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Charting the wide receivers for the NFL draft


The situation

The Bucs were blessed last season in selecting wideouts who can grow with QB Josh Freeman. Fourth-round pick Mike Williams, left, led all rookies and his 11 touchdowns were the most by a first-year player since Randy Moss. Second-round pick Arrelious Benn was becoming a physical weapon when he suffered a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. Third-down receiver Sammie Stroughter is best suited for that role. The Bucs believe Benn will be back in 2011, but it's tough to know the full effect of the injury. Tampa Bay has one of the top tight ends in Kellen Winslow. But John Gilmore is a free agent and Ryan Purvis is untested. The Bucs could use depth at all pass-catching positions.

What they're looking for:

The Bucs could use at least one more young wideout, but they have high hopes for Dezmon Briscoe, the former Kansas star who had six catches for 95 yards the final two games last season, including a big touchdown at New Orleans. Someone with speed who also can help in the kick return game would be a bonus. From the tight end position, Tampa Bay needs a replacement for Gilmore who could conceivably take over for Winslow one day.

Fitting the bill

Leonard Hankerson, above, was productive at Miami and known for his work ethic. He could be available in rounds 2-4. Wisconsin's Lance Kendricks has a big upside as a pass catcher, but he will be the second tight end off the board.

Top 10 WR/TE prospects

1. A.J. Green

WR, Georgia, 6-4, 211

One of the finest receiver prospects in several years, with a rare combination of speed, height and ball skills. Could go No. 4 to Bengals.
2. Julio Jones

WR, Alabama, 6-3, 220

Highly productive in college and impressed at the combine with a 4.34-second 40-yard dash. A good fit for any offense.
3. Randall Cobb

WR, Kentucky, 5-10, 191

Doesn't have elite size or speed, but the Wildcats MVP is a fearless pass catcher with huge intangibles.
4. Jonathan Baldwin

WR, Pittsburgh, 6-4, 228

A highly durable receiver with big hands and long arms. Explosive off the ball and can get vertical. Had attitude problems last season.
5. Kyle Rudolph

TE, Notre Dame, 6-6, 259

Missed six games with a hamstring injury and had surgery to attach two tendons. No. 1 tight end in draft could be taken in the first round.
6. Greg Little

WR, North Carolina, 6-21/2, 231

Ineligible last season for violating benefits rules. Thick wideout is explosive for his size and can work the middle of the field.
7. Torrey Smith

WR, Maryland, 6-1, 204

Produced 1,055 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Has the potential to be a big-time playmaker and can get vertical.
8. Lance Kendricks

TE, Wisconsin, 6-3, 243

Second-rated tight end in the draft following a Badgers tradition. Good size and 4.5-second speed to create mismatches at the next level. A polished pass catcher.
9. Titus Young

Boise State, 6-0, 174

Slightly short for an NFL receiver and needs to add muscle. Some off-field issues may cause him to drop. May struggle fighting for balls in traffic.
10. Leonard Hankerson

WR, Miami, 6-11/2, 209

Had 1,156 yards and 13 touchdowns. Extremely durable with a great work ethic. Could be a solid NFL player.

Best guess

The Bucs will address either the receiver or tight end position, but with only one pick in each round, it might be difficult to select both. Given the youth and production of their young wideouts, they can concentrate on adding depth at tight end. Overall, it's not a deep receiver class.

Rick Stroud, Times staff writer

Charting the wide receivers for the NFL draft 04/27/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 8:34pm]
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