2020 NFL Scouting Combine: Rookie Receivers Model Their Game After Today's Best Playmakers

Jerry Jeudy, Laviska Shenault Jr, Henry Ruggs III and other incoming rookie wide receivers reveal why they try to emulate Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, Larry Fitzgerald and other NFL superstar playmakers.
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The 2020 crop of rookie wide receivers is loaded with talent. Our latest Sports Illustrated mock draft projects six wide receivers to get selected in the first round: Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, Colorado’s Laviska Shenault Jr., Clemson’s Tee Higgins and Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk.

When it comes to style of play and skill set no two NFL receivers have all the same technique. So it should come as no surprise to learn the incoming rookie wide receivers don’t just model their game after one pass-catcher, but instead take a few qualities from today’s NFL star playmakers.

The widest range of desired ability came from Shenault Jr. The Colorado standout says he admires the aggressiveness of Jarvis Landry, the focus of Larry Fitzgerald and the freakish athletic ability of Julio Jones. Shenault was just 6 years old when Fitzgerald was drafted in 2004. When it comes to making plays, the 21-year-old says he’s like Fitzgerald in that he too is “about business” when he gets on the field. University of Central Florida’s Gabriel Davis also tries to model his game after Fitzgerald. Davis said he’s looked up to the long-time Cardinal since he was 9. In addition to Fitzgerald’s on-the-field skills, Davis cited the future Pro Football Hall of Famer’s composure and “stay out of trouble” mentality as a great characteristic to embrace.

Fitzgerald and Jones were both popular answers when we asked the soon-to-be rookie receivers who they emulate. Michael Thomas, Keenan Allen, DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green were other common answers.