Again I am no guru or anything, just really love watching college ball, and love the heart and sole that is put onto the field week in week out. Also really like the surprise guys that come from 'no name' colleges that break into the NFL and make a difference i.e. Greg Jennings from my one of my home state colleges Western Michigan. With that said I'm gonna try to take an in-depth look at the WR position.
Point blank if Golden Tate, WR-ND, decides to take the next step and go pro there will be no doubt in my mind he will/should be the #1 WR taken. I don't know how to express in words (outside of his stellar stats) the talent this guy delivers at the WR position. He has superb hands, amazing body control and just has a great knack for being around the ball-in every meaningful play. When I say meaningful play its not like a lot of WR that take plays off, Tate makes plays very meaningful every time he touches the ball. Not only is he an outstanding talent at the WR position catching the ball, but he is also a great blocking WR and a tremendous talent in the return game.
The stats don't differ from what I have just said either. This is a guy is on his way to back-to-back 1,000+ yard receiving years both with 50+ receptions, plus he should catch 10+ TDs in the last two years (9 this year up to date). His averages are also eye-popping, last year he recorded 18.6 yards per catch and this year still is carrying a staggering 16.6 yards per. To add to these impressive receiving stats would be his ability to run the ball. In his 3 years, to date, he has rushed the ball 27 times for 198 yards and 3 TDs. He has also returned kicks for 3 years averaging for a career 20.8 yards per and 2 years as the punt returner averaging 7.5 yards per return. I emphasize again tho, all stats aside Tate in my eyes has the most pure talent and knowledge at the WR position. He has amazing hands and if he can get a finger tip on the ball its as good as caught. Golden may be a little undersized at 5'11" 195, but he runs a 4.44-40 and has just amazing field presence.
Moving on from my rant about Tate would be Jordan Shipley next. A lot think that Dez Bryant should be, but there are huge question marks surrounding his integrity as a person after the allegations surrounding his alleged lying to NCAA investigators about his involvement with Deion Sanders. Not to mention even if Dez is telling the truth he really only has 1 full year of exceptional play, will this be enough to be a high draft pick? In my eyes not a chance.
On the other hand there is Shipley who has quite quietly put together a great career at Texas. He has a very strong chance of putting together his seconds straight 1,000-yard 10 TD season. Jordan hit a rough patch weeks 2 and 3 along with McCoy who struggled to stay on his feet and again in the Oklahoma game that was just a tough defensive game all around. Just like Tate, Shipley is the #1 look from his QB on their respective teams, but unlike Tate, Shipley is more of a possession receiver. He has serious deep threat ability, but is more the 'reliable' set of hands for Colt McCoy. Last year although he just clipped 1,000 total receiving yards he had 89 receptions and is well on the way to replicating that this year. With 3 games remaining he has caught 75 total balls. Not to mention just like Golden Tate, Shipley also is the primary guy in the return game for the Horns.
My best way to explain these two would be this: Golden Tate to me looks like a Steve Smith (CAR) with his great speed, explosive spurts, great hands, tough/hard nose not afraid to get or lay a hit but most of all his game change ability on any play. Jordan Shipley to me would be about the equivalent or maybe even a bit of a poor mans Wes Welker. These two are the safety valve for their respective QBs and are dependable, will make any catch and are great with the ball in their hands after the catch. To me Tate is more of the deep threat, more of the true route runner, a guy that can be depended on to go to to make a game changing play. Shipley is more suited for the slot position where he can be relied upon to come up with those dink-and-dunk type plays, but is the guy that can be depended on to get you those extra yards to get that first down or reach the goal line.
One other stat that is just mind blowing to me is that for both Golden Tate and Jordan Shipley with all the touches they have had at the WR spot, ZERO fumbles lost in their careers for both. Dez Bryant, if he wouldn't have been suspended for most of this year would have had some say in this discussion, but with the off the field issues going on I don't see him as anything more then a possible top 5 WR talent. One thing I will say about Bryant tho is he will be a steal for a team who decides to jump on him for his talent rather then passing because of some possible issues that may linger with him, not to mention the experience he lost by being suspended for all but 3 games this year and entering the NFL draft a year early.
Some other possible underrated WR who could be eye popping in the NFL would be Blair White, yes a bit of a homer pick from me here, but this kid is just all around football tough. This is a kid that was cut from the team and when coach Mark Dantonio came over from Cincy he sat outside of the coaches door until he showed up day 1 and begged for a chance to show what he can do. 2 years later he is Michigan State's go-to receiver and a guy who has won Sparty many games because of his game changing ability. He has great hands and outstanding athletic ability. He may not blaze you with his 40-speed but will blaze you with his knowledge and above average route running. He is on pace for 60+ receptions and 1000+ yards to go along side 10 TDs.
One last guy that I am actually really, really big on as a later 1st round-2nd round pick that could become a big time NFL WR is a kid by the name of Dezmon Briscoe from Kansas. He has very good size at 6'3" 200 pounds, he may not come out in this years draft, but if he finishes his season of strong I could very well see his name on the draft boards. The only true knocks on this kid are his slower 40 time and is apart of a spread offense at UK instead of the pro-style offense. To say the least tho, this kid has made the best of the situation he has been given. Last year he caught 92 balls for 1407 yards and 15 TDs, and is projecting for another 82 receptions, 1262 yards and 10 TDs again this year. Added to the fact that he is also the return specialist for the Jayhawks kick return team just adds to his value, although his career of 188 receptions, 2,744 yards and 27 TDs to date isn't too shabby either
Overall although many say there this isn't a definite 'dominant group' of WRs there are some very surprising talented WR that are widely overlooked. Amongest the ones I have mentioned I don't think that the likes of: 6'3" 206 pound Brandon LaFell-LSU (whos big knock is his 4.5++ 40-time); Eric Decker-MIN (little slow on the 40 also and injury concerns, but catches anything in sight); Mardy Gilyard-CIN (only 6 foot even, but very shifty and outstanding after the catch); Damian Williams-USC if he comes out (even with the QB struggles has managed a good season and is a great return guy); Demaryius Thomas-GT this one may not be for this year but watch this name (great size at 6'3" 229 LBS, is the go to guy for GT, against Virginia 27 of GT's 40 completions went to Thomas).
Again this is just my insight on WR, what I have seen through stats and by watching quite a few of these players play not only in person but each Saturday. Tate if he enters this year will be the unanimous #1 WR and should be looking for bare minimum top 5-7 Pick. Like I said earlier I will try to shed my insight on all the positions I can as we go along. Next up will be RB followed by TE and then will shift to the defensive side of the ball!