In many devy drafts this off-season, I’ve repeatedly been faced with the same choice. I’ve missed out on what’s widely considered the top tier of Nick Chubb, Ezekiel Elliott, Laquon Treadwell and Tyler Boyd and now must choose one of the remaining available players.
While there are some running backs that deserve consideration, for me it comes down to a quartet of talented wide receivers. The four all happen to be draft eligible in the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft and they are D’haquille Williams, Mike Williams, De’Runnya Wilson and Corey Davis. With so little separation and each player having unique strengths and weaknesses, I turned to the experts- the Dynasty Scouts team- to help me decide which of these talented receivers should be the top option in both ongoing devy drafts, as well as rookie drafts next spring.
As I reached out to the members of our team, I found that each preferred a different player and I thought it was ideal that we share our thinking with you.
Making the case for DeRunnya Wilson is Rob Leath.
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The buzzword at NFL Draft time is always “projection.” It is the word that drives physically gifted prospects up the board and eschews established collegiate players that are limited by their size or athletic tools. While it is a dangerous word that can ultimately turn to “bust” relatively quickly, it can also pay huge dividends if used correctly.
Wilson is largely projection at this point in his collegiate career. Despite a relatively productive sophomore campaign, there’s still immense potential that we’ve yet to see from Mississippi State’s most intriguing offensive weapon. The size aspect is obvious. Wilson stands at 6’5” and 220 pounds and is adept at using that size to climb the ladder and abuse cornerbacks in jump ball situations. He has a basketball background, and with only three years of football experience under his belt, there’s reason to believe there’s a lot of growth left in his game. The aforementioned size and light feet make him jump out at you early; the unrefined parts of his game such as physicality and route running make you wonder what could be. I’d rather gamble that he puts it all together and becomes an elite prospect than take a more established collegiate player with lesser physical tools. That is why I am comfortable placing Wilson near the top of my 2016 receiver rankings.
Next up with his thoughts on Corey Davis is Nick Whalen.
The odds have been stacked against Corey Davis from an early age. He and his brother, Titus Davis of the San Diego Chargers, came from a very disadvantaged upbringing. Through hard work they both rose up and succeeded, this attribute has followed him onto to college. As an 18 year old, Corey made the freshman All-American team and led all freshman in receiving yards. He played well despite body catching, not being overly explosive and not getting great separation from defenders. He then went back to the work ethic laboratory and came back a different player in 2014. He became a strong hands catcher, played much more athletic, and got tons of separation from defenders. During his sophomore season, he became only the fifth FBS wide receiver since 2004 to have more than 1,400 receiving yards and have a yards per reception average of greater than 18. Wow, talk about exclusive company to be in and he was the youngest of the group.
Standing at 6’3” 205 pounds, Davis has the size to succeed at the NFL level. His athleticism on the field, reveals a player that will run the 40-yard dash in the 4.4 range. In the open field, Davis has great instincts and makes big plays by making defenders miss. He has made himself the best route runner I’ve seen at his age and now he’s a good hands catcher, even in traffic. Unlike many of the other receivers in his class, Davis doesn’t have off the field issues. On the football field, Corey Davis is the most complete wide receiver prospect eligible for the 2016 draft and his only glaring flaw is where he goes to college. Do you want to bet against a record setting receiver with great work ethic? I wouldn’t, if you value winning you fantasy leagues.
Let’s hear from Kyle Pollock about his favorite of these options, Clemson’s Mike Williams.
Mike Williams stands out as one of the more well rounded receivers of the 2016 draft class. Williams “wins” as a vertical threat down the field, as his size, speed, and ball tracking ability make it difficult for defenses to contain him if he goes deep. He runs every route as if he is going vertical, which allows him to use his dominance in the vertical game to set up other routes. For his age, Williams is an above average route runner. I would like him to become more precise with his breaks this year, but he can already run a full route tree pretty well. While he frequently false steps off the line of scrimmage, he successfully uses a varying repertoire of releases to beat corners.
His awareness and football IQ are what really stand out on tape. He can read defenses and find soft spots in zones like a seasoned vet, and does small things well, like wait for blockers on screens. Behind deep balls screens are the second most dangerous weapon in Williams’ arsenal because of his fluidity and physicality. His fluidity is shown through his long, natural stride which allow him to accelerate to top speed quickly, and flexible hips that allow him to adjust to the ball quicker than most wide receivers. Because of his physical nature, and doesn’t shy away from contact. This allows him to break tackles in the open field and excel as a blocker in the run game. He also has excellent hands, and is a hands catcher.
Overall, Williams has very few holes in his game and has the potential to develop into a team’s primary wide receiver. He is a safe wide receiver, and I see his floor as being a very successful second wide receiver for a team.
Finally, Paul Perdichizzi comes to the defense of Auburn’s D’haquille Williams.
As we approach the start of the new college football season, Laquon Treadwell and Tyler Boyd seem to be the top two names most often listed at the top of the devy wide receiver rankings. The battle for the third position seems to be the one where there is much more uncertainty and debate between players such as Davis of Western Michigan, Williams of Clemson and Auburn’s Duke Williams. Of these three, right now I would plant my flag with Duke, as I believe his skill set is easier to see how his game will transition to the next level. After two great seasons playing at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Williams was the top rated junior college prospect. He chose Auburn after originally committing to LSU. His first year at Auburn was mostly a success, securing 45 receptions, 730 yards and five touchdowns, all team highs. He missed two games due to injury and then was suspended for their bowl game. His off field issues have continued this offseason as well, as he recently has been suspended by the team and his return date is unknown at this point. Taking the character and off the field issues out of it, my support for Williams as the third receiver is what I see on the field only.
On the field, Williams is a big, strong, physical receiver with good speed. He uses his body well to create separation at the catch point. He aggressively goes after the ball when it is in the air and uses his strong hands to often come down with contested catches. After the catch he is tough to take down, often breaking tackles and picking up extra yards. In Auburn’s spread offense, Williams lined up all over the field but I saw him at his best when they lined him up in the slot. He reminds me of Anquan Boldin, based on his size and style of play. I think at the NFL level teams will use him in a way similar to Boldin or how the Philadelphia Eagles used Jordan Matthews last season. Williams has already shown he can make a difficult transition, going from a junior college level to the toughest division in college football. With Jeremy Johnson at quarterback this year for Auburn, if Williams is allowed back onto the team, I expect him to improve his stats this upcoming season and be one of the top receivers in not only the SEC but the entire country. I think NFL teams will love his skill set and I project him to be a late first to early second round pick in the NFL draft next year.
The good news is each of these four present compelling arguments for their receivers of their choice, but the bad news is it’s still such a difficult task to rank them. Fortunately, we have a full college football season, along with the off-season activities for these four, and the other talented receivers in the 2016 class to sort themselves out.