With the 2013 NFL Draft fast approaching on April 25, ClevelandBrowns.com will take a deeper look at the prospects, position-by-position. Today’s spotlight is on the wide receivers.
Speed is the name of the game when talking about the wide receiver prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft class, and the young men who worked out for pro coaches and scouts, both at the NFL Scouting Combine and their respective Pro Days, had the talent evaluators double-checking their stopwatches.
*Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee), Keenan Allen (California), Tavon Austin (West Virginia), Quinton Patton (Louisiana Tech), and DeAndre Hopkins (Clemson).
Before declaring for the 2013 NFL Draft, Patterson had only one year of Division I experience after transferring to Tennessee from the junior-college level. However, wherever he played, Patterson used his speed to be an impact player.
During his first year at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, Patterson gained 908 yards and scored nine touchdowns on 52 receptions. He was a first-team All-American, and again earned national recognition by catching 61 passes for 924 yards and 15 touchdowns. In his second season, Patterson also ran the ball 32 times for 379 yards and six touchdowns, and averaged 48.2 yards on 10 kickoff returns, three of which he took to the end zone.
At Tennessee, he caught 46 passes for 778 yards and five touchdowns.
“From a height, width, speed, talent perspective, he might be one of the most talented physical specimens in this class,” said NFL Network’s Mike Mayock. “I think he’s taking your breath away from the ability to make plays, especially after he gets the ball in his hands. He’s a special talent.
“The problem is he’s got one year of Division I experience. That’s a red flag for me, especially at the wide receiver position. There are a bunch of those guys that have failed over the past 20 years. You’ve got to do your homework on him off-the-field, work ethic, all those kinds of things, because talent‑wise, he fits.”
Allen had a breakout season in 2011 when he caught 98 passes for 1,343 yards and six touchdowns. Although his reception and yardage totals fell off when he missed the last three games of the season, Allen still gained 737 yards and caught six touchdowns in 2012.
“Here’s the deal with Keenan Allen: if you like him on tape, he’s Anquan Boldin; if you don’t like him, he’s speed-deficient,” Mayock said. “If you can buy into Patterson, that’s a risk‑reward scenario.”
In each of his four seasons at West Virginia, Austin was able to improve his productivity level. After combining to gain 938 yards and score nine touchdowns on 73 catches in his first two seasons, Austin burst onto the season with a 101-catch, 1,186-yard, eight-touchdown year in 2011. Then, he followed that up by catching 114 passes for 1,289 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior.
The Baltimore native had six games with at least 100 yards receiving, including four straight in the first five weeks of the 2012 season.
“Tavon Austin is a play maker,” Mayock said. “People want to make the comparison to Percy Harvin. He’s 20 pounds lighter than Percy Harvin. To me, it’s more like, ‘Could he be a Wes Welker and a tremendous return guy?’ I think that’s more what the Tavon Austin question is.”
With his quarterback setting NCAA records for the most consecutive pass attempts without an interception, former Louisiana Tech wide receiver Quinton Patton was finding his way into the end zone. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Patton caught 104 passes for 1,392 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2012, this after he hauled in 79 balls for 1,202 yards and 11 scores as a junior.
Hopkins elected to enter the NFL Draft after his junior year, one that he punctuated with a 13-catch, 191-yard, two-touchdown performance in a 25-24 Clemson win over the LSU Tigers in the Chick-fil-A Bowl last December.
For the season, Hopkins caught 82 passes for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns, all of which were career highs. He caught 205 passes for 3,009 yards and 27 touchdowns in three years with the Tigers.
“Hopkins, to me, is intriguing, very smooth, good hands,” Mayock said. “I've got him as a mid-to-late second‑round player. His bowl game I watched, it was fun. He made an awful lot of plays and he’s good with the ball in his hands after the catch.”
*ClevelandBrowns.com utilized the players’ list by NFL Network’s Mike Mayock.