Last year's rookie class of wide receivers was one of the best in NFL history. Scouts believe this year's class could be equally as good. Let's look at wide receiver props for the 2015 draft with NFL odds from BetOnline and Bovada.
How Good Was 2014?
Before looking at this year's group, let's quickly examine the 2014 top rookie receivers. The first off the board was Clemson's Sammy Watkins at No. 4 overall, which cost the Bills their first-round pick this season in moving up to the spot from Cleveland. Watkins had some injury problems and caught 65 passes for 982 yards and six scores in Buffalo, which had lousy quarterback play.
Tampa Bay took Texas A&M's Mike Evans at No. 7 and he had 68 catches for 1,051 yards and 12 touchdowns. The steal of the entire draft may have been LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. at No. 12 to the Giants. He was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, catching 91 passes for 1,305 yards and 12 scores in just 12 games. He looks like a superstar. The Saints took Oregon State's Brandin Cooks at No. 20 and he had 53 catches for 550 yards and three scores in 10 games. Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin went No. 28 to Carolina and he grabbed 73 passes for 1,008 yards and nine scores. There were also some promising second-round selections such as USC's Marqise Lee and Penn State's Allen Robinson (Jacksonville), Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews (Philadelphia), Colorado's Paul Richardson (Seattle), Fresno State's Davante Adams (Green Bay) and LSU's Jarvis Landry (Miami). Quite a class!
Grading The 2015 Class
Two receivers clearly stand out above the rest in 2015 and are NFL Draft first-round locks on Thursday night in Chicago. They are Alabama's Amari Cooper and West Virginia's Kevin White.
Cooper is the safer pick because he dominated at the highest level of college football. He caught 124 passes for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns for the Tide last year. He put on an Iron Bowl performance for the ages in the win over Auburn. Cooper should be a very good player but it's not really fair to compare him to current Falcon and former Alabama receiver Julio Jones, who was a bit bigger and faster. Cooper is just 6-foot tall.
White meanwhile, took the long route to West Virginia, including a stop at a community college. And he had just one season as a big-time performer. White caught 109 passes for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. But White was the star performer among receivers at the combine with his speed and size (6-foot-2, 215 pounds). His ceiling his considered higher, but he also could be a huge swing-and-miss. Think of someone like Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey, another combine beast who went No. 7 overall to Oakland in 2009 and has been a huge bust.
Mel Kiper ranks Cooper as the No. 3 overall prospect on his Big Board and White No. 4. NFL.com's Mike Mayock has White at No. 3 overall and Cooper at No. 4.
Cooper is the -325 favorite on the NFL odds to be the first receiver off the board, with White at +250 and Louisville's DeVante Parker at +2200. Cooper is given an 'over/under' pick slot of 5.5, with the 'under' a -300 favorite. White has an O/U of 7, with both options at -120. The total number of receivers in the first round is 5.5, with the 'over' a -140 favorite.
Cooper has been linked to Jacksonville at No. 3, Oakland at No. 4 and the Jets at No. 6. Assuming Cooper goes first, which seems to be a consensus, White has then been linked to the Jets, Bears at No. 7 and Rams at No. 10. He will not fall out of the Top 10.
What other receivers are likely to go in the first round? Louisville's Parker is a lock. So is Central Florida's Breshad Perriman, the son of former NFL receiver Brett Perriman. Other potential/likely first-rounders are Miami's Philip Dorsett, the fastest receiver in this class, Arizona State's Jaelen Strong and USC's Nelson Agholor. No other receivers are given first-round grades.
NFL Picks: Cooper will be the first receiver off the board, and I believe he lands in Oakland so go 'under' the 5.5 position with your NFL picks. Unfortunately I think White will push at No. 7 because I don't believe he gets past the Bears at No. 7. I would lean 'under,' however, in case the Jets snap him up at No. 6. Finally, go 'over' the 5.5 receivers chosen in the first round. Cooper, White, Parker, Perriman and Dorsett seem safe and it's likely one of those other guys is grabbed near the end of the first round.