Top Five 2019 NFL Draft Prospects- Wide Receiver
These guys will look to become the future playmakers of NFL franchises. Today I rank the top five wide receiver prospects for the upcoming NFL Draft.
1. DK Metcalf- Mississippi
Bio: After redshirting his freshman year due to a broken foot, DK Metcalf played all 12 games in 2017 registering 39 catches for 646 yards and seven touchdowns while being named to the SEC All-Freshman team. In seven games in 2018, he recorded 26 receptions for 569 yards and five touchdowns.
Strengths: Rare but highly desired combination of height, weight, and speed. Quick twitch athlete with fluid hips to carry him in and out of breaks. Variety of physical tools to dominate all three levels of the field. Light feet to shift and get an explosive release up field. Can take off the top of a defense with top end speed. Immune to press coverage without safety help. High number of spectacular one handed catches. Consistently creates separation with subtle hand work "aka push offs." Fear inducing separation potential once he learns to use his size and speed together. Efficient use of size to attach and neutralize defenders on run plays. Room to grow once he learns harder routes and gets proper coaching. NFL bloodlines. His father Terrance played guard for the Bears, his grandfather Terry was a Pro Bowl running back for the Cardinals, and his uncle Eric was an All-Pro return specialist for the Browns.
Weaknesses: Needs to learn to use footwork and body positioning over push offs to clear out the top of routes. Tends to round off his routes rather than sell them properly. Unnecessarily slows down when turning to locate deep balls. Doesn't sell route fakes to manipulate cornerbacks. Route breaks aren't as sharp as they could be. Focus drops when working back to the ball. High drop rate over last two years. Needs to position his body better to eliminate defenders on comebacks. Consistently bitten by the injury bug at Ole Miss. Missed all but two games in 2016 with a broken foot. Missed half of 2018 with a neck injury.
Pro Comparison: Josh Gordon
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Buffalo Bills
2. Marquise Brown- Oklahoma
Bio: After graduating high school undersized and not qualifying academically, Marquise Brown attended the College of the Canyons in California to get his grades up in order to take the next step. He chose to attend Oklahoma due to their wide open offense. His play over the last two seasons helped Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray win the Heisman Trophy in back-to-back seasons. In that time, Brown totaled 137 receptions for 2,413 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Strengths: Energy for days and terrifying top end speed. Feet don't stop moving until the whistle is blown. Capable of playing in the slot or stretching the field outside. Quick feet to break free of press coverage without getting tied up. Long speed has additional gear to get separation. Over anxious cornerbacks can lead to success on comeback routes. Speed puts longer cornerbacks in a bind. Fluid burst out of routes to break free. Requires double coverage over the top. Great skill as a boundary receiver. Elusive after the catch and in the open field. Doesn't need to slow down to make cuts or elude defenders. Can turn a 5- yard slant into a long touchdown. Cousin of Steelers All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Weaknesses: Extremely thin in his frame. Concerns could arise over long term durability. Relies more on speed than body position. Takes time to drop hips going into breaks from a dead sprint. Doesn't play well in the middle of the defense. Average hands on contested balls. Inconsistent adjustments on deep balls. Will divert from designed route when looking for an opening on deep throws. Lacks the size and ball skills to fight for underthrown balls. Won't win on 50-50 balls. Was not used in the return game at Oklahoma like he was in junior college.
Pro Comparison: DeSean Jackson
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Tennessee Titans
3. AJ Brown- Mississippi
Bio: A four- star recruit from Starkville High School, AJ Brown decided to attend rival Ole Miss rather than the home town Mississippi State. After a solid freshman year, he had a break out sophomore campaign where he was named first ream All-SEC and finished 10th in the nation with 1,252 receiving yards. In his junior season, he broke his own school records with 85 catches for 1,320 yards and six touchdowns.
Strengths: NFL ready frame with lean muscle mass through out. Elite level competitive and determination traits. Routes are fast, but can change speed at will. Sells routes, manipulating cornerbacks to make the wrong move. Can stick his foot in the ground, turn, and get open on short passes. Great balance allows for sharper cuts and access to more complicated routes. Not afraid in space and has second wind win initial route breaks down. Good handwork to get free from press coverage. Strong hands to pick passes away from his body. Completes and shields ball in contested catches. Turns into a running back after the catch. Has the athleticism to slip through tackles and toughness to power through them. Willing and able blocker who can make a difference in the run game. Baseball outfielder with excellent hand- eye coordination and ball tracking skills. Spent last three springs in San Diego Padres system.
Weaknesses: Swagger was missing against tough SEC teams like LSU and Alabama. Struggled to get open against athletic corners like Donte Jackson. Rarely faced press coverage from the slot. Looks to be more quick than fast. Has to prove he can matchup with NFL speed downfield. When focus is lacking, drops pile up. Has to learn to adjust better to poorly thrown balls. When trying to fain separation downfield, he can get too fancy at the top of his route.
Pro Comparison: JuJu Smith- Schuster
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Pittsburgh Steelers
4. Deebo Samuel- South Carolina
Bio: Over the past four years, Deebo Samuel has excelled as a receiver and return specialist. In that time he finished with 133 receptions for 2,076 yards and 16 touchdowns while also adding four scores on kick returns.
Strengths: Extremely competitive and intense. Subtle but useful adjustments when press coverage forces him off his route. Route fakes make defenders open up and get out of position. Great body control allows for quicker stops and turns in routes. Not afraid and focused when working the middle of the field. Strong hands with the will to win contested balls. Aggressively works back to the ball. Blasts through arm tackles after the catch. Has the vision of elite running backs when in traffic. Shocking acceleration to gain separation in the open field. Elite ability as a return specialist.
Weaknesses: Short, compact frame doesn't fit on the outside. Footwork has to get better to improve against bigger, press corners. Routes lack lean to gain push up field. Tight hips hinder his stride lengths. Route running needs more finesse. Has problems getting open from press and trail cornerbacks. Separation burst out of breaks is just average. Smaller than ideal catch radius and body control in the air. Long injury history while at South Carolina. Played in only three games in 2017 before breaking his leg. Missed multiple games in first two seasons with a bum hamstring.
Pro Comparison: Stefon Diggs
Projected Round: 1-2
Possible Landing Spot: Baltimore Ravens
5. Riley Ridley- Georgia
Bio: After a solid freshman year, Riley Ridley stepped up his game in 2017 and helped Georgia to an appearance in the National Championship Game with six catches for 82 yards. As a junior, he led the Bulldogs with 44 catches for 570 yards and nine touchdowns.
Strengths: Very competitive and tough. Good play strength to get through press coverage. Fights through contact during his routes. Can break through cornerback's leverage and hide his incoming breaks. Physical at the top of routes and will create bigger passing windows. Strong and true hands with a wide catch radius. Can snap balls out of the air and cradle them away from his body. Fluid jumps to get to high passes. Phenomenal body control in the air. Fantastic focus makes him a dangerous boundary receiver. Determined and physical as a blocker. Younger brother of Falcons wide receiver and 2018 first round pick Calvin Ridley.
Weaknesses: Classic number two receiver Limited to just being a possession man. Quickness off the snap is very average. Lacks speed against press, which can allow longer corners to jam him in the frame. Not much acceleration to get past tight man coverage. Doesn't scare anyone with long speed. Takes too much to process and get open on comeback routes. Footwork and separation out of breaks is basic. Not much of a threat running after the catch.
Pro Comparison: Davante Adams
Projected Round: 1-2
Possible Landing Spot: Indianapolis Colts
Other Notable Prospects
Kelvin Harmon- North Carolina State
- Good size and speed, questionable hands
Parris Campbell- Ohio State
- Track star speed, focus drops early in college career
Emmanuel Hall- Missouri
- Classic deep threat, one trick pony
N'Keal Harry- Arizona State
- Loves fighting for contest balls, lacks explosiveness
Mecole Hardman- Georgia
- Extremely explosive, still a raw prospect
Jalen Hurd- Baylor
- Converted from running back, still learning the position
Anthony Johnson- Buffalo
- Great physical tools, needs coaching
Darius Slayton- Auburn
- Athletic combination of height and speed, bad 2018 tape
Lil' Jordan Humphrey- Texas
- Phenomenal size, lacks quickness
Miles Boykin- Notre Dame
- Scouts dream physical traits, inconsistent
Stanley Morgan- Nebraska
- Great work ethic, average skill set
Terry McLaurin- Ohio State
- Solid route runner, more fast than quick
David Sills- West Virginia
- Nice size, thin frame
Johnnie Dixon- Ohio State
- Speedy vertical threat, better athlete than football player
Ryan Davis- Auburn
- Running back mindset, developmental receiver
Hunter Renfrow- Clemson
- Lunch pale mentality player, limited to the slot