Josh Norris

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Draft 2012: The Wide Receivers

Friday, April 20, 2012

4. Rueben Randle, LSU

Height/Weight: 6'3/210
College Experience: Third-year junior
Combine #s: 4.55 forty, 1.58 10-yd split, 15 x 225, 31" vertical, 10'1" broad jump, 4.36 ss
Style Comparison: Kenny Britt
2011 Stats: 53 - 917 (5.9) - 8 TDs
Draft Prediction: Texans, No. 26 overall.

Positives: For a receiver who experienced limited pass targets in a run-heavy college offense with consistently awful quarterback play, Randle's game is refreshingly refined. He stems routes to keep defensive backs off balance and slightly pushes off when breaking back to the ball. Sticking with vertical routes, Randle is comfortable hauling in bucket catches in full stride down the sideline. After the catch he flashes a running back's mentality, carrying the football high and tight while stutter stepping with open-field vision to evade tackles. Coming from the SEC, Randle is used to handling press coverage and beats it with an arm-over swim or gaining hand control with a subtle dip to release. The majority of Randle's targets came vertically against man coverage or inside the numbers versus zone. Randle's routes are strong, especially over the middle where he sits between linebackers and safeties, securing catches amid immediate contact.

Negatives: Randle needs to work back toward the quarterback when the ball is in the air, meeting it a few yards closer rather than waiting. For a high-volume vertical route runner, Randle must high point the ball better by sticking his foot in the ground and using length to make the contested catch. Randle is inconsistent when forced to hands-catch downfield routes in full stride, preferring the bucket method. Randle looks tentative on some routes, especially compared to his straight-line speed. It is difficult to tell whether this slower pace is for timing purposes or if Randle has yet to maximize his explosiveness in all parts of his game.

Outlook: The way that Randle uses his body against physical corners to create separation by leaning in, then quickly breaking off his route shows on-field maturity. There are flashes of veteran qualities in his game. In an offense where Randle will not have to deal with erratic ball placement or constant underthrows, he will be a reliable intermediate and downfield playmaker with toughness after the catch.

5. Marvin Jones, Cal

Height/Weight: 6'2/199
College Experience: Fourth-year senior
Combine #s: 4.46 forty, 1.51 10-yd split, 22 x 225, 33" vertical, 9'4" broad jump, 4.11 ss
Style Comparison: Chad Ochocinco
2011 Stats: 62 - 846 (13.6) - 3 TDs
Draft Prediction: Bengals, No. 53 overall.

Positives: Jones possesses the best body control in this receiver class. His game is outstanding in terms of exaggerated in-route movements and ability to adjust to balls in the air. Combining a strong get-off with plus burst, Jones beats press-man coverage with very good strength for his size. He offers little wasted movement beyond quick-twitch actions that throw off trailing defensive backs. These precise cuts coupled with Jones' reliable hands from all angles make it difficult to contain the Cal product. Another willing blocker, Jones is very aware of the defense around him and never loses concentration on the field.

Negatives: Jones was the third wheel in Cal's offense as a senior, operating as the second read behind top recruit Keenan Allen, whose half-brother started at quarterback. Despite excellent route running, Jones is not a true vertical, homerun threat in terms of straight-line separation speed. He rarely gains yards after catch, often getting tackled as soon as the reception is made. This may be partially due to the erratic accuracy of his college quarterback, but Jones lacks natural ball-carrier skills. At times it is tough to tell if his movements are explosive or just highly exaggerated, but either way he separates with them.

Outlook: A Senior Bowl standout, Jones seems destined for a better pro than college career. However, because so many of his actions are already so refined, I wonder about Jones' long-term ceiling. It can certainly be argued that Jones has maximized his physical talent. But Jones has a lot left to give when associated with an accurate passer with good timing that trusts his receivers to make plays on the football. There aren't many better than Jones in that category.

6. Joe Adams, Arkansas

Height/Weight: 5'11/179
College Experience: Fourth-year senior
Combine #s: 4.55 forty, 1.62 10-yd split, 36" vertical, 10'3" broad jump
Style Comparison: Antonio Brown
2011 Stats: 54 - 652 (12.1) - 3 TDs; 19 - 321 (8.2); 4 punt return TDs
Draft Prediction: Colts, No. 64 overall.

Positives/Negatives: A breakaway playmaker as a receiver and on special teams, Adams is comfortable inside the numbers. A fiery competitor who responds to big hits, Adams immediately turns upfield after the catch on crossing routes and is a burner. His breaks are incredibly fluid, disguising routes until he cuts in one step with plenty of burst. Though he projects to the slot in the NFL, Adams is experienced both inside and out. He will need to lower his stance off the line to limit the target-contact area for pressing cornerbacks. Adams tends to struggle when adjusting to throws behind him on crossers and occasionally does not run at top speed against zone coverage, throttling down to stay in soft areas. Adams' hands are not extraordinarily reliable, occasionally dropping catches or muffing punts that hit him in both hands. But don't let Adams' size fool you; he is unafraid to extend himself over the middle, especially on deep-in routes.

Outlook: Deceptively strong for his size, Adams may not be limited to the slot at the next level. At the very least, he will be a dynamic special teams returner. Adams' quick bursts to escape contact are an asset for quick-hitting plays, while his fearless attitude prevents Adams' route tree from being limited.

7. Brian Quick, Appalachian State

Height/Weight: 6'4/220
College Experience: Fifth-year senior
Combine #s: 4.55 forty, 1.63 10-yd split, 15 x 225, 34 " vertical, 9'11" broad jump, 4.23 ss
Style Comparison: Marques Colston
2011 Stats: 71 - 1,096 (15.4) - 11 TDs
Draft Prediction: Patriots, No. 62 overall.

Positives/Negatives: A long strider that excels at securing contested catches at their highest point, Quick is the next small-school product with big expectations. An ex-basketball recruit, many of those athletic traits translate to the football field. Quick needs to be more forceful at the top of his routes, when he should drive on defensive backs rather than letting up on the cutback. Quick gets low in his breaks for a big man, but there is always room for improvement in that area. Quick uses his body well for positioning, flashing outstanding high-point skills with tremendous length. Once he gets moving downfield, Quick is tough to stop with underrated straight-line speed, although these movements are not agile and he looks uncomfortable carrying the ball at times. Too often Quick body catches and he does not sustain blocks on the edge, but there is plenty to build from. His route tree and comfort will grow with experience and coaching.

Outlook: Like Colston, Quick can be an immediate slot mismatch, high pointing catches in traffic down the seam or on curls. Quick needs seasoning, and he left a sour taste during an underwhelming Senior Bowl performance, but there is a lot to like. As long as Quick does not get a deer-in-the-headlights mentality once reaching an NFL locker room, his growth will be fun to observe.

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Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for Rotoworld and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Josh Norris

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