Carolina Panthers

2017 NFL draft: Top 10 wide receivers | Three Carolinas prospects among the best

Former Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams’ length, hands and 4.4-second 40-speed make him a sure first-rounder.
Former Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams’ length, hands and 4.4-second 40-speed make him a sure first-rounder. AP

The top 10 wide receivers available in the 2017 NFL draft:

Corey-Davis1
Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis combines speed with an uncanny knack for creating space and separation. Gregory Payan AP

1. Corey Davis

College: Western Michigan.

Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 209.

Projected round: 1st.

Comment: Davis can play all over the field and combines speed with an uncanny knack for creating space and separation.

2. Mike Williams

College: Clemson.

Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 218.

Projected round: 1st.

Comment: Williams can play like a receiving tight end as well as a wideout. His length, hands and 4.4-second 40-speed make him a sure first-rounder.

3. Chris Godwin

College: Penn State.

Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 209.

Projected round: 1st.

Comment: Teams stated crushing hard on Godwin when they saw his top-of-the-class ability on contested catches, 4.4-second 40-speed and versatility.

4. John Ross

College: Washington.

Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 190.

Projected round: 2nd.

Comment: Record-setting 40 at NFL scouting combine turned heads, but his size and injury history are likely to push him out of first round.

Zay-Jones
Former East Carolina wide receiver Zay Jones (7) can play in the slot and on the outside, and is talented at both. Joe Pellegrino/The Daily Reflect AP

5. Zay Jones

College: East Carolina.

Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 201.

Projected round: Second.

Comment: Jones broke the NCAA record for career receptions with 399 and was the top target for the Pirates. He can play in the slot and on the outside, and is talented at both.

6. Carlos Henderson

College: Louisiana Tech.

Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 200.

Projected round: 3rd.

Comment: Henderson didn’t see top-tier competition at his smaller school, but more than impressed personnel with his ability in the slot, speedy, fluid hips and excellent hands.

7. Taywan Taylor

College: Western Kentucky

Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 203.

Projected round: 3rd.

Comment: Taylor’s 121-yard game against a talented Alabama secondary put him on many teams’ radar. He is talented when creating separation from scrimmage and would likely stay in the slot in the NFL.

8. Cooper Kupp

College: Eastern Washington.

Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 204.

Projected round: 3rd.

Comment: Kupp was the talk of many scouts at the Senior Bowl, following a career as one of the best receivers ever at the Football Championship Subdivision level.

9. ArDarius Stewart

College: Alabama.

Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 204.

Projected round: 5th.

Comment: Stewart’s physicality against coverage and Alabama pedigree brings him into the top-10 conversation.

Ryan-Switzer
Former North Carolina wide receiver Ryan Switzer is a slot specialist as well as a prolific kickoff and punt returner. Rob Brown AP

10. Ryan Switzer

College: North Carolina.

Ht.: 5-8. Wt.: 185.

Projected round: 6th.

Comment: Switzer is a slot specialist as well as a prolific kickoff and punt returner who makes the top-10 because of his speed and his ability to separate on routes, as well as his adaptability to coverage.

Panthers’ perspective

Carolina would like some help in the slot and needs an infusion of speed. However, it’s important to note that “speed” in a burner-receiver role is less crucial than the ability to separate from coverage early and give quarterback Cam Newton quick-route options.

Isaiah-Ford
Former Virginia Tech wide receiver Isaiah Ford, left, possesses excellent foot speed and is precise enough on his routes to be an intriguing late-round option. Robert Willett rwillett@newsobserver.com

Sleeper

Isaiah Ford from Virginia Tech is a little on the lankier side at 6-foot-1 and 194 pounds and would do well to add some muscle. But Ford has excellent foot speed and is precise enough on his routes to be an intriguing late-round option.

Worth noting

The tight end class is also the best it has been in years, with Alabama’s O.J. Howard projected as a top-10 pick and Miami’s David Njoku a potential first-rounder. Should the Panthers go this route, they may not look for receiving help early.

Jourdan Rodrigue: 704-358-5071, @jourdanrodrigue

With the No. 8 pick in the NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers have plenty of options to address several needs. Panthers beat reporter Jourdan Rodrigue breaks down who the team might pick in the first round and offers other names to look out for.

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