SI All-American Watch List: Slot Receiver Rankings

SI All-American breaks down some of the most dynamic pass catchers and return men nationally
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As the 2021 football season draws near, SI All-American continues to evaluate the nation's top prospects at every position for the college football recruiting class of 2022. The first wave of the evaluations are the 'Watch List' selections, also known as SI All-American candidates, to be released throughout the month of July.

It precedes the SI99 rankings, our preseason mark of America's top college football prospects regardless of position, to be released the first week of August.

Naturally, the quarterback watch list was up first, rolled out in several releases last week. This week we moved to skill positions, beginning with a pair of cornerback releases ahead of the nickel defensive back watch list. To cap the week, the flip side is considered in a look at the nation's most impressive wide receiver projections. The top 10 wide receivers were released on Friday. 

In the slot rankings, our staff is looking for the quickest and more precise prospects, with that combination of polish and ability to devastate a secondary while working inside. 

1. Kevin Coleman

Vitals: 5'11", 170 pounds
School: Saint Louis (Mo.) East St. Louis
Recruiting: Considering Alabama, Texas, Florida State, others

The slot positional ranking is a combination of dynamic athleticism, polish and versatility, to a degree, and Coleman is a head-turner in each category, but also just as a football player. There is considerable explosiveness in his game, with functional top-end speed, and there may not be a better pound-for-pound finisher in the class. Coleman displays true ability to track and adjust to the football as well as the ability to maximize his catch radius and pluck passes away from his body. Throw in awareness and body control, and the uncommitted senior-to-be has an all-around game that works outside and in the slot, with as high a floor inside as one could covet. He is tough, physical, consistent at the catch point and has run a full route tree heading into his final prep campaign.  

2. Evan Stewart

Vitals: 6'0", 175 pounds
School: Frisco (Texas) Liberty 
Recruiting: Considering Texas, LSU, Alabama, Florida, others

A truly explosive talent, the Texan is a big play waiting to happen no matter where he lines up. As fast or faster than all others at the position, Stewart flashes the blurring ability on tape with verified track times to support. However, the one-time Texas commitment isn't just a track star who can catch football, he is a football player who also runs track. Polish is present in his route-running ability and finishing ability, not to mention easy dynamics while operating in space. Stewart is one of the best angle-breakers in the class, making secondary prospects look foolish with his ability to come out of his breaks and/or get north-south on short to intermediate routes. As he fills out his frame and adds more functional strength, 

3. Raleek Brown

Vitals: 5'8", 185 pounds
School: Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei
Recruiting: Committed to Oklahoma

The California star could have appeared on the running back ranking, due later this month, but he is well beyond the best pass-catching back in the cycle. Brown has true slot experience and polish, something we were reminded of at The Opening in Los Angeles to kick off the month of July. Brown is strong off the line with varied releases, he gets to top speed in minimal time and has enough route polish to create separation with the ability to stop and start. In space, whether being handed the ball or working the second level, the first defender is rarely successful at stopping him. Brown has easy lateral ability, vision and true run-after-catch ability that could project to the type of offensive weapon coordinators manufacture touches for. Not many in the country are as exciting or efficient, as he averaged a touchdown every 6.6 touches as a junior. 

4. Kaleb Brown

Vitals: 5'11", 180 pounds
School: Chicago (Ill.) St. Rita
Recruiting: Committed to Ohio State

Brown is the prototype slot player in the modern game, and that is especially true in the Ohio State offense, which prioritizes playmaking ability with the football. Brown could line up outside, but when he’s in the slot he is at his most dangerous. The St. Rita star is an explosive athlete that shows an elite burst, vertical speed and he possesses a strong, athletic build. His combination of vertical speed and make-you-miss ability is outstanding, and his ball skills are top notch. Brown turns into a running back once he gets the football, something the Ohio State coaches are going to love.

5. Kaden Saunders

Vitals: 5'10", 175 pounds
School: Westerville (Ohio) South
Recruiting: Committed to Penn State

Saunders is a bit undersized but you can’t teach the kind of home run ability he brings to an offense. Unlike other slots on this list he’s not an incredibly dynamic after-the-catch weapon, possessing more of route running/vertical skillset, but it’s a special one. Saunders has tremendous vertical speed, showing an excellent burst and a second gear that defenses must account for on every snap. He possesses the agility and feel for the game to develop into a precise route runner, which Saunders will need to translate his speed to the next level. Despite a lack of height he does show an impressive ability to track the deep ball and win vertically.

6. Xayvion Bradshaw

Vitals: 6', 180 pounds
School: Bluefield (Va.) Graham
Recruiting: Considering Notre Dame, Virginia, Purdue, Arizona State, others

Bradshaw is one of the most unique skill players in the entire country. His film is fantastic and he’s ideally suited for the slot position at the next level. Bradshaw is an outstanding all-around athlete that possesses excellent foot quickness and balance, and he looks to have the kind of speed to be impactful vertically and with the ball in his hands. Like many young receivers he needs to polish up his route running, but he is dynamic with the ball in his hands and he shows the ability to win contested throws down the field. Bradshaw is an electric special teams weapon that provides big-play ability as a wideout and return man.

7. Isaiah Sategna

Vitals: 5'11", 170 pounds
School: Fayetteville (Ark.) High School
Recruiting: Committed to Oregon

Another track star on this list, with plans to play both sports at Oregon, Sategna has third-level ability with relative ease. Averaging more than 20 yards per catch as a junior, he can hit defenses over the top as much as he can on a catch-and-run. With the ball in his hands, it's not just about the speed, as the future Duck showcases competitive strength, an array of moves and physicality at the contact point. A plus route-runner who can make cuts fluidly, without losing much speed, Sategna could hold his own on the outside and in the return game as well. As he fills out his frame his head-turning strengths, including an elite first step, will only improve.

8. Aaron Anderson

Vitals: 5'10", 185 pounds
School: New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr
Recruiting: Committed to LSU

Built like a mature, compact college running back, Anderson has a classic slot frame and game. Playing against great New Orleans-area competition, he has cat quickness, true instincts with the football in his hands and elite vision. The local LSU commitment has enough speed to challenge a defense vertically, but operates more efficiently when asked to redirect. He is strong off the line with enough functional strength to combat the press. Unafraid of contact, he can finish long YAC plays with power and purpose. As Anderson polishes up his third-level game, his sure hands and well above average ball skills will help project towards a strong ceiling. 

9. Landon Ibieta

Vitals: 5'11", 185 pounds
School: Mandeville (La.) High School
Recruiting: Committed to Miami

As filled out a prospect as there is on this list, there is also no lack of speed when it comes to Ibieta's game. The Hurricane pledge, who ran the fastest 40-yard dash at the ABX Performance camp last weekend, has some of the most impressive big play production to his name nationally. Averaging more than 21 yards per catch and hauling in a score nearly every other grab in 2020 (14 touchdowns on 33 receptions), Ibieta can truly challenge deep coverage on routine. Physically filled out, he is also comfortable working the intermediate route tree, with a good combination of strong hands, vision and savvy in the open field. Don't be surprised if he factors into the return game in the ACC for years to come. 

10. Kojo Antwi

Vitals: 6', 190 pounds
School: Suwanee (Ga.) Lambert
Recruiting: Committed to Ohio State

Antwi could be an outside receiver just as easily as he could play the slot, and that versatility is one of the many traits that stand out about this Ohio State commit. Antwi has the body of a modern spread running back, and that frame and lower body strength makes him highly effective with the ball in his hands. He can make plays in traffic and he shows a natural feel as a route runner, and one he gets more polish he’ll be a nightmare in the slot. Antwi explodes off the line and shows the second gear needed to get over the top of the defense. His speed/size combination is scary on crossing routes, which is perfectly suited for the Ohio State offense.

Notables

* Jordan Hudson, an SMU commitment, is a power slot candidate with a good combination of polish and top-end speed relative to his size. 

* Oregon commitment Stephon Johnson is a lengthy, rangy pass catcher with elite ball skills. Tough to handle in tight windows, he has third-level ability working inside or out. 

* Kobe Prentice has strong slot experience despite a short frame. Previously committed to Maryland, the Alabamian is shot out of a cannon with plus speed and ability after the catch. 

* Devaughn Mortimer is a blur. The Florida State commitment is tough to handle in any space setting, but he's also equipped to make plays in traffic despite a small frame. 

* Two-time state champion Ryan Peppins is the space threat that makes one of America's top programs, Alabster (Ala.) Thompson High, go. As a slot, runner or returner he can change the game in an instant with speed, stop-start strength and natural ball skills.