Draft Positional Analysis Wide Receiver
February 14th 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
The 49ers could very well be looking for a receiver in this years draft. The team hasn't been able to get much production out of its second or third spots over the past two seasons, and Terrell Owens, the teams' primary receiver is not happy with his involvement in the offense. Meanwhile JJ Stokes the teams number two receiver wants more balls to come his way, despite not having an impressive season. This is clearly an area the 49ers need to be concerned about, whose at fault with the receiver position is open to debate and speculation, but anyway you look at it, the 49ers are likely to try and mix this position up a little this off-season.
Ranking WRs is always one of the toughest things to do for the draft. This season proved no different. There are a fair share of very good prospects that will grab the interest of lots of NFL teams. It's long term success and big plays that we look for in the NFL though, and we wont truly know how well these guys do until we see them in the NFL.
Top Ten Receiver Prospects
Jabar Gaffney is probably the most complete receiver in this years draft. He has good size and good speed. He gets very good separation, and can dominate against any competition. He's clutch when the game is on the line. Gaffney rarely drops a pass, and is good for yards after the catch too. He knows the endzone very well. Gaffney's father played for the New York Jets. An all around great receiver prospect who should take the step to the next level with ease.
Antonio Bryant combines good size and speed with great skill. He suffered an injury last year that forced him to miss lots of game time, but he came back strong. Also a capable punt returner. Bryant can be depended on when the game is on the line. Can get into the endzone. He's had minimal off-field troubles but chargers were dropped. Should be able to step up to play in the NFL, but must prove his injury is behind him.
Josh Reed is a versatile receiver who has played running back and can return kicks. Picks up big chunks of yards after the catch and is no stranger of the endzone. Comes up big in big games and is an all around solid receiver. Reliable hands and good speed. The biggest knock on Reed will be his size, but his overall talent should more than make up for his small downfall.
Marquis Walker is the biggest receiver from the top ten. The leading receiver in Michigan's history Walker is reliable and can dominate. He comes up big in every game and rarely drops a pass. Not a product of the system, Walker looks like the type of player that will do very well in the NFL. Will learn to use his body better to get more separation at the next level.
Andre Davis stayed in school an extra year and seemed to make the right decision. He could be the fastest receiver on the top ten and is a big guy too. Davis is an explosive player that is a difference maker. He benefited greatly from having Michael Vick throwing to him for most of his collegiate career, but looks like he will be able to succeed at any level. Should be a very big impact player in the NFL, but needs to prove he can be a big game consistent player.
Ashley Lelie is an explosive receiver with good size. He is a dominating player who will require defenses to double cover him. He has another gear that he uses when he catches the ball or coming out of a cut that just leaves the defense in the dust. A premier player that moves the sticks, finds the endzone and has proved reliable.
Donte Stallworth has been wrestling with the idea of being eligible for the draft or returning to school. Finally the pro ranks won out, and Stallworth declared himself eligible. A very solid receiver at the collegiate level who understands football very well. He's not the biggest receiver but seems to get decent separation. Will be a good compliment receiver in the NFL, but may have a hard time dealing with playing second fiddle.
Javon Walker is a gifted athlete that has also played some minor league baseball. Takes advantage of situations and has become a very good receiver at the collegiate ranks. He is very big after the catch and likes getting into the endzone. Is a had person to stop, he always finds a way to show up for games. Could prove to be even better if he can improve his speed.
Kelly Campbell is a very quick receiver and makes the big play often. Is at home out of the slot position. Can return kicks well too. He can stretch the field particularly well and would fit very well in with a team looking for a third or fourth 'burner' type receiver. Can be an impact player in the NFL, but isn't likely to be a starter.
Ron Johnson is a good sized receiver who is well experienced at the position. A good student who uses his intellect on the field too. Is not a big play receiver, but does pick up the yards after the catch that most NFL teams are now looking for. Is a solid reliable receiver but doesn't appear to be a big play, go-to-guy. Could be a nice compliment possesion type receiver in the NFL.
This years group of receivers is very deep. It's always hard to judge this position, but this group seems to all around be quite good. The 49ers may be able to find a helpful player in the middle of the draft and could very well do exactly that. Where the team would have that receiver fit in, isn't quite certain yet, but they are looking for someone who can push Stokes and Streets and with a good team attitude. Talk about it in the 49ers Paradise Forum