By Kyle Casey, Staff Writer
This year’s group of wide receivers is perhaps as deep as any other group in recent memory. While there’s no consensus top wide receiver, prospects such as Keenan Allen (Cal), Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee), Tavon Austin (West Virginia) and DeAndre Hopkins (Clemson) could all be selected in the first round.
After the first round, there isn’t much of a drop-off in talent. Dozens of talented receivers highlight this year’s wide receiver class, and there will surely be some late round picks who could contribute as rookies and turn out to be starters in the NFL.
Here are a few late round sleeper wide receivers:
Aaron Dobson, Marshall
Coming from a smaller school, Marshall’s Aaron Dobson hasn’t received much attention so far in the draft process. However, the 6’3 wideout possesses top-tier speed and will likely run a sub-4.4 forty yard dash at the combine. Dobson’s combination of size, speed and athleticism gives him all of the physical tools needed to be a starting receiver in the NFL. His production in college may warrant some concerns though, as he only caught 57 passes for three touchdowns in 2012. However, he did miss two games last season. Dobson’s draft stock could quickly rise as he becomes more of a household name, but for now he’d be a viable option in the fourth round with the potential to get selected on day two of the draft.
Ryan Swope, Texas A&M
Despite catching 89 passes in 2011 and 72 passes in 2012, Texas A&M receiver Ryan Swope has received almost no recognition as a viable wide receiver prospect. Swope will likely go on the third day of the draft because of his short frame (6’0, 204 pounds) and good-but-not-great speed. However, Swope proved in college that he can be a productive receiver not only in the slot, but also on the outside. He projects to be mainly a slot receiver in the NFL, but won’t exclusively be used in that role. If selected in the fourth of fifth round, Swope will be one of the best value picks on the third day of the draft.
Jasper Collins, Mount Union
One of the most underrated prospects at any position in this year’s draft is Jasper Collins, a Division III receiver from Mount Union. Playing for the National Champion Purple Raiders, Collins caught 92 passes in 2012 for 1,694 yards and 22 touchdowns. Collins, however, stands at just 5’10, which limits his ability to contribute anywhere in an NFL offense besides the slot. He performed well at January’s East-West Shrine Game, runs smooth routes and has solid hands. He also returned three punts for touchdowns in college, which could help him see the field more as a rookie in a special teams role. There’s no guarantee that Collins will get drafted in April’s draft, but he’s certainly worthy of going in the sixth or seventh round.