2014 NFL draft preview: Wide receivers and tight ends

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Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans during a drill at pro day for NFL football representatives on Thursday, March 27, 2014.

Photo: Patric Schneider, ASSOCIATED PRESS - AP

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There likely won’t be an offensive weapon selected with the first overall pick, nor the second, but don’t let that fool you. Wide receiver might be the deepest position in the draft, with a number of players capable of making an immediate impact in a pass-happy league even outside of the first round.

Seven receivers could be selected in the first round and likely two of those will go in the top 10, led by Clemson’s Sammy Watkins and Texas A&M’s Mike Evans. While those two are clearly the best receivers of the group, Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks, Southern California’s Marqise Lee, LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr., Penn State’s Allen Robinson and Ole Miss’ Donte Moncrief could all hear their name announced by Commissioner Roger Goodell in the first round.

That doesn’t even include the steals available in the middle rounds. Last year, the Chargers got a third-round gem in Cal’s Keenan Allen, who developed into one of the top rookies with 71 catches and 1,046 receiving yards. It wouldn’t be surprising to see third-rounders this year who have the same impact.

On the other hand, there aren’t as many game-changing tight ends in this draft. Only one, North Carolina’s Eric Ebron, is expected to be a first-rounder. Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro and Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins could be second-day picks.

Teams looking for depth at tight end could find some value at the position in Day 3 with some solid options, including Iowa’s C.J. Fiedorowicz and Georgia’s Arthur Lynch.

THE FRONT-RUNNER

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Watkins should go in the top five. Listed at 6-1 and 211 pounds, Watkins was immediately considered one of the best receivers in the country following his freshman year and shattered nearly every school receiving record in three seasons. The three-time first-team All-America is dynamic and versatile, with the ability to return kicks and even lineup in the backfield. He’ll be in contention for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

THE CONTENDERS

Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Evans is every quarterback’s dream. Just ask quarterback Johnny Manziel how many times Evans grabbed an off-balanced jump ball by using his 6-5, 231-pound frame to leap over everyone in the vicinity. He possesses unmatched size and strength and will be a top-10 pick. There should be a few teams calling the Vikings and looking to deal if he’s still on the board with the eighth pick.

 

Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

He’ll need to improve as a blocker, but Ebron’s ability as a playmaking tight end isn’t in question. The All-ACC first-team selection broke the conference single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end (895) last year. Listed at 6-4 and 250 pounds, Ebron is a good route runner and has great hands.

 

Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

Cooks might only be 5-10 and 189 pounds, but he’s durable and agile. Last year’s Biletnikoff Award winner, given to the nation’s top receiver, he ran a 4.33 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine and has made countless defenders whiff in three seasons. The consensus All-America broke both the Pac-12 single-season receptions (128) and receiving yards (1,730) records last year.

THE SLEEPER

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NY Mets 8 FINAL
Atlanta 2
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Yankees 1
Detroit 5 FINAL
Baltimore 4
Toronto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 2 FINAL
Cleveland 4
San Diego 3 FINAL
Seattle 4
Chicago WSox 6 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Kansas City 13 FINAL
Texas 2
Oakland 9 FINAL
San Francisco 2
Wisc-Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Milwaukee 8
Arizona 6 FINAL
Colorado 3
Univ of Minnesota 1 FINAL
Minnesota 3
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 105
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Orlando 100
Cleveland 120 FINAL
Toronto 112
Utah 84 FINAL
Boston 85
Charlotte 115 FINAL
Brooklyn 91
Denver 100 FINAL
Minnesota 85
Detroit 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
LA Lakers 94 FINAL
Miami 100
Philadelphia 118 FINAL
Oklahoma City 123
Memphis 102 FINAL
Houston 100
Sacramento 85 FINAL
San Antonio 112
Milwaukee 93 FINAL
Golden State 102
Portland 98 FINAL
LA Clippers 93
Ottawa 3 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
NY Rangers 1 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 2
Pittsburgh 1 FINAL
Colorado 3
Montreal 1 FINAL
Anaheim 3
Longwood 65 FINAL
Presbyterian 61
Campbell 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 72
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 80
Ohio State 77 FINAL
Penn State 67
Maine 66 FINAL
Albany 83
Duquesne 81 FINAL
Fordham 66
George Washington 67 FINAL
George Mason 51
Tennessee 78 FINAL
LSU 63
Notre Dame 71 FINAL
Louisville 59
SE Missouri St 74 FINAL
Morehead State 79
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Mount St Marys 58
Hartford 63 FINAL
New Hampshire 67
Wagner 68 FINAL
Robert Morris 91
Long Island 70 FINAL
St Francis-NY 79
La Salle 50 FINAL
Saint Josephs 55
Providence 79 FINAL
Seton Hall 66
UCF 45 FINAL
South Florida 74
Binghamton 57 FINAL
Stony Brook 62
UMBC 39 FINAL
Vermont 66
Sacred Heart 85 FINAL
Bryant 91
Richmond 56 FINAL
Massachusetts 53
Wake Forest 51 FINAL
Duke 94
Purdue 66 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Miami-Florida 67 FINAL
Pittsburgh 63
St Bonaventure 64 FINAL
Saint Louis 48
New Mexico St 69 FINAL
TX-Pan American 48
Houston 68 FINAL
Tulane 63
Howard 62 FINAL
NJIT 71
TCU 70 FINAL
Oklahoma State 82
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
Tulsa 47
USC 74 FINAL
UCLA 85
Miss State 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Utah State 53 FINAL
Wyoming 76
St Johns 67 FINAL
Marquette 51
SIU Edwardsville 66 FINAL
Eastern Ill 78
Air Force 66 FINAL
Fresno State 68
Nebraska 57 FINAL
Illinois 69
Colorado State 78 FINAL
Nevada 62
Boise State 68 FINAL
San Jose St 51
San Diego St 60 FINAL
UNLV 58
Oregon 65 FINAL
Oregon State 62
UC Santa Barbara 73 2nd Half 8:21
Hawaii 57
Toledo 64 FINAL
Northern Ill 68
Wake Forest 69 FINAL
Boston College 53
Eastern Illinois 35 FINAL
UT Martin 68
Austin Peay 69 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
NC State 56
Massachusetts 55 FINAL
St Bonaventure 49
Auburn 71 FINAL
Florida 49
Penn State 63 FINAL
Indiana 68
Clemson 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 80
Davidson 63 FINAL
La Salle 74
Loyola-Maryland 46 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Boston U 48 FINAL
Colgate 58
Coll of Charleston 58 FINAL
James Madison 107
Delaware 76 FINAL
Elon 77
Drexel 58 FINAL
Northeastern 42
Hofstra 75 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 76
Towson 56 FINAL
William & Mary 68
Miami-Ohio 55 FINAL
Akron 67
Ball State 85 FINAL
Central Michigan 69
Buffalo 55 FINAL
Bowling Green 47
Western Mich 65 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 74
Ohio U 69 FINAL
Kent State 56
Youngstown St 62 FINAL
Cleveland State 73
Illinois-Chicago 54 FINAL
Wright State 74
Alabama 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Detroit 60 FINAL
Milwaukee 56
Purdue 58 FINAL
Wisconsin 56
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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