During my time this week at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl practices I've had the opportunity to speak with some draft analysts and NFL writers that flew out to watch the practices for themselves. Over the course of the week, on more than one occasion I was told by some of these people that there was not a single wide receiver in the 2012 draft class that they felt were worth a top 10 pick.
With the Jaguars at 7th overall and obviously desperate for receiver help, this is a thought that obviously impacts the way the team will draft. In 2004, the Jaguars burned themselves by selecting Reggie Williams 8th overall to fill their need at receiver despite the consensus being that he wasn't worth the pick. If the Jaguars select a receiver in the top 10 this year they could be repeating mistakes of the past.
In the 2011 NFL Draft there were two receivers taken in the top 10: Georgia's A.J. Green to Cincinnati 4th overall and Alabama's Julio Jones two picks later to the Falcons. At 6-4, 211 pounds with 4.48 speed, Green had all the size necessary to be a #1 receiver and Jones made up for being a little over an inch shorter than Green by having 4.34 speed.
The pair had all the athleticism any team could ask for and the hopes that the could become among the top tier receivers in the league with the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson or Calvin Johnson made sense. But are there any receivers like that in this class?
The media consensus #1 receiver is without a doubt, Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon. But at 6-1, 215 he doesn't have the elite size of a #1 receiver and with a projected 40 time in the 4.5 range, he certainly doesn't have the elite speed either. Blackmon has shown ability, no doubt, but has he shown the athleticism necessary to be a Larry, Andre or Calvin? I believe he hasn't.
The rest of the field has some interesting talents as well, but none jump out as elite. There are reports that Kendall Wright of Baylor is the top receiver on several NFL team boards, but at 5-10 there's certainly reason to doubt that he can be a top flight receiver. While Steve Smith has found plenty of success in the NFL at 5-9, he is the only example that comes to mind of a sub-six foot receiver that has proven to be able to be the #1 receiver for a team.
Perhaps there is a #1 receiver in the group, but is there a player that is close enough to a "sure thing" that it's worth using a top 10 pick, or more specifically the 7th pick overall, to have? No. Not this year.