There was quite a transformation for USC in 2022, transitioning from a 4-8 team led by head coach Clay Helton and quarterback Kedon Slovis, over to highly sought-after new head coach Lincoln Riley with their Heisman winner quarterback Caleb Williams on their way to a 11-3 record. The team had some stellar transfers come over, with one who would eventually lead the team in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns.
Jordan Addison won the Biletnikoff Award as college football’s most outstanding receiver in 2021 with Pittsburgh and then elected to transfer to USC to play for Riley and with Williams. It was a great move for USC, however he saw his production reduce from 2021 to 2022 while dealing with injuries. Nonetheless, he remains one of the top tier rookie wide receivers in the 2023 class.
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Addison was rated as a four-star recruit coming out of Tuscarora High School. He played wide receiver, quarterback, and defensive back in high school, making the 2019 Baltimore Touchdown Club Super 22 and the All-Area teams. 247Sports had him as the 275th best prospect in the class.
Courtesy of 247 Sports.
Addison had 12 offers coming out of high school before signing with Pittsburgh. The scouting report on Addison stated that he could play in the slot and out wide, had great hands and was a strong route runner. He locates the ball well and is a big-play threat while being unafraid to catch the ball in traffic. His primary areas needing improvement or concern was that he had a wiry frame and needed to add muscle mass, coming into college at 5’11” and only 161 pounds.
Courtesy of Sports Reference.
There has been talk about how disappointing the 2023 WR class had been this past season, and you can see it in the difference of production from 2021 to 2022 for Addison despite the transfer to USC. He had massive upside at Pitt with elite production in 14 games, however saw a significant decline in all three receiving categories despite the upgrade in quarterback play. Despite the reduction in production, he still had a QB rating of 139.0 when targeted, an impressive feat.
- Estimated between 4.38 and 4.48 40-yard dash. High end speed paired with high end athletic ability.
- High end athletic ability translates well into being an excellent deep threat, stretching defenses vertically, and can win lined up inside or out.
- Excellent route runner with a strong ability to cut, change direction, sink his hips, and create separation at a moments notice.
- Strong hands, proving to be a quarterbacks best friend.
- Small frame, may struggle against stronger, bigger cornerbacks.
- Concentration drops, though this rarely winds up being an actual issue compared to concern (he had 10 drops in 2020 and 2021).
- Injury concerns, most notably an ankle injury limiting him at end of season and keeping him out of the Bowl game.
Courtesy of NFL Mock Draft Database.
Addison has been a consensus first round prospect coming up for the 2023 NFL draft, typically falling between WR2-4 overall. Despite his size concerns, thanks to his consistent production in college there should not be much concern about him falling into round 2 of the draft.
Taking everything into account, Addison has a great chance of following the footsteps of other slim elite route runners, including Calvin Ridley, DeVonta Smith, and several others. The expectation would be that he can step right into the NFL and became a quarterbacks favorite weapon and target hog, creating separation consistently across the middle and as a vertical threat while utilizing his strong hands to bring the ball down anywhere on the field. He will also likely be capable of being a key weapon in the end zone, with the ability to get open in a phone booth and quickly create separation in short-yardage.
When it comes to fantasy drafts, Addison will slot in to contention for being the top wide receiver with likely favorite Quentin Johnston and the potentially underrated (due to injury) Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Landing spot and projected quarterback play will likely help create some clarity as to best draft order for fantasy purposes. I could see his draft status winding up being similar to Chris Olave’s, who was not viewed by many as the top rookie wide receiver but due to his elite speed skillset has become an elite weapon in the NFL and in PPR leagues.
From observation, it seems as though the dynasty community is shifting towards valuing wide receivers at a high capacity due to their longevity and rise in rankings compared to running backs. This should allow Addison to maintain solid value from a dynasty perspective, particularly when you’re likely able to acquire him anywhere between 1.04 and 1.08 in drafts. Even if he projects to be a steady WR2 versus working his way up to being a WR1, your investment has paid off. But let’s see how he performs at the combine and where he winds up landing in the NFL draft.
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