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NFL Combine Recap: Wide Receivers

Posted Mar 5, 2014

Combine Recap is a positional review of players ranked as top offensive prospects by NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock in order of his pre-combine lists.

2014 NFL Combine Recaps: Offensive Tackles | Guards | Centers | Tight Ends | Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Defensive Tackles | Defensive Ends | Linebackers | Cornerbacks | Safeties

Sammy Watkins, Clemson, Jr.

In college: Watkins opted to enter the NFL Draft with a year of college eligibility remaining after setting Clemson records for career receptions (240) and yards (3,391). He was named second-team All-America and first-team All-ACC after recording 101 receptions for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013 that included a 16-catch, 227-yard game against Ohio State in the Orange Bowl to earn MVP honors. Watkins had 57 receptions for 708 yards and three receiving TDs in 2012 to earn honorable mention All-ACC. He had 82 receptions for 1,219 yards and 12 TDs and returned 33 kickoffs 826 yards with a score as a freshman in 2011. He was named first-team All-American as an all-purpose player, becoming the fourth true freshman first-team All-American (Herschel Walker, 1980; Marshall Faulk, 1991; Adrian Peterson, 2004). He was also named first-team All-ACC, ACC Rookie of the Year and a semifinalist of the Walter Camp Player of the Year and Biletnikoff awards.

Area of focus: “I can run any route from curl to comeback to digs to hitches,” Watkins said. “I’ve become a pretty good route runner, but there are areas I can still improve in with getting out of my routes. What I’m really focused on is my curl routes and my comebacks. I’ve got to get my transition and know when to run full speed or not and synch my hips and get out of my routes.”

Quotable: “I try to be physical out there on the field as far as getting off press, blocking down the field,” Watkins said. “To be that dominant receiver, I need to have that total package. Everyone knows all wide receivers can catch balls and score, but for me I’m focusing on the little things – blocking, getting off the press and being a physical, dominant receiver.”

Marqise Lee, USC, Jr.

In college: Lee, who is entering the NFL Draft with a year of eligibility remaining, was named honorable mention All-Pac 12 in 2013 after recording 57 receptions for 791 yards with four touchdowns. He was named first-team All-America, first-team All-Pac 12 and Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year in 2012 when he had 118 receptions for 1,721 yards and 14 TDs and added 30 kickoff returns for 856 yards and a touchdown. Lee ranked second in the nation in receptions per game and receiving yards per game in 2012 and won the Biletnikoff Award (nation’s top receiver). Lee had 73 receptions for 1,143 yards and 11 TDs as a freshman in 2011 when he was named second-team All-Pac 12.

On depth at receiver in this draft class: “I think I hold my own. We have a lot of great receivers, I can honestly say,” Lee said. “I think we all got a little bit different games. I say, as far as myself, I hold up pretty well, compared to everybody else.”

Quotable: “The main thing is, I'm going to compete, 24-7, no matter what vet is there, who is coming in, what free agent they got, I'm always going to compete and bring a positive mindset to the game,” Lee said. “No negativity, not going to question anything, just going to get the job done.”

Mike Evans, Texas A&M, So.

In college: Evans started all 26 games he played, but decided to enter the NFL Draft with two years of college eligibility remaining. He was named first-team All-American in 2013 after leading the SEC with 12 TD catches and gaining 1,394 yards on 69 receptions. He had 11 catches for 287 yards and four TDs against Auburn and seven catches for 279 yards and a score against Alabama. Evans had 82 catches for 1,105 yards and five TDs in 2012 after redshirting in 2011. 

On receiving coaching from James Lofton before the draft: “I've been working with James Lofton out in San Diego,” Evans said. “A great receiver, he’s in the Hall of Fame. A great guy, he’s been teaching me a lot,” such as, “just keeping my arms moving when I’m running routes, just stay low and just get out of my cuts,” and “just being a great guy, just growing up as a man.”

On his basketball background: “It’s helped a lot. I think a lot of other basketball players should play football,” Evans said. “We have the qualities. If there’s a jump ball in the air, treat it like a rebound. It helps me get off the press, use my quickness like when I used to dribble. Everything just incorporates into football.”

Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State, So.

In college: Benjamin was named second-team All-ACC in 2013 after leading the conference and tying an FSU single-season record with 15 receiving TDs (third-most nationally). The final one was a game-winning 2-yarder with 13 seconds left in the VIZIO BCS National Championship. He had 54 receptions for 1,011 yards in 2013. Benjamin had 30 receptions for 495 yards and four TDs in 2012 as a freshman after redshirting in 2011.

On the winning play in the championship game: “It was a simple slant route,” Benjamin said. “I knew (FSU coach) Jimbo (Fisher) was coming back to me. Whenever there was a catch on the line or a touchdown on the line he was coming back to me and it was a slant route. I knew he (the DB) was thinking fade and so I tried to sell him on that fade route. Three steps out I got inside of him and just did what I do best, which is attack it at the highest point.”

On chasing rabbits during his youth in Belle Glade, Fla.: “Yeah, everybody chased rabbits back in the day, when you were small,” Benjamin said. “I mean, they were good to eat. They’re really good if you’ve never had them before. But that also helps you with speed and agility and stuff like that.”

Jarvis Landry, LSU, Jr.

In college: Landry was named second-team All-SEC in 2013 after recording 77 catches for 1,193 yards and 10 TDs that included five games with at least 100 yards receiving. Landry caught 56 passes for 573 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore in 2012 after playing in 14 games as a freshman in 2011.

On playing for LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron: “Well, he challenged us. He came with an NFL mindset to a college meeting and he challenged us mentally,” Landry said. “He challenged us as far as time management, and he challenged us to train like a pro and think like a pro. In doing so, he brought the digit system, which is probably the best system created.”

Quotable: “I’m a selfless guy, and I believe in other people’s success,” Landry said. “Obviously, you know, playing with those guys and the success they had, but also, you’re going to get a football player. I’m going to play special teams … I’m going to block linebackers, safeties. It doesn’t matter, just (do) the little things that people forget.”

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