This year’s draft class is loaded with talented wide receivers. So much so that there could be receivers with second round talent drafted as late as the fourth round. Still, it’s not uncommon for wide receivers taken in the late rounds or not drafted at all to end up being difference makers, just look at Victor Cruz of the Giants. Here’s a list of half a dozen receivers that won’t be looked at until the later rounds, but have a chance to make an impact in the NFL:
Conner Vernon, Duke – Vernon was a big part of Duke’s renaissance this past season, but he also had three seasons in college with over 900 yards receiving. He’s also had three seasons with 70 or more receptions, including 85 receptions this past year as a senior, so he’s no stranger to catching the ball. He doesn’t have the size or physicality that is going to stand out, but he’s quick and he catches the ball, and he could end up being a handful to deal with in the NFL when lining up in the slot.
Emory Blake, Auburn – Blake is the son of former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jeff Blake, and he was quietly one of the more talented wide receivers in the SEC the past couple years. He had over 500 yards receiving in 2010 with Cam Newton as his quarterback, but Auburn lacked a quarterback to get him the ball during his junior and senior seasons. Nonetheless, Blake did find ways to make plenty of plays, often getting behind the defense. He has the size and speed to make big plays down the field, and if he has a quarterback that can get him the ball, he’s capable of surprising some people.
Jasper Collins, Mount Union – Collins comes from the same college that produced Pierre Garcon, and is a great candidate to follow in Garcon’s footsteps. The numbers are predictably out of sight, as he played against inferior competition, scoring 22 touchdowns with close to 1,700 yards receiving. He has loads of speed and quickness, and Collins is also a quality route runner. Between his polished receiver skills, his speed, and his abilities as a returner on special teams, someone should give Collins and a chance, which will give him the opportunity to be a pleasant surprise, much like Garcon before him.
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Chad Bumphis, Mississippi State – Bumphis has always been loaded with talent, but he never broke out until his senior season, even after a promising freshman campaign. He played in a run-first offense during his sophomore and junior seasons, so that might be part of it, but there also could have been issues with his work ethic and dedication. That being said, he has plenty of speed and talent, it’s just a matter of an NFL team being able to get it out of him, and if that happens he’s got the potential to be a difference maker.
Alec Lemon, Syracuse – Lemon was the favorite target last season of Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib, who should be one of the first quarterbacks drafted this year. Lemon has great hands and catches the football as well as any receiver available; the only time he struggles to catch the ball is when he tries to use his body instead of his hands to make catches, which is rare. He doesn’t have blazing speed, but he’ll have great success as an NFL slot receiver, as he has good size for the slot, good quickness, and the ability to catch and run in one motion.
Roy Roundtree, Michigan – Roundtree had a breakout season in 2010 with 72 catches and over 900 yards receiving, but has fallen off the radar over the past couple seasons without a proficient thrower at quarterback capable of getting him the ball where he needs it. He has the talent to contribute to an NFL roster as a third or fourth wide receiver, he just needs to add some strength and get an opportunity to play.