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Weak crop of WR's


Ed. note—The following is the fourth installment in a nine-part series previewing the 2006 NFL draft. This installment features wide receiver prospects.

This is a good year not to need a wide receiver.

"It's one of the weakest receiver classes in a long time. There may only be 25 wide receivers worthy of drafting," draft analyst Tony Pauline said. The Jaguars, of course, spent first-round picks on wide receivers in each of the last two drafts and aren't likely to be looking in that direction again this year.

The first round of this year's draft could see only two wide receivers picked, Ohio State's Santonio Holmes and Florida's Chad Jackson.

Holmes, 5-10, 188, is a junior eligible who is smart, polished and productive. He separates from defenders, finds open spots and makes both big plays and little plays. Holmes didn't run at the combine but ran in the 4.3's in his pro day on a super-fast surface that could cause Holmes' 40 times to be discounted as misleading.

"He's not real big or real fast," Pauline said.

Jackson, 6-1, 213, is the exact opposite of Holmes. Jackson is a big, fast, physical specimen. He turned in a blazing 4.34 at the combine, which could cause Jackson to pass Holmes in the rankings as the draft nears.

Whereas Holmes is polished, Jackson is raw and undeveloped. Jackson, a junior, offers great upside, but he needs to mature, as the feeling is the Florida staff isn't all that sad to see him go.

Miami's Sinorice Moss, 5-8, 185, is the number three wide receiver prospect but isn't likely to be drafted until the second round. Moss, the little brother of Santana Moss, plays fast but is short, lacks experience and hasn't been all that productive. Moss opened eyes at the Senior Bowl, where he ran good routes and displayed reliable hands. He injured his thigh at the combine. Moss is unproven as a return man. Expect him to go early in the second round.

Maurice Stovall, 6-4, 217, came out of nowhere on the strength of a great senior season at Notre Dame. Stovall makes up for a lack of speed by outmuscling defenders with his size. All of his skills are improving. He's a top blocker and appears to be a classic "West Coast offense" run-after-the-catch receiver. He is not a deep threat, which will drop him into the middle of round two.

Demetrius Williams, 6-1, 197, of Oregon is a developing guy who took off as a senior. He's run a 4.55 but plays faster. Williams is a thin receiver who makes acrobatic catches and would be an interesting selection late in the second round.

Greg Jennings, 5-11, 197, could turn out to be one of the steals of the draft. At Western Michigan last season, Jennings caught 98 passes for 1,259 yards and 14 touchdowns. How's that for production? He runs in the high 4.4's but he's not a downfield threat and must interest teams looking for an intermediate/possession receiver. He's polished and ready to go. The top of the third round is likely to be his spot.

Oklahoma's Travis Wilson, 6-2, 214, has excellent size and natural receiving skills. An ankle injury set him back last year and dropped his draft stock. He had a good Senior Bowl and ran in the 4.5's at the combine. He could be a steal, too, in the third round.

Mike Hass, 6-0, 208, of Oregon State is a complete and productive wide receiver. He's not real big or fast but has been a go-to guy with several quarterbacks and has always gotten it done. Hass is a walk-on, self-made player. Third round for Hass, too.

Derek Hagen, 6-1, 208, of Arizona State flashes skills and dominance, then drops passes and disappears. He was projected to be a first-round pick but fell off with a disappointing senior season and a bad Senior Bowl. He's run a 4.47 and could go in the third round.

San Diego State's Jeff Webb, 6-2, 211, is productive and has shown flashes of greatness. He's a big talker who doesn't always deliver, however, and needs to become more consistent. He's run in the low 4.4's but doesn't always play up to his size and speed.

Brandon Williams and Jonathan Orr of Wisconsin and Willie Reid of Florida State are other wide receivers of note.

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