2014 NFL Combine Preview: First Round Wide Receivers to Watch

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Jan 6, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (1) catches a touchdown pass over Auburn Tigers cornerback Chris Davis (11) during the second half of the 2014 BCS National Championship game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

We are less than two weeks away from the NFL combine, which means we are getting closer and closer to figuring out who the Kansas City Chiefs are going to select in the 2014 draft. For the next few days we are going to take a look at some of the guys who could play in to the Chiefs draft thoughts and therefore, should have your attention at the combine.

It is not out of the question the Chiefs will draft two wide receivers in the draft: one in the first round and another late in the draft. As a result, we’ll break the wide receivers into two parts to help cover all the bases.

In this post we’ll look at the five receivers most likely to be available to the Chiefs with 23rd overall pick. All of these guys would be worth it to the Chiefs, but some of them have more question marks than others, especially when it comes to how they fit in the offense. The combine is going to help us figure out which receivers are better fits than others.

Who are the guys to watch and what should we be watching for? Let’s find out.

1. Kelvin Benjamin

School: Florida State
Watch to Watch: Route Tree, The Guantlet
2013 Stats: 54 catches, 1,011 yards, 18.7 ypc, 15 touchdowns
Met with Chiefs: No

Benjamin is the best red zone receiving threat in the draft. Or at least he has the potential to be. We anticipate Benjamin is going to show up and be an athletic freak. He’s going measure around 6-5, run a 4.4 or 4.5 40-yard dash, show upper-body strength, and display good body control. All of these things, athletically, are important when it comes to being a future number one receiver in an offense.

All of those things also bode well for red zone offense. Think about it: Part of the reason the Chiefs are looking for big cornerbacks is because there simply are not very many of them out there. If there are not many out there then there are not going to be many corners who will be able to matchup well with Benjamin in the red zone. His size and reach are almost unguardable.

But being “big” doesn’t equal success. Look no further than one Jon Baldwin for evidence. Even at 6-5, a receiver cannot just anticipate running a bunch of go routes and jumping out of the stadium to catch the ball. Whether the cornerbacks are undersized or not, this is the NFL and they will find a way to stop you. So route running is going to be a huge deal for Benjamin.

The questions surrounding Benjamin – outside of work ethic – involve his hands and his route running abilities. Both “The Gauntlet” and the route running tree will give us a good indication about how well he picks up the ball, how well he catches the ball with his hands, and what he needs to work on as a route runner. He doesn’t need to be perfect when it comes to route running, but there has to be some indication that he understands the basics what he is supposed to do.

Part of the reason why Benjamin, and several – if not all – of the guys on this list are going to be first or second round draft picks is because they are physical freaks. You cannot teach speed and quickness. What is left to figure out is how far away these five are from being technically sound football players. If Benjamin can prove he has the hands and the beginnings of quality route running then his upside will be really hard to ignore for the Chiefs.

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  • berttheclock

    Brandon Cook is more akin to one Steve Smith.

    Steve Smith is only five nine, ran a 4.39 40 and a 7.44 cone at his Combine. His NFL stats are 82 games, 836 receptions for 12,197 yards, average of 14.6 yards per catch with 67 TDs, one of which was 80 long and he has rushed 57 times for 387 yards and 2 TDs. Oh, BTW, the last time he faced the Chiefs he caught 5 passes out of nine targets for 120 yards and a TD. Yes, indeed, size means “everything” in the NFL.

    If “Alfie” is tall, but, can’t get open in the NFL, then, it really becomes “What’s it all about, Alfie?”

    My only fear is Cook is going to have very fast times in the Combine and will rise far above Number 23.

    • berttheclock

      Speaking of cone drill times, there is another player on the sights of scouts for the Combine. Supposedly, the little known LB from South Dakota, Tyler Starr, has had a couple of 6.29 times while training in Tennessee for the Combine. He had a huge game against KU, but, then again, who hasn’t? He could be a find for some NFL team wanting a LB with pass rushing skills.

  • Brandon

    What about mike Evans from Texas a&m he is a beast and finds a way to get open when the play called breaks down just ask Johnny football

    • berttheclock

      He is the favorite pick by Merlin, but, he will be long gone before 23.

  • Stacy D. Smith

    A lot of coaches hate the gauntlet and wonder if it really tells you anything about a receiver. I’ll definitely be watching how he runs routes though.

    • berttheclock

      Some wide outs are so good at dropping the balls in the gauntlet drill, they continue that practice into their NFL careers, eh?

  • Billie Cabral

    I noticed none of these guys met with the Chiefs and if I recall correctly most of Dorsey’s early round drafted players they met. So this makes me think they aren’t planning on drafting a WR early and will make a run at a WR in free agency. I’m thinking Maclin because it just makes so much sense on so many levels, granted that he is healthy, but then again so did trading for Tony G last year and we all now how that went down!

    • Ben Nielsen

      Some of these kids are underclassmen so the combine will be the Chiefs first chance to meet with them. Also, I only went with reports I trusted, so it is possible some of these players have met with the Chiefs but a credible report isn’t out there.