(Editor’s note: This is part one of two. Be sure to keep an eye out for part two, due tomorrow!)
The 2019 wide receiver class is one of the deepest we have seen in a long time. This class is talented enough to shift the landscape of the NFL and dynasty leagues. Not only will some of the top prospects produce at the next level but we will more than likely see a few late-round players make an impact as well.
We saw seven wide receivers run in the 4.3s this year and we also saw five record 40 inches or more on the vertical jump. This might be the most athletic wide receiver class we have ever seen, which could make it hard to evaluate this group as a whole. I wouldn’t be surprised if we get eight or more fantasy relevant players out of this draft class in the near future.
My database has athletic metrics for wide receivers from the NFL Scouting Combine and pro days from the year 2005 to now. The database has over 630 prospects in it, providing a deep sample of talent at the wide receiver position.
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Miles Boykin, WR Notre Dame
Before he shocked the world with elite level athleticism, Boykin was flying under the radar going into the combine. His 43.5-inch vertical and 6.77 three-cone are world class. Combine that with his 220-pound frame – and his 4.42-second 40-yard dash – and you have one of the best athletes in the draft. He drew some of the best comparisons from the model. Even though they never became megastars in the NFL, Michael Floyd, Jeff Janis, and Donte Moncrief were known for their athleticism. Boykin will become a trendy flier in the second or third round of rookie drafts due to this athletic testing. He definitely won some money at the combine.
AJ Brown, WR Ole Miss
This is a deep wide receiver class filled with highly athletic prospects. Brown is considered one of the top receivers in this draft class and he also has one of the best performances at the combine. His showing was overshadowed by his teammate from Ole Miss (DK Metcalf) who blew the doors off of Lucas Oil Stadium. However, Brown is also an athletic specimen. His 4.49 40-yard dash combined with his 226-pound frame makes him a size-speed freak. His 36.5-inch vertical suggests he has plenty of burst.
There are not many wide receivers who compare to Brown, because there aren’t many wide receivers who can put together a sub 4.5 40-yard dash at 225 pounds or more. The combination of his production at Ole Miss and his testing at the combine makes him a very exciting draft prospect.
Hakeem Butler, WR Iowa State
At 6-foot-5 and 227 pounds, Butler is one of the biggest wide receivers in the draft. What’s most impressive about his athletic profile is that he posted a 4.48 40-yard dash which equates to a 124.7 height-adjusted speed score, the third highest among wide receivers at the combine. His 36-inch vertical is rock solid considering his height and weight. Of course, he didn’t participate in the three-cone, because wide receivers of his stature usually don’t perform well at that drill.
Butler is closer to 6-foot-6 than he is to 6-foot-4, which means that there aren’t many wide receivers who compare to him athletically. The two receivers listed, Jon Baldwin and Rodney Smith, are the two closest prospects to him and they’re not really a perfect match. Technically, he’s an athletic outlier since we haven’t seen many receivers like him and that means we don’t really know how he will really fit at the NFL level, at least from an athletic standpoint. That’s probably why there’s a split from the consensus on how he should be valued in dynasty.
Parris Campbell, WR Ohio State
My face melted off and slid onto the floor after watching Campbell run. Not only did he set the track on fire but he also jumped out of the building with a 40-inch vertical. He’s easily one of the most intriguing players in the draft because he is an elite-level athlete but doesn’t have the production to match some of the top players in the draft. His dynasty value is going to be dependent on who drafts him. He needs to go to a team with a creative play caller who is capable of maximizing his skill sets. This is a player you don’t want to see standing next to Jason Garrett on the sideline.
Johnnie Dixon, WR Ohio State
Dixon’s performance at the combine might have bumped in him up a few spots on draft boards. After posting a 4.41 40-yard dash and an explosive 37.5-inch vertical, Dixon made his mark on this draft class. It’s going to be interesting to see where he goes in the draft because he wasn’t a mega producer at Ohio State. However, he does have the quicks to get it done if he lands in the right situation.
His comparable list is stellar and is an indicator that he has enough juice to carve a role with an NFL team. Golden Tate has been a fantasy reliable asset in recent years and Antonio Callaway is starting to make his mark on the Cleveland Browns’ roster.
Ashton Dulin, WR Malone University
If you didn’t know, Malone University is located in the Hall of Fame City known as Canton, Ohio. He has been breathing the air of legends during his entire tenure at Malone. Dulin’s performance at the combine has gained him a lot of hype. He has the athleticism of a WR1 at the next level. His 215-pound frame combined with his 4.42 40-yard dash and his 38-inch vertical makes him one of the most athletic wide receivers in the draft.
It seems like almost every year we get a highly athletic prospect from one of the smaller schools. It’s hard to predict how he will translate to the next level. The one thing we do know is that he won’t fail due to lack of athleticism.
Emanuel Hall, WR Missouri
Wide receivers who can take the top off the defense and keep defensive backs on their heels with their speed are in high demand in the NFL. Hall was one of the fastest receivers at the combine with a 4.39 40-yard dash. He was a tremendous deep threat at Missouri. There aren’t many fantasy-relevant players who compare to Hall, but his speed could get him some attention if he gets drafted by the right team. His 43.5 vertical is very encouraging because it indicates that he has some pop in his step. This is probably why he can eat up a lot of cushion on his release off the line of scrimmage. Hall’s stock is going to continue to trend upward throughout the draft process.
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