A Hater’s Guide to the 2023 Wide Receiver Class
I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but it sounds like many people believe that every NFL team had an amazing draft. The lowest grade given to any team by NFL.com was a C+ (Lions). Fox Sports gave the Denver Broncos their lowest grade with a C-, while Bleacher Report agreed with them, giving Denver the only D grade I’ve seen any team get in a draft grade article. Even The Pat McAfee Show asked, “Did Every Team Win in The 2023 NFL Draft?” The harshest draft grades I’ve found anywhere were from CBS’ Pete Prisco, who handed out several C- grades, but none lower than that. Even fellow DLFer John Hogue thought everyone hit it out of the park this year.
Very few landing spots I dislike this year. WRs with the draft capital they need, RBs with clear paths to volume… yet Twitter is in mourning. What am I missing?
— John Hogue (@SuperFlexDude) April 29, 2023
So, did everyone really nail the draft? As a miserable pessimist to my core, I sat through the draft, scrolling through my phone, looking at each selection, and I found a reason for each pick to make me sick. In this four-part series, I’ll look at each position group individually and tell you why I think every pick stinks. So, while everyone else on the planet is ranting and raving about the incredible results of the 2023 NFL Draft, let me take you for a walk on the dark side.
I’ve already dipped my toe in the dark waters of quarterbacks and running backs; let’s move on to pass catchers and look at wide receivers.
1.20, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR SEA
Tyler Lockett is 30 years old, but both he and DK Metcalf are under contract through the 2025 season. Geno Smith is also under contract through the 2025 season, so there is a chance that we don’t get the full JSN experience until 2026 with an unknown quarterback and an unknown supporting cast. It’s hard to know what to expect from a team’s rookie WR3 while they added two second-round running backs in back-to-back years.
1.21, Quentin Johnston, WR LAC
1.22, Zay Flowers, WR BAL
Flowers’ off-season climb came to a screeching halt on draft night, possibly landing in the worst spot for a receiver. Baltimore has often wanted to lean on the run, both through design and through Lamar Jackson‘s improvisation. While some big plays might be in his future from time to time, Rashod Bateman, Odell Beckham Jr, Mark Andrews, and Isaiah Likely will all demand targets in this offense. With only one football to go around, it’s hard to find a path to him ever topping 1,000 yards.
1.23, Jordan Addison, WR MIN
Addison’s athletic testing was not very good, culminating in a 5.94 RAS score. While athletic testing isn’t the be-all-end-all for forecasting future success, it becomes a lot more important when you’re only 5’11” and 171 pounds.
2.08, Jonathan Mingo, WR CAR
Heading into the draft, Mingo was mocked all over the board, but in the end, he ended up as the fifth receiver taken in this class as a weapon for rookie QB Bryce Young. Hes’ already buried behind the emerging Terrace Marshall, in-season acquisition Laviska Shenault, and the newly signed DJ Chark and Adam Thielen.
2.19, Jayden Reed, WR GB
2.24, Rashee Rice, WR KC
Kansas City bump! As of this writing, I haven’t been in too many drafts so far, but I expect Rice to be one of the big risers this off-season. Everyone loves the Chiefs’ offense and getting a player tied to Patrick Mahomes. Skyy Moore, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Mecole Hardman, and Darwin Thompson have all been recent recipients of the KC bump. Would you be happy holding any of those players today?
2.32, Marvin Mims, WR DEN
The Broncos averaged an NFL-worst 16.9 points per game last season. I like Mims, but I don’t think his presence will be the thing that bumps the team into the middle of the pack. Congrats on being the WR3 on what was the NFL’s worst offense a season ago.
3.06, Tank Dell, WR HOU
A 5’8″, 165-pound receiver. That’s it. Nope.
3.10, Jalin Hyatt, WR NYG
A poor man’s Will Fuller or DeSean Jackson, and at their best, they were both best ball options for most of their careers. Enjoy setting lineups while mentally balancing Hyatt’s zero-point games with his 38-point explosions.
3.11, Cedric Tillman, WR CLE
Tillman looks to be the WR4 on a team that has yet to find its identity on offense since Deshaun Watson took over at quarterback. Four-wide sets? Two tight-end sets? Run heavy game plan? Who knows, including the Browns.
3.16, Josh Downs, WR IND
A 5’9″ receiver who only weighs 171 pounds must be a burner, right? Downs’ 4.48-second 40-yard dash says otherwise. Massive NFL corners are going to make his life tough on Sundays while Anthony Richardson tries to develop and learn the craft on the fly at the NFL level.
3.31 Michael Wilson, WR ARI
You’d think someone who played five seasons in college would have amassed more than 36 games played. Hopefully, Arizona’s medical staff will develop some sort of loyalty punch card. Three trips to the IR, and your fourth one is free!
3.37, Tre Tucker, WR LV
A draft just wouldn’t be a draft without the Raiders grossly over-drafting a wide receiver. Maybe they thought he was actually Cincinnati teammate Tyer Scott? Using day-two draft capital on a kick returner is always a good idea.
4.23, Derius Davis, WR LAC
As far as I could tell, many people thought Davis would go undrafted. Only 5’8″ and 165 pounds, maybe the Chargers just wanted Quentin Johnston to have a friend in camp, so they burned a fourth on his college buddy. The previous pick by the Raiders saves this from being my worst pick of the draft.
4.29, Charlie Jones, WR CIN
What an addition – A depth piece behind Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd. He will more or less be an interchangeable WR4/WR5 combo with Andrei Iosivas and will only have value if at least two players ahead of him get injured simultaneously.
4.31, Tyler Scott, WR CHI
I hope Scott likes blocking as Justin Fields abandons the pocket and scrambles downfield.
5.15, Justin Shorter, WR BUF
New phone, who dis? I had not heard of Shorter until his name was called in round five of the NFL Draft. NFL.com has his comp as Bryan Edwards, and we know how that turned out.
5.24, Dontayvion Wicks, WR GB
The Packers finally found two productive rookie receivers in Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs a season ago. So let’s add a fifth-round receiver to their early round-two receiver in this draft and really muddy the waters.
5.42, Puka Nacua, WR LAR
A gadgety, versatile player that Sean McVay will scheme 20 touches for over the course of the year, resulting in 237 total yards and three touchdowns.
6.08, Parker Washington, WR JAC
Washington is WR4 and will need Calvin Ridley to start gambling again if he plans on seeing the field much in 2023. Although there is a world where Ridley, Christian Kirk, and Zay Jones are all gone next year, it’s hard to imagine the team would clear out the wide receiver room for a sixth-round pick.
6.10, Kayshon Boutte, WR NE
Yeah, about those LSU receivers in the NFL… Boutte was once the darling of the devy community, but now, following multiple surgeries on his right ankle, he seems to be zapped of the explosiveness we thought he had. A glance at his combine numbers indicates he isn’t the player we all hoped he would become. Either way, who wants to roster a Patriots’ receiver at this point anyway? There’s no reason Mac Jones‘ WR5 won’t be an instant fantasy producer.
6.14, Trey Palmer, WR TB
A former LSU Tiger, Palmer transferred to Nebraska, a program known for pumping out NFL-caliber wide receivers. All kidding aside, take a peek at the Nebraska wideouts in the NFL; it’s laughable.
6.18, AT Perry, WR NO
Initially projected as a third-round pick, Perry saw quite the drop in his draft stock. Speaking of drops, according to Pro Football Focus, Perry dropped 17 balls over the last two seasons- SEVENTEEN! Of course, professional quarterbacks love that, and multiple bad drops have never led to a QB looking away from a receiver.
6.20, Elijah Higgins, WR MIA
He’s already officially begun his conversion to tight end.
6.28, Xavier Hutchinson, WR HOU
Now this is how you support your second overall pick, with a late sixth-round receiver to go with your 5’8″, 165-pound receiver from the third round. This passing game should be clicking in no time- look out record books!
6.29, Andrei Iosivas, WR CIN
What an addition – A depth piece behind Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd. He will more or less be an interchangeable WR4/WR5 combo with Charlie Jones and will only have value if at least two players ahead of him get injured simultaneously.
6.33, Demario Douglas, WR NE
If you know what the Patriots are doing on offense, you’re leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else in the world. Douglas has an equal chance to be the best player in the draft or working as a bartender serving you a beer during the Patriots’ home opener.
7.02, Antoine Green, WR DET
I’m not even going to google this person. Although, we’re only another gambling-suspension purge from Green being the Lions WR1 to open the season.
7.11, Colton Dowell, WR TEN
Another guy I’m not googling. I hope he’s a strong blocker for Derrick Henry.
7.27, Jalen Brooks, WR DAL
According to Ourlads, Brooks is currently penciled in as the Cowboys’ WR7. Considering most teams only carry 5ish receivers into a season, that’s probably not good.
7.36, Ronnie Bell, WR SF
As a Michigan fan, it’s fun to watch multiple Wolverine receivers do less than nothing at the NFL level every year.
7.39, Grant DuBose, WR GB
The Packers finally found two productive rookie receivers in Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs a season ago. So let’s add a seventh-round receiver to their fifth-round receiver and their early-round two receivers and really muddy the waters.
In a draft where we saw 33 receivers taken, I hope I laid out why we’ll be looking at 33 busts a year from today. Thanks for reading; stay tuned for the fourth and final installment of this series when I’ll be taking a look at the deep 2023 tight end class.
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