Summer is just about here, so that means it’s time to start our preseason rankings here at HP. First, the top 10 receivers for 2010:
1. Michael Floyd, Notre Dame–When healthy, he’s the most dominant receiver in college football. He played about half the season in 2009 and still had 44 catches for 795 yards and nine touchdowns–and this was with Golden Tate piling up his stats, too. Floyd displays a remarkable combination of size, speed, hands, jumping ability and football intelligence. If he can avoid the injuries that have plagued him thus far, he’ll have a dazzling season.
2. A.J. Green, Georgia–Another top-flight talent slowed by injuries in 2009, Green is nonetheless coming off a 53-catch, 808-yard, six-touchdown season. Like Floyd, he’s a big target who can go up and get the ball and also run with it after the catch. I think he’ll benefit from Aaron Murray at quarterback and have a huge season for the Dawgs.
3. Alshon Jeffrey, South Carolina–Jeffrey came on like gangbusters the last half of his true freshman season, finishing with 46 catches for 763 yards and six touchdowns despite not putting up much in the way of stats through the first five games. He’s a big, physical receiver who finds a way to get open while displaying a knack for making the tough catch in traffic. He should pick up where he left off and become one of the best receivers in the country in 2010.
4. Julio Jones, Alabama–Jones has yet to produce to his talent level. Due to the style of offense played by the Tide, he may never get that chance. But it’s hard to ignore the skill he brings to the table: Size, Speed, Hands, Strength. This should be the year he puts it all together. If he does, look out!
5. James Rodgers, Oregon State–The first four receivers on this list are all over 6-3, but Rodgers is a smurf at just 5-7 and 185 pounds. He’s the ultimate do-it-all type, catching 91 balls for 1,034 yards and nine touchdowns, while adding 303 rushing yards and another 991 return yards. The Pac-10 will be excited when this speed-demon finally graduates.
6. Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma–As a 2009 sophomore, Broyles helped hold things together for the Sooners, catching 89 balls for 1,120 yards and 15 touchdowns. Now Landry Jones has a year under his belt and, as a result, I expect even more from Broyles in 2010. He’s not the biggest or fastest guy out there, but he’s a real gamer who always seems to be open.
7. DeVier Posey, Ohio State–Posey emerged as Terrelle Pryor’s go-to guy as a 2009 sophomore, catching 60 passes for 828 yards and eight touchdowns. If Pryor keeps progressing, Posey should benefit and that means a huge junior season for the 6-3 wide out.
8. James Cleveland, Houston–Cleveland piled up crazy numbers as Case Keenum’s No. 1 target, catching 104 passes for 1,214 yards and 14 touchdowns while missing two full games. Don’t be fooled by the fact he plays in a pass-happy attack–Cleveland is a high-level talent who would shine in any system.
9. Jonathan Baldwin, Pittsburgh–Baldwin built upon the promise he showed as a freshman, catching 57 passes for 1,111 yards and eight touchdowns. He had seven 100-yard games and averaged nearly 20 yards per catch. Whoever replaces Bill Stull at quarterback will have a great player to throw to.
10. Darvin Adams, Auburn–Adams tore up the vaunted Alabama secondary last year, part of a breakout sophomore season that saw him catch 60 passes for 997 yards and 10 touchdowns. Year two of Gus Malzahn’s system–and more talent at quarterback–can only mean Adams increases his production and establishes himself as one of the best receivers around.
Others To Watch: Armon Binns, Cincinnati; Marquis Maze, Alabama; Tandon Doss, Indiana; Jarrett Boykin, Virginia Tech; Nelson Rosario, UCLA; Marquise Goodwin, Texas; Joe Adams, Arkansas; Vidal Hazelton, Cincinnati; Austin Pettis, Boise State; LaRon Byrd, Miami; Nick Toon, Wisonsin