Fantasy Football: 2012 Rookie Wide Receiver Preview

by Nicholas Minnix on July 24, 2012 @ 16:09:49 PDT

 

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Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns

Is he a surefire stud or a hyped dud? Reactions from many anonymous folks around the league were of surprise when Cleveland forfeited a second-round pick in the 2013 draft to take Gordon in this summer's supplemental edition. An Adam Schefter report quoted an unnamed league exec who believes that Gordon has ability akin to that of Randy Moss, though.

Naturally, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Skeptics unfairly cite his single season of mediocre production as evidence that he probably won't live up to expectations. (And, of course, his suspension from Baylor for something related to marijuana use.) Believers gush about the athleticism, strength, size (6-foot-3, 224 pounds) and speed he'll use to set the NFL on fire.

Moss isn't a good comp. With a 40 time in the low 4.5s, Gordon isn't even close to that fast. (He seems sincere in his discussion of his suspension - it was difficult, he learned from it, he moved on - but only time will tell those outside his world.) His other three attributes, however, make him an exciting prospect. He's tough after the haul-in - to catch or to bring down. He has good hands. He reminds of Roy Williams, pre-washout (thanks, multiple injuries) phase.

The Browns expect him to play right away. That might be difficult. Gordon has little experience in a big-time environment and hasn't played in a competitive game since the tail end of the 2010 season. The organization drafted Greg Little in 2011 under a similar premise; so far, so good. How hard will Gordon work? He busted it to make a strong impression in his pre-draft workout and probably won't settle for "making it." His first-year ceiling is probably WR5, and fairly soon afterward, he could be a good bit more, assuming that Cleveland cultivates a core.

Freshman filler

New Orleans Saints WR Nick Toon
Don't forget about Toon

The Rams came across some great value in Chris Givens (5-foot-11, 198 pounds). He's thick and speedy, with great burst. He can help on special teams, but he'll also get a chance to start opposite the No. 1 receiver. He could become a nice depth piece in 2012 and slightly more in the future.

Travis Benjamin was productive at Miami (Fla.) primarily because he's an absolute burner and the 'Canes lacked big-time weapons. The 5-foot-10, 172-pounder probably won't deserve fantasy attention if he makes the team as a one-trick pony or (backup) return man in Cleveland.

Joe Adams is also an electric return man (ESPY-nominated highlight here), which will be his ticket to a spot on the Carolina Panthers. He may eventually invite deep interest as a slot receiver, with many of the tools already in his belt. He just needs to work on his hands.

The Kansas City Chiefs may believe that they drafted a poor man's Wes Welker, but Devon Wylie is really just a better choice in the slot than Dexter McCluster. If he's healthy, Wylie should have a say in the return game. Style-wise - and fantasy-wise - he's more of a faster Jordan Shipley, another receiver incorrectly compared to Welker.

Jarius Wright (5-foot-10, 182 pounds) has a future in the slot because he's fast, he runs pretty tight routes, and he has sticky hands. This year, he has too much competition, so he may want to try to put his skills to use on special teams, something he didn't do much at Arkansas.

More late-round receivers

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About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.

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