Top Five 2020 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. Jerry Juedy- Alabama
Bio: Enrolling a semester early at Alabama, Jerry Juedy played in every game as a true freshman as the Crimson Tide won the National Championship. The following year he earned consensus first team All-American and firstteam All-SEC selections while winning the Biletnikoff Award as the nations best receiver with 68 catches for 1,315 yards and 14 touchdowns. He remained one of the top receivers in the country as a junior with 77 receptions for 1,163 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Strengths: Speed demands double coverage at all times. Elite production with 24 touchdowns in 28 games started. Played in an offensive with a pro style route tree. Consistent acceleration off the snap each play. Intense route speed at second and third levels. Strong attention to detail in route running. Forces cornerbacks towards the sideline to gain separation. Great footwork on curl routes. Smooth hips allow for quick movements out of breaks. Uses body well to win 50-50 balls. Keeps the ball tucked away through contact. Uses several moves to elude defenders after the catch.
Weaknesses: High cut frame with excessively long legs. Slender build isn't built for the slot. Play is more straight line rather than smooth. Average quickness on short area routes. Rarely challenged by press corners in the SEC. Does a poor job of maintaining speed when tracking the ball. Had issues tracking deep balls in a few games. Focus drops have been an issue on easy balls. Concentration and hand eye coordination are erratic at times.
Pro Comparison: Santonio Holmes
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Las Vegas Raiders
2. CeeDee Lamb- Oklahoma
Bio: The 2016 Houston Touchdown Club Offensive Player of the Year, CeeDee Lamb became a Freshman All-American in his first year at Oklahoma. In 2018, he led the Sooners with 11 touchdown receptions. As a junior, he was a Biletnikoff Award finalist as he led the Sooners with 62 receptions for 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns while leading the FBS with 21.4 yards per catch.
Strengths: Playmaker at every level of the field. Dangerous with the ball in his mitts. Adjusts route speed to keep corners on their heels. Smoothly strides and gains separation on all crossing routes. Quickly positions himself and opens up on back shoulder and comeback throws. Enough awareness to work back to the ball. High points balls with good arm extension. Great leap for high passes. Can make late adjustments to make difficult deep catches. Elusive open field runner with solid vision. Sneaky strength to break free from arm tackles. Should be day 1 starter as a return man.
Weaknesses: Slim build for a number one receiver. Played against some weak cornerbacks in the Big 12. Slow release against elite press corners. Needs to learn tricks to get uncovered on underneath routes. Routes need to be polished up and refined. A lot of unnecessary steps when setting up his breaks. Could struggle to adjust to contested passes. Lincoln Riley's offense created a lot of opportunities for receivers to stay clean. Can improve as a run blocker on the edge.
Pro Comparison: DeAndre Hopkins
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Denver Broncos
3. Henry Ruggs III- Alabama
Bio: A five star recruit from Montgomery, Henry Ruggs III played in every game as a reserve as a true freshman for Alabama. The following year, he finished second in the SEC with 11 touchdown receptions. In 2019, he formed one of the greatest receiving corps in college football along with Jerry Juedy and DeVonta Smith. As a junior, Ruggs had 18.7 yards per catch and eight total touchdowns.
Strengths: Speed will force safety help on every play. Slick release from the sideline to the post. Smooth strides as a route runner. Embarrasses corners by adjusting speed through routes. Cheetah speed to take a five yard slant to the house from anywhere on the field. Slick motions from complex routes. Sells double moves with eyes and feet. Man coverage defenders will struggle to keep up with him on crossing and go routes. Soft hands with wide catch radius. Solid hand speed to snag fast underneath throws. Tough as a runner and will lower his shoulder to gain extra yards. Skilled kick returner and gunner on special teams.
Weaknesses: Release from press coverage needs refined. Had issues with physical, press corners from LSU. A lot of wasted motion when trying to get up the field. Could struggle with contested balls. Has to learn to protect catch point with his body. Tracking the ball on deep throws is just average. More fast than elusive after the catch.
Pro Comparison: Ted Ginn Jr.
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Philadelphia Eagles
4. Tee Higgins- Clemson
Bio: The Tennessee Mr. Football as a junior and senior, Tee Higgins saw action with Clemson as a reserve in his freshman year. The following year he helped the Tiger win the National Championship as he lead the team with 59 receptions and 12 touchdowns. He finished his Clemson career in 2019 tied for the most receiving touchdowns in school history, 27, with NFL stars DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins.
Strengths: Long frame and uses it to his advantage. One fifth of his catches went for a touchdown. Experience as he end, flanker, and slot receiver. Instant mismatch against shorter corners. Subtly gears up or down to get open. Long strides gain a lot of ground on out and post routes. Will cause defensive backs to panic and force pass interference calls. Elite instincts when the ball is in the air. Knows where his cover-man is and knows when to separate for an easier catch. Properly adjusts to the ball when needed. Good leap to win 50-50 balls and goal line fades. Silky hands to pluck the ball out of the air and tucks it away from defenders. Reliable against zone schemes in space.
Weaknesses: Lesser corners have gotten the better of him frequently. Lazy release from press coverage. Cornerbacks easily mirror and hinder the start of his route. Not as physical as you'd expect at the top of the route. Built more for turns rather than curls or comebacks. Ran a limited route tree at Clemson. Adjustments to the ball on the move are a bit garbled. Has to get stronger in his upper body to be a serviceable run blocker.
Pro Comparison: AJ Green
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Buffalo Bills
5. Justin Jefferson- LSU
Bio: A New Orleans native who followed his two older brothers to LSU, Justin Jefferson became the Tigers leading receiver as a sophomore with 54 receptions and six touchdowns. As a junior, he tied for the FBS lead with 111 receptions to go along with 1,540 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns while helping LSU to an undefeated season and a National Championship.
Strengths: Good acceleration off the snap. Sneakily moves around traffic to get into open space. Plant step helps gain more separation mid route. Natural receiver with good instincts. Adjusts speed to track the ball and box out defenders. Alters his body mid-air with ease. Above average catch radius makes him a popular target. Catch focus has improved each year. Fast hands to snag balls just as he's coming out of breaks. Good length and leaping ability to high point balls. Dependable slot man and willing to take chances to extend the drive. Willing run blocker.
Weaknesses: Played in a spread scheme that gave him a wide open field. Route running needs refinement. Would rather beat coverage with athleticism than technique. Doesn't get free and separate from strong man corners. Hindered by larger cornerbacks. Will take time to adjust to press coverage at the NFL level. Limited experience with 50-50 balls. Separation skills on the outside just average.
Pro Comparison: Tyler Boyd
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: New Orleans Saints
Other Notable Prospects
Leviska Shenault- Colorado
- Big frame, durability concerns
Jalen Reagor- TCU
- Explosive at all three levels, struggles with press
Tyler Johnson- Minnesota
- Very productive, lacking desired speed
Collin Johnson- Texas
- Elite length and size, not fluid after the catch
KJ Hill- Ohio State
- Buckeyes all time leader in receptions, not overly dynamic
Antonio Gandy-Golden- Liberty
- Agile footwork, poor focus drops
Kalija Lipscomb- Vanderbilt
- Route running master, lacks physicality
Bryan Edwards- South Carolina
- Good size and strength, drops an issue
Denzel Mims- Baylor
- Great size and speed, slow release of the snap
Donovan Peoples-Jones- Michigan
- Big body, speed won't scare defenses
Van Jefferson- Florida
- Competitive streak, modest production
Jauan Jennings- Tennessee
- Strong and savvy, overly stiff
Juan Johnson- Oregon
- Long limbed, Injury concerns