sports 3 days ago

NFL Draft preview: Top 10 wide receivers

The Tribune-Review, Greensburg — Joe Rutter The Tribune-Review, Greensburg

April 17--1. Calvin Ridley

Alabama, 6-0, 189

Ridley entered the pre-draft process as the clear No. 1 receiver on most draft boards. But after the NFL Combine and pro days, he is getting pushed by other prospects. Once considered a top-10 pick, Ridley might not go until the second half of the first round. He had 63 catches for 967 yards and five touchdowns last year for the national champions.

2. Christian Kirk

Texas A&M, 5-10, 200

As a redshirt junior, Kirk led Texas A&M with 71 catches for 919 yards and 10 scores. He saved his best for last, catching 13 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns in the Belk Bowl. He also returned a punt and kickoff for touchdowns. In 2016, he led the nation with three punt returns for scores.

3. D.J. Moore

Maryland, 6-0, 210

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. recently moved Moore to the top of his receiving class. Moore ran a 4.42 40 and had a 39-inch vertical jump at the NFL Combine. The Big Ten receiver of the year in 2017, Moore set a school record with 80 receptions for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns. He also led Maryland in receiving as a sophomore.

4. D.J. Chark

LSU, 6-3, 199

Chark, one of the tallest high-end receivers, ran a 4.34 40 and had a 40-inch vertical jump at the NFL Combine. A deep threat, Chark had 40 catches for 874 yards, a 21.9 average, as a senior.

5. Courtland Sutton

SMU, 6-3, 218

A two-time all-conference player, Sutton had back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons. He combined for 144 catches, 2,331 yards and 22 touchdowns in the 2016-17 seasons. He also spent some time playing on the school's basketball team.

6. Anthony Miller

Memphis, 5-11, 190

Miller compiled some gaudy numbers in his final two seasons in the AAC, accumulating a combined 191 catches for 2,896 yards and 32 touchdowns. His size could work against Miller in the draft, but he could be a productive pass catcher in the slot.

7. James Washington

Oklahoma State, 5-11, 213

Washington turned into Mason Rudolph's favorite wide receiver, and he was a Biletnikoff Award finalist for the nation's top receiver and a first-team all-conference selection in 2017. His productivity included 74 catches for 1,549 yards (a 20.9 average) and 13 touchdowns. Washington finished his career with 4,472 yards that ranked third in Big 12 history.

8. Deon Cain

Clemson, 6-2, 202

With first-round picks, quarterback DeShaun Watson and wide receiver Mike Williams, gone from Clemson, Cain became the go-to receiver, but he didn't put up flashy numbers. His 2017 season consisted of 52 catches for 659 yards and six touchdowns. Still, he is considered a second-day selection.

9. Dante Pettis

Washington, 6-0, 186

Pettis set an NCAA record with nine punt returns for touchdowns during his four seasons at Washington. He's still trying to make his mark as a pass catcher after not topping 1,000 yards in any year. The son of former MLB player Gary Pettis, he had 63 catches for 761 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior.

10. DaeSean Hamilton

Penn State, 6-1, 205

Hamilton set a high standard as a freshman when he catch 82 passes for the Nittany Lions. He combined for 79 over the next two seasons and finished with 53 catches for 857 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior.

Homegrown big school

Robert Foster

Alabama, 6-2, 196

The Central Valley five-star recruit never blossomed during his time at Alabama, and he was overshadowed by Calvin Ridley this past season. Still, Foster received an invitation to the NFL Combine, where he ran a 4.41 40. If he is undrafted, he will be in someone's NFL camp in the summer.

Homegrown small school

Justin Watson

Penn, 6-3, 225

The South Fayette graduate excelled at the Division I FCS level, serving as a four-year starter at Penn. Watson was a two-time finalist for the Walter Payton Award and, as a senior, he was a first-team All-American with 81 catches for 1,083 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Best fit for Steelers

Richie James

Middle Tennessee State, 5-9, 178

The Steelers always are in the market for wide receivers, and James could be available in the later rounds. Although he's on the small side, he put up big numbers at Middle Tennessee State, becoming the school's all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. The Steelers brought James in for a pre-draft visit.

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