My NFL Draft process:
1) Improve my prospect models.
2) Create the Analytics Top 300 Rankings.
3) Watch tape and post clips to Twitter (@HaydenWinks).
4) Create my personal rankings using steps two and three. This is where we are today:
Winks’ 2020 NFL Draft WR Rankings
CeeDee Lamb (6’2/198) is an elite producer with above average athleticism, instincts, and competitiveness, making him a potential top 10 receiver in the NFL. Last season, he averaged 15.1 yards per target -- easily the best in the class -- and finished inside the 99th percentile in my predictive adjusted production score, partially because he will barely be 21 years old on draft night. On tape, he wins at the line of scrimmage with quick feet, creates separation at the next level with his combination of speed and route running ability, and finishes off plays with in-air adjustments and yards after the catch. Per PFF, he averaged 11.0 yards after catch, the most among Combine invitees. In the NFL, he’ll be utilized in the screen game and on vertical routes as an all-around WR1 despite being an average sized player with non-elite speed.
Jerry Jeudy (6’1/193) is a multi-year producer at Alabama with exceptional route running that allows him to win at all depths of the field, making him a probable WR1 in the NFL. Despite being very young and facing top-notch competition (not just in the SEC but for targets on his own team), he averaged at least 86.0 yards per game in back-to-back seasons, leading the FBS in 15+ yard receptions over that span. He also finished inside the 96th percentile in my adjusted production metric last season. On tape, he creates separation with the best route running in the class and finishes plays with stop-start moves after the catch. An extremely polished receiver with just one very forgivable question mark (38th percentile Adjusted SPARQ athleticism), Jeudy can be a high-end slot receiver or go-to target on the outside in the NFL.
Henry Ruggs (5'11/188) declared for the NFL Draft after a 40-746-7 junior season at Alabama. He operated as the No. 3 target in a stacked offense, which limited his career reception count to just 98 passes. While he doesn’t check some production boxes, he did average 13.5 yards per target last season, the second-best mark in the draft class. On tape, he’s more than just a deep threat. His route running is underrated, particularly on slant ins, slants, and shallow crossers, and he’s electric after the catch on underneath targets. He unsurprisingly showed 99th percentile Adjusted SPARQ athleticism with 4.27 speed and a 42-inch vertical at the NFL Combine. Already coming off a highly-efficient season as a 20-year-old, Ruggs should only get better with more in-game reps, profiling as a matchup mismatch in Year 1. He should end up on the Will Fuller/Tyreek Hill spectrum by the end of his rookie contract.
As a 20-year-old junior, Justin Jefferson (6’1/202) compiled 111 receptions, 1,540 yards, and 18 touchdowns as a go-to target in the most prolific offense in college football history. Primarily a slot receiver, Jefferson wins with nuanced route running, steady hands, and yards after catch ability. His 11.5 yards per target average was among the best in the class, and he only trailed Jerry Jeudy in 15+ yard receptions over the last two seasons. Per PFF, 41% of his receiving yards came on ins, outs, and crosses, which are the routes he’ll run most often in the NFL. He occasionally won on vertical routes at LSU and may be the part of his game that can be developed the most in the NFL, especially after showing 4.41 speed at the NFL Combine. Jefferson can be a reliable underneath target as a rookie and has WR1 upside within a couple of seasons.
Denzel Mims (6’3/207) flew up draft boards after stringing together a productive 2019 season with strong showings at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine. At Baylor, he broke out as a sophomore and set new career highs as a senior with a 66-1,040-12 receiving line. An 89th percentile Adjusted SPARQ athlete with 4.38 speed, Mims is at his best on vertical routes -- 29% of his receiving yards came on the go route per PFF -- where he makes acrobatic contested catches near the sideline. He flashed the ability to run a full route tree during the Senior Bowl but likely needs some rookie contract development in that area. The primary knock on his profile is that he was a 22-year-old non-declare. It’s just not enough to fade Mims as a borderline first round talent and potential WR1/2 in the NFL.
Tee Higgins (6’4/216) is an efficient deep threat with a massive catch radius who profiles as an NFL team’s WR2. As a 20-year-old last season, he produced a 59-1,167-13 receiving line, averaged the third-most yards per target (13.4) in the draft class, and came down with 15-of-23 deep targets for 565 yards per PFF. The combination of his size, physicality, and contested catch ability make him a mismatch for undersized corners, but he needs to improve as a route runner to reach his ceiling because he’s not bursty, as evidenced by his 31-inch vertical jump and bottom 2nd percentile 10-yard split. Higgins needs a runway to build up to his 4.54 speed, which is why he doesn’t profile as a go-to target in the NFL, but a Mike Williams-level role still makes him a worthwhile selection around the Round 1/2 turn.
Chase Claypool (6’4/238) is a super-athletic receiver prospect who was a late-bloomer at Notre Dame after growing up in Canada as a basketball player. He needed a few years of development to get going, but he set career highs in receptions (66), yards (1,037), touchdowns (13), and market share (32%) as a senior and flew up draft boards at the NFL Combine with 4.42 speed and 40.5-inch ups. On tape, he was a very difficult tackle on underneath targets and showed a lot of body control on downfield shots for a player his size. In the NFL, Claypool will first be used as a mismatch on offense and will likely add value on special teams with his kick coverage experience, but given his background, it’s possible that he grows into a WR1 or WR2 role on his rookie contract. Few prospects in the class can match his ceiling.
Laviska Shenault (6’1/227) is a powerful receiver with strong short-area explosion who battled injuries and questionable usage in college, making him a risky prospect with high-end upside. In 2018, he had the second most receptions per game (9.6) among FBS sophomores since at least 2000, but he was slowed down by injuries last season. Those setbacks were brought on by his physical playing style and usage. Per PFF, only 25% of his targets traveled beyond 10 yards of the line of scrimmage with Colorado deploying him as a gadget player who even lined up as a Wildcat runner in goal line situations. At the next level, he will likely do most of his damage underneath as a human truck stick, but he has flashed the ability to win deep, too. It will take some development to make Shenault an all-around receiver, but his athleticism alone should make him a rookie year contributor if his health cooperates.
Michael Pittman (6’4/223) helped his draft stock with a 101-1,275-11 senior season in USC’s air raid offense. A big body with 4.52 speed, Pittman primarily lined up outside on the left side for the Trojans and won on vertical routes -- PFF credits an absurd 36% of his receiving yards to go routes. On tape, he was physical throughout the route and came down with many contested catches, plus only dropped five of his 254 career targets. He was also effective underneath with underrated YAC ability because he’s a tough tackle given his size and competitiveness. His primary holes in his prospect profile are age-related, but I don’t trust USC coach Clay Helton with getting the most out of his players, so I’m largely ignoring them. Pittman is a high-floor starter on the perimeter with a Kenny Golladay-level ceiling.
Analytics Top 300 Model: WR14
KJ Hamler (5’9/178) is an unpolished and undersized playmaker with the potential to be a downfield mismatch as a young rookie. He compiled a 56-904-8 receiving line during his 20-year-old season last year while operating as Penn State’s big-play weapon, but a hamstring injury prevented him from competing at the NFL Combine where he would’ve run in the 4.3s. On tape, he won from the slot and out wide as a lid lifter and manufactured-touch weapon similar to Curtis Samuel or Ted Ginn. His petiteness does limit him in traffic, but his biggest issue was his hands -- he tied for the most drops (12) in the Power 5 per PFF. If that gets cleaned up, Hamler should earn a WR2 role on his rookie contract with some development.
Analytics Top 300 Model: WR10