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2010 Rookie Class: The Wide Receivers
This is the third installment in a position-by-position series reviewing the top Fantasy prospects selected in this year's draft. Today: The Wide Receivers.
(You can review the 2010 QB Preview here; check the 2010 RB Preview here.)
1) Dez Bryant (DAL) -- Like many teams, the Cowboys later regretted passing on Randy Moss for off-field character concerns. Unwilling to make the same mistake twice, they traded up a few spots to nab Bryant. Bryant has ideal size and strength which he uses to gain separation from cornerbacks. He also has very strong hands which allow him to pluck balls in traffic though he will sometimes allow balls to get into his chest. Though he doesn't have ideal speed, he knows how to vary his speed on routes in order to create a burst to get open. Blessed with exceptional leaping ability, he also is very difficult to tackle and will use his quickness and strength to stay upright. Like many great receivers, he needs to stay focused when he is not the center of the offense.
2) Arrelious Benn (TPB) -- The Buccaneers knew that they lacked weapons for franchise quarterback Josh Freeman, so they grabbed the first of two receivers with their second pick in the second round. Despite playing in an offense that did not have the surrounding talent to properly feature him, Benn showed that he had NFL-ready skills. A very physical and aggressive player, he uses his size to get open. He doesn't have great timed speed, but he plays faster than he times. He is an excellent leaper and has strong hands, but his concentration lapses cause drops from time to time. Not afraid to go over the middle, Benn is also adept at beating press coverage. He needs to apply himself on the practice field the way he has in the weight room.
3) DeMaryius Thomas (DEN) -- After trading away Brandon Marshall, it was clear that wide receiver was a major need for the Broncos. Thomas became the first receiver selected in the draft when Denver grabbed him in the first round. He has terrific size and bulk and uses that to his advantage by playing aggressively to defeat press coverage. He flashed very good speed on the field but a foot injury while training for the NFL combine meant that there was no opportunity to have that measured prior to the draft. His ball skills and body control are very good. All rookie receivers need to work on their route running, but this is especially true for Thomas who comes from a run-first offense that did not require him to be disciplined in that area.
4) Brandon LaFell (CAR) -- The Panthers took another shot at trying to get someone defenses had to respect in the passing game besides Steve Smith with the selection of LaFell in the third round of the draft. He combines terrific size and bulk with a mental and physical toughness which makes him one of the best blocking receivers in the draft. His dedication to the game has been questioned at times, but that has not prevented him from being one of the best route runners in this draft class. He uses his hands well in rarely allowing a ball to get to his chest as well as using them to get past press coverage. Lacking the ability to change gears, he may have issues getting separation at the next level and his lack of maturity may also be a problem at times.
5) Golden Tate (SEA) -- The Seahawks knew they needed playmakers to make their offense more explosive and they got one in the second round with Tate. He combines solid route-running skills with a high football acumen to make himself available to his quarterback. He plays with a high level of desire which earns him more catches on 50-50 balls than he should otherwise have for a player of his size. Though he is short, Tate has great bulk which makes him tough to bring down if someone catches him. He plays with great speed and will occasionally vary it in order to create bursts at the right time to get separation from cornerbacks. He'll need to work on better separation skills and beating press coverage in the NFL.