(Photo: Pam Panchak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
At a time of year when mock drafts and talent evaluation reports are seemingly everywhere in the weeks and months leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, it can be hard to find any sense of consistency.
One thing, however, is becoming increasingly clear, to the point of being obvious -- Kevin White will be among the most coveted skill position players available. And this week, he received perhaps his most ringing endorsement yet.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock ranks the former West Virginia standout as his No. 1 wide receiver in the 2015 NFL Draft, perching him atop a deep and talented group that also includes the likes of Alabama's Amari Cooper and Louisville's DeVante Parker.
On a conference call with reporters on Monday, Mayock reaffirmed that belief.
"I've got Kevin White above him because he has a higher ceiling," Mayock said of White's status in relation to Cooper, who many outlets have as the first receiver taken. "I think his potential is greater."
White is coming off a whirlwind 2014 season in which the junior-college transfer caught 109 passes for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns. He ranked sixth among Division I players in both receiving yards and receptions per game.
Though Mayock noted that reading too much into measurables can get teams into trouble -- as he put it, "Fast guys run fast and slow guys run slow" -- he said that he's expecting White to run the 40-yard dash in around 4.5 seconds.
Mayock referred to White, Cooper and Parker as "consensus top 20 picks" and when asked what the Chiefs might do at wide receiver with their No. 18 pick, he said that White and Cooper will likely already be gone by that point.
In the past five years, an average of 13 wide receivers have been selected in the first three rounds of the draft and during that same span, an average of 3.8 have been picked in the first round.
Though Mayock doesn't necessarily think this class is on the same level as last year's -- which produced the notable likes of Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin and Sammy Watkins, among others -- he feels that this is still an incredibly good group. And for these rookie wide receivers, according to Mayock, success is coming earlier than ever due to factors like it being a pass-first league, smaller wide receivers getting more freedom of movement with the five-yard rule and big-bodied wide receivers no longer having to be exceptional route runners with the prevalence of things like back-shoulder throws.
The NFL Combine begins on Friday, February 20, with wide receivers, quarterbacks and running backs going through their workouts on Saturday, February 21.