Most scouts view this year’s class of wide receivers as a little lower quality than the past few years. There is talent at the top, but can there be potential after Round 1? My series on evaluating each positional group in the NFL Draft continues with the wide receivers. Who is the best player in the position group? Safest pick? Boom-or-bust pick? Underrated? Sleepers? Let’s dive in!
Best Player in the Position Group: Corey Davis (Western Michigan)
Mike Williams may have the size advantage, but I think Corey Davis is the better all-around receiver. He is the best route runner in the class and has great hands. He can play outside or inside with a demeanor to go get the ball in the air. He could be one of the best receivers in the league five years from now.
Safest Pick: JuJu Smith-Schuster (USC)
If you get Smith-Schuster at the beginning of Round 2, you are going to have a very happy quarterback for a while. He is a natural receiver, soft hands, knows how to make plays after the catch, and is a smooth route runner. He may not have the highest ceiling in the draft, but he already has a high floor of being a valuable possession receiver on a team.
Boom-Or-Bust Pick: Curtis Samuel (Ohio State)
I consider him more of a “boom” than “bust,” but that’s because I see his potential as a versatile weapon in the NFL. It will depend on the team that selects him in the draft. The problem that he may encounter is an offensive coordinator who is not creative enough to find him ways to get the ball, or not having a true position. I think he is a slot receiver/receiving back in the NFL with outstanding ability with the ball in his hands in space. He could be electric like Tyreek Hill in Andy Reid’s offense, or struggle to make an impact like Cordarrelle Patterson in Minnesota over the last few years.
Zay Jones has been getting a lot of praise from certain draft analysts over the last few weeks. I agree that he does look like he could be a decent receiver in the NFL. He has the bloodlines, football character, work ethic and raw skills to be at least a No. 2 possession receiver for a team in the league.
Amara Darboh will fit really well for a team that looks for a tough physical receiver to help in the run game, but can also be a reliable receiver. I look at teams like Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Buffalo, Green Bay and Los Angeles as ideal destinations.
A look at these two receivers as having natural abilities for the position, but just didn’t get the chance to show them in college. Brown was part of an offense under Urban Meyer at Ohio State that doesn’t often showcase the wide receivers’ talents. If you need an example, see New Orleans’ Michael Thomas. Brown is a receiver who would fit really well opposite a speedster in an NFL offense. Dupree has never had consistency at quarterback during his tenure at LSU — hence why Les Miles was fired. He could be a nice fit for a team with an already proven weapon that wants to take a flier on a deep threat type receiver opposite of its WR1.