"Not only are there a lot of receivers of first-round ability, but they have a variety of qualities to consider such as size, speed, agility," said San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Singletary. "There are different types of excellent receivers to consider, just a lot of talent."
According to ratings by NFLDraftScout.com, as many as five receivers may be taken in the first round -- all underclassmen -- and 10 in the first two rounds.
Topping the list is Texas Tech's extraordinary Michael Crabtree, who is expected to overcome recent foot surgery in time to perform his artistry as a rookie in the NFL. After him there is Missouri's Jeremy Maclin, a danger whenever the ball is in his hands, and Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey, who can cover about 20 yards in the time it takes to pronounce his name.
Here is a closer look at the wide receiver and tight end prospects:
1. *Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech, 6-2, 215
A bone scan at the combine in February found a stress fracture in his left foot that required surgery to insert a screw, but NFL teams seem comfortable that he will heal in time for this season and be ready for a great career. After only two years of college, Crabtree had nothing left to prove. He had 231 receptions for 3,127 yards and his 41 touchdowns shattered the previous NCAA two-year record of 34 by Larry Fitzgerald of Pittsburgh (2002-03).
Crabtree understands the nuances that most players take years to hone. His combination of abilities and instincts is shocking and reminiscent of Fitzgerald -- including start-stop, body control, hand-eye coordination, positioning, aggressive run-after-catch and some that defy description. And all this talent comes in a wide receiver who has a great team attitude. He may not impress with his clock time in 40 yards. But neither did Fitzgerald or Jerry Rice.
Frank Cooney is an analyst for NFLDraftScout.com.