Junior WRs could upstage weak senior class

Updated: September 19, 2006, 5:21 PM ET
By Todd McShay | Scouts Inc.

NFL teams in need of wide receiver help cannot be happy about an impending draft drought at the position. After back-to-back years with at least six first-round receivers and at least 13 first-day receivers, the 2006 class came up embarrassingly short with just one first-round pick (Santonio Holmes) and only eight selected on Day 1.

INSIDE THE NFL DRAFT
With the college football season under way, NFL scouts are hard at work evaluating prospects for the 2007 draft. Our Scouts Inc. draft specialists are no different. DraftTracker 2007 already is loaded up with in-depth scouting reports on nearly 250 college seniors who are on the NFL's radar, and our guys are filing updates each week as the prospects perform on the field.
• NFL DraftTracker 2007
The defections of Holmes (Steelers) and Chad Jackson (Patriots) weakened what was already considered an anemic crop of 2007 wide receiver talent. As it stands right now, Jason Hill (Washington State) and Jeff Samardzija (Notre Dame) rank as the top senior prospects. While both show enough potential to emerge as solid NFL starters, Hill's lack of consistency and Samardzija's lack of elite speed have scouts questioning their respective potential to develop into premier targets at the next level.

The silver lining could be an ultra-talented assembly of youngsters who will be eager to exploit the opportunity of a weak senior class. As it stands now, Dwayne Jarrett (USC), Calvin Johnson (Georgia Tech), Sidney Rice (South Carolina) and Ted Ginn Jr. (Ohio State) are the best of the bunch.

Also promising is the potential depth of the senior class. Steve Breaston (Michigan), Courtney Taylor (Auburn) and Andre Caldwell (Florida) are coming off injury-riddled junior campaigns, but each has flashed game-breaking ability when operating at full throttle.

What you see is what you get with Steve Smith (USC), but he's a sure-handed possession receiver who looks NFL ready right now. Conversely, Dwayne Bowe (LSU), Paul Williams (Fresno State) and Jarrett Hicks (Texas Tech) are rough around the edges, but their combination of size and playmaking skill are tantalizing to NFL scouts.

Johnnie Lee Higgins (UTEP), Chansi Stuckey (Clemson), Terry Richardson (Arizona State) and Tyrone Prothro (Alabama) lack first-day receiver talent, but each brings extra value to the table as a potential difference-maker in the return game.

Ryan Moore (Miami-Fla.), Matt Trannon (Michigan State) and Rhema McKnight (Notre Dame) are underachieving talents who could pull Maurice Stovall-esque draft-board ascents with strong senior crusades.

Finally, Mississippi Valley State's Tyrone Timmons is the premier small-school prospect from this year's wide receiver corps. He will not become the second Delta Devil ever taken in the first round of an NFL draft (Jerry Rice, 1985), but his impressive blend of size and speed should earn Timmons a mid-to-late-round pick in 2007.

Top 25 Senior Prospects in 2007 NFL Draft
Rnk Prospect, School Height Weight
1. Jason Hill, Washington State 6-0 1/4 210
2. Jeff Samardzija, Notre Dame 6-4 5/8 217
3. Steve Breaston, Michigan 6-1 180
4. Courtney Taylor, Auburn 6-1 1/2 200
5. Paul Williams, Fresno State 6-1 3/8 198
6. Dwayne Bowe, LSU 6-1 3/4 220
7. Steve Smith, USC 5-11 1/2 195
8. Jarrett Hicks, Texas Tech 6-2 5/8 211
9. Andre Caldwell, Florida 6-0 1/4 197
10. David Clowney, Virginia Tech 6-0 3/8 178
11. Chansi Stuckey, Clemson 5-10 1/4 181
12. Aundrae Allison, East Carolina 5-11 3/4 188
13. Johnnie Lee Higgins, UTEP 5-11 1/2 184
14. Ryan Moore, Miami-Fla. 6-3 215
15. Matt Trannon, Michigan State 6-6 230
16. Chris Davis, Florida State 5-10 1/4 172
17. D'Juan Woods, Oklahoma State 5-11 1/2 210
18. Ryan Robinson, Miami, OH 5-8 7/8 178
19. Joel Filani, Texas Tech 6-2 1/4 213
20. Terry Richardson, Arizona State 6-0 3/8 190
21. Jayson Swain, Tennessee 6-1 215
22. Tyrone Prothro, Alabama 5-8 181
23. Rhema McKnight, Notre Dame 6-1 206
24. David Ball, New Hampshire 6-0 3/4 193
25. Tyrone Timmons, Mississippi Valley State 6-3 1/4 206

Top-10 Potential Early Entries in 2007 NFL Draft
Rnk Prospect, School Height Weight
1. Dwayne Jarrett, USC 6-4 3/8 210
2. Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech 6-3 3/4 226
3. Sidney Rice (third-year sophomore)South Carolina 6-3 5/8 198
4. Ted Ginn Jr., Ohio State 5-11 5/8 181
5. Robert Meachem, Tennessee 6-2 1/2 208
6. Early Doucet, LSU 6-0 203
7. Lance Leggett, Miami-FL 6-2 5/8 184
8. Todd Blythe, Iowa State 6-4 3/8 209
9. Dorien Bryant, Purdue 5-10 179
10. Limas Sweed, Texas 6-4 5/8 214

Day-One Wide Receivers in 2006 NFL Draft
Rnk Prospect, School Team Round (Overall)
1. Santonio Holmes, Ohio State Steelers First (25)
2. Chad Jackson, Florida Patriots Second (36)
3. Sinorice Moss, Miami-FL Giants Second (44)
4. Greg Jennings, Western Michigan Packers Second (50)
5. Travis Wilson, Oklahoma Browns Third (78)
6. Derek Hagan, Arizona State Dolphins Third (82)
7. Brandon Williams, Wisconsin 49ers Third (84)
8. Maurice Stovall, Notre Dame Buccaneeers Third (90)

Three-Year Tally

The following is a graphic representation of the number of wide receivers selected in each round of the previous three NFL drafts. Most NFL teams use this type of chart to study position trends when setting up their respective draft boards each year.

Wide receivers
Round 2006 2005 2004 Avg.
1 1 6 7 4.7
2 3 5 3 3.7
3 4 3 3 3.3
4 9 5 4 6
5 2 3 5 3.3
6 5 4 4 4.3
7 8 6 5 6.3
Total 32 32 31 31.7

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