NFL Draft watch: Wide receivers/tight ends
Ranking: Treadwell was a five-star prospect, the top-rated receiver and fifth overall in the 2013 rankings. The Crete (Ill.) Crete Monee standout was ranked behind only Robert Nkemdiche, Vernon Hargreaves III, Jaylon Smith and Carl Lawson.
Recruiting: Treadwell picked Ole Miss in January after he and his mother fell in love with Oxford during a November official visit. The five-star had taken other visits there as well before making his decision. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were Treadwell's other finalists.
Overview: Treadwell has come back from a knee injury sustained last season and is unquestionably fine, clearly one of the nation's top receivers. He leads the Rebels with 22 catches for 332 yards but only one touchdown through four games. Fellow receivers Cody Core (three) and Quincy Adeboyejo (five) have gotten in the end zone more.
Farrell's Take: Everyone remembers the horrible injury that cost Treadwell his sophomore season but he has bounced back nicely, dropped some weight while maintaining his strength and adding some additional speed. With wide receivers so scrutinized, especially when it comes to testing numbers, it will be interesting to see if Treadwell has recovered enough to emerge at the NFL Combine and at his pro day, but so far the signs of a full recovery are there.
Ranking: From Clairton, Pa., Boyd was rated as the No. 12 wide receiver and No. 103 in the 2013 rankings. The four-star prospect was sixth in the Pennsylvania state rankings. He scored 50 touchdowns in his senior season and 117 in his high school career.
Recruiting: It was no shock at all that Boyd picked Pitt at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The Panthers were always a favorite and he didn't pull any surprises. Michigan State, West Virginia, Tennessee, Rutgers and Penn State were also considered.
Overview: In two games, Boyd has 21 catches -- 15 more than any other Pitt receiver -- and one touchdown even with the Panthers' quarterbacks struggling at times this season. He's averaging 113 receiving yards per outing (87 more than any other receiver on the team) and Boyd should continue to put up impressive numbers the rest of the way.
Farrell's Take: I regret not making Boyd at least the No. 1 player in Pennsylvania over Robert Foster. Foster had a great Under Armour week and Boyd might have been over his head a bit at the Army Bowl having played quarterback for much of his high school career, but I really liked Boyd a lot and it doesn't surprise me he's in the first-round discussion. He's a gamer, a winner and he is dynamic with the ball in his hands. With slot receivers making a big impact in the NFL, he's perfect for that role.
Ranking: A four-star prospect, Fuller was rated as the No. 19 wide receiver and No. 176 overall in the 2013 class. He was seventh in the Pennsylvania state rankings out of Philadelphia (Pa.) Roman Catholic.
Recruiting: Fuller had been committed to Penn State but after taking a visit to Notre Dame in early August before his senior season decided to flip to the Irish. He was recruited as an athlete who could've helped at receiver or defensive back.
Overview: Fuller is already having a tremendous season, one that could shoot him up draft boards quickly especially if he continues to play well (he'll be closely watched against an excellent Clemson defense this weekend). So far, Fuller leads the Irish in all receiving categories with 22 catches for 454 yards (20.6 per catch) and six touchdowns. He has made some miraculous grabs, including the game-winner against Virginia.
Farrell's Take: In college, just like in high school, the more you watch Fuller the more you like him and understand that he's impossible to cover and has amazing hands and body control. Size has always been a question mark, especially in high school where he emerged as a 165-pounder, but he has added strength and he has shown he can take a hit, work outside or in the slot and has added speed. We're probably first to the party on him as a potential first-rounder and those who doubt him will be sorry.
Ranking: The Farmington Hills (Mich.) Harrison prospect was rated as the No. 16 wide receiver and No. 103 overall in the 2012 class. He was the top-rated recruit in the Michigan state rankings.
Recruiting: Burbridge had a final two of Michigan and Michigan State and he said two months before his pledge to the Spartans that he felt a little more comfortable with the Wolverines' coaching staff. Plus, high school teammates Devin Funchess and Mario Ojemudia were already committed to the Maize & Blue. But Burbridge picked Michigan State in July and stuck with it.
Overview: Burbridge is having an exceptional season and leading the Spartans in basically every receiving category. He has 24 catches (more than double the next WR) for 405 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 17 yards a catch and more than 100 receiving yards per game. In the game against Oregon, Michigan State's first true test this season, he had eight catches for 101 yards and a score.
Farrell's Take: Burbridge always had good size and a high ceiling, which is why he was so highly ranked but he's been slow to develop at Michigan State. However, he has developed and that's key because his combo of size, body control and recovery from a foot injury that set him back a bit now have him higher on the radar. He's a chain-mover and red zone threat and the NFL likes those guys.
Two to watch
Overview: Coleman is putting up huge numbers this season -- as would be expected in Baylor's offense -- with 17 receptions for 480 yards and eight touchdowns. He's averaging more than 27 yards per catch. As for Williams, the Auburn offense has been shockingly bad and he has paid a price. So far, Williams has 11 catches for 130 yards and only one score.
Farrell's Take: Coleman isn't big, but as I mentioned, the slot receiver is emerging in the NFL and he can work outside as well. If he continues to dominate in that Baylor offense, his stock could rise and he's essentially the playmaker we saw in high school, just a bit more explosive. As for Williams, he could be the most talented of the group, but quarterback issues and off-field questions linger for him. But his potential, just as when he was a five-star out of JUCO, is sky-high.
TE Hunter Henry
Ranking: Henry was rated as the fourth-best tight end in the 2013 class out of Little Rock (Ark.) Pulaski Academy. He was the second-best prospect in the state of Arkansas behind RB Altee Tenpenny.
Recruiting: Henry, who had 107 receptions for 1,449 yards and 15 touchdowns in his senior season, committed to Arkansas in July, but Alabama and Auburn tried to swoop in late as the Razorbacks underwent coaching changes. The four-star tight end entertained the other SEC schools but stuck with his initial choice.
Overview: Henry was leading in a lot of Arkansas receiving categories until WR Drew Morgan had a huge game in the loss to Texas A&M last weekend. Still, Henry is second on the team with 17 receptions for 206 yards and a touchdown in what is still a run-heavy offense.
Farrell's Take: I always loved Henry's game because he has that size/athletic combo you want. He can block, as he's shown in a run-oriented offense, but he can also stretch the field and that's what he saw in high school. He's just a bigger version of what he was back then and will be a terrific NFL player and possible first-rounder.
TE O.J. Howard
Ranking: The Autauga (Ala.) Autauga Academy recruit was a five-star prospect, the top tight end in the 2013 class and No. 16 overall. Only five-star LB Reuben Foster was rated higher in the Alabama state rankings. Howard is one of only eight tight ends to ever earn five-star status by Rivals.com.
Recruiting: After receiving an offer from Alabama, Howard committed on the spot and was the Crimson Tide's second pledge in their 2013 class. The five-star tight end grew up an Auburn fan but felt the Alabama offense fit him best.
Overview: For being a former five-star tight end, a rare occasion at Rivals.com, Howard's college career has largely been a disappointment, but the argument can be made it's because the Crimson Tide do not utilize him much in the offense. This season, Howard has 13 catches for 183 yards and no touchdowns. A big SEC matchup against Georgia awaits this weekend.
Farrell's Take: The most freakishly athletic tight end I've ever scouted, and that's saying something, Howard doesn't get utilized much in the 'Bama offense and that has hurt him because he's not a natural in-line blocker. His strength is as a flex option in the passing game and he could be freaky in the NFL. I'm thinking he will amaze at the combine and it will be a battle between him and Henry for first-round grade.
TE Evan Engram
Ranking: Engram was a three-star prospect from Powder Springs (Ga.) Hillgrove, who was rated as the No. 34 tight end in the 2013 class.
Recruiting: Engram committed to Ole Miss over a majority of low-level Division I offers in the summer while on vacation in Destin, Fla., after multiple discussions with his parents. UCLA was showing a lot of interest at the time but Engram said he felt most comfortable with the Rebels.
Overview: Engram has not been a major factor in Ole Miss' passing attack this season which could be a concern, but the Rebels are so incredibly loaded at receiver it's also understandable. In four games, Engram has five catches for 68 yards, averaging more than 13 yards per catch.
Farrell's Take: He's not as big or strong as Henry or as athletic as Howard, but he's emerging as a potential second- or third-round tight end because he's productive, smart and is a good route runner. He doesn't have great size or length, so others could emerge that measure better, but if he remains as productive as he was last year he could stay on the radar. Lack of size was the main reason he wasn't as highly ranked as the other two on this list.
National Recruiting Analyst
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