Thursday, April 14, 2011
Beyond the 1st round: Receivers
By Mike Reiss
(Each day this week, ESPNBoston.com will highlight one position that the Patriots are projected to target in the NFL draft and highlight one prospect in rounds 2-7 who might fit. With so much attention placed on the first round in mock drafts, "Beyond the first round" focuses on lesser-publicized options beyond the first 32 picks.)
Second round:Leonard Hankerson (Miami)
Bill Belichick spent time with the 6-foot-1, 209-pound Hankerson on his annual Florida scouting trip this year. A team captain, Hankerson is a bit rangier than most receivers on the Patriots' roster, so he could be a nice complement. He ranks third on Miami's all-time touchdown receiving list (22).
Third round:Greg Salas (Hawaii)
A team captain whose top-notch production creates a challenge to evaluate because of the stretch-the-field system Hawaii adopts, Salas (6-1, 210) has lined up at various spots and analysts view him as a hard-nosed blocker, which is something the Patriots generally value. He's not considered a burner, but is an effective route-runner.
Fourth round:Edmund Gates (Albilene Christian)
For those looking for a "take-the-top-off-the-defense" receiver, Gates is one of the top options in this class. He is extremely fast. Having played at the Division II level, the learning curve might be a bit steeper in the Patriots' system, but the success of Johnny Knox (he went to Albilene Christian) with the Bears is evidence that it can work. Gates is one of the older players in this draft (25).
Fifth round:Ronald Johnson (Southern Cal)
Johnson (5-11, 199) lined up outside and inside in college and could add value on special teams. One area that might be appealing to the Patriots is that Johnson showed improvement over his four-year career.
Sixth round:Armon Binns (Cincinnati)
The 6-foot-3, 209 pounds Binns is a taller, possession-type receiver with reliable hands who adds value as a blocker in the run game, according to the Pro Football draft preview. Players in his position often have to emerge on special teams before gaining an opportunity, and he doesn't have extensive experience there.
Seventh round:Terrance Turner (Indiana)
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Turner is one of the older players in the draft (25) and has NFL-type size. Considered physical and hard-working, he could slip in the draft because of his injury history (neck surgery).