Bucky Brooks
Monday February 18th, 2008

Here is a list of the top wide receiver prospects. This list was compiled through a series of conversations with scouts and game tape evaluations.

1. DeSean Jackson, Cal: Jackson is a sensational playmaker with outstanding speed and burst. The two-time All-America is regarded as the best dual-threat player in the draft, both as an explosive vertical receiver and as a dynamic returner who has a penchant for producing game-changing plays whenever he touches the ball.

He should make an immediate impact as a punt returner and develop into a solid complementary receiver on the next level.

2. Mario Manningham, Michigan: The Wolverines' savvy playmaker is a sneaky vertical receiver with outstanding athleticism and hands. He surprises defenders with his ability to achieve separatation once the ball is in the air. Moreover, his ability to come down with errant throws makes him an attractive option to teams in need of a playmaker.

Scouts love his balanced set of skills, and feel that he is ideally suited to be a No. 1 receiver on the next level. If Manningham runs a better-than-expected time at the combine, he will be one of the top receivers taken in the draft.

3. Malcolm Kelly, Oklahoma: The Sooners' top target is a big, physical receiver with excellent hands. Kelly, who scored 19 touchdowns and averaged over 16 yards per catch during the past two seasons, is a polished route runner who excels at using his size to create space from defenders at the top of routes. As an excellent runner after the catch and courageous receiver over the middle, Kelly is a perfect fit in a West Coast offense. Even with his checkered injury history he'll probably be selected in the first round.

4. Limas Sweed, Texas: Sweed has all the physical tools to be a top target on the next level. He overpowers smaller defenders with his strength and has a knack for making acrobatic grabs in traffic. Although he isn't a polished route runner, Sweed's outstanding athleticism allows him to consistently create space from defenders out of breaks. With Sweed possessing all of the attributes of a No. 1 receiver, look for a team to ignore his injury-plagued senior season and select him in the middle of the first round.

5. James Hardy, Indiana: The former basketball player brings a rare combination of size and athleticism to the position. At 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, Hardy is a natural matchup nightmare in the red zone, and his ability to score touchdowns (36 career scores) is unmatched by any other receiver in the draft. Though Hardy is raw and unpolished as a route runner, his freakish athleticism and outstanding hands make him an enticing addition to any offense. Expect a team to grab the Plaxico Burress-like talent in the late stages of the first round.

6. Early Doucet, LSU: The Tigers' speedster didn't post great production as a senior, but scouts are still enticed by his upside and potential. Doucet is a polished route runner who understands how to get open in traffic. And despite his pedestrian yards per catch average as a senior (9.2), Doucet is a big play threat with the ball in his hands. Look for a team to gamble on Doucet's potential in the early part of the second round.

7. Devin Thomas, Michigan State: Thomas emerged as a dominant player during his second season as a Spartan. He'll have to fight the "one-year wonder" label, but his combination of skills and production (79 receptions for 1,260 yards with eight touchdowns in '07) have scouts salivating over his potential. If he can post an impressive performance at the combine, he may shoot up the draft board due to his upside. He'll be a difficult matchup for corners on the edge.

8. Jordy Nelson, Kansas State: The All Big-12 receiver enjoyed an outstanding senior season (122 receptions for 1,660 yards with 11 touchdowns) and flashed surprising big-play ability. As a crafty route runner with good hands and excellent running skills, Nelson has the potential to excel as a complementary receiver on the next level. Additionally, he is a legitimate dual-threat who excels as a punt returner. Look for Nelson to come off the board in the second round as a team seeks to add a playmaker with versatile skills.

9. Adarius Bowman, Oklahoma State: The former All-Big-12 receiver dominated the conference despite being an unrefined route runner and inconsistent pass catcher. Although scouts have voiced concerns about both aspects of Bowman's game, they think that he has a chance to be an outstanding playmaker on the next level due to his athleticism. If Bowman can put together a strong performance at the combine and answer any past character concerns, he should draw strong interest in the bottom of the second round as a quality possession receiver.

10. Donnie Avery, Houston: An ideal slot receiver with outstanding speed and quickness, Avery terrorized Conference USA last season with 91 receptions for 1,456 yards and seven touchdowns. Scouts question his ability to be a front-line receiver on the outside but feel that he could be an impact player as a slot receiver in a three-receiver set. With additional value as a kick returner (28.3 average), Avery has a chance to sneak into the second round of the draft with a solid performance at the combine.

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