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The third and fourth round wide receivers are fascinating every rookie draft season. There is bound to be a sagging talent that seemed like a Round 2 lock (see Donte Moncrief in 2014) and questionable names that had no business in the tier (see Shaq Evans in 2014).
In 2015 there is a good amount of rookie draft strategy amidst this receiver tier. Taking Round 2-4 running backs in typically a prudent strategy outside the top-15 to top-20 of rookie drafts, but wide receivers are appealing as well with high leverage upside and longevity. None of the 2015 receiver crop in this range will cost more than an early second round rookie pick with some available well past the top-30 in most leagues. Here are the receivers from this tier:
- Tyler Lockett
- Jaelen Strong
- Chris Conley
- Sammie Coates Jr
- Ty Montgomery
- Jamison Crowder
- Justin Hardy
- Vince Mayle
- DeAndre Smelter
Lumping them into prospect buckets, here are subsets of the group:
Initial Opportunity Factor
Lockett is the 2.0 version of Paul Richardson Jr for the Seahawks searching for a small and speedy receiver to now complement Jimmy Graham’s infusion in the offense. Strong, projected as a Round 1 or, at worst, second round draft pick, lands in Houston with decent odds to be starting opposite DeAndre Hopkins by the end of 2015.
Hardy looks solid as the slot receiver in Atlanta and the No.3 behind Roddy White and Julio Jones with the departure of Harry Douglas. Smelter is in a sneaky spot with San Francisco as Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith are locked in for 2015. Plus many stamp down the upside in the 49ers passing game long-term. Smelter needs recovery time from an ACL surgery anyway and projects as a Boldin-like rugged option in 2016 and beyond. The No.3 job is wide open in 2015 for Smelter to mix in and flash a big play or two.
Chris Conley is behind Jeremy Maclin (for now) and Alex Smith is not an ideal quarterback choice for Conley to stretch the field as more than a safety-distracter. Coates infuses a second Martavis Bryant-like option in Pittsburgh. A quality quarterback helps, but Antonio Brown is a target hog and Bryant looked good enough in 2014 to expect Coates to fight for even 50 targets in 2015. Mayle is a limited metric prospect, on the old side, and the Browns are a near dumpster fire in the passing game. That said, Mayle’s initial opportunity is decent to have a rookie season uptick in dynasty value.
- Ty Montgomery
- Jamison Crowder
The good news for Montgomery is landing in Green Bay with an in-his-prime Aaron Rodgers. The bad news is an absolutely loaded depth chart initially with Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams securely in front of Montgomery. Jeff Janis is also in the mix. Montgomery projects as a returner with a sprinkling of offensive touches in the Cobb-like pocketknife role seen over the past few seasons. Taking some wear-and-tear off the now well-paid Cobb 20-30 times in a season is a quality decision. Crowder projects as a slot receiver and Washington is a passing game struggling to support a second option beyond the streaky DeSean Jackson.
By the Metrics
Shifting to the statistical profiles of this tier, here is how they shake out according to their college metrics:
- DeAndre Smelter: Prototypical build, huge 11” hands, above-average arm length
- Ty Montgomery: Thick with big hands, but short arms
- Chris Conley: Above-average across the board in the category
- Vince Mayle: Smelter-like thickness, but very small hands and short arms for frame
- Sammie Coates Jr: Thick, longest arms of this group, hand size drags him down somewhat
- Justin Hardy: Thick with big hands, ideal for slot despite height limitations
- Jaelen Strong: Ideal thickness, average arm length, tiny hands
- Jamison Crowder: Questionable across the board
- Tyler Lockett: Bottom 5% in arm length since 1999 at wide receiver, small hands, average thickness
- Chris Conley: Combine Star, one of highest athleticism scores in last 15 years, 45” vertical and 139” broad jumps are top 1% territory.
- Jaelen Strong: Tiers below Conley, quality speed score and vertical jump
- Sammie Coates Jr: Nearly even with Strong, average 3-cone wiggle
- DeAndre Smelter: *Projection based on 40-time alone*
- Ty Montgomery: Average across the board outside of top 25% mark in vertical jump
- Tyler Lockett: Despite decent raw marks, below-average when adjusted for his 182-pound frame
- Justin Hardy: Outstanding 3-cone time perfect for inside receiver NFL role, lacking elsewhere
- Vince Mayle: Not explosive, decent wiggle for size, will need to outmuscle in NFL to win
- Jamison Crowder: Woeful 3-cone and 40 times considering his size
- Tyler Lockett: Overachiever considering size and athleticism profile. Four straight above-average age-weighted seasons at Kansas State, including age 18 breakout.
- Jaelen Strong: Two straight quality seasons in terms of team market share and raw numbers, questionable TD ratio considering build a black-ish eye on profile.
- Justin Hardy: Strong age 19-20 seasons before reverting to average level market share metrics at 21-22. Low career yards-per-reception, more than 4,500 career yards.
- Sammie Coates Jr: One above-baseline season in college, 13 career touchdowns worrisome, another low TD ratio guy despite size and athletic traits.
- Jamison Crowder: Profile screams yardage-only guy in NFL with anemic TD ratio at Duke and 12.8 career yards-per-catch. Needs perfect situation to get needed volume.
- DeAndre Smelter: Great TD ratio in college, two quality seasons at age 21-22, high yards-per-catch like many Georgia Tech receivers historically.
- Ty Montgomery: One-hit wonder at age 20 by market share, raw production is lacking across the board, another low TD ratio prospect on this list despite size and athleticism.
- Vince Mayle: Propped up by high-volume Washington State passing game, did not excel beyond situation, questionable 12.3 career yards-per-reception.
- Chris Conley: Limited by situation for raw production, but failed to surpass any age-based benchmark in Georgia career by market share either, high TD ratio is promising, pure athlete that has yet to translate gifts to between-the-lines production.