(SportsNetwork.com) – The 2014 draft class at wide receiver was supposed
to be a once-in-a-generation group.
Odell Beckham Jr., Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin and Co. were
quickly shaping up as the quarterback class of ’83 for their particular
Except that legendary ’83 group of signal callers, led by John Elway, Jim
Kelly and Dan Marino, never really had a sequel. On the other hand, the ’14 WR
class could end up being the football version of the blockbuster Fast &
Furious 6, which was recently followed by Furious 7, the film with the biggest
April opening in Hollywood history.
Three of last year’s WR class — OBJ, Evans and Benjamin — topped 1,000 yards
in their freshman NFL campaigns, while Watkins would have if he was
complemented by more competent QB play. And don’t sleep on Jordan Matthews,
who was one of the more productive slot receivers in the game a season ago and
is now the most talented incumbent on Philadelphia’s roster after Jeremy
Maclin took his talents back to the Show Me State.
It’s almost ludicrous to expect another set of receivers to duplicate what the
’14 class did but at least some scouts are predicting it.
This time around Alabama’s Amari Cooper and West Virginia’s Kevin White are at
the top of the food chain with plenty of others nipping at their heels like
speedsters Breshad Perriman of Central Florida and Phillip Dorsett of Miami,
along with rangy threats like Lousiville’s DeVante Parker and Arizona State’s
“We’re all confident,” White said of the ’15 WR draft class. “We always talk
about (the ’14 group). There’s not doubt in our minds that we can do the same
thing as last year’s draft class.”
Cooper is regarded as the most polished product in this year’s bunch but the
6-foot-3 White has surpassed the Crimson Tide star on a lot of big boards
because of his upside.
“(We’re) both good receivers,” White said of himself and Cooper. “He’s a great
receiver. We catch the ball well. Get YAC yards well. We compete at a high
level. A lot of comparisons. A lot that we do different.”
White went the junior college route at first, playing two seasons at
Lackawanna College before transferring to WVU, where he caught 35 passes for
507 yards and five touchdowns in ’13 before exploding last year.
“(It was) very difficult,” White said when asked about junior college. “What I
learned is that hard work definitely pays off. A lot of guys there had great
talent and should have definitely been Division I, but they didn’t work hard,
so they didn’t make it up.”
White burst onto the national radar while dueling with Cooper and Alabama,
catching nine balls for 143 yards and a touchdown against the mighty SEC
powerhouse in the season opener. He kept climbing from there, reaching the
century mark in seven straight games and finishing the year with some gaudy
numbers, 109 catches for 1,447 yards and 10 TDs.
“Motivation,” White said when asked about his improvement from his junior to
senior years. “My junior year I put bad film out there. That’s not the kind of
receiver, the kind of player I am. Going into my senior year, I just put
everything on the line and (did) what I had to do.”
As impressive as that production looks, though, it was dwarfed by White’s
athleticism at the scouting combine in February where the New Jersey native
did his best Randy Moss impression, running a scary-fast 4.35 with a frame
that enables him to win just about any 50-50 battle with cornerbacks not named
“I think I put a lot of fear in defensive backs just because I block so well
and when I come off the line I’m quicker than they expect,” he said. “By the
time they realize it, it’s already a done deal.”
White invites the comparisons to Moss, perhaps the most physically gifted WR
who ever lived.
“The way he attacks the ball in the air. He’s a competitor,” White said of the
future Hall of Famer. “He can stretch the field, beating double coverage,
The lone knock on White to this point is a strength of Cooper’s — route
That’s something that can be taught, however, and if White develops the work
ethic of a Marvin Harrison, Larry Fitzgerald or Antonio Brown, his ceiling
will separate him from just about anyone in any draft class.
“Like I’ve been telling teams. It finally clicked,” White said. “I’m going to
do what I have to do. I’m going to work hard and do anything and everything
possible that I can.”
So who gets there name called first on April 30, Cooper or White?
“I don’t feel that any receiver can do what I can do,” White said, stating his
case. “Whether it’s blocking, creating space, taking a tunnel screen to the
house. I do it all. Don’t feel like (other) guys can do what I can do. Not
saying that to be cocky, just confident. I feel like I’m one of a kind.”
The Sports Network’s top 10 wide receivers:
1. – Kevin White, West Virginia
2. – Amari Cooper, Alabama
3. – DeVante Parker, Louisville
4. – Breshad Perriman, Central Florida
5. – Jaelen Strong, Arizona State
6. – Dorial Green-Beckham, Oklahoma
7. – Phillip Dorsett, Miami-Florida
8. – Sammie Coates, Auburn
9. – Nelson Agholor, Southern California
10. – Tyler Lockett, Kansas State