Dec 27, 2014; El Paso, TX, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils wide receiver Jaelen Strong (21) celebrates after defeating the Duke Blue Devils in the 2014 Sun Bowl at Sun Bowl Stadium. The Sun Devils defeated the Blue Devils 36-31. Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Mayock certainly likes this year’s group of receivers. So too do Ravens fan, if Twitter is any indication. No doubt Ozzie Newsome and company will be paying close attention as the receivers take the field at the 2015 NFL Combine. So let’s take a look at who the fans should keep an eye on.
DeVante Parker, Louisville
Arguably the best jump-ball threat in this entire draft class is DeVante Parker, the 6’3″ hyper-talented receiver from Louisville. Parker posted some truly eye-popping stats in 2014, going for 855 yards in just six games. That’s Odell Beckham level production right there.
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Parker did it not by getting open, but by making contest catches on a consistent basis. In fact, Parker’s biggest weakness at this point is his speed and ability to get open. To be frank, he doesn’t have much of either at this point, though he was healing from an injury in 2014.
Though there is a 99-percent chance Parker is not on the board when the Ravens pick, he is still worth watching for his amazing talent. Besides, maybe he’ll tank in the 40 and fall to the Ravens. Crazier things have happened.
Devin Funchess, Michigan
The massive Devin Funchess looks like Tarzan, but he plays more like Marlon Brown, another big receiver who doesn’t win jump ball battles as often as one would expect. Also like Brown, Funchess is surprisingly athletic for his size and runs surprisingly good routes.
There are questions about Funchess’ speed, as he was a tight end earlier in his career. He will look to answer those at the combine. A good vertical could also go a long way in proving Funchess can be the jump ball threat he should be.
Jaelen Strong, Arizona State
Yet another big receiver, Jaelen Strong is more like Funchess than Parker in that he wasn’t as aggressive with the ball in the air as one would like. Also like Funchess, there are questions about Strong’s speed and quickness. He probably won’t blaze a fast forty, but good performances in the three-cone drill and shuttles could still help boost his stock quite a bit, as it will show he can change direction well enough to be a good route runner.
Breshad Perriman, University of Central Florida
A virtual unknown for much of the draft process to this point, Breshad Perriman has become a guy to watch after Mike Mayock’s conference call. A big physical specimen, Perriman has all the physical tools teams covet. What he may not have is the technical skills, which makes the on-field drills portion extremely important for Perriman.
Phillip Dorsett, Miami
This dude can fly. There is legitimate hype that Phillip Dorsett could set the combine record in the 40-yard dash. That alone makes him worth watching. His long speed could make Dorsett attractive to the Ravens as well.
Devin Smith, Ohio State
Like Dorsett, Devin Smith can flat-out fly. Also noteworthy is Smith’s ability to track the ball in the air, which makes him the best deep threat in this entire draft. That skill could garner Smith first-round consideration, even though the rest of his game is lacking.
Other names to watch: Jamison Crowder, Sammie Coates, Ty Lockett, Stefon Diggs, many others