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Rankings

NFL Draft WR Rankings

by Thor Nystrom
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

 

1. Courtland Sutton (SMU) | 6’3/218

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.54 sec | bench: 18 reps | 3-cone: 6.57 | 20-yard shuttle: 4.11 | vertical: 35.5 in | broad: 124 in

Athletic composite percentile: 92.9%

Player Comp: Alshon Jeffery as a receiver and Laquon Treadwell as a blocker

Sutton came to SMU as a three-star safety recruit after failing to receive a Power 5 scholarship offer. He’d played some offense, but only as an H-back type in a run-heavy scheme. Chad Morris saw something that others missed and shifted Sutton to receiver during his injury-ravaged freshman year (he took a medical redshirt). The rest was history, as Sutton followed a 49-862-9 line in his first full year as a receiver with consecutive 1,000-plus yard, 10-plus touchdown campaigns before declaring for the NFL Draft. Throughout, SMU lauded him for his work ethic.

He would have been a first-round pick last year, but returned to have his game nitpicked. Sutton’s basketball background is apparent in the way he plays receiver (he even played a few games for Larry Brown at SMU earlier in his career), and his TE experience from high school jumps off the screen when he’s asked to block. He’s a big, muscular, nimble athlete who excels in contested situations. Sutton comes with a big catch radius and plus-plus toughness; he’ll take a hit to complete the catch. A red-zone monster, Sutton scored touchdowns on 16-percent of his collegiate receptions. Sutton provides additional value as the class’ best-blocking receiver—he competes like a tight end as a blocker.

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The biggest cause for concern is that Sutton didn’t reliably create separation in college. He got away with that because of his frame, athleticism and contested-catch prowess, but things are about to get more difficult in the NFL. It was assumed that Sutton would test poorly in the agility drills at the NFL Combine. That didn’t happen. His three-cone was the third-best among wideouts, and his short shuttle ranked fourth. It seems entirely possible that Sutton will learn to create more separation by running better routes. He lined up all over in SMU’s offense, but wasn’t asked to run a dynamic route tree. And remember: He’s still relatively new to this whole receiver thing.

Everything else is here. Sutton isn’t quite as safe as a few of the guys below him on this list, but his upside is the highest of this year’s receiving class and he has a pretty straightforward path to get there.

2. D.J. Moore (Maryland) | 6’0/200

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.42 sec | bench reps: 15 | 3-cone: 6.95 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.07 sec | vertical: 39.5 in | broad: 132 in

Athletic composite percentile: 97.1%

Player Comp: The Steve Smith starter kit in raw form (hat tip: Dane Brugler)

Moore burst onto the scene in 2017 by piling up an eye-opening 80-1033-8 line. He did so despite Maryland playing a brutal slate of opponents (10 of 12 in the top-65 of S&P+) while mostly using fourth-string true freshman QB Max Bortenschlager after its top three quarterbacks all got hurt. Moore was almost always facing the opposing team’s No. 1 corner (and he squared off against some studs, Holton Hill and Mike Hughes in the non-conference slate, Denzel Ward and Rashard Fant in-conference, etc.). Maryland’s offense as a whole was abominable last fall (No. 113 S&P+), and yet Moore consistently produced as a large percentage of the offense was deliberately funneled to him.

Moore’s ascension continued in Indianapolis, where he measured in bigger than expected and then dominated in tests. He’s a short speed merchant, but he’s more than that. He’s thick and quick, he runs good routes, and he’s a crafty and explosive runner after the catch, sometimes erasing good angles being taken by defenders by taking a false or exaggerated step. He’s well-built, competitive and tough, and he has good hands and body control. Does any of that sound like Steve Smith? That’s Dane Brugler’s comp.

To become that caliber of player, Moore will need to continue to hone his technique. He piled up his collegiate production through a combination of athletic superiority and manufactured touches. He doesn’t create as much separation as his athletic profile suggests he should, and his route-running needs refinement. Moore sometimes lets the ball get into his body, a bad habit he hopefully can be coached out of. He’ll likely never be great in contested situations. You’re not drafting him to get a downfield jump-ball type. Not his game. Get him the ball in space and watch him go.

3. Calvin Ridley (Alabama) | 6’0/189

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.43 sec | bench reps: 15 | 3-cone: 6.88 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.41 sec | vertical: 31 in | broad: 110 in

Athletic composite percentile: 6.8%

Player Comp: Greg Jennings (hat tip: Matt Harmon)

I have reservations about Ridley and have never ranked him as the class’ best receiver. So let’s get the negatives out of the way first. He has average height and a slender frame, and he’s poor in contested situations. Due to his lack of strength, he can be jarred off his route path. He’ll go to some lengths to avoid contact, getting out of bounds, taking a dive, or dancing around after the catch instead of charging upfield. Skirting hits may even be somewhat warranted, as Ridley’s lack of bulk naturally leads to more nagging/minor injuries. Ridley is also one of the older prospects in this receiving crop; he’ll be 24 as a rookie and may be nearing his athletic ceiling.

All that said! Ridley is extremely difficult to stick to in coverage because of his dancer’s feet and his top-notch play speed. He’s not an explosive athlete, as his Indy testing scores indicated, but he’s a fleet one. While he’s not great in 50-50 opportunities, Ridley creates separation so easily that he greatly mitigates those situations. At Alabama, Jalen Hurts would throw open receivers into coverage. Ridley won’t have to deal with that at the next level and his game will benefit as a result. Ridley has strong hands and catches the ball naturally away from his body. Even so, he was plagued by drops at Alabama (20 in total) because of his reticence to take a big hit and the concentration lapses that stemmed from that fear. Ridley absolutely has his uses, but I don’t see a No. 1 NFL receiver. He should be a dangerous No. 2 however, an effective supporting actor, not the leading man.

4. Equanimeous St. Brown (Notre Dame) | 6’5/214

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.48 sec | bench reps: 20 | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: DNP | broad: DNP

Athletic composite percentile: 62.6%

Player Comp: Sidney Rice (hat tip: Chris Trepasso)

A prospect I’ve long been high on, St. Brown’s process started out under the radar but has since gained stream. And that makes sense. St. Brown was initially hurt by a lack of context surrounding his situation—his “regression” in 2017 had zero to do with him and everything to do with the drop-off from DeShone Kizer to Brandon Wimbush, the latter of whom is not an FBS-caliber passer. St. Brown’s catch radius is huge—but to have salvaged many of Wimbush’s errant throws, it would have needed to have been Texas-big.

St. Brown is a rangy and athletic receiver with long, ropey arms. His deep speed must be respected. He runs good-but-not great routes and catches the ball away from his body with very few drops. St. Brown is an acrobat when the ball is in the air—good luck getting higher than he can. He could use some technical polish on the routes, though he does gain more separation than he ought to, considering his size and raw game. Keep in mind that he’s two full years younger than Calvin Ridley and only really saw the field for two years in South Bend; there’s untapped potential here.

Though he’s been weight training since he was a child (his father is a world-famous body builder), St. Brown could stand to add bulk. Despite his imposing size, he can get pushed around due to his leaner build. He’s also a finesse runner after the catch who isn’t overly difficult to yank down. Maybe Dad can help him with all that?

St. Brown is easily the riskiest of my top-five receiver prospects, but you could argue that only he and Sutton truly have No. 1 NFL receiver ceilings. I’m bullish on the long-term potential. In a receiver crop that’s thin at the top, I would be comfortable investing in St. Brown at the beginning of Day 2.

5. Christian Kirk (Texas A&M) | 5’10/201

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.47 sec | bench reps: 20 | 3-cone: 7.09 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.45 sec | vertical: 35.5 in | broad: 115 in

Athletic composite percentile: 31.0%

Player Comp: Mashup of Stefon Diggs and Sterling Shepard (hat tip: Matthew Freedman and Charlie Campbell)

 

Kirk, a former five-star recruit, is being underrated because of A&M’s atrocious quarterback play the past few seasons. The running joke on Twitter I make is that if Kirk had signed with Oklahoma, they’d be erecting his statue in Norman right now. Trevor Knight couldn’t throw the ball downfield, and Kellen Mond couldn’t throw the ball with accuracy as a true freshman—so cut Kirk a little slack when watching his 2016-2017 tape. Like Calvin Ridley, Kirk suffered over the past few years because of his situation (Kirk posted an 80-1009-7 line as a true freshman and didn’t top 1,000 yards again).  

Kirk’s special sauce is having the ball in his hands with space to work with. That simply wasn’t an option in College Station the past few years. Kirk is elusive with the ball in his hands due to his plus agility and the ability to hit the breaks from top speed and then quickly accelerate into a sprint in the name of making defenders miss. Kirk is a ready-made NFL kick and punt returner.

Kirk mostly played in the slot for the Aggies and will likely remain there in the NFL. Despite his short/thick build, he can get knocked off his route path. He also isn’t great in contested situations, one reason he hasn’t developed as much as I’d hoped as a deep threat. Of course, he was rarely given the opportunity in College Station.

6. Michael Gallup (Colorado State) | 6’1/205

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.51 sec | bench reps: 10 | 3-cone: 6.95 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.37 sec | vertical: 36 in | broad: 122 in

Athletic composite percentile: 77.7%

Player Comp: Michael Crabtree (hat tip: Matt Harmon)

 

A JUCO transfer, Gallup traveled a circuitous route to get here, failing to qualify academically out of high school (he had offers from all over) and then settling for a Group of 5 offer from CSU upon transferring after suffering an injury in his sophomore season in the junior college ranks. But Gallup exploded in two seasons at Colorado State, posting a combined 176-2685-21 line. I’d make the argument that the numbers could have been even more obscene than that. Nick Stevens, his limited collegiate quarterback, frequently left yards on the field by missing Gallup deep.

Like Crabtree, Gallup is a crafty and competitive receiver who runs great routes and keeps cornerbacks guessing. Consistently provides his quarterback with a big strike zone to fire the ball into. He’s of average height, but Gallup plays strong and feisty. He consistently gains separation and finishes plays. Despite not having an ideal size/speed combination, Gallup is effective in the deep sector of the field because he’s comfortable working the sidelines and is an explosive leaper who wins jump balls.

Gallup looks like a prototypical No. 2 receiver, but it’s not out of the question that he could develop into a No. 1. This is how NFL.com receiver expert Matt Harmon put it: “The last player to give off these Michael Crabtree-like signals was current Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas. If Gallup also ends up with a quarterback and offense tailor-made for that skill set, he might follow a similar path.”

7. Anthony Miller (Memphis) | 5’11/201

Combine numbers-

40-yard: DNP | bench reps: 22 | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: DNP | broad: DNP

Athletic composite percentile: N/A

Player Comp: Doug Baldwin (hat tip: Matt Harmon)

Above, I used Dane Brugler’s comp of Steve Smith for Maryland’s D.J. Moore. But Steve Smith himself compares Anthony Miller to himself. The more popular industry comp for Miller is Baldwin, and I see that one a bit more clearly.

An overlooked zero-star recruit who walked on at Memphis and then didn’t play in either of his first two years on campus, Miller exploded onto the scene the past three years with a cumulative 238-3590-37 line. To go from zero to hero that quickly, you know he has some dog in him. That attitude jumps off the screen, with a pathological competitiveness that doesn’t abate, regardless of whether he’s sprinting towards the end zone or blocking for his running back. It’s surprising to see a receiver of his stature sell out to block, and it’s also surprising to see a receiver this size do so well in contested 50-50 situations.

At Memphis, Miller was used both in the slot and outside. He’s dangerous after the catch (though he does need to work on ball security). Unlike Ridley, Miller does not surrender with the ball in his hands. You’ll need to get him to the ground for the whistle to blow. Despite being a sub-six foot former walk-on, Miller is a safe prospect in a receiver class that has few. He acquits himself as a No. 2 NFL receiver who’ll be comfortable out wide or in the slot.

8. James Washington (Oklahoma State) | 5’11/213

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.54 sec | bench reps: 14 | 3-cone: 7.11 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.32 sec | vertical: 34.5 in | broad: 120 in

Athletic composite percentile: 63.0%

Player Comp: Corey Coleman (hat tip: Lance Zierlein)

Washington gets dinged for his height and his RB-like build, but he’s got extremely long arms and courage to spare. A unique player in that he’s a sub-six footer who’s money in contested downfield situations. Washington tracks the ball like a natural and catches it away from his body. Flammable big-play threat who averaged nearly 20 yards per catch in college and posted nearly 4,500 receiving yards in Stillwater.

Washington’s strengths are unique for a player his size. So are his weaknesses. He’s a player who’s more comfortable in the deep sector of the field than he is in the short and intermediate areas. He’s breathtaking to watch on fly routes, a burner who’s comfortable down the sideline and with the ball in the air. But he can struggle when asked to run shorter, non-sexy routes that require nuance. Faster than he is quick and more explosive than he is finesse, Washington doesn’t have Ridley’s nifty feet to create easy separation on stick-moving routes.

It’s fair to point out that he did exactly what was asked of him in Oklahoma State’s high-flying offense. Washington wasn’t given an opportunity to run as broad a route tree as some of his contemporaries. Washington is raw at many facets of his craft, and it’s fair to call him a one-trick pony at this time. But he’s got one hell of a trick, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that there’s a bit more potential to untap here. Washington is lauded as an extremely hard worker, so no doubt he’ll squeeze whatever he can out of himself.

9. Dante Pettis (Washington) | 6’0/186

Combine numbers-

40-yard: DNP | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: DNP | broad: DNP

Athletic composite percentile: N/A

Player Comp: T.J. Houshmandzadeh with elite return ability (hat tip: Lance Zierlein)

Stuck in John Ross’ shadow until last season, Pettis has been overlooked for much of his career. He doesn’t have the traits to become a No. 1 NFL receiver—he didn’t take to that role as some had hoped last season for the Huskies—but he has a decent chance of developing into a strong No. 2. He comes from a family of athletes and moonlighted on Washington’s track team the past few years. Pettis is a smooth operator and a finesse receiver with a polished game. His routes are precise, and he does real damage in the open field if hit in stride.

While he’s adept at creating separation, Pettis struggles when crowded. He can get bullied by physical corners, and he won’t sell out to make the catch if it means he’ll take a shot. This probably goes without saying, but he’s a subpar blocker.

Pettis adds substantial special teams value, and that needs to be baked into his evaluation. He’ll also be an outstanding return man from Day 1. He’s one of the best punt returners in NCAA history and has perennial Pro Bowl upside in that department. He owns the NCAA record with nine career punt return touchdowns.

10. DJ Chark (LSU) | 6’3/199

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.34 sec | bench reps: 16 | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: 40 in | broad: 129 in

Athletic composite percentile: 96.2%

Player Comp: Ted Ginn Jr. (hat tip: Dane Brugler)

After a quiet career in LSU’s run-heavy offense, Chark shot up boards by going ballistic at the NFL Combine. Chark also reportedly impressed teams during meetings. He’s a rangy downfield burner who accelerates quickly and effortlessly and boasts an NBA-light 79-inch wingspan (among the widest of the WR class).

Much of Chark’s evaluation is based on projection, as he obviously didn’t sign with the best school to display his long-ball skillset. In limited touches (only 66 career catches), Chark displayed scintillating home run ability. He led all FBS receivers (minimum 35 catches) with a 21.9 yards per reception average last year. That explosion translated to special teams when LSU added punt returning duties to his responsibilities last fall. Chark took two to the house.

Chark remains raw at his craft outside of running nine routes. He’s a straight-line burner, not a technician. His routes figure to improve at the next level with NFL coaching, but he’ll never develop into a Ridley or Gallup-caliber route runner. Chark comes with risk, but at the very least he’ll be able to pop the lid off a defense and return punts from the day he enters your building. Anything beyond that will have to be developed.

11. Deon Cain (Clemson) | 6’2/202

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.43 sec | bench reps: 11 | 3-cone: 6.71 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.37 sec | vertical: 33.5 in | broad: 115 in

Athletic composite percentile: 28.7%

Player Comp: The Roddy White starter kit (hat tip: Lance Zierlein)

In my pre-Combine rankings, I noted that “I want to be higher on Cain, but I have a hard time trusting him like I trust Pettis or Gallup.” And that’s where I’m still at. I love the package, but I remain skeptical about whether Cain will ever equal the sum of his parts.

And I should acknowledge my bias, here. Cain, a former five-star recruit, is a guy I expected to break out in a big way each of the past two years at Clemson after a promising true freshman campaign. Instead, he averaged a mere 48-729-7 line the past two years despite playing in a high-octane offense. A high school quarterback, Cain arrived on campus raw. He remains raw after declaring for the NFL Draft a year early.

He’s a strong and physical receiver who can get downfield and is superb in contested situations. With the ball in his hands, he has both shake and power, difficult to square up and hard to wrestle down. Cain also gives effort as a blocker.

But he remains a tease. Cain’s routes need work, and he drops too many balls. The latter issue may be because he’s raw, or because he has small hands, or because he has concentration lapses. Whatever the case, he better shore that up quickly. Cain was hit with a marijuana suspension in college and carried a me-first reputation earlier in his Clemson career. If he’s focused and motivated, watch out. If he isn’t, he’ll disappoint.  

12. DaeSean Hamilton (Penn State) 6’1/203

Combine numbers-

40-yard: DNP | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: 6.84 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.15 sec | vertical: 34.5 in | broad: 118 in

Athletic composite percentile: 77.5%

Player Comp: Steve Johnson (hat tip: Matt Harmon)

Amid a fascinating receiver class that has a handful of boom-or-bust talents, Hamilton is a rarity. He has almost no chance of developing into a No. 1 NFL receiver, but he has one of the highest floors of any receiver in this class—a low-ceiling, high-floor prospect.

He doesn’t look like much. Hamilton has average size, good-but-not-great athleticism and he drops more passes than you’d like. Despite being a four-year starter in an offense that became a juggernaut in his final two years on campus, Hamilton never reached even 900 yards receiving in a campaign.

But we know he’ll make it in the NFL because Hamilton is an outstanding route runner, one of the best in the class. He has an A+ football IQ, consistently gaining separation due to his cunning and footwork. He sets corners up like a poker player who remembers past hands and discombobulates his opponents by constantly altering his patterns. Coaches and teammates rave about the guy.

Hamilton was used as a big slot receiver at Penn State. That’s where he projects best at the next level.

13. Antonio Callaway (Florida) | 5’11/200

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.41 sec | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: 34 in | broad: 121 in

Athletic composite percentile: 61.5%

Player Comp: Percy Harvin with troubling off-field issues (hat tip: Matthew Freedman)

I’m terrified by Callaway’s off-field issues. At Florida, he was given a long leash and proceeded to bite his coaches and teammates throughout his tenure. There was a sexual assault charge, a marijuana citation, and, most recently, a suspension for the 2017 season for participating in one of the more hare-brained schemes you’ll ever read about in college athletics (which is saying something; Callaway and a small handful of his teammates concocted a credit card fraud scheme for which they were quickly caught).

I’d love to leave him off my board entirely, but we’re evaluating NFL talent, not morality. And on talent alone, Callaway is a top-five receiver in this class. He’s an electric athlete in the Percy Harvin mold. Extremely difficult to cover due to his speed, twitchiness and speed skater feet, Callaway is a threat to score every time he has the ball in space. Not surprisingly, he’s a strong return man. Athleticism runs in the family—Callaway is the cousin of John Brown.

Callaway is as boom-or-bust as you can get in this receiver class. He could have an immediate impact like a Tyreek Hill, or he could allow his off-field proclivities to ruin his career early. This ranking is splitting the difference between his potential outcomes—WR13 is about where I’d consider taking him on Draft Day.

 

14. J’Mon Moore (Missouri) | 6’3/207

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.6 sec | bench reps: 21 | 3-cone: 6.56 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.04 sec | vertical: 38 in | broad: 120 in

Athletic composite percentile: 85.2%

Player Comp: Cody Latimer (hat tip: PFF)

Ranking Moore this high requires a bit of a leap of faith. He’s raw, drops too many passes, is a bit lean and comes out of an Air Raid offense in which he predominantly played on one side of the field and didn’t run a complex route tree. His routes need a lot of work, and he’s not as strong in contested situations as you’d like for a player of his ilk.

All that said, he's an exciting prospect. Moore is coming off consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in the SEC. He’s rangy, long-armed and very athletic. Moore showed off explosion and agility in Indy, and those areas of his game are apparent on tape. He’s a big play threat with nifty feet.

His career could play out in a number of different ways. Moore could develop into one of the NFL’s most dangerous No. 2 receivers, a size/athleticism big-play machine who feasts on single coverage. Or, Moore could fail to improve his routes, continue to drop too many passes and flame out quickly. Multiple reports have tagged him as immature and self-centered. For a player who needs so much work to turn into an NFL difference-maker, those reports are concerning.

15. Tre’Quan Smith (UCF) | 6’2/203

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.49 sec | bench reps: 12 | 3-cone: 6.97 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.5 sec | vertical: 37.5 in | broad: 130 in

Athletic composite percentile: 56.1%

Player Comp: Allen Robinson traits (hat tip: Dane Brugler)

A thick outside receiver with long arms, Smith specializes in highlight reel catches. He uses his plus-strength as a runner and as a blocker. He’s not a burner, but he made plenty of plays downfield for the Knights by utilizing his effectiveness in contested situations and his skill while airborne.

To become a player spoken of in the same sentence as Robinson, Smith needs to work on his routes and his consistency. With his frame and game, he probably should have converted more plays than he did against Group of 5 competition. The athletic advantage he always enjoyed in college will evaporate at the next level.

16. Cedrick Wilson (Boise State) | 6’2/197

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.55 sec | bench reps: 9 | 3-cone: 6.89 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.23 | vertical: 37 in | broad: 121 in

Athletic composite percentile: 48.6%

Player Comp: Less explosive Ted Ginn (hat tip: Josh Norris)

For a player who was obscenely productive at a marquee Group of 5 school and comes from NFL bloodlines (Cedrick Wilson, Sr., played in the NFL for seven years), Wilson Jr. has gone overlooked in this draft class.

He can play inside or outside and runs strong routes. Despite his average athleticism, Wilson was a big-play maven on the blue turf. His special sauce is creating separation, reeling in the ball with his big mitts, and weaving through traffic upfield. Because of his hunting dog tracking ability, Wilson is extremely effective on vertical routes. As a returner, he’s a poor man’s Dante Pettis, making up for a lack of elite athleticism with vision and feel.

Wilson is my kind of prospect, a guy who wasn’t recruited out of high school and had to earn his FBS scholarship offer by ripping up the JUCO ranks. He was an unknown as of two years ago but emphatically planted his flag as an NFL prospect. He’s not a sexy prospect, but I’d be surprised if he didn’t have a long career.

 

17. Keke Coutee (Texas Tech) | 5’10/181

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.43 sec | bench reps: 14 | 3-cone: 6.93 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.15 sec | vertical: 34.5 in | broad: 113 in

Athletic composite percentile: 21.2%

Player Comp: John Brown (hat tip: Lance Zierlein)

Coutee is going to be around for awhile, so make sure you’re pronouncing his name correctly at your draft party (key-key Q-T). He comes with your standard caveats about Air Raid receivers, namely that Coutee ran a limited route tree in college and will require patience in Year 1 as he works on the technical aspects of his craft.

Coutee didn’t test the best in Indianapolis, but make no mistake: He’s a twitchy athlete who’s extremely difficult to stick to in coverage. Coutee is a blur on the field, with exceptional play speed and agility. His open field ability translates to kick returns.

Short and frail, Coutee is a dancer with the ball in his hands. If you get your hands on him, he’s going down. He can be bumped off his route path, too—if you can stick close enough to do so. Poor in contested situations, Coutee is a receiver who’s touches must be confined to near the line of scrimmage.

18. Justin Watson (Pennsylvania) | 6’3/213

Combine numbers: Not invited

Athletic composite percentile: 93.0%

Player Comp: Jordan Matthews (hat tip: Anthony Amico)

They may have to beam in Chris Berman on Day 3 when Watson gets selected—nobody fetishized Ivy League prospects quite like Boomer, and Watson is an intriguing one. He posted a 286-3777-33 line across four seasons for the Quakers, becoming the first Ivy League player in history to record a catch in every game he played in over four years.

Watson toyed with Ivy League defensive backs who weren’t physically able to combat his size, hops (40-inch vertical) and ball skills. Watson plays and runs tall. He needs a runway to get to top speeds and isn’t adept at moving laterally. For that reason, he doesn’t make defenders miss in the open field and his routes lack snap.

That said, he’s extremely sharp (Wharton grad), he accounted for one of the higher college workshare percentages we’ve seen in recent years and he showed off outstanding athleticism at his pro day workout (4.4 forty, explosive jumps). He’s raw and facing a huge leap up in competition, but Watson has the athletic profile and character to make a mark in the NFL.

19. Simmie Cobbs (Indiana) | 6’3/220

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.64 sec | bench reps: 11 | 3-cone: 6.7 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.32 | vertical: 30 in | broad: 113 in

Athletic composite percentile: 14.9%

Player Comp: Laquon Treadwell (hat tip: Matt Miller)

 

Cobbs is what he is: An athletically limited, physical possession receiver. He showed that he could produce against NFL talent in college, most famously torching Denzel Ward and his Ohio State teammates for an 11-149-1 line in the 2017 opener with a variety of back shoulder catches. It should be no surprise that he’s a former basketball player. Cobbs uses his body and functional strength to box out and high point. He’s better after the catch than you’d assume based on his athletic profile because he’s a fluid mover who accelerates quickly and sees the entire field.

Cobbs’ slow 40 time was no fluke—he plays at that speed and will continue to play at that speed. Because of that, Cobbs needs to work on his routes, something that will be critical in his pursuit of becoming a reliable NFL first-down machine.

 

20. Allen Lazard (Iowa State) | 6’5/227

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.55 sec | bench reps: 17 | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: 38 in | broad: 122 in

Athletic composite percentile: 76.2%

Player Comp: Kenny Golladay (hat tip: Matthew Freedman)

Sharing similarities with Simmie Cobbs, Lazard is a jumbo-sized possession receiver without elite athletic traits. He tested better than expected at the NFL Combine, raising his stock a bit, though Lazard ducked the agility drills he was expected to struggle in.

Due to his lack of wiggle, Lazard’s routes are paint-by-numbers. And once he gets the ball, he’s not evading anybody. But he has adequate straight-line speed, he uses frame to his advantage by out-muscling DBs. Lazard is a natural hand-catcher who fights to the ball and gives his quarterback a large strike zone. He told reporters over the winter that he’d be willing to shift to TE if his NFL team asks, so that’s a possibility if the whole possession receiver thing doesn’t work out.

21. Trey Quinn (SMU) | 5’11/203

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.55 sec | bench reps: 17 | 3-cone: 6.91 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.19 sec | vertical: 33.5 in | broad: 116 in

Athletic composite percentile: 40.1%

Player Comp: Jordan Shipley (hat tip: Matt Miller)

The Trey Quinn Experience in college was short and sweet. A four-star recruit, Quinn signed with Les Miles’ LSU Tigers, making the same mistake many other talented receivers before him had made. Stuck behind Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural on a team that hated throwing the ball, Quinn transferred to SMU, sat out a year, and posted a monstrous 114-1236-11 line in 2017 before declaring for the NFL Draft. Believe it or not, he out-produced Courtland Sutton last season.

Quinn comes with a poor size/speed combination, though it should be mentioned that he ran in the high-4.3s in high school and posted a 4.47 at his pro day. Regardless, he’s not a burner. He’s a prototypical slot, with big, reliable hands and nifty feet. Quinn consistently gains separation, and he fights upfield with the ball in his hands. He won’t be a star, but he’ll be a darn effective NFL slot.

22. Jordan Lasley (UCLA) | 6’1/203

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.5 sec | bench reps: 8 | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: 4.19 sec | vertical: 34.5 in | broad: 112 in

Athletic composite percentile: 34.3%

Player Comp: Terrance Williams (hat tip: Matthew Freedman)

Lasley has also been compared to Will Fuller, though he’s not as fast and has even worse hands (he’s an unnatural body-catcher). He’s a frustrating prospect to evaluate, because the NFL starter traits are there along with the myriad on-field drops and off-field issues.

He went supernova last year as Josh Rosen’s No. 1 receiver, posting a 69-1264-9 line despite missing three games while suspended. Lasley is electric after the catch and Rosen, obviously, was quite skilled at getting him into advantageous positions. He’s a strong route runner with a take-it-to-the-house mentality with the pigskin in his hands.

Will he stay out of trouble in the NFL? Can he cut down the drops (16% drop rate over the past two years)? Beats me. Lasley is a classic boom-or-bust project.

23. Jaleel Scott (New Mexico State) | 6’5/218

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.56 sec | bench reps: 16 | 3-cone: 7.2 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.4 sec | vertical: 34.5 in | broad: 124 in

Athletic composite percentile: 47.1%

Player Comp: Rueben Randle (hat tip: Matt Miller)

Jaleel Scott is a personal favorite, a jumbo-sized, small-school stud who became something of a SportsCenter Top 10 provocateur for his ridiculous circus catches. He tested well enough to dispel athleticism concerns at the NFL Combine.

 

Scott plays the game like a basketball player. He uses his length and enormous wingspan to snag passes the defensive back has no chance of getting his hands on. He’s comfortable working the deep sector. The Aggies would use Scott as a jumbo slot receiver to great effect, and that’s an intriguing idea at the next level if he develops. But he needs a lot of work. Like Lazard, he’s heavy-footed and lacks suddenness. Scott is raw in the technical aspects of his position and isn’t much of a blocker at this point.

24. Marcell Ateman (Oklahoma State) | 6’4/216

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.62 sec | bench reps: 13 | 3-cone: 7.07 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.25 sec | vertical: 34 in | broad: 121 in

Athletic composite percentile: 27.1%

Player Comp: Quincy Enunwa (hat tip: Matt Miller)

A big receiver coming out of a prolific spread offense, Ateman quickly recovered from having missed the 2016 season (foot) to emerge as a legitimate NFL talent. Ateman is a high-pointer with good hands and ball skills. He’s a mediocre athlete who lacks deep speed and wiggle.

25. Deontay Burnett (USC) | 6’0/186

Combine numbers-

40-yard: DNP | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: DNP | broad: DNP

Athletic composite percentile: N/A

Player Comp: Willie Snead (hat tip: Chris Trepasso)

A silky smooth slot receiver, Burnett is a fluid-but-limited athlete. He runs strong routes, shows great field awareness and will take a hit to make the catch. Unfortunately, he’s small, small-handed, loses is contested situations and is not a burner. In the middle of Day 3, you take Burnett if you missed out on your preferred slot option in earlier rounds.

26. Korey Robertson (Southern Mississippi) | 6’1/212

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.56 sec | bench reps: 13 | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: 34 in | broad: 123 in

Athletic composite percentile: 44.4%

Player Comp: Poor man’s Anquan Boldin (hat tip: Matt Miller)

Robertson is a unique prospect whose calling card is his physicality and fighter’s mentality. He has the game of a larger player, using his body to box out defenders and take them on in the open field. He burst onto the scene by dominating out-gunned Conference USA defensive backs last year, but it’s fair to wonder if his game will translate cleanly to the NFL.

Robertson lacks plus athleticism and his route running is in the neophyte stages. If he learns how to separate against NFL corners, he’s going to become one of this class’ hidden gems. If he doesn’t, he’s going to have an extremely difficult time sticking on a roster.

27. Dylan Cantrell (Texas Tech) | 6’3/226

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.59 sec | bench reps: 18 | 3-cone: 6.56 | 20-yard shuttle: 4.03 | vertical: 38.5 in | broad: 130 in

Athletic composite percentile: 98.6%

Player Comp: Amara Darboh (hat tip: Matt Miller)

Fascinating prospect who grew all the more intriguing after dominating the NFL Combine testing process. He’s big, sure-handed, hyper-athletic and gives effort as a blocker. Cantrell also has experience working inside and outside in a pass-happy scheme, and he’s a tough runner once he secures the ball.

All that sounds great, but Cantrell never dominated at Tech like his profile suggests he should have. He doesn’t have great straight-line speed, and that’s apparent on tape, but you’d think he would create separation quite easily with the agility he showed in Indy. He doesn’t. He had only two career 100-yard games despite playing in college football’s pass-happiest offense.

28. Auden Tate (FSU) | 6’5/228

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.68 sec | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: 31 in | broad: 112 in

Athletic composite percentile: 2.8%

Player Comp: A rawer, less athletic Devin Funchess (hat tip: Matthew Freedman)

Tate was nicknamed “Baby Megatron” in Tallahassee for his size and ability to make plays downfield. Unfortunately, the production has never fit the talent. Tate should have been dominant in college, but he didn’t even accrue 1,000 yards receiving combined across his entire Seminole career. He was always great in the red zone (16 TDs the past two years), and that skill will carry over to the NFL.

I didn’t expect him to test well in Indy and he sure didn’t. Tate is raw as a receiver and sluggish as an athlete, but he’s huge and knows how to use his body. Tate will either turn into a poor man’s Funchess or flame out.

29. Darren Carrington (Utah) | 6’2/199

Combine numbers-

40-yard: DNP | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: 36 in | broad: 190 in

Athletic composite percentile: N/A

Player Comp: Cameron Meredith (hat tip: Lance Zierlein)

Carrington was a high-profile recruit who made an immediate impact for Oregon after a redshirt year. He ran into repeated off-field issues in Eugene and was booted off the team, landing with Utah not long afterwards as a graduate transfer. Carrington had his best season yet for the Utes and stayed out of trouble, with Utah coaches publicly vouching for him.

Carrington is a smooth finesse receiver with good field awareness, decent size and huge hands—tied for the biggest in the receiver class. Those hands are reliable, but he leaves plays on the field because he won’t take a hit to secure the reception.

30. Daurice Fountain (Northern Iowa) | 6’2/210

Combine numbers: Not invited

Athletic composite percentile: N/A

Player Comp: Jaelen Strong (hat tip: Matt Miller)

One of this year’s biggest NFL Combine snubs, Fountain’s side gig of track athlete is apparent on tape. He plays bigger than he is due to his leaping ability and plus catch radius. Fountain is a risky prospect because he’s extremely raw and coming from the FCS ranks. He has a mere three games on tape against FBS opponents, and he posted a disappointing combined line of 6-44-0 in those games. He’s reportedly an extremely hard worker. He’ll need to be to make it.

31. Richie James (Middle Tennessee State) | 5’10/183

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.48 sec | bench reps: 6 | 3-cone: 6.87 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.16 sec | vertical: 35.5 in | broad: 122 in

Athletic composite percentile: 42.4%

Player Comp: Jamison Crowder (hat tip: Matthew Freedman)

A small-school gem, James was an absolute animal for MTSU, recording over 100 receptions in each of his first two years on the field. He likely would have done so for a third straight campaign last year, but his season was wrecked by injuries.

A slot receiver, James is quick and fluid. He’s dangerous after the catch. Many of his touches in college were manufactured. James is a tough kid, but he lacks play strength and will get pushed around in the NFL. He may also struggle with nagging injuries due to his small frame. In the most simplistic terms, James gives you about 80% of what Keke Coutee offers.

32. Marquez Valdes-Scantling (USF) | 6’4/206

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.37 sec | bench reps: 15 | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: 30.5 in | broad: 124 in

Athletic composite percentile: 54.8%

Player Comp: Charone Peake (hat tip: Lance Zierlein)

Valdes-Scantling may be a new name to NFL fans, but he’s long been an intriguing name in college football circles. He began his five-year career at NC State, contributing immediately, but transferred to USF after two years due to his frustration with his role in the offense. Ever intriguing due to his size/speed combination, Valdes-Scantling was expected to make his star turn in Tampa. He had 22 catches as a junior and posted a 53-879-6 line last season for the Bulls, solid but unremarkable numbers.

I’m here to tell you that he was done no favors by Quinton Flowers. Valdes-Scantling is an unrefined prospect who does one thing well: He sprints down the sideline like Justin Gatlin and provides his quarterback an opportunity to let 'er rip. Flowers simply didn’t have the skillset to take advantage.

Much work to be done, here. Valdes-Scantling runs poor routes, doesn’t block and too often gets eaten up by the ball, forcing him to hug some catches into his chest protector. But he provides the NFL with two gifts they can’t get enough of: Speed and length. 

33. Byron Pringle (Kansas State) | 6’1/203

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.46 sec | bench reps: 15 | 3-cone: 6.87| 20-yard shuttle: 4.4 | vertical: 33.5 in | broad: 120 in

Athletic composite percentile: 49.2%

Player Comp: Leonte Carroo (hat tip: Lance Zierlein)

Others are higher on Pringle than I am. My issues are the following: He’s old for a prospect (25 in November), his past is pocked with a series of crimes (to be fair, he stayed out of trouble at Kansas State and may be a new person after having had a son), he drops too many passes (he had more than one drop for every seven catches at KSU), he’s not a fluid athlete, he runs poor routes and he’s a poor blocker.

Pringle was a dangerous big-play receiver in Manhattan, a hard-charging receiver who chews up turf and gets downfield quicker than you’d expect. He works hard to get to the ball, whether that’s working back to the quarterback or getting off the ground to compete in 50-50 situations. His future depends on fit and a willingness to continue to work hard and stay out of trouble

 

34. Javon Wims (Georgia) | 6’3/215

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.53 sec | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: 7.0 | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: 33.5 in | broad: 113 in

Athletic composite percentile: 29.8%

Player Comp: Chad Hansen (hat tip: Matt Miller)

Big, burly, sure-handed and featuring a player style befitting of his hardcourt background, Wims will always have to fight for a roster spot because of his lack of athleticism. He’ll never be more than a possession receiver, though Wims could potentially turn into a decent one due to his combination of size, physicality and instinct for the ball. It’s just that there are just a handful of other guys in this class with similar profiles that I’d prefer over him.

35. Jester Weah (Pitt) | 6’2/211

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.43 sec | bench reps: 15 | 3-cone: 7.24 | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: 38 in | broad: 129 in

Athletic composite percentile: 62.5%

Player Comp: DeAndre Smelter (hat tip: Matt Miller)

I was so much higher on Weah at this time last year. He was coming off a 36-870-10 line (24.2 yards per catch) and looked like a future Day 2 pick. He was well built and obviously athletic, and he was going to eliminate his inconsistencies and turn into one of college football’s best receivers in 2017. That didn’t exactly happen. His numbers regressed and he looked just as raw, as though the Panthers had tossed a steak on the grill and returned 20 minutes later to note that it remained just as pink as it was coming out of the fridge.

Weah is a good athlete, but not a twitchy one. He’s fast, not quick. He needs a clear unobstructed path to build up to top speed, and his lack of suddenness makes it difficult to shake defensive backs in his routes. I’d guess that he does more teasing than producing at the next level.

36. Jake Wieneke (South Dakota State) | 6’4/221

Combine numbers-

40-yard: 4.67 sec | bench reps: 9 | 3-cone: 7.24 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.37 sec | vertical: 34 in | broad: 114 in

Athletic composite percentile: 7.2%

Player Comp: Tanner McEvoy (hat tip: Matt Miller)

Wieneke absolutely destroyed the FCS (5,000-plus career receiving yards). Unfortunately, questions about his athleticism were confirmed in Indianapolis, where he struggled mightily. Wieneke is big and smart, and he comes with plus ball skills. But he’s going to struggle in translation because he’s cement footed in his routes and runs like a tight end. In baseball, we’d call him a Quadruple-A player, too good for the minors but not quite good enough for the bigs.

37. Steve Ishmael (Syracuse)

38. Braxton Berrios (Miami)

39. Quadree Henderson (Pittsburgh)

40. Davon Grayson (ECU)

41. Vyncint Smith (Limestone)

42. Ka'Raun White (West Virginia)

43. Cam Phillips (Virginia Tech)

44. Thomas Owens (Florida International)

45. Ray-Ray McCloud (Clemson)

46. John Diarse (TCU)

47. Robert Foster (Alabama)

48. Russell Gage (LSU)

49. Bryce Bobo (Colorado)

50. Steven Dunbar (Houston)

51. Devonte Boyd (UNLV)

52. Jeff Badet (Oklahoma)

Thor Nystrom

Thor Nystrom is Rotoworld’s lead CFB writer. The 2018 FSWA College Sports Writer of the Year, Nystrom’s writing has also been honored by Rolling Stone magazine and The Best American Essays series. Say hi to him on Twitter @thorku!