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Minnesota Vikings 2014 draft preview: Wide receivers

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The Minnesota Vikings have had a strength at wide receiver over the last few off seasons. They have a pair of very good outside receivers with two others that are quality secondary receivers. They also have a pair of receivers that can work out of the slot and a pair of young receivers with high upsides.

Cordarrelle Patterson emerged late last season as a dynamic receiver that just needs the ball in his hands. Greg Jennings returns as a receiver that can complement any offense out of the slot or on the outside. Jerome Simpson proved last season that he is at his best as a backup as opposed to starting on the outside. Lestar Jean was signed as a depth outside receiver with playmaking potential.

Rodney Smith and Adam Thielen return after spending last season deep on the depth chart or on the practice squad, respectively. Kamar Jorden was signed to a future contract shortly after the completion of last season, but he is likely to be at the bottom of the totem pole when training camp opens.

It is unlikely the Vikings would target a receiver in the draft, but with the depth in this class and the emphasis on passing offenses, you can’t have enough good receivers. Here are the top five wide receivers in the draft along with an overrated, underrated and a sleeper prospect.

No. 1 - Sammy Watkins, Clemson
No. 1 - Sammy Watkins, Clemson Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

No. 1 - Sammy Watkins, Clemson

Watkins has separated himself as the best offensive playmaker in the draft. He is a dynamic athlete with very good speed and elusiveness. He has good ball skills with the ability to go up and get it with his hands. He is not a physical receiver and can be pushed around.

The 6-foot-1-inch, 211-pound former Tiger finished his junior season with 1,237 receiving yards and 10 receiving touchdowns on 85 catches. He also had 255 yards on 12 kick returns and eight rushing yards on five carries.

No. 2 - Mike Evans, Texas A&M
No. 2 - Mike Evans, Texas A&M Bob Levey/Getty Images

No. 2 - Mike Evans, Texas A&M

Evans put up impressive numbers in each of the last two seasons and grew into the team’s go-to receiver right away. He has always been considered a first round pick, but has become a lock in the opening round and is likely to be selected in the top 10. He is a big receiver with the skill set to be a dynamic playmaker. He does not have the straight-line speed or quickness to become a downfield threat, but works well in tight coverage with his body control and hands.

The 6-foot-5-inch, 231-pound former Aggie finished his redshirt sophomore season with 1,322 receiving yards and 12 receiving touchdowns on 65 catches.

No. 3 - Marqise Lee, USC
No. 3 - Marqise Lee, USC Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

No. 3 - Marqise Lee, USC

Lee entered the 2013 season as one of the top receivers in this draft class. However, his production took a drastic downturn. Combine that with a poor 40 time at the combine and he is falling down draft boards. He also has red flags with a slight frame and can be undisciplined in his route running. With that said, he is still a dynamic athlete with big play potential on every catch. He won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best receiver in 2012.

The 6-foot, 192-pound former Trojan finished his junior season with 673 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns on 50 catches. He also had 151 yards on eight kick returns and 46 yards on eight punt returns.

No. 4 - Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
No. 4 - Brandin Cooks, Oregon State Christian Petersen/Getty Images

No. 4 - Brandin Cooks, Oregon State

Cooks is a smaller receiver that will be a dynamic slot guy. He is a tremendous athlete with very good speed and quick hands. He adjusts well to any ball thrown to him. He won the Biletnikoff Award last season while setting Pac 12 Conference records for receptions and receiving yards. He also set the school record for touchdown catches.

The 5-foot-11-inch, 189-pound former Beaver finished his junior season with 1,670 receiving yards and 15 receiving touchdowns on 120 catches. He also had 188 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns on 28 carries and 72 punt return yards on 12 returns.

No. 5 - Allen Robinson, Penn State
No. 5 - Allen Robinson, Penn State Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

No. 5 - Allen Robinson, Penn State

Robinson is as a productive a receiver as there is in college football. He is a smooth athlete with a big frame that can continue to grow. He lacks top end speed, but makes up for it with a physical running style. He needs refinement with route running and getting off of press coverage at the line of scrimmage.

The 6-foot-3-inch, 220-pound former Nittany Lion finished his junior season with 1,432 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns on 97 catches. He also had 36 rushing yards on six carries.

Underrated - Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin
Underrated - Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Underrated - Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin

Abbrederis does not look like a football player with average size, athleticism and speed to go along with a thin frame. However, he produces. He is the definition of a gamer. He was a walk-on at Wisconsin, but became one of the Big Ten’s most productive receivers. He is a good route runner with deceptive quickness and smart football sense.

The 6-foot-1-inch, 195-pound former Badger finished his redshirt season with 1,081 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns on 78 receptions. He tied the school record for receptions with 202 and No. 2 in receiving yards with 3,140.

Overrated - Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
Overrated - Odell Beckham Jr., LSU Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Overrated - Odell Beckham Jr., LSU

Beckham Jr. is a smooth, explosive playmaker. Get the ball into his hands and something exciting happens. However, sometimes that can be a problem. He tends to drop too many passes and does not have the size to make up for it. He also does not work over the middle and struggles as a blocker.

The 5-foot-1-inch, 198-pound former Tiger finished his junior season with 1,152 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns on 59 passes. He also set the school’s all-purpose yardage mark with 2,222.

Sleeper - Jeremy Gallon, Michigan
Sleeper - Jeremy Gallon, Michigan Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Sleeper - Jeremy Gallon, Michigan

Gallon does not have prototypical size, but plays bigger than his frame. He is a tough, durable slot receiver type with excellent hands and precise route running. In addition to playing wide receiver, he can play on special teams coverage units as well as in the return game. He needs to improve his strength to avoid being pushed around. He also doesn’t play as fast as his 4.49 40 time.

Last season, he broke Michigan’s single season receiving yards record, previously set by Braylon Edwards. He also set the Big Ten record for receiving yards in a game with 369 against Indiana, which is second in FBS history.

The 5-foot-8-inch, 185-pound former Wolverine finished his redshirt senior season with 1,284 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns on 80 catches. He also had nine rushing yards on two carries.

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