49ers: Mel Kiper thinks top wide receiver prospects could be historically elite

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Mel Kiper invoked the 1985 and 1988 NFL drafts Wednesday when asked about the top three wide receiver prospects in this year’s draft.

The 49ers hope those prove to be apt comparisons.

Consider: The 49ers have the No. 13 pick and could be in position to select at least one of the top three wideouts: Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb and Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III.

Kiper, the longtime ESPN draft analyst, likened that group to the three in 1985: Pro Bowlers Al Toon (No. 10) and Eddie Brown (No. 13), and Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (No. 16). The first three wide receivers selected in 1988 included two Hall of Famers, Tim Brown (No. 6) and Michael Irvin (No. 11), and Sterling Sharpe (No. 7), a five-time Pro Bowler.

“You’ve had all those different receivers in drafts when you’ve had (the top) three that were very hard to separate,” Kiper said in a conference call. “And that’s the thing with Jeudy, Lamb and Ruggs. Those are the three right now.”

Worth noting: The 49ers aren’t certain to keep the No. 13 pick or select a wideout whenever they make their first selection.

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And even if they do target a wideout at No. 13, it’s possible Lamb, Jeudy and Ruggs will be off the board: The Jaguars (No. 9), Jets (No. 11) and Raiders (No. 12) are among the teams that are candidates to take a wideout. On Wednesday, the Jets’ chances of taking a wideout presumably increased when Robby Anderson, who spent the past four seasons with the team, signed with the Panthers.

Kiper views Jeudy (6-foot-1, 193 pounds) as the draft’s top wide receiver. Kiper thinks he’s best suited for the slot and hailed his route-running ability, consistent hands and stellar attitude and approach.

He noted Lamb (6-2, 198), ranked second on his board, was effective in both the slot and outside in college and raved about his run-after-the-catch ability, terming him “a powerhouse with the ball in his hands.”

Meanwhile, Ruggs (5-11, 188) ran the fastest 40-yard dash (4.27 seconds) at the combine and fell just short of breaking the event record (4.22).

“You could go Jeudy,” Kiper said. “You could go Lamb. And Henry Ruggs III is right there for some teams as the top receiver.”

Eric Branch covers the 49ers for The San Francisco Chronicle. Email: ebranch@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @Eric_Branch

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