Analyzing the Best Receivers in the 2015 NFL Draft

With Michael Crabtree and Brandon Lloyd set to enter free agency this offseason, the San Francisco 49ers potentially could eye a wide receiver early in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Veteran wideout Anquan Boldin, 34, is under contract for one more season, so an influx of youth at the position might be an attractive option for the organization moving forward.

49ers Radio recently spoke with Bleacher Report analyst Matt Miller about the wide receiver group set to enter the draft, which begins April 30 in Chicago.

This year's class will have big shoes to fill coming after the stars that emerged from the 2014 rookie wideout group – see Odell Beckham Jr., Kelvin Benjamin, Mike Evans and Sammy Watkins just to name a few.

But according to Miller, although the 2015 class isn't quite as strong as last year's, there are still several standouts available who should make an immediate impact at the next level.

"It's a good year for wide receivers," Miller said. "It doesn't compare to last year, but it's still very good. There's just a lot of really talented, big receivers in this class."

At the top of Miller's list is Alabama junior and Heisman Trophy finalist Amari Cooper. The 6-1, 210 pound wideout caught 124 passes this season for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Miller projects Cooper to be a top-5 selection, which would likely make him a longshot to land with the 49ers, who pick 15th in the first round.

"The production he had at Alabama with all of the skills he has makes him really stand out," Miller said of Cooper.

Next up, Miller tentatively has Louisville senior DeVante Parker in his second spot. At 6-3, 208 pounds, Parker hauled in 43 passes this season for 855 yards and five scores. He averaged 19.9 yards per catch.

While Miller has Parker ranked as the ninth-best overall prospect in the draft, not far behind is West Virginia senior Kevin White at number 10 overall. The 6-3, 210 pound star totalled 109 receptions this year for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns.

From cornerback Jimmie Ward (30th overall) to offensive guard Brandon Thomas (100th) and beyond, here are San Francisco's 12 selections.

"He looks like Larry Fitzgerald out there," Miller said of White. "He's a big, physical receiver with long arms and huge hands. But I also think he has some of that short yardage quickness and the wiggle that you need to get away from defenders. It's not like he's a Kelvin Benjamin where he's just a huge target. He's a very good athlete, too. The comparison I use for him is DeAndre Hopkins because he plays so much bigger than he is. He could be a pretty special player."

At Senior Bowl festivities next week in Mobile, Ala., Miller believes White could further bump up his draft stock with an impressive showing.

"He has a chance to become the number one wide receiver in this class with a strong week there," Miller said. "He's someone I'm going to have my eye on every day that we're there."

Miller added that although both Parker and White could be in play for the 49ers with their first pick, he believes the latter would be a better weapon for Colin Kaepernick.

"I still think that speed is so important for the 49ers, finding someone who can stretch the field and let Kaepernick use his arm strength," Miller said. "For that reason, I think Kevin White is a better fit for what the 49ers do... I don't think either one is the wrong pick, but in terms of a team that needs to add some speed, I think White is a better fit."

Following closely behind the top three pass-catchers is Arizona State junior Jaelen Strong. Checking in at 6-3, 212 pounds, Strong caught 82 passes for 1,165 yards and 10 scores this year. With the Sun Devils, Strong became known for his ability to snag the ball at the highest point over defenders on the boundary. 

"To be as big as he is and to still be that type of athlete, it's pretty impressive," Miller said of Strong. "Those crazy sideline catches, he's a lot like Alshon Jeffrey but he's faster than Alshon was coming out of South Carolina and probably faster than he is now with the Bears. So Jaelen Strong is a guy that isn't hyped as much as the big three guys in this class, but he's going to be a very good pro."

Rounding out Miller's top five is Michigan junior Devin Funchess. A converted tight end, Funchess is listed at 6-5, 230. His size played a big part in his 62 receptions and 733 yards this season.

"He has to work on his drops a little bit, but he's such a good matchup player," Miller said. "He can be a big threat."

Miller has given all five of the aforementioned wideouts first-round grades.

One prospect who is more of a wild card is Okalahoma junior Dorial Green-Beckham. A transfer from Missouri after being dismissed from the team, Green-Beckham sat out this season after tallying 59 catches for 883 yards as sophomore with the Tigers. He stands a towering 6-6 and weighs 225 pounds. 

"He's huge," Miller said. "Super long arms, good speed... But I think he's very raw. His freshman year he really didn't do much. His sophomore year he blew up. They really only used him on deep routes and spring passes. So as a receiver who is going to come in and run the whole route tree, it's just something he really hasn't done before.

"I would say on talent, he's probably a first-round pick... It's going to be interesting to see how teams value the risk versus reward there."

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