and he's already standing out against the nation's top senior defensive backs. The Biletnikoff Award semifinalist is a shifty, polished route-runner, and he put that on display the first two days in Mobile. Shepard has consistently beaten defenders in practice – with a variety of moves – and appears to be having the best outing of all the receiver prospects so far. It's important to note Shepard has also beaten defenders deep on the outside because he wants to prove to NFL scouts he isn't just a slot receiver, which is where he did most of his damage for the Sooners. He's not the prototypical big-bodied receiver, which could hurt him when matched up against physical corners on the next level, but Shepard plays tough. And the Ravens already know that size isn't everything. Just ask Steve Smith Sr. (5-foot-9, 195 pounds).

Braxton Miller, Ohio State6-foot-2, 215 pounds;Draft projection =second or third round
2015 stats: 26 catches, 341 yards, 3 touchdowns
Think Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. No, Miller isn't anywhere close to that level yet, but that's who he models his game after. Miller has all the tools to become a Brown-type player: electric playmaking, versatility, athleticism and strong hands. But Miller has only played wide receiver for one season after a shoulder injury forced him to convert from starting quarterback. So he's still developing and figuring out the position. The Buckeyes' struggling passing game contributed to Miller's low stats last year, and he'd prefer to play on the outside instead of in the slot like he did at Ohio State. In Mobile, Miller has shown the ability to get separation on the outside. He's also made defenders miss on a couple of reverses out of the backfield. There was some concern about his hands, given his late conversion to the position, but he only dropped one pass last season, according to Pro Football Focus. If the Ravens were to nab Miller in the draft, Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman would have some fun plugging him in all over the field, including at running back and quarterback.

Leonte Carroo, Rutgers6-foot-0, 217 pounds; Draft projection = third round
2015 stats: 39 catches, 809 yards, 10 touchdowns
* *An ankle injury ended Carroo's Senior Bowl experience prematurely as he went down in the middle of Wednesday's* *practice and will not compete the rest of the week. The problem is he needed this opportunity to further showcase his abilities because he missed five games last season due to a suspension (charges on simple assault under domestic violence were dropped) and a high ankle injury later in the year. When he was on the field in Mobile, he was solid, but his outing was brief. At the weigh-in, he measured a hair under six feet and was a chiseled 217 pounds. He's tough, explosive in and out of breaks, and baits defenders to get open. While most believe he'll be selected in the third round, Pro Football Focus (PFF) has him going in the first round, based on its grades from the 2015 season.  His overall plus-15 mark from PFF makes him the fourth-best draft eligible receiver.

Malcom Mitchell, Georgia6-foot-1, 196 pounds; Draft projection = fourth or fifth round
2015 stats: 58 catches, 865 yards, 5 touchdowns
Mitchell immediately stood out from Day 1 of the Senior Bowl by flying down the field and hauling in deep passes. Some of the balls looked to be off-target, which isn't surprising considering the quarterbacks and receivers are playing together for the first time, but Mitchell showed good ball awareness and still plucked passes out of the air. This year's crop of seniors features many smaller receivers better suited for the slot, but Mitchell is one who is ready to stretch the field and play on the outside. The knock on Mitchell is he can be inconsistent and needs to polish his route-running.

Jay Lee, Baylor*6-foot-2, 214 pounds; Draft projection = seventh round
2015 stats: 38 catches, 758 yards, 8 touchdowns
*Lee is also a vertical threat, averaging nearly 20 yards per catch in 2015. His combination of height and speed is intriguing, but he has developed a reputation for shaky confidence and dropping balls. He did a good job of dispelling that concern with the one-handed grab below.

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