FantasyLabs (a part of The Action Network) is a fantasy tools and real-time analytics platform that enables daily fantasy players to test theories and construct customized lineups with the same Tools and Models used by co-founders Jonathan Bales and Peter Jennings (CSURAM88). This season, Editor-in-Chief Matthew Freedman is providing NFL prospect analysis in advance of the draft. In this piece, Matt looks at the five top players in his wide receiver rankings and sorts through their ranges of outcomes to provide player comps based on biophysical profile, college production, and expected draft position.
No. 1: Courtland Sutton, Southern Methodist
Redshirt Junior | 6’3″ and 218 Pounds | Born October 10, 1995 (Age: 22) | Projection: Rounds 1-2
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.54 sec | bench: 18 reps | 3-cone: 6.57 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.11 sec | vertical: 35.5 in | broad: 124 in
Courtland Sutton is a big-bodied polished route runner with down-field ability and a “my ball” mentality, which might be expected given that he played on SMU’s basketball team for a season. With respectable team-leading stats as a redshirt freshman (49 receptions for 862 yards and nine touchdowns), Sutton broke out as a sophomore with a dominant 76-1,246-10 campaign as he captured a 39.3 and 45.5 percent market share of the Mustangs’ receiving yards and touchdowns. Although the addition of fellow draft prospect Trey Quinn limited Sutton’s production as a junior (68-1,085-12; 28.4 and 34.3 percent market share), he still had a good season, and the top-quintile SPARQ athleticism he exhibited at the combine suggests that Sutton can be more than just a possession receiver in the NFL. With his multi-year production, elite size, sufficient speed, excellent size-adjusted agility, vice-like strength at the catch point and expected draft position, Sutton is most comparable to another wide receiver who wasn’t the most heralded in his rookie class but has been the most dominant NFL player of the cohort.
Player Comp: Alshon Jeffery
For more, see Sutton’s player profile.
No. 2: D.J. Moore, Maryland
Junior | 6’0″ and 210 Pounds | Born April 14, 1997 (Age: 20) | Projection: Rounds 1-2
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.42 sec | bench: 15 reps | 3-cone: 6.95 | 20-yard shuttle: 4.07 sec | vertical: 39.5 in | broad: 132 in
D.J. Moore is perhaps this year’s most intriguing wide receiver prospect. A favorite of several film-based and number-crunching draftniks, Moore has seen his draft stock rise substantially since the combine, where he measured much bigger and more athletic than expected. A three-year starter in college, Moore was Maryland’s No. 2 receiver as a true freshman (25 receptions for 357 yards and three touchdowns), and as a sophomore he led the Terrapins with 637 yards and six touchdowns. In his final season he was incredible: Despite playing with four different quarterbacks, he led the Big Ten with 80 receptions, which he turned into 1,033 yards, eight touchdowns and an uber-elite 53.5 percent market share of the team’s receiving production. He also added 61 yards and a touchdown on six carries and 153 yards on 15 punt returns. Although he’s not as accomplished of a runner and returner as the typical ‘slash’ player, Moore is perhaps best thought of as a larger, more athletic and more dominant version of one of the best all-purpose wide receiver prospects of the last decade.
Player Comp: Jeremy Maclin
For more, see Moore’s player profile.
No. 3: Calvin Ridley, Alabama
Junior | 6’0″ and 189 Pounds | Born December 20, 1994 (Age: 23) | Projection: Round 1
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.43 sec | bench: 15 reps | 3-cone: 6.88 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.41 sec | vertical: 31 in | broad: 110 in
Calvin Ridley entered the combine as the No. 1 receiver and left the event with one of the worst verified biophysical profiles we’ve ever seen in someone almost certain to be a first-round pick. In truth, Ridley’s pre-combine draft hype was undeserved in that it was wholly incommensurate with his college production, but his vital measurables aren’t as horrid as people believe: Ridley is not a good athlete, but his game is predicated on route-running ability instead of physicality, and he still has above-average marks in the 40-yard dash, 3-cone drill and bench press. Ridley’s problem isn’t his athleticism: He’s comparable to 2017 first-round cornerback Tre’Davious White, who was athletic enough last year to be Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 player at his position. Rather, Ridley’s problem is his combination of athleticism and production. As a freshman Ridley had a respectable debut with 89 receptions, 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns in 15 games, but he turned 21 years old before the season was over, and he failed to improve upon that campaign in both of his following years. Given his expected draft position, advanced age and average production, size and athleticism, Ridley likely has the capped upside of a No. 2 receiver as a less athletic, more productive and probably better version of the least inspiring first-round selection of the last 15 years.
Player Comp: Anthony Gonzalez
For more, see Ridley’s player profile.
No. 4: James Washington, Oklahoma State
Senior | 5’11″ and 213 Pounds | Born April 2, 1996 (Age: 21) | Projection: Rounds 2-3
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.54 sec | bench: 14 reps | 3-cone: 7.11 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.32 sec | vertical: 34.5 in | broad: 120 in
James Washington is the latest in a long line of Big 12 wide receivers to dominate college football before entering the NFL, but he reportedly struggled with drops at his pro day, and his measured athleticism at the combine was uninspiring. Nevertheless, Washington is a Biletnikoff-winning prospect and one of the few Power Five receivers since 2000 with three seasons of at least 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns receiving. As a freshman he led all Cowboys receivers with six touchdowns, and in the three years that followed he was one of the most dominant pass catchers in college football: As a senior he was first in the nation with 20 deep receptions of 20-plus yards (Pro Football Focus), and from 2015 to 2017 no one had more than his 4,016 yards receiving. Given his stockiness, middling athleticism and multiple seasons of elite production in a spread system, Washington is most comparable to a player who took a couple of NFL seasons to develop but is now locked in as the No. 1 receiver for one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
Player Comp: Davante Adams
For more, see Washington’s player profile.
No. 5: Michael Gallup, Colorado State
Senior | 6’1″ and 205 Pounds | Born March 4, 1996 (Age: 22) | Projection: Rounds 2-3
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.51 sec | bench: 10 reps | 3-cone: 6.95 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.37 sec | vertical: 36 in | broad: 122 in
Michael Gallup was a Southeastern Conference recruit, but his standardized test scores were such that he needed to start his career at Butler Community College, where he led his team as a freshman with 44 receptions, 780 yards and 11 touchdowns. After an injury-impacted three-game sophomore campaign, Gallup enrolled at CSU, where he closed his career with back-to-back top-tier seasons, finishing that two-year timeframe with top-five pass-catching marks in receptions (176), yards (2,690) and touchdowns (21), which is especially remarkable considering that as a senior he faced press coverage on an FBS-high 64 targets, which speaks to his route-running technique and ability to separate from defensive backs. While he might be thought of as a Day 2 Michael Crabtree or Justin Blackmon, Gallup (with his notable production yet league-average combination of size and athleticism) is most comparable to a player who spent years as a No. 2 option but now is the lead receiver on an up-and-coming offense.
Player comp: Robert Woods
For more, see Gallup’s player profile.