Man oh man, have the tides turned for me as I’ve been evaluating this wide receiver class. If you know me, there’s nothing that drives me crazier than a negative Nelly. But as I began to think about these rankings a few weeks ago, I was having a bit of a hard time mustering up enthusiasm. As I’ve scouted this group more and more, and the combine has come and passed, I’m now having a hard time holding in my excitement for their potential!
There will be some familiar strongholds and maybe a couple of names you’re not used to seeing. I’m hyped, let’s get into some updated wide receiver rankings!
1) Calvin Ridley, Alabama
Yes, Calvin Ridley’s combine was slightly underwhelming. And yes, he will turn 24 during the 2018 season. But Ridley is still the WR1 in this class. Turn on the tape, and you’ll quickly see why. The Bama product has insane quickness off the line and has the long-range speed to give defending corners heaps of trouble. With his refined route running skills, Ridley has all the tools to be a franchise wide receiver.
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2) Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
I was actually disappointed in Christian Kirk’s 4.47 40-yard dash. That’s what kind of athlete he was on film. Although his recent numbers don’t make him look like a superstar, he flashed a lot of high-quality traits in College Station. In the right system, Kirk could quickly become a star. He’s a rare talent who can challenge defenses at all levels of the field. He should be a plug-and-play in the slot and be a legitimate threat for offensive rookie of the year.
— Bradley Ylitalo (@NFL_drafthub) February 25, 2018
3) DJ Moore, Maryland
I have absolutely no problem pounding the drum for DJ Moore. I really, really like him. He’s consistently improved over his three years in College Park and is just beginning to come into his own. He’s a crafty route runner with all the athleticism you could ask for. A dynamic flanker or slot prospect, he’s got a really good chance of being a day one pick in April.
— Bradley Ylitalo (@NFL_drafthub) March 3, 2018
4) Courtland Sutton, Southern Methodist
If it feels unsettling to see Courtland Sutton ranked fourth, you’re not alone. This kid is a special talent. It’s no disrespect to the Mustang, but to put it plainly, DJ Moore has earned that number three spot in my book. Sutton’s successful combine came as a surprise to nobody. He just needs to improve his hands. If Sutton can do this (which isn’t always easy), he could very well become the best wideout of this group.
5) James Washington, Oklahoma State
James Washington’s combine was a bit disappointing. Let’s get that out in the open. But focus on the film and production, and it’s easy to see why he’s a strong day two talent. His 5’11” frame won’t do him any favors as a deep threat. But as Mason Rudolph can attest to, he can make some amazing plays on the ball. Washington will be more interesting than most to see how coordinators use his skill set.
6) DJ Chark, LSU
Think Martavis Bryant when you’re looking DJ Chark. The LSU product is a burner (4.34 40) with a 6’3″ frame and has electric open field ability. His statistics aren’t eye-popping by most measures, but his 21.9 YPC is certainly worth salivating over. Expect Chark to simply be a deep field threat early in his career. Here’s to hoping he can round into a complete receiver.
— Bradley Ylitalo (@NFL_drafthub) February 26, 2018
T-7) Jordan Lasley, UCLA
Jordan Lasley was Josh Rosen’s number one target for good reason. He was an NFL caliber receiver disguised as a Junior in college. In just nine games, the Bruin put up 1,250 yards and nine touchdowns to go along with 69 receptions. He’s very quick off the line and has a natural ability to create separation downfield. He’s had some drops in his time at UCLA, but I’m really hoping he can shore up that area of his game.
T-7) Deon Cain, Clemson
Deon Cain’s 4.43 40 squashed any concerns I had about his speed. But his vertical and bench press left a lot to be desired. On the tape, Cain showed a balanced skill set that will make him a very valuable asset for any NFL offense. As he goes forward, the Tiger will have to learn how to better create space from corners, because relying on making contested catches rarely works on Sundays.
9) Michael Gallup, Colorado State
If you want to talk about a solid prospect, look no further than Michael Gallup. Frame? 6’1″, 200 lbs. Production? Try 2,600 yards and 175 receptions in two seasons. Athleticism? Well, he had a 36-inch vert and 122-inch broad jump, so you tell me. He may not have the elite traits you find with the Christian Kirks or Calvin Ridleys of the world, but it’s hard to see this young man not being a longtime starter.
T-10) Anthony Miller, Memphis
The hype train has seemingly come and gone on Anthony Miller, but I still really like this kid’s talent. He loves the game and just flat-out knows how to play the receiver position. Other than his small(ish) frame, there’s really nothing to be worried about with him. Miller’s a good athlete even by NFL standards and runs some John Ross-like routes. He’ll be particularly fun to follow as he carves out his role at the next level.
T-10) Dante Pettis, Washington
Dante Pettis could end up significantly higher on this list if he can prove his hands are up to caliber with the rest of his game. Because it’s no secret, he’s a magician in the open field. Not only is he a borderline elite athlete, his vision is about as good as you’ll see from a receiver. His stats as a pass catcher weren’t great but I still think he can be an immediate contributor in a variety of facets.
Dante Pettis is more than just an athlete. Terrific inside stem and late break to the corner, didn’t get the ball but really like this kid as a route runner! #NFLDraft #DraftTwitter pic.twitter.com/jieXdr4lYO
— Bradley Ylitalo (@NFL_drafthub) March 5, 2018
Other Names to Know
Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame
DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State
Keke Coutee, Texas Tech
— Bradley Ylitalo (@NFL_drafthub) February 27, 2018
Simmie Cobbs, Indiana
Auden Tate, FSU
Well, that wraps up this edition of “Bradley Ylitalo’s Scouting Notebook, please leave a comment or question about a specific prospect, or fit for your team, below. Feel free to shoot me a question on Twitter (@NFL_Drafthub), I’m always happy to interact with football fans. See you next time!