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Sep 17, 2016; Oxford, OH, USA; Miami (Oh) Redhawks defensive back Tony Reid (14) is stiff armed by Western Kentucky Hilltoppers wide receiver Taywan Taylor (2) in the first half at Fred Yager Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

 

2017 NFL Draft Sleeper Wide Receivers Prospects

Many people have talked about how deep the year’s NFL Draft class is at defensive back and tight end, but the wide receiver position may be just as deep.  While prospects like Corey Davis, Carlos Henderson, and ArDarius Stewart are often discussed, there are several high potential players who have been seemingly overlooked.  Which of these players could go from mid round pick to Pro Bowl production in the NFL?

KD Cannon 5’11” 182 Baylor (4th or 5th Round Projection)

KD Cannon is an athletic receiver with the ability to stretch a defense vertically.  He has a bit of a thin frame and will need to improve his route-running, but he has the speed to be a playmaker in the NFL.  Cannon can make catches on vertical routes or make would-be tacklers miss and turn shorter routes into big gains.  He had 87 receptions for 1,215 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2016.

Chad Williams 6’1” 204 Grambling State (4th or 5th Round Projection)

Chad Williams was a playmaker at Grambling and has the skill set to be the same in the NFL.  Williams has the speed to win on routes over top and the quickness to make excellent cuts on underneath routes.  He is not easy to bring down once he has the ball in his hands.  Williams was a major part of Grambling’s offense, tallying 89 receptions for 1,334 yards and ten touchdowns on the season.

Fred Ross 6’1” 213 Miss State (4th or 5th Round Projection)

Fred Ross caught 160 passes for 1,924 yards and 17 touchdowns over the last two seasons at Mississippi State.  Ross has a lot going for him as a receiver.  He has good size, Odell Beckham Jr. hair, and was the favorite target of Dak Prescott in college.  Ross, however, lacks the speed to run past defenders vertically and drops too many passes.

Amba Etta-Tawo 6’1” 208 Syracuse (4th or 5th Round Projection)

Coming out of nowhere, Amba Etta-Tawo had 94 receptions for 1,482 yards and 14 touchdowns in his senior season.  Etta-Tawo has good size and speed and can go up and get jump balls.  Unfortunately, he has struggled to catch the ball over the course of his college career.   He seemed to improve in this area as a senior, but it may still be a work in progress.

Ricky Seals-Jones 6’5” 243 Texas A&M (4th or 5th Round Projection)

Ricky Seals-Jones caught 26 passes for 333 yards and a touchdown playing just eight games in an injury-shortened season.  Seals-Jones was a highly touted recruit who never really panned out in college.  His size, however, will get an NFL team to take a chance on him as he is a mismatch nightmare for defenses.

Taywan Taylor 5’11” 203 WKU (4th or 5th Round Projection)

Taywan Taylor is a fast and super-productive receiver from Western Kentucky.  He caught 86 passes for 1,467 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior in 2015 and followed that performance up with 98 receptions for 1,730 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2016.  In both seasons he averaged over 17 yards per reception.  Taylor is on the shorter side which some think may limit him to a slot role in the NFL.  Those who question his level of competition have to look no further than his nine reception 121-yard performance against Alabama in 2016.

Zach Pascal 6’2” 219 Old Dominion (4th or 5th Round Projection)

The all-time receptions leader at ODU, Zach Pascal had 133 catches for 1,916 yards and 17 touchdowns over the past two seasons.  Pascal has excellent hands and catches the ball well in traffic.  He runs good routes but has limited quickness.  He has decent speed but needs a long runway to get going.

Josh Malone Tennessee 6’3” 208 (5th or 6th Round Projection)

While 2016 was the top statistical year of Josh Malone’s career as a Volunteer, he still had only 50 receptions for 972 yards and 11 touchdowns averaging 19.4 yards per reception.  His lack of production is concerning, but his combination of speed and size that makes Malone worth the risk.  He is capable of making big plays and can catch the ball in a crowd.

Robert Davis 6’3” 219 Georgia State (5th or 6th Round Projection)

Robert Davis has the size and speed to overcome the small-school stigma.  He has good hands and has shown the ability to shake defenders turning short passes into big gains.  He was not as productive as you would like to see particularly for a small school prospect.  As a senior, he had 67 receptions for 968 yards and five touchdowns.

Rodney Adams 6’1” 189 South Florida (5th or 6th Round Projection)

Rodney Adams is a fast receiver who runs good routes and can adjust to make tough catches.  Regrettably, he still drops too many balls.   He is also thin and may not have the strength to defeat press coverage at the next level.  With the ball in his hands, he is a force on offense and special teams as a returner.  Keeping the ball in his hands has been a problem though as he fumbled five times last season.   On the season, Adams had 67 receptions for 822 yards and five touchdowns.

Kenny Golladay 6’4” 218 Northern Illinois (5th or 6th Round Projection)

Kenny Golladay is a big, fast, long-striding runner who can get up and highpoint a ball in traffic.  Golladay had 87 receptions for 1,156 yards and eight touchdowns this past season.  Golladay has speed once he opens up his stride but lacks quickness.  Due to this fact, he will need to improve his route running to have any hope of getting open against NFL defenders.

 

Travis Rudolph Florida State 6’ 189 (5th or 6th Round Projection)

Travis Rudolph is an excellent route runner who will make tough catches across the middle of the field.  A true possession receiver, Rudolph catches the ball well, but will not do anything spectacular once the ball is in his hands.  He is also a a good blocker in the run game.