Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Analyzing the NFL draft: Wide receivers and tight ends

Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer. (Alan Petersime/AP)
Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer. (Alan Petersime/AP)

NFL NETWORK draft analyst Mike Mayock once again breaks down the top draft prospects for the Daily News. He assesses the best player at each position, as well as a player who is rising up the draft board and a late-round sleeper to keep an eye on later in the draft.

Mayock, 55, resides in Newtown Square and is a graduate of the Haverford School. The former safety was a 10th-round pick of the Steelers in 1981 and played two seasons with the Giants (1982-83).

Wide receivers

THE BEST

Name: Sammy Watkins

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  • School: Clemson

    Height, weight: 6-1, 211

    40 time: 4.43

    225 bench: 16 reps

    Vertical jump: 34 inches

    Hands: 9 5/8 inches

    Round projection: 1

    Mayock: "He's a top-five pick in any draft. He has great speed. I love his toughness. He has a little confidence and swagger about him. Great hands and an ability to separate and tremendous run after the catch. There are bigger and faster receivers in this draft. There are guys that jump a little higher. But the bottom line for me is he's the best football player. He's got strong hands. He likes to compete. He blocks. He's tough as nails after the catch. A lot of his catches were behind the line of scrimmage, but he caught plenty of balls down the field, both vertically, intermediate and crossing [routes]. I have no qualms about his ability to catch the ball."

    THE RISER

    Name: Cody Latimer

    School: Indiana

    Height, weight: 6-2, 215

    40 time: 4.44

    225 bench: 23 reps

    Vertical jump: 39 inches

    Hands: 9 5/8 inches

    Round projection: 3

    Mayock: "He had foot surgery in January. He's a big receiver who ran a 4.4 and jumped 39 inches at Indiana's Pro Day. He didn't do any change-of-direction stuff because of the foot surgery. He was a high school hoops player who only played 2 years of high school football, so he's still really raw. But the height, weight, speed thing has people buzzing right now. This was a guy that, even after the season, people were thinking [he's] a fifth- or sixth-round guy. Especially with the injury. Right now, though, even in a great wide-receiver draft, I think he's going to go in the third round, and could even go a little bit higher."

    THE SLEEPER

    Name: Jalen Saunders

    School: Oklahoma

    Height, weight: 5-9, 165

    40 time: 4.44

    225 bench: N/A

    Vertical jump: 34 inches

    Hands: 8 7/8 inches

    Round projection: 5-6

    Mayock: "He's a diminutive kick-return guy. He's just 5-9 and 165 pounds, but his toughness, his ability to block, his ability to give up his body, was what just blew me away when I watched him. He's a late draftable - fifth or sixth round. He can play inside. He can play outside. He's a return specialist. He's a gunner and jammer [on special teams]. He's going to make somebody's 53 [roster] and play in all 16 games. He's going to return kicks and be of great value if you get him."

    Tight ends

    THE BEST

    Name: Eric Ebron

    School: North Carolina

    Height, weight: 6-4, 250

    40 time: 4.60

    225 bench: 24 reps

    Vertical jump: 32 inches

    Hands: 10 inches

    Round projection: 1

    Mike Mayock: “Ebron is going to go in the first 16 or 17 picks. I think he has top-10 type talent. It’s just a matter of who is going to pull the trigger there. He’s got special ability. He catches the ball and runs routes as well as [Aaron] Hernandez. But he’s bigger and stronger than Hernandez. He has the ability, if you want to play him in-line, to block, and also release in-line and be a mismatch inside. But I think where he’s going to do a lot of his damage is splitting him out wide or in the slot or anywhere you want. He catches the ball so easily and so fluidly.”

    THE RISER

    Name: C.J. Fiedorowicz

    School: Iowa

    Height, weight: 6-6, 265

    40 time: 4.76

    225 bench: 25 reps

    Vertical jump: 31.5 inches

    Hands: 10-1/4 inches

    Round projection: 3-4

    Mayock: “This is a tough group because after the first four guys — Ebron, Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro and Notre Dame’s Troy Niklas — there isn’t much. Fiedorowicz has a pretty good skill set, both in-line and as a pass catcher, short and intermediate [routes]. His value has risen because there isn’t a whole lot after those first four. I think he’ll go in the third or fourth round. He’s just a good, solid NFL tight-end body.”

    THE SLEEPER

    Name: Trey Burton

    School: Florida

    Height, weight: >6-2, 224

    40 time: 4.62

    225 bench: N/A

    Vertical jump: 30 inches

    Hands: 9-3/8 inches

    Round projection: 6

    Mayock: “Burton is basically an undersized H-back, is what he is. But what I like about him is his athletic ability. He played quarterback, he played H-back, he played fullback. He threw the ball, caught the ball and ran the ball in college. He did a little bit of everything and that versatility is what his value is. You’d like to see him get up to 235-240 pounds. But you don’t want him to sacrifice any speed or athletic ability to do it.”

    MIKE MAYOCK For the Daily News
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