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2013 NFL Draft Preview: Wide receivers and tight ends

Drafting wide receivers and tight ends is always exciting for fans who dream about explosive offenses filled with big plays and dynamic downfield threats for years to come.

2013 NFL Draft Preview: Wide receivers and tight ends

West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin makes a catch as he runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. (Michael Conroy/AP)
West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin makes a catch as he runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. (Michael Conroy/AP)

Drafting wide receivers and tight ends is always exciting for fans who dream about explosive offenses filled with big plays and dynamic downfield threats for years to come. This year, there are about three or four wide receivers and possibly two tight ends that could hear their names called in the first round of the draft.

Let's take a look at the top prospects at wide receiver and tight end:

THE TOP PROSPECTS

Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver, West Virginia (5-8, 174 lbs.)
Austin impressed at the combine, running a 4.34 40-yard dash to follow up a season at West Virginia that saw him total 114 receptions and 12 touchdowns. Though he’s not an ideal height for many teams, he’s a versatile player who can return punts. Austin finished second in the nation in all-purpose yards in 2012.

Cordarrelle Patterson, Wide Receiver, Tennessee (6-2, 216 lbs.)
Though Patterson only played one season for the Volunteers, he made quite the mark in the SEC. A natural athlete who bounced around before landing at Tennessee, the 6-2 receiver scored touchdowns as a receiver, rusher, kick returner and punt returner. He could be the first pass catcher off the board.

DeAndre Hopkins, Wide Receiver, Clemson (6-1, 214 lbs.)
Hopkins didn’t blow scouts away at the combine, but his junior season at Clemson showed that he can be a valuable receiver at the professional level. He set an ACC single-season record with 18 receiving touchdowns and a Clemson record 1,405 yards. As such, Hopkins should be one of the first receivers drafted.

Keenan Allen, Wide Receiver, California (6-2, 206 lbs.)
Allen’s 2012 numbers were down from 2011 because of bad quarterback play and an ankle injury that caused him to miss the final three games. Still, it’s hard to deny the California receiver’s combination of size and speed. NFL teams will likely be able to overlook his subpar junior season.

Tyler Eifert, Tight End, Notre Dame (6-6, 251 lbs.)

Considered by many to be the best prospect at his position, Eifert followed the Vikings’ Kyle Rudolph at Notre Dame and led the team in receptions. At this point, he is more of a pass-catching tight end and will need to work on his blocking at the NFL level. He has a shot at being a late first-round pick.

Zach Ertz, Tight End, Stanford (6-5, 249 lbs.)

Following in Coby Fleener’s footsteps, Ertz led Stanford in receiving in 2012, totaling 69 catches for 898 yards and six touchdowns. Ertz might be the best all-around tight end in the draft, but needs to work on his pass-catching consistency. Some teams might grade him better than Eifert, which could put him in the first round.

Terrance Williams, Wide Receiver, Baylor (6-2, 208 lbs.)

Williams’ numbers were not affected by Robert Griffin III’s jump to the NFL, as the senior receiver led the country in receiving yards (1,832). He showed the ability to make catches all over the field and showed surprising deep speed, but is not the most refined route runner at this point.

Robert Woods, Wide Receiver, USC (6-0, 201 lbs.)

USC’s disappointing season hurt Woods’ stock, as did an ankle injury. Many were touting him as perhaps the best receiver in the draft class at the beginning of the season. Woods wasn’t a deep threat with the Trojans, but was a very reliable mid-range receiver. He should still be one of the top receivers drafted.

OTHER PROSPECTS
Quinton Patton, Wide Receiver, Louisiana Tech
Justin Hunter, Wide Receiver, Tennessee
Da’Rick Rogers, Wider Receiver, Tennessee Tech
Stedman Bailey, Wide Receiver, West Virginia
Jordan Reed, Tight End, Florida 80
Travis Kelce, Tight End, Cincinnati 80
Gavin Escobar, Tight End, San Diego State
Markus Wheaton, Wide Receiver, Oregon State
Cobi Hamilton, Wide Receiver, Arkansas

NEEDY TEAMS

Buffalo Bills: Stevie Johnson is a legitimate threat, but a big body on the other side should help him produce even more.

Chicago Bears:
Brandon Marshall is the only person Jay Cutler has to throw the ball to. A tight end or No. 2 receiver should open up room for both.

Cleveland Browns: The Browns need as much talent at the offensive skill positions as they can find. Josh Gordon is primarily a deep threat and Greg Little hasn’t shown much.

Houston Texans:
Andre Johnson’s big 2012 season doesn’t change the fact that the Texans had no secondary receiving option, nor the fact that Johnson is 31.

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins re-signed Brian Hartline, though that should in no way preclude them from adding a potential No. 1 receiver. Their first-round pick could be used on one.

Minnesota Vikings:
Percy Harvin is now a Seahawk, and unless the Vikings plan on having Adrian Peterson carry the ball 800 times next season, they’ll need to draft at least one receiver high.

New England Patriots: Wes Welker is a free agent and it’s unknown if he’ll return. The Patriots could use a deep threat and more speed on the outside.

New York Jets:
The Jets can’t be sure what they’ll get out of Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill, and should be looking to upgrade from that pair anyway. Of course, any receiver they bring in will still have Mark Sanchez passing to them.

Pittsburgh Steelers:
Mike Wallace is a free agent and won’t be back. The Steelers will need a deep threat to replace him.

St. Louis Rams:
It looks like Danny Amendola will leave as a free agent, further weakening the Rams’ receiving corps. With two first-round picks, St. Louis could target one in the draft.

Tampa Bay: Dallas Clark is a free agent, so the Buccaneers could look to replace him in the draft.

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