Originally Published: May 6, 2016
Note: The rookie player reports are organized by our initial 2016 rankings, based on talent, opportunity, and situation. Below all the reports, we have long term dynasty/keeper rankings.
1. Laquon Treadwell, Minnesota Vikings
School: Mississippi | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 221 | 40: NA | Year: 3JR | Drafted: 1st round, 23rd overall
- Scouting Report: Treadwell said at the Combine that he models his game after Dez Bryant, and Mike Mayock repeatedly compared Treadwell to Alshon Jefferyduring NFL Network’s Combine telecast at the end of February. Treadwell is certainly built very similar (6’2”, 221 pounds) to those WRs and has similar athletic ability, which makes him a nightmare for smaller CBs on the outside. At the Combine, Treadwell decided not to run the 40-yard dash – he ran a disappointing 4.63 at his pro day – and he tested well below average in the broad (9’9”) and vertical jumps (33-inches). However, he showed off his strong hands and impressive ball skills in the drills. Also, his route running – he might be the best slant runner in the draft – and imposing physical stature makes up for his average athletic skillset. Treadwell does have some trouble separating from quicker CBs, but his large catching radius and strength to shield defenders away on contested passes makes up for it. He’s also a beast to bring down in the open field after the catch, and his competitiveness on the field is one of his best attributes. Treadwell is already a good possession receiver and a dangerous red-zone threat, and he has the ball skills and route running to become a better downfield threat. He suffered a gruesome broken fibula during his sophomore season in 2014, which required surgery. He shed 25 pounds after the injury and played better the further he got away from his injury in 2015, finishing the year with 82/1153/11 receiving. His average measurables are a little scary, but he plays faster on tape and is extremely competitive with the ball in the air.
- Fantasy Analysis: Treadwell has the skillset, competitiveness, and talent to develop into the best X receiver in this class. Stefon Diggs emerged as the top receiver in Minnesota in 2015, but Treadwell instantly becomes the most talented WR here. As a stud possession receiver, he also looks like a great fit with the conservative Teddy Bridgewater, who’d much rather throw it in the intermediate and underneath areas of the field. Treadwater also looks like the classic X receiver in Norv Turner offense: He doesn’t have to be fast and run by defenders, but he has to be able to run digs and skinny posts as an intermediate receiver. If Treadwell can play more consistent, he certainly has upside to be the #1 WR immediately in Minnesota, and he could easily be an upside WR3 this season.
2. Corey Coleman, Cleveland Browns
School: Baylor | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 194 | 40: NA | Year: 4JR | Drafted: 1st round, 15th overall
- Scouting Report: Coleman ran a blistering 4.37 40-time at his Baylor pro day, which put him behind just Notre Dame’s Will Fuller(4.32) in this year’s WR class. Coleman gets from 0 to 60 mph in a heartbeat and easily pulls away from defenders downfield. He also tested near the top of the class in both the vertical (40.5 inches) and broad jumps (10’9”). Coleman’s leaping ability helps him win in contested situations, and he tracks the ball well in the air downfield. He’s incredibly dynamic after the catch, creating immediate separation and picking up yards after the catch with quickness. The biggest knock on Coleman is that Baylor WRs have a shaky record in the league (Kendall Wright, Terrance Williams, Josh Gordon, and Tevin Reese in the last five drafts), and Baylor WRs don’t run anywhere close to a full route tree. He takes some false steps off the line of scrimmage and he has some work to do pre-snap (get set already!). Coleman also had too many focus drops and needs to get better going over the middle of the field. He did put up huge numbers in 2015 (74/1363/20 receiving) to win the Biletnikoff Award (NCAAs top WR), and he’ll have the chance to break that trend of disappointing Baylor WRs. We see a little bit of DeSean Jackson with his vertical speed and little bit of Pierre Garcon with his competitiveness after the catch – Baylor even used him as an RB at times.
- Fantasy Analysis: Coleman might be the most physically gifted WR in this year’s class and of the most explosive playmakers in the entire draft. Browns WR Al Saunders probably sees a little of his former player Isaac Bruce in Coleman based on his size (5’11”, 194 pounds) and movement skills. As a Z receiver, he’ll be a downfield threat immediately with the chance to develop into the #1 WR in Cleveland in 2016, depending on the status of Josh Gordon. We don’t mind the Coleman’s fit with Robert Griffin III and his downfield throwing, but he’d be a terrible match with the noodle-armed Cody Kessler, if he were to take over at any point. Coleman certainly has potential to be a WR3 with upside this season, and he’ll be an interesting dynasty player depending on if the Browns take a QB high in the 2017 draft (Clemson’s Deshaun Watson???).
3. Josh Doctson, Washington Redskins
School: TCU | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 202 | 40: 4.50 | Year: 5SR | Drafted: 1st round, 22nd overall
- Scouting Report: Doctson might be the best all-around receiver in this year’s class, and he showed off his great combination of size and speed at the Combine. Most impressively, he looks smooth in just about everything he does on the field. He ran a solid 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Combine, but he impressed most with his jumping ability. Doctson and Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepardtopped the class with 41-inch verticals, and Doctson finished second to only Auburn’s Ricardo Louis in the broad jump with a leap of 10’11”. He certainly uses his leaping ability to win plenty of contested passes in the air. He also showed off his ball skills and great hands – and big ones at nearly 10 inches – during position drills. He put up massive numbers his last two seasons at TCU, combining for 144/2355/25 receiving, including 79/1337/14 in just 11 games in 2015 because of a wrist injury. Doctson can be dominate downfield with his acceleration to get on top of defenders, and he’s able to extend and make difficult catches because of his lanky frame. He did play in a spread offense that created space and had a limited route tree, but he did improve as a route runner in 2015. Doctson might need to muscle up some too, as there are concerns about him against press coverage. He has great sideline awareness and tracks the ball well over his shoulders. With his balls skills, body control, and leaping ability, it’s not surprising that he’s been compared to DeAndre Hopkins during the draft process.
- Fantasy Analysis: Doctson might not be the best athlete in this year’s class but he’s got a well-rounded skillset. He has great scheme adaptability for the creative Jay Gruden, and he should get some short throws with run-after-catch opportunities. Doctson could be a solid #2 WR as an X receiver in 2016, if/when he beats out Pierre Garcon to play across from DeSean Jackson. Garcon, who will turn 30 in August, is entering the final year of his contract, and the Redskins appear to be grooming Doctson to eventually replace him. Doctson will start the year as a fantasy WR4 as the #3 WR in Washington, but he’d be a fantasy starter if he enters the starting lineup at any point. Gruden compared him to his former WR J. Green, and it’s clear Doctson has the potential to be a fantasy stud down the road.
4. Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals
School: Pitt | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 197 | 40: 4.58 | Year: 3JR | Drafted: 2nd round, 55th overall
- Scouting Report: Boyd certainly doesn’t have off-the-chart measurables, running a 4.58 40-yard dash and managing just 11 reps in the bench press. However, Boyd makes up for it with his impressive hands and good body control. Boyd ran pro-style route tree at Pitt and he knows how to work DBs to get open. He became the entire Panther offense after RB James Connerwent down in the season opener, lining up all over the field and getting regular carries. Boyd finished 2015 with 91/926/6 receiving and with 40/349/0 rushing, and he set school records in career catches (254) and receiving yards (3361) despite shaky QB play throughout his career. Boyd doesn’t make many defenders miss after the catch, but he is a physical runner and has an extra gear after the catch. He is a long-strider downfield and works the intermediate areas, but he was forced to work primarily by the line of scrimmage at Pitt. Boyd did have ball security issues as a punt returner, so that’s something to watch if it starts to leak into his game as a receiver. He was arrested for DUI last summer as a 20-year-old. Boyd’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was below the legal limit of .08 for drivers older than 21, but underage drivers may not have a BAC higher than .02. Boyd is said to be a well-liked teammate and most think his decision-making off the field won’t be an issue. Boyd isn’t a physically imposing player and needs to get a little bigger and strong, but he’s one of the best route runners in the class and has great hands.
- Fantasy Analysis: Boyd seems destined to be a rock-solid possession receiver, which is why we compared him to Keenan Allen leading up to the draft. Boyd might never be an absolute fantasy stud because of his physical limitations, but he has the chance to be a high-end #2 WR early in his career. Boyd is in a great situation playing off of stud J. Green in this potent Bengal passing game, and he has the chance to play right away considering just how bad Brandon LaFell played last season. He’ll start the year as WR4, but he’ll work way into fantasy starter territory if he can pass LaFell early in the season.
5. Sterling Shepard, New York Giants
School: Oklahoma| Ht: 5-10 | Wt: 194 | 40: 4.48 | Year: 4SR | Drafted: 2nd round, 40th overall
- Scouting Report: Out of this year’s class of WRs, Shepard probably did the most to help his draft status at the Combine. He showed surprising speed with a 4.48 in the 40-yard dash, and he tied TCU’s Josh Doctsonfor the best vertical leap at 41-inches. Shepard didn’t do nearly as well as expected in the agility drills, but that area is just a small concern since he shows plenty of agility on tape. His production skyrocketed as a senior with 86/1288/11 receiving, earning him second-team All-American honors. Shepard is extremely competitive, fighting for balls in contested situations and getting up field quickly after the catch. He has a small catch radius, but he makes up for it by adjusting to inaccurate throws and has excellent ball skills to track passes down. Shepard can be a sloppy route runner at times and he ran a limited route tree at Oklahoma. He also needs to improve against press coverage, and he gets outmuscled at times because of his small frame. Shepard has already been called this year’s Tyler Lockett because of their similar abilities and size – Shepard measured in at 5’10” and 194 pounds. Shepard isn’t nearly the returner that Lockett is, but he’s arguably a more complete receiver coming into the league. Mike Mayock even compared Shepard to Randall Cobb during the NFL Network broadcast at the Combine because of his ability after the catch as a slot receiver.
- Fantasy Analysis: Shepard has the chance to be a dangerous weapon out of the slot as both a downfield threat and as a YAC guy as an underneath receiver in this Giant offense. Our guys Greg Cosell also believes he can play on the outside, as well. Shepard has the chance to be fantasy relevant immediately in a Giant offense that’s lacking depth at WR after Odell Beckham – especially with some uncertainty surrounding Victor Cruz. Shepard will be counted on to make a meaningful contribution as a rookie, and HC Ben McAdoo could use OBJ, Shepard, and Cruz as interchangeable parts in his offense. He’ll likely start the year as WR4, but he could easily emerge as a fantasy starter if Cruz has clearly lost a step in his return.
6. Will Fuller, Houston Texans
School: Notre Dame | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 186 | 40: 4.32 | Year: 3JR | Drafted: 1st round, 21st overall
- Scouting Report: Fuller’s Combine confirmed what we already know about the Fighting Irish standout: He’s really fast and he has very questionable hands. Fuller ran a scorching 4.32 in the 40-yard dash, the fastest time among WRs and behind only Georgia RB Keith Marshall(4.31). Fuller’s 40-time corroborated the downfield ability he showed on tape last season. He posted ridiculous numbers the last two seasons, recording 138/2352/29 receiving in his sophomore and junior seasons combined. However, Fuller also had way too many drops during his college career, and it wasn’t shocking that he measured in with 8-¼ inch hands, which is well below average. QB Jared Goff caught some grief for his 9-inch hands, but hand size is even more important for WRs and Fuller struggled with contested catches throughout his college career. Fuller has a lot of work to do to prove he’s more than just a vertical threat. Fuller did show some improvement as a route runner during the 2015 season, and he can start and stop on a dime. He’s incredibly dangerous with the ball in his hands because he easily runs away from defenders. Fuller does show questionable ball skills at times, jumping at the catch point when it’s unnecessary and letting the ball get into his chest, potentially a symptom of his small hands. He won’t be confused for a physical player, and he rarely does work over the middle of the field and is tentative when he does. Fuller compares a lot to 2015 WR prospect Devin Smith, who struggled as a rookie with the Jets before ending the year on IR with a torn ACL.
- Fantasy Analysis: Fuller is going to be a vertical threat as a Z receiver to begin his career, and he’ll be much more relevant for non-PPR formats. He’s a one-trick pony right now, but at least he’s elite at his specialty. Fuller will need to improve his awful hands and his route running in the underneath and intermediate areas if he has any chance of being anything more than a deep-ball specialist. At least early in his career, Fuller will likely be a better real-life player than he is a fantasy player, but he’ll at least give Brock Osweiler a vertical threat, and he’ll take some pressure off DeAndre Hopkins.
7. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
School: Ohio State | Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 212 | 40: 4.57 | Year: 4JR | Drafted: 2nd round, 47th overall
- Scouting Report: Thomas wasn’t highly recruited out of high school so he went to prep school (where he roomed with Cardale Jones) and earned a scholarship offer from Ohio State a year later. He led the Buckeyes in receiving the last two seasons – over Devin Smithin 2014 and Braxton Miller in 2015 – posting nearly identical numbers in his sophomore (74/799/9 receiving) and junior (56/781/9) seasons. Thomas, who is the nephew of Keyshawn Johnson, uses his big body to his advantage, especially along the sideline and to shield off defenders. He has huge hands (10-½”) and makes some difficult catches away from his body, attacking the ball at its highest point. He has good ball skills overall, but he needs to show more consistency with his hands and with his overall game. Thomas has some savvy as a route runner, attacking DBs with his acceleration out of breaks and by manipulating his shoulders, but he didn’t run a full route tree at Ohio State. He has some suddenness as a runner, and he can use his speed and strength to make plays after the catch. Thomas didn’t really show a ton of potential as a vertical threat because he’s not an explosive athlete and he doesn’t track deep passes well.
- Fantasy Analysis: We see a little bit of Dwayne Bowein Thomas because of his playing strength, as he uses his body effectively to win against smaller defensive backs. Bowe was never a prolific scorer, but Thomas has the chance to develop into a dangerous red-zone threat for QB Drew Brees, who loved throwing it to big receivers like Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham in the end zone. HC Sean Payton could also use him as the big slot in Colston’s old role. Thomas is unlikely to be much of a big-play threat, but he could develop into a #2 WR as a possession receiver. He’ll be more of a fantasy bench piece as a rookie as he competes with Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, and Coby Fleener for targets.
8. Pharoh Cooper, Los Angeles Rams
School: South Carolina | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 203 | 40: NA | Year: 3JR | Drafted: 4th round, 117th overall
- Scouting Report: The Gamecocks had a dysfunctional season overall, including their passing offense, but Cooper was one player that brought some discipline and consistency, which isn’t surprising with his military-family background. He saw his production slightly dip as a junior because of a shaky supporting cast, but he still posted 135/2109/17 receiving in his final two seasons. South Carolina struggled to move the ball at times, so it wasn’t surprising they turned to Cooper’s big-play skills to try to kick start the offense, using him in screens and gadget plays to take advantage of his ability after the catch. He primarily played out of the slot and is very fluid there, as he’s both quick and fast and easily eats up off coverage from the inside. He has great hands and easily catches passes, as he had to pluck quite a few errant passes away from his body. Cooper will freelance at times and needs to refine his route running, but at least he ran full route treeat South Carolina. He’ll work the middle of the field, but he didn’t have many contested catches and he will let the ball get into his body a little too often. He has some vertical ability and hits top speed quickly, which makes him a threat at all levels of the field.
- Fantasy Analysis: Cooper projects to play as the Z receiver or out of the slot, and he’s built like Golden Tate and has versatility and quickness to get open and make defenders miss in space. Cooper is a bit raw right now, but he could be asked to lead a pathetic group of Ram WRs early in his career, if he’s up to the task. Kenny Britt and Brian Quick are strictly outside WRs and Tavon Austin is a gadget player out of the slot, so Cooper could easily work into the rotation early in the year. He’ll likely be a fantasy bench piece as a rookie, at best, but he has a solid future as a dynasty prospect if #1 overall pick Jared Goff develops into a good QB.
9. Leonte Carroo, Miami Dolphins
School: Rutgers | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 211 | 40: 4.50 | Year: 4SR | Drafted: 3rd round, 86th overall
- Scouting Report: Carroo was one of the few constants in a dysfunctional Rutgers offense the last two seasons, despite being the main target for opposing defenses. He finished his senior year with 39/809/10 receiving after putting up 55/1086/10 in 2014, averaging an impressive 20.2 YPC. However, his YPC numbers were helped more by Rutgers’ play-action scheme than by his vertical speed. Carroo dominated when he was on the field last year, but he missed two games with a high ankle sprain and played through the injury late in the year. He also missed the first half of a game for missing curfew and another two games for his role in a simple assault charge involving a domestic dispute. The charges were later dropped after the alleged victim did not wish to pursue the case. His best attribute might be his sticky hands, as he rarely dropped passes the last two years. He ran a pro route tree at Rutgers and he hides his intentions well, working defenders in the middle of his routes. He’s a one-speed athlete and looks a little stiff in the hips laterally, rarely making defenders miss in the open field. At least he doesn’t mess around after the catch, using his RB frame to get upfield to pick up extra yards. He also uses his size to outmuscle smaller defenders when he’s battling for the ball. He can be too tentative over the middle at times for a player who could be asked to play out of the slot in the NFL, and he’s too inconsistent from play to play.
- Fantasy Analysis: Carroo is a bit of a tweener for the WR position, as he’s a little thick to play out of the slot and a bit short as an outside receiver – although he’s plays bigger than his listed height. The Dolphins very well could use him all over the field with his blend of size and skills, and he could develop into a #2 WR in time if he can keep his head on straight. The Dolphins want Carroo to push Kenny Stills for the Z receiver spot this season. He gives the Dolphins some depth behind their top three WRs in 2016, but he could be called up on at any time if Stills struggle with inconsistent play.
10. Demarcus Robinson, Kansas City Chiefs
School: Florida | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 203 | 40: 4.59 | Year: 3JR | Drafted: 4th round, 126th overall
- Scouting Report: Robinson is as physically talented as just about any WR prospect in this year’s class, but he was a mess off the field at Florida. He was suspended four different times in three years under two different coaching staffs (three marijuana violations and a missed curfew). The new coaching staff also benched him twice in game action during the 2015 season. Robinson, the nephew of former NFL WR Marcus Robinson, obviously comes to the league with some major red flags but the Chiefs took a gamble on his explosive skills. His numbers plummeted from 2014 (53/810/7) to 2015 (48/522/2 receiving), as he couldn’t stretch the fieldor show off his game-breaking ability quite as much in Florida’s struggling offense. He’s an aggressive WR and competes in everything he does, including getting up the field after the catch. However, he does need to get stronger and plays smaller than his size, relying too much on his athleticism. He played all over the field at Florida and ran a full route tree, and he mostly likely will be a Z receiver in the NFL. Robinson is a good route runner and sells double moves well, and he has good body control in the air and along the sideline.
- Fantasy Analysis: Robinson has all the physical tools to become an impact player on the outside and to become a fantasy stud down the road, but he needs to keep his head on straight or he’ll flame out of the league quickly. It isn’t like the Chiefs are loaded at WR behind Jeremy Maclin, as he’ll need to beat out the likes of Chris Conley, Albert Wilson, and Rod Streater to get on the field. We view Robinson as the better prospect over last year’s third-round pick Conley. Still, even if Robinson does see significant playing time as a rookie, it’s tough to envision him making much of a fantasy impact as a rookie in this offense.
11. Rashard Higgins, Cleveland Browns
School: Colorado State | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 196 | 40: 4.64 | Year: 3JR | Drafted: 5th round, 172nd overall
- Scouting Report: Higgins was quietly one of the NCAAs best WRs the last three seasons playing in the Mountain West Conference, finishing his career with 239/3649/31 receiving. His numbers dipped in his junior year (74/1061/8) from his unbelievable sophomore season when he led the nation in receiving (96/1750/17), but Higgins did lose QB Garrett Graysonto the Saints in 2015. Higgins is just an above average athlete, but he makes up for it with nuanced route running and by working defensive backs to get open. He makes plays after the catch as a willing runner and he has a second gear after the catch, so Colorado State would try to feed him on slip screens. Higgins isn’t burner or a true vertical threat, but he tracks the ball well to make difficult catches downfield. He isn’t afraid to work over the middle and he finds the soft spots against zone coverage, which helped him avoid a lot of big hits. He had issues with drops early in his career, but he improved his hands throughout his career and he attacks and finishes his catches. Higgins needs to put on a little more weight to go against NFL CBs, as he struggled get off the line against press coverage in college.
- Fantasy Analysis: Higgins doesn’t have unbelievable measurables, but he’s more than athletic enough on tape and he might be the savviest WR in this year’s draft class. At the very least, Higgins should be productive and have a long career as a possession receiver out of the Z spot, and he has the chance to develop into a solid #2 WR. Higgins transitions best as a complementary outside WR, like Hue Jackson’s former Bengal WR Marvin Jones. Higgins landed in a great spot to potentially play right away in Cleveland, especially if Josh Gordon can’t get on the field in 2016. Higgins isn’t the best fit with Robert Griffin III, but he has the potential to be active if rookie Cody Kessler finds the field at some point in 2016.
12. Malcolm Mitchell, New England Patriots
School: Georgia | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 198 | 40: 4.45 | Year: 5SR | Drafted: 4th round, 112th overall
- Scouting Report: After a promising first two collegiate seasons, Mitchell looked like he was headed toward becoming the next star Georgia WR after J. Green, but a torn ACL in the season opener of his junior year in 2013 knocked him off track. Mitchell got his career headed back in the right direction as a senior, leading the Bulldogs with 58/865/4 receiving after Chris Conley’s departure to the NFL in 2015. Mitchell tore it up at the Combine with a 4.45 40-yard dash and a 36” vertical leap, and he showed those skills on tape. He has speed to get on top of defenders and a second gear to to get past them, and his leaping ability maximizes his catch radius. He’s good after the catch, getting up field and making defenders miss. Mitchell, a former top CB recruit, can be muscled around by bigger DBs, as he has difficulty against press coverage, and he isn’t great in contest-catch situations. Mitchell is a high character guy and improved a ton from 2014 to 2015, but he has some durability questions. Still, he tested incredibly well at the Combine and is a smooth receiverin terms of his route running and his ball skills.
- Fantasy Analysis: Mitchell worked all over the field at Georgia, and he projects to play on the outside for the Patriots. The Patriots have been desperately looking for a boundary receiver ever since Randy Moss left, and they’re hoping Mitchell doesn’t join a list of recent draft failures (Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, Taylor Price, and Brandon Tate). The Patriots certainly have a need osn the outside that Mitchell could fill, but first-year WRs don’t have a great track of success with Tom Brady because of the offense and all the adjustments he makes at the line of scrimmage. Mitchell will likely take a year or two to become a regular contributor for the Patriots.
13. Aaron Burbridge, San Francisco 49ers
School: Michigan State | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 206 | 40: 4.56 | Year: 4SR | Drafted: 6th round, 213th overall
- Scouting Report: Michigan State’s Burbridge stepped up as the top receiver for Connor Cookin 2015 after playing more of a secondary role in previous seasons behind Tony Lippett – who is now a CB for the Dolphins. As the X receiver, Burbridge earned Big Ten receiver of the year honors in 2015 after finishing with 85/1258/7 receiving. He’s an above average athlete at best, and he’s definitely not a burner, although he ran a better 40-time than expected at 4.56. He’ll never be much of threat down the field and he won’t be confused as a threat after the catch, as he averaged just 13.1 YPC in his college career. Burbridge wins with his competitiveness, as he’s a physical receiver in every facet of the game and he’ll work over the middle of the field. He ran a full route tree at Michigan State and he uses deceptive quickness to get open. Burbridge did have some focus drops and he does have small hands at 8-¼ inch, which is concern going forward. He doesn’t create much separation against defensive backs, but he doesn’t need a ton of space and uses his body well to make catches.
- Fantasy Analysis: Burbridge reminds us a bit of Doug Baldwin because he’s a deceptive athlete who wins with his competitiveness, even though he doesn’t create much separation. He certainly won’t blow anybody away, but he does a lot of little things well to win as an intermediate and underneath possession receiver. We’ll be interested to see if Chip Kelly uses Burbridge as a big slot receiver, like he did with Jordan Matthews in Philadelphia. The 49ers easily have one of the worst groups of WRs in the league, so it’s not out of the question that Burbridge is a fantasy starter during his rookie year.
14. Kolby Listenbee, Buffalo Bills
School: TCU | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 197 | 40: 4.35 | Year: 5SR | Drafted: 6th round, 192nd overall
- Scouting Report: Listenbee raised some eyebrows with his electrifying 4.39 40-time at the Combine in February, and he certainly played to his speed on tape. Listenbee averaged an impressive 19.9 YPC and finished with 30/597/5 receiving in 2015, and it’s not surprising that he’s an All-American as a sprinter for the TCU track team. After fellow burners Will Fullerand Corey Coleman, Listenbee has the best deep speed in this year’s WR class, and he has a second gear to separate from defenders. He also has good balls skills and tracks deep passes well to complement his vertical speed and make him a dangerous downfield threat. Not surprisingly, he’s dangerous after the catch because he can run away from defenders in the open field. Listenbee lined up on only one side of the field at TCU and ran a limited route tree, so he’ll have some work to do to become a more complete route runner. With his track background, it’s not surprising that Listenbee has a thin frame and will need to put on more weight to avoid durability issues.
- Fantasy Analysis: Listenbee has track speed that simply can’t be taught, which should help him to at least be a vertical specialist early in his career with the Bills. He could also stick around as a special teams gunner, a spot he filled at TCU. He’ll need to develop the rest of his game to become a regular contributor down the road, possibly after either Robert Woods and/or Marquise Goodwin leave in free agency next off-season. At the very least, Listenbee looks like a solid fit with Tyrod Taylor’s excellent downfield arm to make a couple big plays.
15. Braxton Miller, Houston Texans
School: Ohio State | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 201 | 40: 4.50 | Year: 5SR | Drafted: 3rd round, 85th overall
- Scouting Report: Miller started the difficult transition from being a highly-successful college QB to WR as a senior at Ohio State. As a QB, he became known for his big plays with his legs, running for 1000+ yards in both 2012 and 2013. He showed that same explosiveness and open-field elusiveness last season, finishing the year with 24/329/3 receiving and 40/234/1 rushing. The only slight negative for Miller at the Combine is that he ran a 4.50 in the 40-yard dash, as he was expected to have a slightly better time at 6’1” and 201 pounds. Miller dominated in the WR agility drills, finishing with the best 20-yard shuttle (4.07 seconds) and 60-yard shuttle (10.84), and he finished third in the three-cone drill (6.65). He is continuing to improve as a receiver and is looking more sure with his hands, but he’s still raw as a route runner and is too reliant on his athletic ability. He does have some durability concerns entering the league after he missed the entire 2014 season because of two separate shoulder surgeries. Still, he consistently demonstrated throughout his college career that he’s a playmaker with great vision, and you can’t teach his size, vertical speed, and quickness.
- Fantasy Analysis: Miller is tough to bring down in space, and at the very least, Miller will be a gadget player in his first season, and he’ll have the chance to develop into a true slot and/or Z receiver in time. The Texans need to be patient with him since he’s still very much a work in progress at wide receiver, but they think he could develop into a Randall Cobb-type player. He’s going to be a bit of a project out of the slot, who could need a year or two to refine his game, but there’s definitely something to work with for Bill O’Brien and Brock Osweiler.
16. Chris Moore, Baltimore Ravens
School: Cincinnati | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 206 | 40: 4.53 | Year: 5SR | Drafted: 4th round, 107th overall
- Scouting Report: Moore flew a bit under the radar during the 2015 season but his stock started to rise after an impressive Senior Bowl. He was used as a downfield threat throughout his career, and he posted 40/870/7 receiving and averaged 21.8 YPC. He also left Cincinnati with a school-record 26 TDs. He beat defenders in college with his deep speed and his long arms for the position, and he effectively used start-and-stop moves to get open downfield. Moore consistently won in contested situationsand is strong at the catch point. He was clearly a playmaker for the Bearcats, and they tried to get the ball in his hands in different ways to try to get him in the open field. Moore needs a lot of work with his route running, and he comes to league having run just a limited route tree. He can be a little late off the ball at times, but he makes up for it with good initial quickness to get off of press coverage. He did have 9 drops over the last two seasons because he lets the ball get into his frame at times.
- Fantasy Analysis: Moore needs to develop a better all-around game, as he’s very much just a vertical threat entering the league. Still, he showed plenty of big-play ability in college, and the Ravens desperately needed help downfield after Torrey Smith left during the 2015 off-season. The problem for Moore is that Breshad Perriman should be ready to go in 2016, and the Raven also signed Mike Wallace this off-season. Moore doesn’t have much of a path to fantasy relevance in 2016, but he could be relevant in a few years after Steve Smith retires and Wallace eventually works his way out of town.
17. Daniel Braverman, Chicago Bears
School: Western Michigan | Ht: 5-10 | Wt: 178 | 40: 4.47 | Year: 4JR | Drafted: 7th round, 230th overall
- Scouting Report: You need to watch Braverman play only once and you immediately think what a perfect fit he would be for the New England Patriots as their pesky slot receiver. He was nearly uncoverable for Mid-American Conference defenders, as he finished with 109/1367/13 receiving last season. There isn’t much to Braverman at 5’10” and 178 pounds, but he’s a tough cover because incredibly quickness and route running. He’s an effective weapon down by the goal line with his double moves, and he is elusive after the catch and in the open field(he handled some punts in college as well). He’s incredibly competitive on the field and he works back to the ball to get open for his QBs on scramble plays. Braverman has legit NFL talent, and he reminds us a lot of Cole Beasley as a prospect. He’s an incredibly small target for his QBs, so we doubt he’ll ever really be much of a downfield receiver.
- Fantasy Analysis: Obviously, the biggest question with Braverman is his size and if he’ll be able to hold up as an NFL player. It will be quite a jump in competition going from the MAC to the NFL, but he did dominate at times against Ohio State in 2015, a defense loaded with NFL talent. Braverman landed in a pretty good situation with the Bears, and he could see some time as a rookie if Eddie Royal gets hurt – and he usually misses time every year. There’s no reason Braverman can’t stick in the league for several years as the #3 WR out of the slot.
18. Jordan Payton, Cleveland Browns
School: UCLA | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 207 | 40: 4.47 | Year: 4SR | Drafted: 5th round, 154th overall
- Scouting Report: Payton comes to the NFL with an impressive resume, but he flew way under the radar during the draft process. He saw heavy snaps starting his freshman year, and he ended his career with 40 starts and as UCLA’s all-time leader in receptions (201). He led their passing attack in the last two seasons, combining for 145/2062/12 receiving in 2014-15. He’s a thick receiver at 6’1”, 207 pounds, and he uses his body well to shield defenders away as a possession receiver in the underneath passing game. Payton had a surprisingly good Combine with a 4.47 in the 40-yard dash and a 10’1” broad jump, but he rarely showed much speed or athleticism on his college tape. He also struggled to get open against man coverage at UCLA. Payton is a sure-handed receiver and will contribute as a run blocker, so he could work his way on to the field early in his career.
- Fantasy Analysis: Payton is a well-built possession receiver, who doesn’t have much of a ceiling at the next level, but he has the chance to stick around with his solid floor. He’s unlikely to make many big plays during his career, but he could develop into a steady underneath target for the Browns and be a PPR option. The Browns are incredibly thin at WR heading into 2016, so he could work his way into the lineup early in his career and have some fantasy relevance, especially if Cody Kessler plays at some time in 2016.
19. Charone Peake, New York Jets
School: Clemson | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 209 | 40: 4.45 | Year: 5SR | Drafted: 7th round, 241st overall
- Scouting Report: Peake was one of the more polarizing WR prospects in the 2016 draft. He’s loaded with the rare size and athletic ability that makes every NFL front office drool, but he couldn’t even get on the field as a full-time player for Clemson last season. Peake came to Clemson as a top recruit but injuries (torn ACL in 2013) and other star WRs (DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, and Martavis Bryant) kept him him from doing much until his senior year (50/716/5 receiving). He has the size, speed, ball skills, and route running to make him a threat at all three levels of the field, which is why it was a bit baffling why he didn’t have a better college career. He can outmuscle defenders and picks up yardage after the catch by quickly getting upfield. Peake has good body control and along the sidelines and is a long strider to get on top of defenders quickly. He also can work defenders and has some savvy as a route runner. He seems to have awareness issues because he runs into contact and double catches quite a few passes, so it’s not surprising that he has consistency issues and questions about his hands. In a best-case scenario, our guy Greg Cosell believes Peake could develop into an Eric Decker-type player.
- Fantasy Analysis: Peake looks like an ideal X receiver with his long wingspan and good speed, but he never produced during college. He looks like a true boom-or-bust candidate as an outside receiver, as he could easily turn into a talented #1 WR or he could flame out of the league very quickly. Peake won’t be asked to contribute right away in this Jet offense, but he has the chance to make some noise in a few years.
20. Ricardo Louis, Cleveland Browns
School: Auburn | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 215 | 40: 4.39 | Year: 4SR | Drafted: 4th round, 114th overall
- Scouting Report: Louis was the top workout warrior in the WR class at this year’s Combine, finishing with the best broad jump (11’). He also had the third best 40-time (4.43), the third most reps in the bench press (18), and the fifth best vertical jump (38”). Louis posted 46/716/3 receiving in 2015 when he finally got the chance to showcase his skills after Sammie Coates left for the NFL and Duke Williams was dismissed from the team. He comes into the league with shaky hands and route running, and his ball skills are suspect for a downfield threat. Still, the Browns rolled the dice with his great speed and good size (6’2”, 215 pounds). Louis looks like strictly a vertical threat and a catch-and-run receiver on screens right now, so he has a long way to go to develop his all-around game.
- Fantasy Analysis: Louis has ideal size and speed and has some major upside as a vertical threat, but he’s still a raw prospect entering the league. With Josh Gordon’s NFL future still very much up in the air, the Browns could be looking at Louis as a possible insurance plan for the future. He also could be a nice fit for Robert Griffin III’s deep arm this season, if he develops enough to get on the field. Like his old Auburn teammate Coates, Louis is more of a long-term project than a Day 1 contributor.
Below, we rank this year’s rookie class based on long-term potential for the next few seasons.
- Josh Doctson (Was, 23) – Doctson has a well-rounded skillset with size and speed, and he could be a solid #2 WR right away, with the potential to be #1 WR in the near future.
- Laquon Treadwell (Min, 21) – Treadwell has the skillset, competitiveness, and talent to develop into a #1 WR as an X receiver. If he can play more consistent, he certainly has upside to be the #1 WR immediately in Minnesota.
- Corey Coleman (Cle, 22) – Coleman is physically gifted and one of the most explosive playmakers. There are some questions about his size, but he’ll be a downfield threat immediately with the chance to develop into the Browns’ #1 WR relatively quickly.
- Sterling Shepard (NYG, 23) – Shepard has the chance to be a weapon out of the slot as both a downfield threat and as a YAC guy, and he should contribute right away in the Giants’ quick-passing game.
- Tyler Boyd (Cin, 21) – Boyd might never be an absolute fantasy stud because of his physical limitations, but he’s got sticky hands and has the chance to be a perfect #2 WR across from A.J. Green.
- Will Fuller (Hou, 22) – Fuller is a one-trick pony right now, but at least he has elite speed. He will need to improve his awful hands and his route running if he wants to be anything more than a deep-ball specialist.
- Michael Thomas (NO, 22) – Thomas is unlikely to be much of a big-play threat for fantasy purposes, but he could develop into a #2 WR as a big-bodied possession receiver on the outside for the Saints.
- Pharoh Cooper (LA, 21) – Cooper brings some versatility and quickness as either a Z or slot receiver, and he has the potential to develop into the #1 WR in a shaky group of Ram WRs.
- Demarcus Robinson (KC, 24) – Robinson has the physical tools to become a starter and potentially a fantasy stud, and he could also easily find himself out of the league very quickly if he doesn’t clean up his antics.
- Braxton Miller (Hou, 23) – Miller could be a gadget player to start his career because of his game-breaking ability, and he’ll have the chance to develop into a true slot and/or Z receiver in time.
- Kolby Listenbee (Buf, 22) – Listenbee has track speed that can’t be taught, which should help him to at least be a vertical specialist early in his career, but he’ll need to develop the rest of his game to become a regular contributor.
- Ricardo Louis (Cle, 22) – Louis was a workout warrior at the Combine and has some upside as a vertical threat, but he’s still a raw prospect entering the league.
- Leonte Carroo (Mia, 22) – Carroo is a bit of a tweener, as he’s a little thick as a slot receiver and a bit short as an outside receiver. He could be used all over the field with his blend of size and skills, and he could develop into a starter.
- Malcolm Mitchell (NE, 23) – Mitchell tests incredibly well and is a smooth route runner and has good hands. He could use a year or two to become a regular contributor, but the Patriots certainly have a giant need for an outside WR.
- Rishard Higgins (Cle, 21) – Higgins isn’t incredibly athletic, but he makes up for it with his savvy for the position, and he should develop into a reliable possession receiver on the outside.
- Aaron Burbridge (SF, 22) – Burbridge doesn’t blow anybody away with his athleticism, but he does a lot of little things well to win as a possession receiver, and he could have the chance to play early in San Fran.
- Chris Moore (Bal, 23) – Moore needs to develop a better all-around game, as he’s pretty much a vertical threat entering the league, but he has the chance to develop into a #3 WR in Baltimore.
- Charone Peake (NYJ, 23) – He looks like an ideal X receiver with his long wingspan and good speed, but he could be a boom-or-bust candidate as an outside receiver. He could turn into a talented #1 WR or he could flame out in a few years.
- Daniel Braverman (Chi, 22) – Braverman is a pesky slot receiver, who gets open in the underneath areas with his quickness. He could stick in the league for several years as the #3 WR out of the slot.
- Devon Cajuste (SF, 23) – Cajuste is a tweener prospect, with the body and speed of a player stuck between wide receiver and tight end, but Chip Kelly loves those types to play out of the slot.
- Kenny Lawler (Sea, 22) – Lawler will need to develop into a big slot receiver or a possession receiver on the outside, which he could do because of his route running and ball skills.
- Moritz Boehringer (Min, 22) – Boehringer hails from Germany and loaded with athletic ability, but he’s obviously a major project with his playing experience coming in the German Football League.
- Jordan Payton (Cle, 23) – Payton is a well-built possession receiver, who doesn’t have much of a ceiling at the next level, but he has the chance to stick around with his high floor.
- Tajae Sharpe (Ten, 21) – Sharpe has a long frame that needs to be filled out a bit more, but he is a good route runner and good develop into a backup for the Titans.
- Trevor Davis (GB, 23) – Davis’ speed and quality hands caught the attention of the Packers, and they’ll give him time to try and develop behind their current cast of WRs
- Tyreek Hill (KC, 22) – The Chiefs love their small speedsters, and Hill fits the bill as a tiny track star with some explosive ability. They could look to get the ball in his hands as a returner or as a gadget player.
- Cody Core (Cin, 22) – Core is another big Ole Miss WR with good ball skills, but he struggles with inconsistent play and getting separation from defenders, so could need time to develop. Compares a bit to Mohamed Sanu.
- Mike Thomas (LA, 21) – Thomas is constantly working to get open and has good hands, but he does struggle to get separation from defenders, so his competitiveness will have to win out at the next level.
- Jalin Marshall (NYJ, 21) – Marshall should be able to be a punt returner early in his career, and he’s certainly a good enough athlete to develop into a slot receiver eventually, but he’ll need some time to refine his receiving skills.
- Keyarris Garrett (Car, 23) – Garrett has a wide-catching radius and some vertical ability, but he has a lot of work to refine his overall game to become a regular contributor.
- Keenan Reynolds (Bal, 21) – High-character prospect who will be a return specialist and a slot receiver. Reynolds holds the NCAA record with 88 career TDs at Navy.
- Jakeem Grant (Mia, 23) – He’s a slot man with return ability, so he’ll could stick around in the NFL, but will probably be limited to a gadget player and a valued special teams player.
- DeMarcus Ayers (Pit, 23) – Ayers’ excellent hands could make him a situational slot receiver with some return value as well. He’s undersized but has some playmaking ability.
- Devin Fuller (Atl, 22) – Fuller endured ankle issues and a concussion in his senior year, but he has some speed and downfield ability, which the Falcons could use.
- Devin Lucien (NE, 23) – Lucien has decent length and speed and good ball skills, and he could have a shoot to develop as an outside receiver for the Patriots.
- Nelson Spruce (LA, 23) – Spruce isn’t the greatest athlete, so he’ll have to win with his route running and savvy if he wants to stick in the league out of the slot.
- Jay Lee (Det, 23) – Lee has good speed and size, which makes him intriguing, but has too many drops and has a lot to learn after running a limited route tree in college.
- D.J. Foster (NE, 22) – Foster is a converted RB and it’s unsure how he’ll be used in the NFL. He’ll need more time if he’s to develop into a slot receiver at the next level.
- De’Runnya Wilson (NE, 21) – Wilson is a former basketball player and has good ball skills in jump-ball situations, but he needs to play faster if he wants to make it in the NFL.
- Chris Brown (Dal, 24) – Brown brings speed and explosiveness, but drops and lack of focus will probably make him a deep depth guy playing as a sub-package wideout.
- Roger Lewis (NYG, 22) – He has off-field issues but registered phenomenal numbers at his pro day and was a first-team All-MAC player in consecutive years, so he could carve out a nice role if he stays out of trouble.
- Robby Anderson (NYJ, 23) – He has impressive athleticism, balance, body control, and ability to get separation. However, he’s rail-thin and drops plenty, has tiny hands, so he’ll be more of a long-term project for the Jets
- Bralon Addison (Den, 22) – He doesn’t have the size or athleticism to be a consistent contributor, but brings value on special teams and as a slot receiver.
- Hunter Sharp (Phi, 22) – His Combine numbers hurt his value, but he’s quick and possesses natural instincts, so his best chance at an NFL career would likely be out of the slot and as a return man.
- K.J. Maye (NYG, 22) – His work ethic might be his biggest asset, but he’s small and isn’t a dynamic player. He played tailback, receiver, and on special teams in college.
- Alonzo Russell (Cin, 23) – He’s a big-bodied receiver, but lacks athleticism and consistent effort. He stood out in college but his skillset is unlikely to help him in the NFL.
- Dom Williams (SD, 25) – He can fight through press coverage with his size and speed, but he dropped too many passes in college and has issues with accelerating and decelerating.
- Jaydon Mickens (Oak, 22) – Mickens is a better athlete than football player, but could be a depth guy that gets a chance every now and then
- Source: Fantasy Guru
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