Posted by Jack Tumen
The NFL Combine is under way, which means ranking season is in full swing. Personally, I think the combine is overrated. People get too caught up in the numbers game when in reality, certain players will have better careers than others simply because of the situation they’re drafted into.
At the same time, the combine is a great place for lesser-known players to make a name for themselves as the draft approaches. Over the next two months, new faces will surface as these young talents make the final push to up their stock for May 8th. The combine is where that push starts. Below are three under-the-radar wide receivers that I think will emerge as productive pros.
Devin Street – Pittsburgh
Street leaves the University of Pittsburgh as the school’s all-time leader in receptions. He was a two-time second-team All-Big East selection in 2012 and ’13. He stands at 6’3″, 198lbs with a long frame and covers chunks of yardage with large strides. I think he has a great chance to become a solid number two receiver; his build fits the bill for an ideal second option on the outside. I like him as a deep ball/sideline target in a vertical NFL offense, but he’s versatile enough to make a grab anywhere on the field. Potential suitors could be Detroit, Indy, Philly or the Jets. Look for him to come off the board in the 4th round. Check out his highlight reel.
Bennie Fowler – Michigan State
At 6’1″, 217lbs, Fowler has some of the highest growth potential of any wideout in this draft. He’s led the Spartans in receiving for the last two seasons, and although his stats don’t exactly “wow” at first glance (36 rec, 622 yds, 6 TDs in 2013) his athleticism and upside are enormous. If you watch some of his tape, you can’t help but notice his outstanding ability to stop and change direction on a dime. He fearlessly runs routes in the middle of the field and can line up anywhere on offense; he’s taken a few reverse handoffs along the way too. More importantly, the guy can take a hit. Pittsburgh, Kansas City or Tampa Bay could all be fits for a physical receiver like Fowler. I’m thinking 4th-5th round, but he’ll be an underrated value pick.
Michael Campanaro – Wake Forest
Look up the definition of slot receiver and it should say Campanaro’s name next to it. This kid is one of the toughest receivers around and people should take notice. Listed at 5’9″, 192lbs, Campanaro is the Demon Deacons all-time leader in receptions. He’s a true possession receiver that moves the chains in chunks while using his quickness to gain extra yardage. His game reminds me of Steve Smith (also 5’9″, but 10lbs lighter) mixed with Danny Amendola or Julian Edelman. He’d be the perfect Seahawk, but I can also see him working the slot with Jacksonville, Tennessee or San Diego. He’ll come off the board in the 5th or 6th round.
Stay tuned for many more pre-draft lists and predictions in the coming weeks.