Following on from my last post re draft sleepers at RB we move to WR. The two WR's who mark the draft "sweet spot" this year are Rueben Randle of LSU and Dwight Jones of North Carolina. They are projected as 2nd or 3rd round picks or so. Below that, things get really choppy. So here's my WR sleeper list - players whose upside IMO is at or near that Randle/Jones level.Devier Posey - 6'2" 210 lbs - Ohio State - Was a top 5 WR out of HS. 5 star recruit - just behind Julio Jones and AJ Green and ahead of Michael Floyd Has all the attributes of a #2 WR with potential upside from there. Great deep threat. Went to Ohio State and had a breakout sophomore (2009) and junior (2010) year. Was suspended for 5 games to start the season in 2011 as part of the selling memorabilia Ohio State scandal. That is the only reason I can see why he has dropped into the third or fourth round. And this particular scandal looks to me more like an embarrassment for Ohio State rather than any character issue.
Marvin McNutt - 6'2" 215 lbs - Iowa - A top 20 dual-threat QB out of high school. 3 star recruit. Went to Iowa. Switched positions to WR after his freshman year and has had three solid seasons. Is a good athlete but a marginal NFL WR. Good hands, route running, and smart - but fairly slow and good CB's eliminate him from the game. He's not really a sleeper at WR in my opinion but he has only been playing it for three years and getting a two-fer is not a bad use of a mid-round draft slot.
Jeff Fuller - 6'3" 220 lbs - Texas A&M - A top 10 or so WR out of HS. 4 star recruit by rivals and Scout. Son of an NFL DB. Strong and a good YAC receiver. Like most every WR, he'll need a year or two to adjust to the NFL level before he breaks out. Committed to Texas A&M and had a very good college career with Ryan Tannehill throwing him the ball and in a pro-style offense. Had some nagging injuries (concussion, hamstring) in 2011 so didn't accumulate the final gaudy senior year stats that tend to impress draft board folks. Currently being projected in the 4/5 round.
Gerell Robinson - 6'4" 225 lbs - Arizona State - A top 10 WR out of HS. 4 star recruit. Big target in traffic. Not elite speed and has had concentration problems. Went to Arizona State and did very little for his first three years. Then broke out and blew the doors off with his senior season. He's not so much your typical one-year wonder as a guy who has finally lived up to his potential. The question will be is he just a contract year payday type player. Currently projected as a sixth rounder.
Marvin Jones - 6'2" 200 lbs - California - Top 20 WR out of HS. 4 star recruit. Great route runner and hands. Went to California where he's had three good years. Currently projected as a seventh rounder.
Keith Nichol - 6'2" 220 lbs - Michigan State - Talk about a kid who has been screwed by his schools. Was the #6 ranked dual-threat QB out of HS. 4 star recruit. Recruited by Oklahoma. Lost the starter QB battle to Sam Bradford (a pro-style QB from Oklahoma). Sat on the bench for a year and then transferred back home to Michigan St. Sat out a year per NCAA rules. Then in 2009 split time at QB with Kirk Cousins (a pro-style QB also from Michigan in the same class). Actually passed a bit better than Cousins but ultimately lost the starter job. Teams will always go for a pro-style QB over a dual-threat. Then switched to WR. He hasn't gotten the targets to determine if he is really an NFL WR. Probably not. But he is absolutely an elite athlete with elite intangibles. Won't get drafted but could be an interesting two-fer with gimmick potential for us.
Toney Clemons - 6'2" 210 lbs - Colorado - a top 10 WR out of HS. 4 star recruit. Deep threat with good hands. Went to Michigan and didn't play much as a freshman. His sophomore year (2008) Michigan had two garbage QBs. He transferred to Colorado and sat out a year. Played OK in 2010 and had a good year in 2011 (MVP of offense). He's invisible because Colorado sucks as a team now and Michigan sucked then. May not get drafted.
Below this there is a high upside character disaster in Aldarius Johnson of Miami. A couple of really raw WR's who were screwed by a QB disaster at UCLA - Nelson Rosario still at UCLA and Antwan Moutra who transferred to Montana. But neither of them was ever projected at much above situational at the NFL level. Other than that, its all camp fodder.
The first thing that is clear is that there isn't much NFL caliber depth at WR this year. There are plenty of situational or one-dimensional players for those teams that need that. But teams are going to have to use a draft pick and a pretty high one at that if they want to find a starter WR.
The second thing that is clear is that we need a lot more than a one dimensional WR. Last offseason, WR depth and quality was a rare strength for us. After trading away Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney and probably losing Eddie Royal to free agency, our WR roster is hideous. Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas are fine #2 WR's and I suspect 2012 will be their breakout years. Other than that we have basically nobody. Matt Willis is not an NFL player. Nor is anyone on our practice squad. Mark Dell has solid potential but next year will be his first so he won't do much. We have two starters to fill three starting slots and one bench to fill two bench slots.
A real quandary for EFX. I suspect it means picking up a FA WR to replace Royal and using a draft pick and a few UDFA invites.
In my poll, I'm going to include possible round-by-round targets since I haven't found many UDFA sleeper picks.