Commentary

Underclassmen Maclin, Harvin lead the little guys at wide receiver

Missouri speedster Jeremy Maclin leads Scouts Inc.'s list of the top five draft-eligible small wide receivers in college football.

Updated: October 22, 2008, 4:23 PM ET
By Todd McShay | Scouts Inc.

Below is Scouts Inc.'s ranking of the top five undersized wide receiver prospects in college football, including the round in which each player is expected to come off the board. Those who are underclassmen do not have official height and weight measurements at this point, but we would be very surprised if any of them came in even a shade over six feet.

[+] EnlargeJeremy Maclin
Scott Rovak/US PresswireJeremy Maclin has the ability to run away from everyone every time he touches the ball.
1. Jeremy Maclin, Missouri (1st round) -- The third-year sophomore is the most dangerous open-field runner in college football. Maclin needs to get stronger and improve his intermediate routes, but you can't coach his rare explosiveness as a receiver and return specialist. He simply does everything fast: getting off the line, getting in and out of breaks, going up after the ball and popping up from hits. Maclin moves at a different speed at all times. We saw him in person last weekend against Texas and he is deceptively well-built and more physical than expected, though we can verify that he definitely does not break the 6-foot mark.

2. Percy Harvin, Florida (1st round) -- If Harvin were able to stay healthy, he would be ahead of Maclin on this list. Harvin seems to be the kind of tightly wound athlete who just can't avoid injury, but when he is on the field at 100 percent the junior standout is the most dangerous weapon in the nation. He has an exceptional combination of lateral quickness and breakaway speed. Harvin lines up wide, in the slot and in the backfield, and he would be a contributor in the return game if the coaches weren't trying to protect his body. Overall, Harvin is a better all-around player than Miami Dolphins WR Ted Ginn, who was drafted ninth overall in 2007.

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  • 3. Derrick Williams, Penn State (2nd round) -- His production was inconsistent over his first three years thanks in part to erratic quarterback play, but with Darryl Clark at the helm this season Williams has been a more effective weapon. When he's not working as a receiver, Williams spends a lot of time in the backfield in Penn State's split-gun offense, and is one of the best return men in the country. He is a strong, competitive player who blocks hard and runs through tackles. While he can stop and go and has good speed, Williams is not an elite threat in the open field. He is like Arizona Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin in that he doesn't wow you with 40 times but is well-built and plays faster than his times would suggest. In the end, Williams will likely be the first senior wideout off the board.

    4. Juaquin Iglesias, Oklahoma (2nd/3rd round) -- A very smooth, fluid athlete whose play speed is better than his 40 time indicates, Iglesias is emerging after being overshadowed by the likes of Malcolm Kelly in recent seasons. Iglesias is consistently productive and a very good route-runner, and he also has valuable experience as a return man. He is not going to wow anyone with his combine numbers -- 40 times or height/weight -- but he has all the tools to be a good No. 2 receiver in the NFL in the mold of Keenan McCardell.

    5. Brandon Gibson, Washington State (2nd/3rd round) -- A thickly built receiver with good hands and the leaping ability to high-point the ball, Gibson is excellent at working the sidelines and keeping his feet inbounds. He is just not a great quick-twitch athlete, however, struggling at times to get in and out of breaks quickly and taking too much time to get to top speed. Gibson doesn't show much breakaway speed or elusiveness, either, and will likely max out as a complementary No. 2 or No. 3 receiver at the next level.

    Todd McShay is the director of college football scouting for Scouts Inc. He has been evaluating prospects for the NFL draft since 1998.