NFL.com

Best Wide Receivers 


Special to NFL.com

Deep threats abound in this year's receiving class, one which includes two products of Steve Spurrier's renowned offense at the University of Florida, one of Michael Vick's favorite targets from Virginia Tech, Biletnikoff Award winners Josh Reed and Antonio Bryant, and Ashley Lelie, a wideout from Hawaii who closed his career with some amazing statistical efforts.
 

ANTONIO BRYANT, PITTSBURGH

Height: 6-2
Weight: 180
Birthdate: Jan. 19, 1981
ANALYSIS
The winner of the Biletnikoff Award during his 2000 sophomore season struggled in 2001, battling two ankle injuries, including one incurred before the start of the season. Saw his receptions decrease to 49 from 73, his yardage decrease from 1,457 to 760, and his touchdown total drop from 13 to 11. His team went in the tank when he couldn't play, evidenced by a 35-26 home loss to South Florida, a team in its first Division I-A season, on Sept. 8. Finally got rolling in November; in Pitt's three games that month, he averaged seven catches, 128.7 yards and two touchdowns per outing. Kept that momentum up in the Tangerine Bowl victory against North Carolina State, when he torched the Wolfpack for 101 yards and two touchdowns as he earned MVP honors.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "Has good size and is a tremendously gifted athlete. He needs to keep working on his concentration and attention do detail to round off his game and live up to his potential."
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN
"He got a little bit of an enlightenment as far as keeping yourself from getting injured."
Pittsburgh head coach Walt Harris
MOMENTUM
His athleticism, size and speed make him the physical prototype of what most teams seek in a wide receiver. But one question remains were his ankle injuries merely a one-season problem, or a sign of future health issues to come? On the positive side, he did finish his career at Pitt strongly, giving hope that much better things are to come in the NFL.

RECHE CALDWELL, FLORIDA

Height: 6-0
Weight: 198
Birthdate: March 28, 1979
ANALYSIS
It wouldn't be an NFL Draft without at least one UF receiver sneaking into the upper echelon; this year, there are two, with Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney among the elite. Caldwell hauled in 65 passes for 1,059 yards and 10 touchdowns last year, good for his first 1,000-yard season at UF. Has a knack for consistently finding the end zone; during the 2001 season, he scored touchdowns in nine consecutive games. A tremendous athlete who played quarterback at Jefferson High School in Tampa, Fla.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "Physically he's got tremendous talent. He runs a 4.3, he can cut, he's got great hands. It was just a matter of learning to play wide receiver. With practice, practice and repetition, he's developed into one of the best in the country."
Former UF head coach Steve Spurrier
"He was the best No. 2 wideout in the country. He has good hands and makes tough catches across the middle. Caldwell hasn't been the go-to guy yet. He has to prove he can be the man, the focus of an opposing defense's strategy."
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN
MOMENTUM
A little more of a late bloomer than his teammate Gaffney, as he didn't emerge as a playmaker until this past year, his redshirt junior season. He has been a great No. 2 option, but can he make the adjustment to being a No. 1 threat?

ANDRE DAVIS, VIRGINIA TECH

Height: 6-1
Weight: 194
Birthdate: June 12, 1979
ANALYSIS
A master of the big play, Davis averaged 19.4 yards per catch over his last three seasons with the Hokies. Rebounded from an injury-riddled 2000 season, to catch 39 passes for 623 yards and seven touchdowns last year, even though QB Michael Vick had moved on to the NFL. Over his last two seasons in Blacksburg, Davis wasn't merely an outstanding receiver, but a terrific punt returner, averaging 15.7 yards per return and scoring four touchdowns. Also ran for Tech's track team during his time there, and has been clocked at 4.29 seconds for the 40-yard dash. 
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "If that wasn't a first-round draft choice out there playing, I haven't seen one lately. (Davis) makes some nice catches. He just can run by people."
Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer
"He is a very dangerous runner after the catch who can turn upfield quickly and run effectively with the ball on reverses. Once Davis gets it into gear, he will just run right by defenders."
Joel Buschbaum, Pro Football Weekly
MOMENTUM
He might not break into the starting lineup right away, but his proficiency on punt returns should allow him to be an instant contributor to whichever team selects him. 

JABAR GAFFNEY, FLORIDA

Height: 6-1
Weight: 202
Birthdate: Dec. 1, 1980
ANALYSIS
The more decorated of the two UF receivers of this year's class, he earned All-America honors in 2001 and was twice selected to the All-SEC team. Hauled in 67 passes for 1,191 yards and 13 scores last year, numbers that mirrored those he posted during his redshirt-freshman season in 2000. Posted five multi-touchdown games in 2001, and scored in 19 of 24 games during his college career.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "He's a great red-zone threat, but that was in the highly effective Florida offense in which receivers could break off their routes and get open. In the NFL, he will be in a more structured situation. Gaffney has to prove he can work his way open on deeper routes and show the speed to stretch the field vertically."
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN
"Gaffney's tall and very fast, makes big plays and understands how to run routes (he was a QB in high school) he's the next great wide receiver from Florida, maybe the next great wide receiver, period."
HoustonProFootball.com
MOMENTUM
The common criticism applied to nearly every UF wideout to come out of the school in the last decade is that they're products of a pass-intensive system. But Gaffney possesses a knack for finding the end zone, ideal size and speed and with just two college seasons under his belt, has room to grow.

ASHLEY LELIE, HAWAII

Height: 6-3
Weight: 175
Birthdate: Feb. 16, 1980
ANALYSIS
Benefitted from playing in Hawaii's run-and-shoot offense, which not only gives a receiver many chances to catch the ball, but also gives one the chance to learn how to adjust routes based on the defense. Is Hawaii's all-time leading receiver, and only got better as he grew throughout his college career, capping his time at UH by amassing 547 receiving yards in his last two games, against Air Force and then-unbeaten Brigham Young.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "He's more than we could handle, that's for sure. He's a true All-American and a great receiver. He can surprise you with his speed."
Air Force head coach Fisher DeBerry
"He has been showing phenomenal speed during his workouts leading up to the NFL combine. Coming off a spectacular junior season at Hawaii, Lelie is running under 4.3 (seconds) in the 40 while adding weight to his frame."
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN
MOMENTUM
With his times in the 40-yard dash and continual improvement throughout his college career, possesses a tremendous upside even though he's already demonstrated that he can post some prolific numbers. 

JOSH REED, LSU

Height: 5-11
Weight: 205
Birthdate: May 1, 1980
ANALYSIS
Earned All-America honors in 2001, and won the Biletnikoff Award, annually given to the nation's top college receiver, after hauling in 94 passes for 1,740 yards an average of 145.0 yards per game. He set 17 school records as his prolific numbers helped power LSU to their first SEC championship since the 1980s. Ended his career with 3,001 receiving yards, allowing him to become the first SEC receiver to break the 3,000-yard barrier.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "If he proves himself from a speed standpoint, then that's certainly going to enhance his position with more clubs."
LSU head coach Nick Saban
"For a former running back, Reed has incredible feet and runs excellent routes. He has a burst out of his break. He understands how to run routes and how to school a cornerback."
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN
MOMENTUM
He's below six feet and he's not the fastest receiver in the draft, but his overwhelming numbers, his sticky hands and his ability to shine in big games means that he'll be given some long looks by teams early in the draft.

DONTE STALLWORTH, TENNESSEE

Height: 6-1
Weight: 190
Birthdate: Nov. 10, 1980
ANALYSIS
An emerging deep threat who scored on nearly 25 percent of his catches during his junior season of 2001. Battled past a broken wrist suffered in the Volunteers' season-opening victory against Syracuse last fall to average 20.0 yards per catch, netting 821 yards on 41 receptions. Started only two games during the 1999 and 2000 seasons after redshirting in 1998, but still managed 58 catches for 926 yards in those two campaigns. 
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "He has the ability to take a short pass and make a big gain out of it."
Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer
"He needs to show more consistency; he dropped some catchable passes. However, Stallworth makes a ton of big plays. Although his speed is still unproven, Stallworth appears to have the necessary speed on the field. He showed he could get deep and make moves in the open field after the catch."
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN
MOMENTUM
Has proven that he can get downfield and make big plays, and do so for a school that has developed some outstanding receivers during the past decade. Since he was the team's No. 3 receiver during his freshman and sophomore years, his lack of vast starting experience doesn't hurt him. His quick return from a broken wrist also demonstrates that he's a quick healer; he missed no other games with injury during his time at UT.

MARQUISE WALKER, MICHIGAN

Height: 6-3
Weight: 212
Birthdate: Dec. 11, 1978
ANALYSIS
Steady, reliable, every-down receiver who gained 13.3 yards per catch as a senior at Michigan, hauling in 86 passes for 1,143 yards and 11 touchdowns. Unlike most of the other top receivers in this year's class, he is not known as a speed burner, but rather is the consistent type whose skills could be an asset in a timing and short-pass-based offense. Improved statistically in each of his years at UM.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "What he does is use his size, strength, great sense of timing and athletic ability to the maximum and plays with the toughness of a linebacker. He also is an excellent blocker who may be able to line up as an H-back in certain situations."
Joel Buschbaum, Pro Football Weekly
"He has ideal size. He is exactly what NFL teams want a big wideout who is competitive and has sure hands. The question is his speed. Can he separate from defenders?"
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN
MOMENTUM
He joined the Wolverines in the same recruiting class that brought in David Terrell, now with the Chicago Bears. With a good 40-yard-dash time, he could have something else in common with Terrell first-round draft pick status.
 
OTHER WIDE RECEIVERS
NAME COLLEGE HEIGHT WEIGHT
Atrews Bell Florida State 5-11 200
Deion Branch Louisville 5-10 185
Kelly Campbell Georgia Tech 5-11 170
Tim Carter Auburn 6-0 195
Nick Davis Wisconsin 5-10 180
Dedrick Dewalt Boston College 5-9 175
RJ English Pittsburgh 6-3 215
Guilian Gary Maryland 6-0 177
David Givens Notre Dame 6-3 215
Herb Haygood Michigan State 6-0 190
Kahlil Hill Iowa 6-3 185
Emmett Johnson Virginia Tech 6-3 205
Ron Johnson Minnesota 6-3 215
Daryl Jones Miami 5-10 190
Derrick Lewis San Diego State 6-2 185
Devin Lewis Southern 6-2 204
Aaron Lockett Kansas State 5-7 160
Lee Mays UTEP 6-3 190
Jason McAddley Alabama 6-2 194
Nakoa McElrath Washington State 6-2 185
Freddie Milons Alabama 5-11 185
Kendall Newson Middle Tennessee State 6-2 185
Donnie O'Neal Arizona State 6-2 185
Brian Poli-Dixon UCLA 6-5 210
Antwaan Randle-El Indiana 5-10 190
Pete Rebstock Colorado State 5-9 190
Cliff Russell Utah 5-11 177
John Stone Wake Forest 5-11 185
Lawrence Story Jackson State 6-4 205
T.C. Taylor Jackson State 6-4 224
Javon Walker Florida State 6-3 205
Rodney Wright Fresno State 5-9 175
....