While the 2019 NFL draft featured plenty of overall wide receiver depth, it lacked in top-tier prospects. The first receiver wasn’t drafted until late in the first round when the Ravens picked Marquise Brown with the 25th overall pick.
A quick glance at next year’s receiving class shows a stronger-looking group with some top prospect potential. “On the surface it looks as though there are much better route runners with legit gas in this class,” one scout said. “Not just big jump-ball guys. There could be several Calvin Ridley-types, which could play multiple roles in offenses, increasing their value.”
Most NFL scouts are in the middle of a long-awaited vacation and have yet to study the 2020 draft class in detail. (“You guys are so far ahead of us,” said one evaluator.) But when I polled scouts about the receivers, the general consensus is that the group is an upgrade from ’19 and will feature more high first-round prospects. “It will end up being a group with guys drafted higher in the top 50,” another scout said.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard told our Albert Breer that the team maintained long-term flexibility at wide receiver because of what’s coming in the upcoming receiving class. “We think next year’s receiver class is pretty good,” Ballard told Breer. “It’s gonna be really good.”
Here’s a look at the 2020 receiving class:
Jerry Jeudy, junior, Alabama
The elusive and athletic Jeudy works a variety of routes all over the field, and he makes every one look easy. His route running is impressive, and a clear upgrade over the receivers at the top of the 2019 class. At 6' 1" and 192 pounds, he doesn’t have the prototypical NFL size, but he has speed and a unique ability to go from full-throttle to stop. He hauled in 14 touchdowns last season, and according to PFF, he dropped only four passes out of 72 that were catchable and broke 17 tackles. Jeudy heads into this season with high first-round pick potential and is in contention to be the top receiver picked.
Laviska Shenault, junior, Colorado
Shenault was the only receiver invited to be a counselor at Manning Passing Academy, at the recommendation of his Colorado quarterback Steven Montez, who was also a counselor. I saw him at MPA, and physically, he’s a beast. At 6' 2" and 220 pounds, one agent said Shenault will be the strongest receiver in the NFL the day he’s drafted. Colorado uses the shifty and hard-to-tackle Shenault all over the field, at wildcat running back, inside and outside. Shenault had 10 touchdowns in five games during the Buffs’ hot start last season.
Jalen Reagor, junior, TCU
The word most scouts use to describe Reagor is explosive. He’d be a household name like Jeudy is, if he’d had a quarterback as good as Tua Tagovailoa. Instead, Reagor caught passes from a trio of TCU quarterbacks last season, and still scored nine touchdowns and put up 1,040 yards. His speciality is the vertical route tree, and he’s at the top of this draft class at creating separation.
Ceedee Lamb, junior, Oklahoma
Lamb isn’t overly fast, but he’s a good route runner and has good hands. He led the team with 11 touchdown catches and averaged 17.8 yards on 65 receptions.
Tylan Wallace, junior, Oklahoma State
Wallace emerged last season as another strong route runner in this class. He finished third in the country with 1491 yards,12 touchdowns and 17.3 yards per catch.
Tee Higgins, junior, Clemson
Higgins led all Clemson receivers in 2018 with 59 catches for 936 yards and 12 touchdowns. At 6' 4' and 205 pounds, he could stand to put on some weight, but his height gives him an immediate advantage against average-sized cornerbacks, and his strengths are his catch radius and leaping ability.
Other receivers to watch this season
• Collin Johnson, senior, Texas
• Tyler Johnson, senior, Minnesota
• Donovan Peoples-Jones, junior, Michigan
• Tarik Black, junior, Michigan
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