There are several gifted athletes in this year’s crop of wide receivers, although there isn’t necessarily one sure-fire “stud” that rises above the rest.
This top ten is very diverse, as it ranges from speedy burners that need to work on refining their route-running, to polished route-runners with excellent hands, but average speed.
Read on to see where your favorite college receivers rank in the 2010 NFL Draft wide receiver rankings:
1. Dez Bryant (Oklahoma State)
Bryant has some character concerns after sitting out most of the 2009 NCAA season due to off-field violations, although the circumstances were arguably controversial.
Regardless of any baggage he may or may not carry, Bryant is quite arguably the best and most explosive receiver in this draft.
His timed speed isn’t off the charts, but Bryan has good size and overall speed, and is simply a receiver who makes plays, and usually with seemingly little effort. He’s guaranteed to be a first rounder, and is very likely to be selected in the top-10.
2. Brandon LaFell (LSU)
LaFell is exactly what you look for in an NFL receiver, as he’s physically ready to take on NFL corners, and can immediately be an asset as a blocker in the running game.
He’s a solid route-runner with good hands, although he can at times fall in love with making a play with the ball before he has it secured, resulting in drops.
He’s a tough competitor and a strong runner, giving him the ability to make plays, even when appearing to be going down. If an NFL team is looking for a tough receiver who can get open and has the speed and athleticism to make things happen in the open field, there may be no better option that LaFell.
However, his lack of experience as a productive receiver may have NFL GM’s questioning his consistency and experience.
He was one of the most explosive offensive weapons at the NCAA level, and has great versatility, making him an elite weapon the moment he takes the field for an NFL team.
He’s a bit raw in some areas, but his athleticism and play-making will undoubtedly make up for it. His versatility should see him having an impact like Minnesota’ Percy Harvin did in 2009, as he has the ability to operate out of a Wildcat formation, as well as work the slot and return kicks.
His size will work against him, and is the main reason why he slips to the fourth spot in these rankings. He could also stand to add some bulk and get stronger over the middle of the field, as long as it doesn’t take away from his speed and play-making ability.
4. Damian Williams (USC)
Williams capped a stellar season with USC with a 12-catch, 189-yard performance in USC’s final game, a Bowl game victory over Boston College
He has good size, as well s a physical attitude that never sees him straying away from contact. He’ll go over the middle in traffic and come up with some tough balls, while possessing the ability to do some truly magical things with the ball after he makes the catch.
It’s arguable that Williams shouldn’t be the second ranked receiver on this list, but his talent, size, and production make him extremely worthy of being a first round pick.
5. Eric Decker (Minnesota)
Decker is a big, strong receiver with great size and hands. He’s a physical receiver who isn’t afraid to go over the middle, and has also improved his blocking ability.
While lacking elite timed speed, Decker still has great speed and quickness of the line, and uses his hands well to create space with the defender. He gets excellent position to catch the ball, and is an excellent route-runner.
Has had some injury concerns and some teams may be worried that he won’t be completely committed to football (has been drafted by the MLB), although it appears there is no question that he wishes to pursue a pro football career.
Benn has good size, combined with great speed and quickness.
He was fairly productive on a weak Illinois team, as well, but his 2009 campaign was ruined by drops and inconsistency.
The label on Benn is clear: He’s a fantastic athlete with endless potential, but his hands and work ethic need to improve immediately for him to be considered any higher than the fifth best receiver in this draft.
7. Jordan Shipley (Texas)
Shipley is a true versatile threat, as he’s a dynamic receiver, kick and punt returner, and can even hold on field goals.
He’s easily one of the better route-runners in this class, and has exceptional hands and body control. He can locate poorly thrown balls, and has the uncanny ability to keep plays alive that appear dead, with elite agility and elusiveness.
He’s a bit under-sized, which should force him to be relegated to slot duty at the next level, although his abilities still make him capable of fulfilling the roles a first round talent would garner.
He has great speed and acceleration, but can sometimes struggle off the jam and with separation from his defender. Once he gets the ball in the open field or gets past the secondary, however, say good-bye.
His injury history and age is a bit worrisome, as well, but he’s proven to be durable in recent years, and his age brings on added maturity, which should be seen as a bonus for a receiver. This could allow him to cut the learning curve as a rookie receiver, which could help him make an immediate impact if he’s needed.
He could be ranked a lot higher if he had reliable hands, but like many top receiver prospects, Gilyard tends to make the big plays look easy, and then drops “gimme” passes.
He also has issues with getting off the jam at the line, and despite solid speed, can struggle with separation.
Regardless, he’s a tough, physical receiver who isn’t afraid to go up for the ball, and is willing to take big hits, although his size and physical appearance wouldn’t necessarily suggest it.
He’s a dynamite performer in the open field, and is adept at forcing tacklers to miss tackles. If he can improve his speed and ball skills, he could be a steal on the first day.
9. Jacoby Ford (Clemson)
Is a natural burner with elite speed and play-making ability, although he at times ha suspect hands. He’s the guy that catches the deep passes and makes near-impossible plays, but will randomly drop the ball when he’s wide open.
He’s not an elite blocker, and could stand to be stronger and more physical as a whole, as his intermediate game is only average. There’s no clear sign if he’s able or willing to consistently work the middle of the field.
He has a serious height and size disadvantage, but his natural abilities should get his name called on day one.
10. Jeremy Williams (Tulane)
Williams is a good receiver with great hands and body control, although he was used mostly on short passes and in variations of the Wildcat formation, which limited his use on deep patterns.
Because of that, his route-running is a bit raw. Regardless, his ability to make tough catches in traffic, as well as make plays with his legs make his biggest knock and almost non-issue.
He lacks break-away speed, and simply is not a burner, but his toughness and play-making ability should still make him an asset at the next level.
Honorable Mentions: Danario Alexander, Dezmon Briscoe, Demaryius Thomas, Riley Cooper, Mike Williams, Blair White