WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Over three seasons at Oklahoma, Lamb caught 173 passes for 3,292 yards and 32 touchdowns while averaging 19.0 yards per catch. He improved every year, highlighted by his success in 2019 (62/1327/14). Over the last two seasons, he returned 41 punts as well for 397 yards.
His speed (4.5 forty yard dash) and strength (11 reps in the bench press at the NFL combine) fell short of the top wide receivers in this year’s class. Lamb may struggle against press coverage, but his feel for space and patience will create many wins at the line of scrimmage if tested. He plays with a variance in play speed, helping his ability to get open when the ball is in the air. This style of play adds value to his game at the goal line.
Lamb has excellent hands while showing explosiveness in the open field. His route running needs some work, which I’m sure he’ll add to his bag of tricks at the next level. Even though he needs to add more bulk and strength, Lamb will break tackles with an uncanny feel to set up defenders in the open field.
Some may view him as a one-dimensional speed threat, but the depth of his game and skill set will reach a much higher level. I’m thinking of a smaller version of Randy Moss in the deep passing game with the foundation of an Antonio Brown in the open field.
Prediction: New York Jets (1.11)
WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
Jeudy worked more as a traditional receiver in 2019, where he relied on his route running to get open. Many of his catches were in the flat or coming back to the quarterback, which led to less explosiveness after the catch. When able to secure passes going forward, his speed and acceleration become more disruptive. Jeudy doesn’t have the same explosiveness when caught flat-footed with the ball trying to make defenders miss.
His release projects well while having the speed (4.45 forty yard dash) to test a defender deep. Jeudy needs to add some bulk (6-foot-1 and 195 pounds) to help combat physical corners. He also grades lower than expected with his short-area quickness.
Over his last two seasons at Alabama, Jeudy caught 145 passes for 2,479 yards and 24 TDs over 28 games. The Tide used him as more of a big-play wide receiver in 2018 (68/1315/14) than last year (77/1163/10).
Prediction: Oakland (1.12)
WR Tee Higgins, Clemson
Higgins has been a great talent at every level of his career. He glides past defenders and has the height (6-foot-4) to win most jump balls against lesser competition. His natural edge at most stops may have restricted some of his development as a route runner.
Based on overall gifts, Higgins ranks among the best in the game, coming into the NFL in 2020. His success at the next level comes down to how much greatness he wants to achieve, which requires hard work. I’d like to see more fire off his release in press coverage with the desire to win every pass pattern out of the break. Without an improvement in the subtle movements of the game within his pass routes, Higgins won’t reach his expected potential (elite WR1).
Over the last two seasons at Clemson, he finished with similar outputs (59/936/12 and 59/1167/13) while playing for a top college team.
Prediction: Denver Broncos (1.15)
WR Henry Ruggs, Alabama
Ruggs brings elite speed (4.27 forty) to the passing game, but he only had 98 catches for 1,716 yards and 24 TDs over four seasons. He did score a touchdown once every four times he touched the ball.
In 2018, Ruggs worked his way up the depth chart as the WR2. He hauled in 46 receptions in Alabama’s offense, but he had to compete with WR Jaylen Waddle (45/848/7), TE Irv Smith (44/710/7), and WR Devonta Smith (42/693/6) for targets. Last year Ruggs slipped to WR3 (40/746/7) with his best success coming in Week 3 (6/122/1) and Week 4 (4/148/2). WR Devonta Smith (68/1256/14) pushed his way past him on the depth chart while WR Jerry Jeudy (77/1163/10) regressed slightly.
His lack of resume will push him down draft boards, but there is no questioning Ruggs’ talent. His hands will be assets while proving to be a player that can be used at all levels of the offense. Ruggs will be viable on bubble screens, slants, and deep end cuts where his speed creates impact plays. He’ll break tackles and yards after the catch. Alabama used his speed on quick-hitting plays as well at the goal line.
Ruggs is slightly undersized (5”11” and 188 lbs.), which will hurt him against press coverage out of the gate. His rhythm and route running will create plenty of chances at the next level.
Prediction: Minnesota Vikings (1.25)
Justin Jefferson, LSU
The rise of Joe Burrow was a big win for Jefferson in 2019. Over his 15 games in a national championship season, he caught 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 TDs, highlighted by his dominating performance in his 14th game against Oklahoma (14/227/4). The previous year he also led LSU in wide receiver production (54/875/6), but the team’s offense was mediocre at best.
At the NFL combine, Jefferson ran a 4.43 forty yard dash, but he didn’t participate in many of the other drills testing strength and quickness.
His game showed a significant edge when getting a defender in trail positions, where Jefferson showed the ability to make late adjustments to secure tightly contested ball. At the goal line, he had value in 2019 on the outside on fades, plus the feel to work the middle of the deep zone on crossing patterns.
Jefferson showed growth last season after a switch to the slot. His quickness in that role can’t match some of the best WRs in the NFL, as he still needs some work on his route running ability. If asked to play outside, he’ll take a hit in value when working the deep areas of the field. Jefferson plays with vision while showcasing sneaky speed in the open field.
Prediction: Detroit Lions (2.3)
WR Lavaiska Shenault Jr., Colorado
The wide receiver with size (6’2” and 220 lbs.) in this year’s draft is Shenault. He played at the highest level in 2018 (1,126 combined yards with 11 TDs and 86 catches) over nine games while missing time with toe and shoulder injuries that both required surgery. Last year his production in the passing game (56/764/4) had a sharp decline, though he did maintain some value as a runner (23/161/2). Shenault's rushing yards came on direct snaps. In March, he had surgery to repair a core issue.
Shenault has the physical look of a Larry Fitzgerald or DeAndre Hopkins while owning similar hands. He can’t match the two elite wide receivers in his route running or resume. His speed (4.58 forty) works for his build while owning an edge in strength. Shenault plays with plenty of heart and fight, but his need for punishing contact does invite injury risk.
His next step is developing his release while working on his timing and motions within the route tree. Tempting player for sure as some of his skill set and traits can’t be taught.
Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles (2.21)
K.J. Hamler, Penn State
Despite being undersized (5’9” and 178 lbs.), Hamler does play with strength (15 reps in the NFL combined bench press). His electric speed and quickness will threaten a defense every time he gets the ball in space. Hamler has a slot feel, but his game is all about challenging defenders with his legs. Once he gets the ball in his hands, the next move is hitting the gas while having the talent and vision to create.
Over two seasons at Penn State, Hamler caught 98 passes for 1,658 yards and 13 touchdowns while also receiving some chances on the ground (17/87/1). His best success came in four games (4/115/2, 6/108/1, 6/108/2, and 7/119) in 2019.
To become a better asset at the NFL level, Hamler needs to prove he can win against physical cornerbacks in press and tight coverage. His hands can let him down at times while losing some value if asked to work the middle of the field with his back to the end zone and a safety setting his target on him.
Hamler looks viable as a WR3 in the right offense where his game works the best on quick-hitting plays, deep passes, and misdirection opportunities.
Prediction: Miami Dolphins (2.24)
Michael Pittman, USC
Injuries (ankle and shoulder) cost Pittman playing time in his sophomore (23/404/2) and junior (41/758/6) seasons at USC. When given a chance to shine while being healthy in 2019, he delivered a stud wide receiver season (101/1275/11). He broke through in Week 4 (10/232/1) against Utah while ending November with three exceptional games (13/146, 11/180/1, and 13/104/1).
For his size (6’4” and 225 lbs.), Pittman offers an excellent combination of speed (4.52 forty) and quickness. He does need to get stronger (13 reps in the bench press), which will help him against physical cornerbacks.
He runs excellent routes and will fight to win with his body when asked to get open in the middle of the field. Pittman is a hand’s catcher that will have success on 50-50 jump ball opportunities. Defenses will struggle to cover him with one-on-one coverage on the outside.
There’s a lot to like here, and I expect him to be drafted higher than his scouting ranking. I would fight for him on draft day as I expect him to develop into a complete player with a 100/1300/10 skill set.
His best fit in 2020 might be with the Chiefs based on supporting cast, and explosiveness from that the quarterback position.
Prediction: Kansas City (2.31)
Jalen Reagor, Texas Christian
For an NFL team looking for a deep threat and return man, Reagor may be the go-to guy in the mid-rounds of this year’s draft.
Even with some questions with his initial quickness and change of direction value coming back to the line of scrimmage, Reagor has the talent to make big plays at the next level. His speed (4.47 forty) is deceiving, and he does play with strength (17 reps in the bench press at the NFL combine).
TCU used him on fades at the goal line, but his burst off the line didn’t look special in close. He will win his fair share of jump balls in the end zone. Reagor shines the most with the ball in his hands when seeing daylight. His acceleration through the second level of the defense is impressive when given space to make plays. He’ll challenge defenses in the deep passing game.
His college career started with 33 catches for 576 yards and eight TDs as a freshman in 2017. The following year he led the team in receiver production (72/1061/9) despite playing with three different lower-tier options at quarterback. Texas Christian struggled to throw the ball in 2019 (53.4 percent completion rate), which led to Reagor turning in a below-par season (43/611/5).
Overall, there is work to do to become a complete wide receiver while having plenty of talent. Some of Reagor’s development was restricted by the structure of his team last year.
Prediction: Indianapolis Colts (3.11)
Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
After struggling to define his role in his first season at Arizona State (33/474/3), Aiyuk developed into a big-play wide receiver last year (65/1192/8). He dominated in five different contests (4/140/1, 9/122/1, 7/196/3, 10/173/1, and 7/161/1) with four of those games coming at home. His career started at Sierra College, where Aiyuk had his most success in 2017 (60/960/14).
My first thought when watching his highlights was that Aiyuk would be an excellent fit for the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers.
Off the break, he’ll create an edge on slants while also showcasing the wheels to make plays in the deep passing game. His route running projects well while having open field ability. Aiyuk does need to get stronger to help his release when pressed at the line of scrimmage. I expect his best success to come over the first twenty yards past the line of scrimmage when going forward. Aiyuk needs to improve on his breaks to the sidelines and moving back to the quarterback.
His speed (4.5 forty) isn’t elite for the wide receiver position.
Prediction: New England Patriots (3.23)
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