Carolina Panthers

NFL Draft: Top 10 wide receivers

West Virginia’s Kevin White (11) is a big, explosive wide receiver who had 109 catches as a senior.
West Virginia’s Kevin White (11) is a big, explosive wide receiver who had 109 catches as a senior. AP

The Observer’s top 10 wide receivers available in the 2015 NFL draft:

1. Kevin White

College: West Virginia.

Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 215.

Projected round: 1st.

Comment: Big, explosive wideout who had 109 catches as a senior; has to improve route-running but will make immediate impact.

2. Amari Cooper

College: Alabama.

Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 211.

Projected round: 1st.

Comment: Fluid route-runner who knows how to get open and can make defenders miss after the catch.

3. DeVante Parker

College: Louisville.

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

Projected round: 1st.

Comment: Dominant the second half of last season after returning from foot surgery.

4. Breshad Perriman

College: Central Florida.

Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 212.

Projected round: 1st.

Comment: Strong, physical wideout uses his long arms and large wingspan to his advantage.

5. Dorial Green-Beckham

College: Missouri.

Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 237.

Projected round: 2nd.

Comment: Incredible athlete with size but has long list of off-the-field issues.

6. Nelson Agholor

College: Southern Cal.

Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 198.

Projected round: 2nd.

Comment: With his lean, muscular frame, Agholor looks like a good fit in the slot.

7. Jaelen Strong

College: Arizona State.

Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 217.

Projected round: 2nd.

Comment: Doesn’t have blazing speed, but Strong does everything well and is moving up draft boards.

8. Phillip Dorsett

College: Miami.

Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 185.

Projected round: 2nd.

Comment: Dorsett has game-changing speed that helped him average 25 yards per catch over his last three seasons.

9. Devin Smith

College: Ohio State.

Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 196.

Projected round: 2nd.

Comment: Like Dorsett, has the speed to blow the top off defenses; averaged 28.2 yards per catch last season.

10. Sammie Coates

College: Auburn.

Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 212.

Projected round: 3rd.

Comment: Raw prospect with upside but struggles to catch the ball and runs imprecise routes.

Panthers’ perspective

The Panthers used their first-round pick on a wideout last year, and Kelvin Benjamin didn’t disappoint. GM Dave Gettleman brought Ted Ginn Jr. back to give Cam Newton a proven deep threat, but the Panthers could benefit from a playmaker in the slot. Given how deep Gettleman believes the wide receiver class is, don’t be surprised if the Panthers pick up a wideout in a later round.

Local connection

Duke’s Jamison Crowder, who went to high school in Monroe, thrived in David Cutcliffe’s offense, finishing as the ACC’s all-time co-leader in receptions. But scouts have durability concerns with the 5-8, 185-pound Crowder, a mid-round prospect whose return skills work in his favor.

Sleeper

Tre McBride of William & Mary has impressed scouts with his combination of size (6-0, 210) and speed (4.41 in the 40 at the combine). McBride, who was recruited by Harvard, has great field awareness but lacks explosiveness starting his routes. Had success as both a kick returner (23.1-yard average) and punt returner (11.1) in college.

Worth noting

Perriman’s dad, Brett, was an NFL wideout for 10 years and twice posted 1,000-yard seasons for Detroit. Perriman didn’t inherit his father’s size: Brett Perriman played at 5-9 and 180 pounds. ... East Carolina’s Justin Hardy’s only scholarship offer out of high school was from Fayetteville State. Hardy signed with the Division II school, but ECU’s new coaching staff convinced him to walk on. By his redshirt freshman year, Hardy was the Pirates’ leading receiver. ... Michigan State’s Devin Funchess (6-5, 232) has drawn comparisons to Benjamin for his big frame. But after Funchess ran the 40 in 4.7 seconds at the combine, some scouts now view him as a tight end, his orginal position with the Spartans.

Joseph Person

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