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Published on 04/15/2012 at Sun Apr 15 15:00.
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(Image courtesy of RON JOHNSON/JOURNAL STAR)

I am of the opinion that wide receivers can be had in later rounds.  Drafting a wide receiver in the first round is sort of like drafting a defensive tackle in the seventh. More than likely, you’ll strike out. For one, wide receivers have the lowest percentage of rookie starters of all positions according to Draft Metrics.

Think back on all of those first round wide receiver busts over the years; the Denver Broncos too with Marcus Nash and Ashley Lelie.  We may have hit pay dirt with Demaryius Thomas, but he hasn’t been asked to run crisp routes yet and his breakout year was mostly due to improvisation – something Peyton Manning has very little interest in.

I’d like to see the Broncos target wide receiver somewhere between the 4th and 6th rounds, but there are three guys in particular that perk the most interest.  All three might be available in the fourth round and could be a steal for the Broncos at that point – especially considering historically wide receivers drafted from the late second to mid fourth rounds tend to have similar production on average.  Let’s take a look at the three prospects that have the size, speed and skill set we would want from a fourth round draft pick.

3.Gerell Robinson, Arizona State

Gerell Robinson possesses the size and strength you’d hope for from someone with his build.  He would not likely get much playing time in 2012, but could begin to significantly contribute for the expected Broncos Super Bowl run in 2012.  Here is what Walterfootball.com has to say:

Height: 6-3. Weight: 227.
40 Time: 4.62.
Vertical: 35.5.
Broad: 9-5
Arm: 30 7/8. Hand: 9 10.
Projected Round (2012): 5-6.

4/4/12: It wasn’t surprising that Robinson didn’t work out well at the Combine because he doesn’t look like a workout warrior. During the season, Robinson showed some size and quickness. He could be a boom-or-bust pick in the mid-rounds. Robinson is tall, and has some straight-line speed, but he was a one-year wonder.

Robinson ended his career well by torching Boise State’s secondary to the tune of 13 receptions for 241 yards and one touchdown. He didn’t have much production entering this season, but came on strong late in the year for Arizona State. In the final five games, Robinson recorded 785 receiving yards. In 2011, he totaled 77 receptions for 1,397 yards and seven touchdowns. Robinson had a quality start to the week at the Senior Bowl, but was quiet later on.

2. Tommy Streeter, Miami

Tommy Streeter is a very tall wide receiver with great leaping ability, but is also quite raw in other important areas.  He too would likely see very little action during the 2012 season, but, out of all three prospects, he may have the biggest upside.  He also got tons of praise from Mike Mayock and that added publicity may improve his draft stock to the third round or higher – I am sure the Raiders are all over this one as his 40-time was one of the best among wide receivers.  Let’s get WalterFootball.com’s take once again:

Height: 6-5. Weight: 219.
40 Time: 4.40.
Vertical: 33.
Broad: 10-5.
Arm: 9 1/2.
Projected Round (2012): 3-4.

4/4/12: Streeter had a big Combine, as expected. His speed helps his casse to be a second-day pick. In his first season of playing time, the junior Streeter was a source of big plays. He is a tall, lanky wide receiver who has the speed to stretch the field. Streeter caught 46 passes for 811 yards and eight touchdowns in 2011. He is an excellent red-zone weapon due to his height and leaping ability.

Streeter is raw and needs a lot of work as a route-runner. His draft stock probably could have been enhanced if he had returned to Miami for his senior season before going pro.

1. A.J. Jenkins, Illinois

A.J. is my personal favorite mid round wide receiver.  He has produced consistently throughout his college career, except for an injury riddled Sophomore campaign.  He can play inside at the slot and outside as a deep threat. And out of the other two sleeper picks in this post, Jenkins is likely able to contribute on offense significantly in 2012.  WalterFootball.com had this to say:

Height: 6-0. Weight: 190.
40 Time: 4.39.
Vertical: 33.
Broad: 10-4
Arm: 32 1/4. Hand: 9 1/4.
Projected Round (2012): 3-4.

4/4/12: Jenkins had a very productive senior season. He caught 90 passes for 1,276 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2010, as a junior, Jenkins hauled in 56 passes for 746 yards and seven touchdowns. He has the speed to get downfield. Jenkins is a good value in the mid-rounds and had an impressive week at the East-West Shrine. He showed his foot speed with a great Combine and followed that up with a strong pro day.

In the NFL, Jenkins looks like he could be a good slot receiver and make some big plays downfield. He also has the size to line up on the outside. Jenkins could turn into a steal given that he produced despite bad quarterback play.

Even though I happen to like the Broncos current crop of wide receivers, drafting one in this years’ draft will likely pay dividends down the road.  With the championship window rather short with Peyton Manning, it seems like a good idea to try and pick up a solid wide receiver now and give him the time to develop enough for a late championship run before Manning retires.

With so many wide receiver prospects in this years’ draft, is there a guy out there with a mid to late round grade that the Broncos should give a real close look at?

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  • Anonymous

    I think streeter should be taken in the fourth if still available

  • Matthew

    Jenkins can fill the Void that Royal left in the slot. What are his returning abilities?

  • MiamiMike

    Im sorry but I have to correct the Mike Mayock report. He actually rips Street to shreds. As a die hard Cane fan I have to say Streeter does have upside but his low side is very low an it will take a very long time to see the upside. Listen to Mayock talk about Streeter here. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/videogallery/69348520/Sports/Mike-Mayock-rips-UM-s-Tommy-Streeter

  • Anonymous

    Good write up! 

  • Robo

    Nope, mark my words, Marvin McNutt, Iowa, would be the steal in the 4th.

  • flbronc

    as an FSU guy, I concur. Stay away from Streeter. He might end up ok, but with our short term investment in manning, we need wr’s who can contribute right away. 

  • http://twitter.com/TimLynch1978 Tim Lynch

    I never liked Royal returning kicks.  He seemed to disappear as a WR in games where he was the primary returner.  I think Andre Caldwell would do the job well as a returner, but I recall Rod Smith returning kicks early in his career, so that could be a rookie-type of job. :)

  • http://twitter.com/TimLynch1978 Tim Lynch

    I felt at a our second fourth round pick would make Streeter a value pick.  Brandon Marshall fell to the 4th because of character issues (little did we know he was mentally insane), but you can’t argue with BMarsh’s production.

    4th round isn’t where you find top flight sure picks…high risk, high reward is worth more to me than low risk, low reward depth players you could also pick up in the 4th.

  • http://twitter.com/TimLynch1978 Tim Lynch

    He was tempting too, but I wanted to include a 5-6th rounder on the list, so I went with Gerrell. ;)  I’d be happy with McNutt in the 4th.

  • Anonymous

     I think if you just put Streeter in only for red zone packages this year, he could be dangerous. That way he would only have to learn a handful of routes.  He is very good at getting to the back of the endzone and getting the ball.  Manning could turn Streeter into the next Chris Carter, all he would do is catch touchdowns.

  • http://Facebook.com/BroncosZone Jon

    Thanks for the info, Tim!

  • John

    Look into the numbers of South Dakota State receiver Dale Moss. His numbers at the combine were absolutely stunning for a tall receiver. I’d hate to pass up on him when he is still available in the 5th.

  • lmao

    jenkins wont fall past the 4th. he might get taken in the 3rd actually. and Robinson is TERRIBLE. hes barely athletic and doesnt seem to have one spec of intelligence in him.