Wide receiver is not expected to be a priority for the Falcons next off-season, but several mid-round prospects may be one the Falcon's radar, and for those Falcoholics who are also college football fans, here are a few names to remember in the Fall.
1. Dorial Green-Beckham, 6’6/225: Dismissed from Missouri. Character concerns, and questions about lack of dominance despite "megatron-like" ability. #1 HS football prospect in nation, and state sprint champ. Character concerns matter more at QB than WR, where "diva" personalities are the norm.
2. Amari Cooper Alabama: caught 59 passes for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns as a freshman, then saw his numbers slip to 45 receptions, 736 yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore. An injury to his foot was to blame. At Alabama’s pro day earlier this month, he ran the 40-yard dash for scouts and came in 4.31 seconds.
3. Devin Funchess At 6-5 and 230 pounds, Funchess started at tight end his first two seasons, but a full-time move to WR is expected. He finished second on the team in receptions (49), receiving yards (748) and touchdowns (6). Size and speed combo approximates Kelvin Benjamin. Like Benjamin, Funchess shows inconsistent hands.
4. Deontay Greenberry, Houston 6’3/198: Five-star recruit. Houston’s leading receiver as a true Sophomore with 82 receptions for 1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns
5. Jaelen Strong, Arizona State: 6’4/205 R-Jr. red-shirted in 2011, Pierce College in 2012, then had a great first year as a Sun Devil recording 75 receptions for 1,122 yards and seven touchdowns, highlighted by his 12-catch performance against Stanford in Strong's third ever FBS game.
6. Stefon Diggs, Maryland 6'0195 Jr: ACC fans already know, and the Big 10 is about to find out, but Stefon Diggs has the best run-after-catch skills in college football.
Assuming he returns to full strength (and speed) after he broke his right leg in a game against Wake Forest on Oct. 19, he should be a first round pick in the 2015 NFL draft.
Diggs had 34 receptions for 587 yards (17.3 yards per catch) and three TDs in seven games in 2013. As a true freshman in 2012, he had 54 receptions for 848 yards (15.7 yards per catch) and six scores. He is also dangerous on jet sweeps, and as a return man; he returned two kickoffs for TDs in 2012.
7. Nelson Agholor, USC 6'0/185 Jr: Agholor averaged 19.1 yards per kickoff return (second nationally) with two touchdowns, while also catching 56 passes for 918 yards and six scores. With Marqise Lee gone, it’s Agholor’s turn to move into the No. 1 role in USC’s passing attack.
Born in Nigeria, Agholor had only 14 career receptions as a HS RB.
8. DeVante Parker, Louisville 6’3/209 Sr: Led team as Soph with 744 yards receiving and 10 touchdown receptions, then last season had 55 catches for 885 yds and 12 TD. rumored to have ran a 4.34 40 time during the spring, but on tape, look more like 4.5. Loss of Bridgewater and transition from Strong to Petrino may hurt.
9. Quinshad Davis 6’4/205: After catching 61 passes (for 776 yards) as a freshman in 2012, Davis’ numbers slipped to 48 receptions (724 yards) in 2013, but improved his yards per reception to 15.2 yards per catch, with 10 TDs.
10. Sammie Coats, Auburn: 6’2/210 R-Jr:: Big-play threat. Marshall quickly made a successful transition from junior college quarterback to a starting WR, catching 42 passes for 902 yards and seven scores. He also averaged a whopping 21.5 yards per catch (third in nation), and averaged 54.1 yards per touchdown catch.
11. Ty Montgomery, Stanford 6’2/215 Sr: 2nd nationally with 30.3 kickoff return yards/gm. Adding 61 catches for 958 yards. Strong, but not quick-twitched, has "build-up" speed.
12. Kasen Williams, Washington: Former Parade Magazine HS player of the year. elite jumping ability (HS state champ in long jump, triple jump and high jump), but average speed. Suffered a fracture in his lower left leg last season, had just 29 catches for 321 yards and one touchdown before getting injured. Coaching change, major losses at surrounding skill positions add further questions.
13. DaVaris Daniels, Notre Dame 6’1/203 Sr: Academically ineligible, out for spring. Broken collarbone in 2012. Height/weight/speed guy. Son of former NFL DE Phillip Daniels.
14. Antwan Goodley, Baylor: finished with 1,339 receiving yards last season. Listed at 5’10/225. Given his RB-like frame, scouts may question his fit into their teams’ offense.
15. Rashad Greene, FSU 6’0/178 Sr: FSU’s most productive WR each of the past three seasons. 171 career receptions, 2465 receiving yards. Small frame, quicker than fast?
16. Austin Hill, Arizona: 6’3/210 5th-yr Sr: Missed all 2013 with ACL. In 2012, as a sophomore, Hill caught 81 passes for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns.
17. Quenton Bundrage, Iowa State 6’2/191 R-Jr: Bundrage was Iowa State’s leading receiver in 2014, catching 48 passes for 676 yards and nine scores.
18. Tyler Lockett, Kansas State Sr: 5’11/175 Sr: quick all-purpose player who is a dynamic kick returner and caught 81 for 1262 yards and 11 TDs last season.
19. Deon Long, Maryland 6’0/195 Sr: Broke tibia and fibula right leg. injured in 7th game of season. 32 receptions, 489 yds, 1 TD (against Florida International)
Long started his college career at West Virginia but never played for the Mountaineers. He transferred to New Mexico, where he caught 47 passes for 809 yards and four touchdowns as a redshirt freshman in 2011.
Played 2012 at Iowa Western earning first-team All-America honors while leading the NJCAA in receptions (100), receiving yards (1,625) and touchdowns (25).
20. Justin Hardy, East Carolina 6’0/188 5th-yr Sr: Underrated, QB Shane Carden returns after Hardy caught 114 passes for 1284 yards last season.
21. Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma: With Jalen Saunders departing, Shepard is slated to become the new go-to target for sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight. Shepard played in 13 games in 2012 and caught 45 passes. As a sophomore in 2013, he started 12 games and grabbed 51 receptions for 603 yards and seven scores.
22 Daje Johnson, Texas 5’10/180 Jr: Elite quickness/speed. Multi-purpose threat could breakout under new coaching staff. Will NFL scouts see him as the next Tavon Austin (8th pick overall) or /De’Anthony Thomas (#124)?
There have been flashes of brilliance, where Johnson has at times been an elite playmaker in the slot who can trick defenses on sweep and reverses, beat them deep on fly routes and dance around them on returns.
There have also been immature setbacks, with three one-game suspensions in two years, including the Valero Alamo Bowl in December.
23. Malcolm Mitchell, WR, Georgia: Suffered a torn ACL in the first quarter of Georgia’s opening game last season, missing the rest of the year.
At 6’1/190, Mitchell was a third-team Freshman All-American after making nine starts at wide receiver back in 2011.
The following season, Mitchell was asked to move to cornerback, at least in-part due to suspensions handed to CB Sanders Commings, and FS Bacari Rambo, where he has 12 tackles and three pass-breakups. Despite that, he still finished with 40 catches, for 572 yards in his Sophomore season.
24. Malcome Kennedy, Texas A&M 6’0/205 fifth-yr Senior: Hauled in 60 passes for 658 yards as a starter last season. What will the Aggies’ offense look like in 2014?
25. Jarrod West, Syracuse 6’2/203 5th-yr Sr: Finished the season third on the team in receptions, but arrow appears to be pointing north.
26. Levi Norwood, Baylor 6’1/195 fifth-yr Senior: The Bears should easily have the deepest collection of pass-catchers in the Big 12, and one of their younger players are expected to emerge, but Norwood is a proven commodity.
27. Jaxon Shipley, Texas 6’1/195 Senior: Despite inconsistent QB play, Shipley has 159 career receptions… has caught a pass in 35 of his 36 career games.
28. Chris Harper, Cal 6’1/180 Jr: Had a nice true freshman season, playing in all 12 games with starts in each of the team’s final five contests and recording 41 catches for 544 yards and two touchdowns to rank second on the team behind Keenan Allen.
Then, in 2013, with True-Freshman QB Jared Goff throwing for 331.4 yards per game, Harper caught 70 passes for 852 yards last season. Expect more big numbers for Goff and even bigger numbers from Harper.
29. Jamison Crowder, Duke 5’9/175 Sr: Crowder established new school records with 108 pass receptions for 1,330 receiving yards. two punt ret TD and a rushing TD
30. Mitch Matthews, BYU 6’6/206 R-Jr: Outstanding size, but unproductive so far, but could become #1 WR with Cody Hoffman’s departure.
31. Christion Jones, Alabama 5’11/185 Sr: Started last season with a bang, becaming the first player in Alabama history to score on a kick return, punt return and reception in the same game (in season opener against Va Tech).
32. Kyle Prater, Northwestern (USC transfer) 6’5/225: Former HS All-American has been a "bust" on the collegiate level, but he might finally put it all together?
33. Devin Smith, Ohio State: a terrific athlete and a fast athlete, Smith also competed in the 100-meter dash and long jump for the Buckeyes, and is a former state high school high jump champ.
Last season Devin Smith finished second on the team in receiving yards (660), receptions (44), receiving touchdowns (eight) and receiving yards per game (47.1), behind Corey "Philly" Brown, who left for the NFL Draft. Smith’s numbers dropped drastically at the end of the year as he totaled just six catches in OSU’s final five games after averaging 4.2 catches per game in the previous nine.
34. Breshad Perriman, UCF 6’2/214 Jr: Son of former NFL WR Brett, great size/speed. Only 39 receptions last season…may have trouble "breaking out" without Bortles.
J.J. Worton and Rannell Hall were ahead of Perriman in receptions, but the Georgia native wasn’t far behind, catching 39 passes for 811 yards and four touchdowns. Perriman’s 20.8 average on receptions ranked fifth nationally in 2013.
35. Devante Davis, UNLV 6’3/210 Sr: Surprise return after catching 87 passes for 1,290 yards and a school-record 14 touchdowns last season.
36. Matt Miller , Boise State 6’3/220 5th-yr Sr: Excellent size. Will be four year starter. caught 88 for 1140 yards and 12 TDs last season. Coaching change at BSU.
37. Shaq Roland, South Carolina 6’1/185 Jr: After catching only five passes as a true freshman in 2012, he appears ready to emerge as the No. 1 receiver for the Gamecocks in 2014. In 10 appearances in 2013, Roland caught 25 passes for 455 yards and five scores.
Roland also closed last season on a high note, recording six receptions for 112 yards against Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl. Suspended for adderall without an Rx
38. Tommy Shuler, Marshall 5’7/190 Sr: Undersized, late round prospect, but ultraproductive with back-to-back seasons over 105 receptions and over 1100 yds.
39. Josh Harper, Fresno State 6’1/184 5th-yr Sr: Becomes #1 WR with Adams departure to NFL, but what will life be like without Derek Carr?
40. Jameon Lewis, Mississippi State: 5’9/195 5th-yr Sr: Multi-purpose threat caught 64 passes for 923 yards, and five TDs, while rushing for 117 yards, adding 3 TDs. He also threw for three TDs. Lewis turned it on to close the year, catching at least six passes in each of his last three games, including a 220-yard performance against Rice in the Liberty Bowl.With quarterback Dak Prescott settled into the starting role, Mississippi State’s offense appears set to take off in 2014..
41. Dres Anderson, Utah: Fifth-year Senior, 6’1/187, rumored to be 4.40 in the 40. Son of 10-year NFL WR "Flipper" Anderson, Dres caught 53 for 1002 yds and 7 TDs last yr.
42. Kenny Bell, Nebraska 6’1/185: Bell led Nebraska in receptions in 2013 with 52 catches, marking the third straight season he has led the Huskers in receptions.
43. Chris Conley, Georgia: Lead Dogs in receiving last season, but could get lost in a deep group of Georgia WRs? (Malcolm Mitchell, Michael Bennett, Justin Scott-Wesley)
44. Alonzo Russell, Toledo: Bernard Reedy was one of the MAC’s top receivers over the last few years, and he leaves after catching 62 passes for 840 yards and eight scores in 2013. The Rockets are in good hands at receiver, however, as Russell is poised to emerge as the No. 1 target after catching 59 passes and six touchdowns last year.