With the NFL coming off of a season that saw more pass attempts per game than any campaign in league history, it is clear pro football will continue its trajectory of becoming more aerial-attack oriented.
It takes talented pass-catchers to make this happen, so let's take a closer look at what the metrics say about the upper-tier wide receivers in this year's draft -- a class that is considered to have star power at the top and depth throughout.
Each of the top eight prospects (wideouts from BCS conferences who were listed with first- or second-round grades according to Scouts Inc.) was ranked in the following categories: age (as of the 2014 draft), height, weight, arm length, hand size, 40-yard dash time, overall yards per attempt, vertical yards per attempt, stretch vertical yards per attempt, targets per game, overall success rate (completion percentage with penalty plays included as completions), success rate at the vertical and stretch vertical levels, and yards per attempt when facing a cornerback or safety in direct coverage.
(Note: Vertical passes are aerials that travel 11 or more yards downfield; stretch verticals are thrown 20 or more yards.)
Each player's metrics are based on a tape review of a minimum of nine games against BCS- or bowl-caliber competition.
The player's rankings were then tabulated on a 1-8 scale, with the best score getting a rating of 8. Each player's overall total can be found under the raw points listing.
Since some categories deserve more weight than others, these rankings also had the addition of a modified point structure that added a 20 percent weight to targets per game; a 30 percent weight to YPA, VYPA, SVYPA and the success rate at each of these depth levels; and a 50 percent weight to the 40-yard dash time and YPA versus cornerbacks or safeties.
Each player also has a modified point listing for productivity, which includes his rankings in YPA, VYPA, SVYPA and the success rates at these levels, and for attributes, which includes the rankings for 40-yard dash, height, weight, arm length, hand size and birth date.
Now that the prelims are out of the way, let's take a look at how the rankings turned out.