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Johnson best in 15 years

5902.jpg previews the 2007 NFL draft in an eight-part series. Part III features the wide receivers and tight ends.

Draft analyst Tony Pauline says Calvin Johnson (pictured) is the best wide receiver prospect to enter the NFL draft in the last 15 years. Johnson is likely to be one of the first two players selected in this year's draft, which offers a respectable crop of wide receivers and a limited group of tight ends.

"He's the complete package; tremendous pass-catcher, smart player, mature person,"'s Pauline said of Johnson, 6-5, 230, from Georgia Tech.

Johnson runs a 4.4 but is more of a long, loping runner instead of quick and explosive. If there's a knock on him, it's the only knock. Johnson is considered to be a can't-miss/no-risk prospect.

Ohio State's Ted Ginn, 5-11, 180, is the opposite. Ginn sustained a foot injury in the national championship game and hasn't run for scouts. He's a speed receiver who has run a 4.3 40 and you see evidence of his speed on tape, but a team drafting Ginn could find itself gambling on his recovery. The injury could cause him to slide into the second half of the first round

"Anywhere from 12 to 20," Pauline said of Ginn's draft forecast. "Defensive backs move back because of his speed. He's a game-breaking threat every time he touches the ball."

Ginn returns kicks and punts. If he gets into the open field, he's gone. The knocks on him are that he's a marginal route-runner and he may not be an over-the-middle receiver.

The rap on USC's Dwayne Jarrett, 6-4, 219, is that he can't get off the jam. Pauline disputes that assertion.

"I think he can get off press coverage. Yeah, but can he run away from coverage? I don't think he can," Pauline said.

Jarrett was very productive at USC, especially after having drawn the ire of his offensive coordinator. Jarrett hasn't run for scouts, yet, but he's expected to be in the 4.55 range, which would make him a Keyshawn Johnson-type possession receiver. Pauline expects Jarrett to go in the middle of round one.

LSU's Dwayne Bowe, 6-2, 220, underwent eye surgery to improve his vision last summer and responded by reducing his drops and emerging as one of the top prospects in this draft. Bowe is a top pass-catcher with possession-receiver skills and speed (4.55).

"Throw him the ball in the red zone," Pauline said.

Bowe is a middle to late-first round prospect.

Robert Meachem, 6-2, 214, of Tennessee is a big-play receiver with 4.39 speed. He's shown flashes of greatness but inconsistency could cause him to last until late into the first round. Meachem represents significant upside and downside risk.

South Carolina's Sidney Rice, 6-3, 200, is a fluid, natural pass-catcher who has soft hands and makes tough grabs. Despite his 4.45 combine speed, Rice doesn't play to that speed and is not a true downfield threat. He's an early-second round prospect.

Craig Davis, 6-1, 207, of LSU runs a 4.4 and shows the ability to get open deep. Davis has a thin build, however, and needs to add bulk. He returns punts and figures to be drafted in the middle of round two.

Washington State's Jason Hill, 6-0, 204, went into last season as the top-ranked senior wide receiver following a dominant junior year. A bad senior season, however, will drop Hill's stock into the second round.

As a junior, Hill was a complete-game receiver with 4.35 speed. He could be a steal in round two.

Ohio State's Anthony Gonzalez, 6-0, 193, is the other receiver. Gonzalez is well-rounded and a good person with a solid work ethic. His production was overshadowed by Ginn's big-play ability, however, and Gonzalez could be a steal late in the second round. He ran a 4.4 at the combine.

UTEP's Johnnie Lee Higgins, 5-11, 184, is another "steal" prospect. Higgins is a do-it-all receiver and returner with good hands and body control. He ran a 4.48 at the combine and that could drop his stock late into the second round.

Miami's Greg Olsen, 6-4, 250, is the top tight end prospect and the only tight end projected for the first round. Olsen is a gifted athlete whose performance doesn't always equal his skill level. He's been a bit of an enigma. Olsen had a great combine, including a 4.5 40, but he drops balls and is a marginal blocker. Some team will be tempted to believe he can be the next Jeremy Shockey.

Arizona State's Zack Miller, 6-4, 260, is a top pass-catcher who makes plays downfield. Miller runs a 4.7 and is an adequate blocker.

Scott Chandler, 6-6, 258, of Iowa is a solid player who makes catches on third down and in the red zone. He runs a 4.75 and offers upside in the passing game, but his blocking skills are poor.

Delaware's Ben Patrick, 6-3, 268, is a solid pass-catcher Pauline describes as a "move tight end." Patrick is best when used in motion. He's a third-round prospect.

Martrez Milner, 6-4, 252, of Georgia is a very good athlete who has shown flashes as a blocker and as a pass-catcher. He'll go in the fourth or fifth round.

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