As the NFL draft draws closer and closer here are some questions that are circulating that pertain to prospects and their draft stock as well as their potential and projected impacts at the next level.
Who’s the best wide receiver in this year’s class?
This year’s wide receiver class is not very top heavy and doesn’t feature an elite level talent like Julio Jones, AJ Green or Odell Beckham but what they lack in high-end talent that would garner top 15 consideration, they make up for in variety and depth. So, the more appropriate question for teams to consider when deciding who to take would be “which receiver best fits our team?”. Picking the right receiver from this year’s group is almost like Baskin Robins and there are so many flavors to choose from.
For teams looking for big bodied receivers with a wide catch radius, strong hands, excel at coming down with contested catches and tough tackles after the catch then they might consider taking N’Keal Harry of Arizona State, Hakeem Butler of Iowa State or JJ Arcega-Whiteside of Stanford early in the draft or picking up Preston Williams of Colorado State a little later.
If they wish to find some wideouts that can take the top off defenses and blow past defenders with blazing speed and can track the ball well down the field they could take Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown of Oklahoma, D.K Metcalf of Ole Miss in the first round, Parris Campbell in the bottom of the first or top of the second round or Mecole Hardman of Georgia in one of the mid rounds.
A team looking to upgrade or find a reliable and dynamic receiver to work out of the slot could take AJ Brown of Ole Miss or Andy Isabella of UMass. Each of them was electric for their respective offenses and made plays all over the field no matter where they lined up. At 6-0 and 226 pounds, Brown is considered a tweener who is bigger than the average slot receiver but shorter than the prototypical outside receiver. However, his ability to run an expansive route tree, gain separation with speed as well as his release of the line of scrimmage makes him a uniquely gifted option.
There is also a group of run after the catch specialist that can go up for or take any play to the house from anywhere on the field once they get the ball in their hands. Deebo Samuel of South Carolina, KeeSean Johnson of Fresno State and Anthony Johnson of Buffalo make plays happen with nifty moves as they weave through the defense after they’ve made the catch and all three are projected to come off the board in the second round.
If a sure-handed possession receiver is what a team is looking for then they might look in the direction Kevin Harmon of N.C. State or Riley Ridley of Georgia. They both are refined route runners that work the sideline like pros, find soft spots in zone defenses, snap off their routes with precision and always try to get both feet down in bounds.
There are also some mid to later round receivers that have some questionable hands but possess incredible downfield playmaking ability, elusiveness, and breakaway field. Emanuel Hall of Missouri and Dillon Mitchell of Oregon are home run threats whenever they get the ball in their hands. Hall is a tough receiver that put up over 100 yards per game despite dealing with a lingering groin injury for much of his senior season. Mitchell has the long speed to outrun coverage, split the safeties and coast into the endzone once he gets a step on his man but also can cut on a dime and leave tacklers grasping for air.