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Are two SEC West standouts the best WR prospects in the 2018 NFL draft?

SEC wide receivers in 2018 NFL draft
PHOTOS BY USA TODAY SPORTS

Could two SEC stars become the first two receivers off the board in April? NFL scouts feel there’s a real possibility.

Several personnel evaluators around the NFL consider Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk and Alabama’s Calvin Ridley the top prospects at wide receiver in the 2018 NFL draft, draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com reported.

Along with SMU’s Courtland Sutton, they appear to form – for now – the receivers getting the most early attention from NFL scouts. Of five personnel executives surveyed, two ranked Ridley first, two selected Sutton and one selected Kirk.

One analyst said Ridley “can separate and he can fly, with upside to still get even better.”

Of Kirk, meanwhile, another said that “he can be an elite slot receiver and punt returner. He’s ready to play right away.”

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Although Kirk and Ridley are juniors and have one more year of eligibility remaining, both are expected to opt for the draft. Both are considered likely first-round selections, perhaps early in the round.

Through 12 games, Kirk has 58 catches (fifth in the SEC) for 730 yards and seven touchdowns for the Aggies. Ridley has caught 55 balls for 896 yards (third in the conference) and three touchdowns.

For their careers, Kirk has 221 receptions for 2,667 yards and 23 touchdowns, and Ridley has 216 receptions for 2,710 yards and 17 touchdowns. Kirk also has six career touchdowns on punt returns.

If Kirk and Ridley both go in the first round, they’ll be joining a long string of successful SEC wide receivers as opening-round choices over the past decade.

Other SEC receivers taken in the first round since 2011 are A.J. Green (Georgia, fourth overall, Bengals, 2011), Julio Jones (Alabama, sixth overall, Falcons, 2011), Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee, 29th overall, Vikings, 2013), Mike Evans (Texas A&M, seventh overall, Buccaneers, 2014), Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU, 12th overall, Giants, 2014), Amari Cooper (Alabama, fourth overall, Raiders, 2015) and Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss, 23rd overall, Vikings, 2016).

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