Welcome to the second piece in a three part series that looks at the top rookies heading into the NFL 2014/2015 season. The first part of the series looked at the top rookie quarterbacks. With the regular season right around the corner, some members of the crack Sports Unbiased staff got together to look at the 2014 NFL rookie wide receiver class. The following writers participated in this piece-Jared Cortes, Jason Culley and Chris Markham.
Each writer, through hours and days of evaluation, came up with their top two. Those results are captured below and a consensus has been determined. The top pick on each of their lists received two points and their second selection received one point. Lets jump in and see who will be the best rookie wide receiver in for the 2014/2015 NFL season.
Who will be the best rookie WR in 2014?
Jason Culley – Number 1 – Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints
At 5-10 and 189 pounds, Cooks isn’t going to overpower any NFL defensive backs. With his 4.3 second, 40-yard dash time, he can just run by them. He is a threat to score every time he touches the ball and will take many of the touches left behind after the departure of Darren Sproles and Lance Moore. The Saints saw something special in the 2013 Biletnikoff Award Winner, trading up from the 27th overall pick to select Cooks with the 20th pick in the draft.
Jason Culley – Number 2 – Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers
Benjamin was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the first round of the draft to fill a major void in their receiver position. Gone from the 2013 team are receivers Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn, and Domenik Hixon. The Panthers brought in Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant, but the 6-5, 240 pound rookie receiver has a great shot to be the number one receiver when the season starts. With Cam Newton at quarterback, Benjamin has the chance to become a special receiver in his rookie season.
Jared Cortes- Number 1 – Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints
First round pick Brandin Cooks was electrifying in his preseason debut and has an amazing opportunity in New Orleans. Not many rookie wide receivers have the luxury of getting to play with Drew Brees to start their careers so Cooks better consider himself blessed. His blinding speed and explosiveness will fit in perfectly with the likes of Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston.
Jared Cortes- Number 2 – Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers
Steve Smith made his way to Baltimore this past offseason, leaving a huge gap at the receiver position in Carolina. Cam Newton got himself a huge new target in the form of Kelvin Benjamin, a member of last year’s NCAA National Championship Florida State team. The rest of the Panthers receiving core may be the worst in football, so the 6’5″ Benjamin has an amazing opportunity to make huge plays for years to come.
Chris Markham – Number 1 – Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills
There is really no debate on this one. Watkins has everything you want in a star receiver. Size, speed, good hands and of course, swagger. Watkins has been showing off by making some impressive one-handed catches in training camp and putting a smile on loyal Bills fans’ faces. He is the light at the end of a very dark tunnel that Buffalo has been stuck in and if EJ Manuel can significantly improve from his season last year, Watkins is in store for a big year.
Chris Markham – Number 2 – Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Personally, I’m high on Evans because I stole him in my fantasy draft. He’s the reason I believe Johnny Football looked good in college (but that’s another debate for another day). With Vincent Jackson on the opposite side of the field as Evans, plenty of defensive attention will be on him and away from Evans, leaving plenty of opportunity for the big, fast Evans to do what he does best.
Writer Consensus: Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints
Unlike the tie and points tiebreaker in the rookie quarterback breakdown, the rookie wide receivers have an overwhelming consensus number one. The interesting part is that the predicted winner is not Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans. Instead it was Brandin Cooks. Could it be the superstar quarterback that set him over the top? It will be interesting to watch the wide receiver competitions complete and to witness, throughout the regular season, each wide receivers ability to understand their new NFL systems. We will be back at the end of the year to see who was correct. Did you agree or disagree with the analysis. Please vote and leave your comments below.