Last week we took an early peek at some of the OLB prospects for the Patriots in 2011. This time around, we're switching to the other side of the ball and looking at our top five wideouts.
A.J. Green, Georgia
Green is the near-consensus top receiver in this loaded 2011 class among NFL Draft experts. His size, speed, and hands are all at elite levels, while what makes him really great is the fact that he just plays football really well.
Graceful yet powerful, Green will be a nightmare to cover in the NFL, but may also be a nightmare for anyone picking outside the top 10 to try and draft. He should be gone within the first five picks.
Julio Jones, Alabama
Jones burst onto the scene with an impressive freshman season that showcased his raw physicality, leaping ability, and great YAC ability. However, his sophomore season showed that his hands, preparation, and route-running needed some work.
Having cleaned up his game mightily, Jones is ready to parlay a very strong 2nd half of his junior year into a top 20 pick. His vertical ability, while still being able work the middle, should be attractive to teams looking to stretch the field.
If the Patriots feel that Nick Saban can recommend Jones as an NFL ready player, they may be in a sweet-spot to draft him in the middle of the first round.
Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
We'll admit that we are higher on Floyd than most other draft analysts, who have Floyd rated as a late 2nd or 3rd round prospect, while we currently have Floyd being drafted by the Patriots with the #33rd overall pick.
We feel that Floyd's hands, size, and experience in multiple offensive schemes would be assets in a Patriots system that values consistency, precision, and the ability create separation.
If Floyd falls into their laps, be ready for the Patriots to pounce on a guy who could be a David Givens-plus type receiver.
Jonathan Baldwin, Pittsburgh
If you are really wanting to replace a Randy Moss, this is the closest that you are going to get. Baldwin is a jump-ball receiver that has some speed that is going to impress at the combine and his pro-day.
That said, Baldwin hasn't yet learned to effectively use his speed to his full benefit. He will at times struggle to separate from corners, although he is very adept at fighting them off for the ball.
Baldwin is a receiver that will probably be gone before the 2nd Round rolls around, so if the Patriots want to grab Baldwin, they can't wait too long.
Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
Broyles is arguably the most polished receiver in all of college football, although he doesn't always get the publicity.
He runs sharp routes, catches the ball well, and demonstrates the ability to read defenses. He has the chance to build the sort of chemistry with a quarterback that a Tom Brady and Deion Branch have.
Broyles doesn't differ greatly from what 2010 NFL Draft pick Taylor Price would presumably bring to the table, so there might be a roster conflict if the Patriots went in this direction.
Bonus: Leonard Hankerson, Miami / Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
James Christensen's scouting updates will appear here on PatriotsInsider.com throughout the year. James is the publisher of NEPatriotsDraft.com, an independent website dedicated to covering the NFL Draft and college prospects with professional potential.