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Athlon previews the 2013 NFL Draft by telling you who to watch this college football season.
It is never too early to begin looking ahead to next year's NFL Draft. Each year a unique set of prospects enters the professional ranks with a chance to make an immediate impact on the country's most powerful sport. The 2013 NFL Draft won’t be any different.
Today, we rank college football's best wide receivers prospects:
1. Keenan Allen, Cal (6-3, 210, Jr.)
The Greensboro, N.C., native is a freak athlete. He has elite size, elite speed, elite jumping ability and elite after-the-catch skills. He is good on the outside stretching the field vertically. He is good over the middle in traffic. And he can be used in the return game as well as in the running game. He is a complete player who has produced big numbers at Cal despite the wildly inconsistent and sub-par quarterback play. He is a superior athlete in a conference loaded with big-time playmakers at wide receiver. Comparison: Andre Johnson
2. Justin Hunter, Tennessee (6-4, 200, Jr.)
The bio on Hunter is well known. He was a big-time recruit out of the talent-rich Virginia Beach area. He posted a big freshman year and was dominating opponents until a torn ACL in Week 3 against Florida ruined his sophomore year. He has an NFL-ready frame (think A.J. Green) that is long and rangy. He has tremendous straight line speed but scouts will wonder if his explosiveness in the short spaces has returned after the injury. Look for Hunter to post a big second half to the season and supplant himself as a lock first-round pick in 2013. Comparison: A.J. Green
3. Robert Woods, USC (6-1, 190, Jr.)
Woods was the Athlon Sports High School Senior of the Year at Junipero Serra High School in SoCal. All he did in his first two seasons was set the single-season Pac-12 record for receptions with 111 in 2011. Since then, he has passed Dwayne Jarrett as the all-time leader in catches at USC and set a school record with four TD catches against Colorado this fall. He is an electric athlete with elite speed who can be used in all phases of the passing game and could be a major contributor on special teams as well (1,364 kick return yards in 2010-2011). He has tremendous hands, fluid route-running skills and is dynamic with the ball in his hands after the catch. The only knock on Woods is his lack of elite size. Comparison: Greg Jennings
4. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee (6-3, 205, Jr.)
The fast riser has proven in short order at Tennessee that he is a freakish athlete with loads of big play potential. He has been used in the rushing game with great effectiveness and has been a special teams dynamo as well. He has prototypical size and speed for the next level and will wow scouts with his raw athleticism. However, he had to go the junior college route for a reason and still has a long ways to go to refine his overall skills as a wide receiver. He has one major season of college football under his belt, but his athletic ability is painfully obvious on Saturdays. He is a project but will pay dividends quick enough. Comparison: Demaryius Thomas
5. Tavon Austin, West Virginia (5-9, 180, Sr.)
Speedy, fluid, explosive, versatile, agile. These are the things a team will get in the massively productive WVU wideout. He is very undersized but makes up for it with toughness and the ability to contribute to all aspects of an offense. He can run the ball, is right at home in the slot, will return kicks and punts and does it as one of the better leaders in the huddle. He will get knocked for his size come draft day, but in the modern NFL era where speed in space kills, Austin is the best in this class. Comparison: Percy Harvin
6. Terrance Williams, Baylor (6-2, 205, Sr.)
This Waco product has had the benefit of playing with elite quarterbacks and fellow wide receivers, but has been productive on his own as well. He has a great frame with excellent size and strength. He has the awesome straight line speed that makes him a tremendous deep threat. When it comes to short space agility or burst, however, he will not be as rated as highly as some of the more dynamic players in this class. He is a well-rounded, quality football player who will be a factor on Sundays. Comparison: Hakeem Nicks
7. DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson (6-1, 200, Jr.)
Teammate Sammy Watkins is the better overall player but Hopkins has been remarkable while Watkins has been out the last two seasons. He has broken multiple Clemson and ACC receiving records in 2012 and has the overall size and talent to be a big-time producer on Sundays. He may not be elite at any one thing, but he does everything an NFL wideout needs to do well. Comparison: Torrey Smith
8. Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech (6-1, 195, Sr.)
Potential first-round pick Johnathan Banks from Mississippi State had to cover Patton in 2011 and has stated he was the best receiver he ever faced. The former junior college transfer has had two massive seasons for the Bulldogs. He has adequate size, tremendous heart and excellent speed and agility. Certainly, his level of competition isn’t ideal in the WAC, but Patton has proven he belongs on the next level with huge games — try 21 receptions for 233 yards and four touchdowns against Texas A&M in October. Comparison: Mike Wallace
9. Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas (6-2, 210, Sr.)
The Hogs wideout has prototypical NFL size and strength. He was overshadowed by a trio of NFL wideouts who got drafted in the 2012 draft but a 303-yard performance against Rutgers this fall proved he is deserving of his lofty draft stock. He has all the tools needed to be a solid No. 2 wideout on the next level. Comparison: Miles Austin
10. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt (6-3, 200, Jr.)
Matthews will fly under the radar because of the program he plays at and because his quarterback has struggled at times. Yet, Vandy is building quite the reputation for producing dependable athletes and Matthews is the next in line. He has a long frame and will need to add strength and speed to get down the field. He isn’t a freakish athlete but has been facing the best defenses in the nation and has posted big numbers. Comparison: Malcolm Floyd
11. Marquess Wilson, Washington State (6-3, 190, Jr.)
Great size and huge production. Needs to prove he can stay focused and committed.
12. Stedman Bailey, West Virginia (5-11, 195, Jr.)
Extremely productive, slightly bigger version of Austin. Not elite size or speed.
13. Da’Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech (6-3, 210, Jr.)
Tremendous physical tools that scream first round. Total head case that screams Charles Rogers.
14. Aaron Dobson, Marshall (6-2, 205, Sr.)
Brings excellent size and red zone ability. Overall production, level of competition aren’t elite.
15. Aaron Mellette, Elon (6-4, 215, Sr.)
Tremendous size and speed with elite levels of production (39 TDs to date).
16. Kenny Stills, Oklahoma (6-0, 190, Jr.)
Loads of ability but never seems to deliver on potential. NFL legacy should be solid on Sundays.
17. Denard Robinson, Michigan (5-11, 195, Sr.)
Dynamic converted QB with elite speed, agility and versatility.
18. Marcus Davis, Virginia Tech (6-4, 230, Sr.)
Freakish size and speed combination, but never really delivered on potential in Blacksburg.
19. Ryan Swope, Texas A&M (6-0, 205, Sr.)
Not overly talented, but gritty, tough, productive and dependable.
20. Chad Bumphis, Mississippi State (5-10, 200, Sr.)
Harvin-type speedster who is best around the line of scrimmage and on special teams.
Other names to watch:
Josh Boyce, TCU (5-11, 205, Jr.)
Markus Wheaton, Oregon State (6-0, 185, Sr.)
Rodney Smith, Florida State (6-5, 215, Sr.)
Dan Buckner, Arizona (6-4, 215, Sr.)
Chris Harper, Kansas State (6-1, 230, Sr.)
Emory Blake, Auburn (6-1, 195, Sr.)
DeVonte Christopher, Utah (6-1, 200, Sr.)
Marquise Goodwin, Texas (5-10, 180, Sr.)
Tavarres King, Georgia (6-1, 200, Sr.)
Conner Vernon, Duke (6-2, 195, Sr.)
- by Braden Gall
Related NFL Draft Rankings By Position:
2013 NFL Draft: Running Backs
2013 NFL Draft: Tight Ends
2013 NFL Draft: Safeties
2013 NFL Draft: Defensive Tackles
2013 NFL Draft: Wide Receivers
2013 NFL Draft: Offensive Tackles
2013 NFL Draft: Inside Linebackers