Teams looking to draft wide receiver help in 2022 are in luck, as it’s another deep class. If it’s not the strongest position group, it’s without question one of the strongest.
Over the past decade, the wide receiver position has averaged four first-rounders and 13 top-100 selections per draft class.
While this class may not have a Ja’Marr Chase level prospect at the top to warrant a top-five pick, six wide receivers were selected in the first round of my most recent mock draft. In addition, no position group had more prospects ranked inside my updated top 100 big board than wide receivers (16).
If those numbers held, they would tie decade highs for both first-round wide receivers (six, 2015 and ’20) and top-100 wide receivers (16, ’14 and ’20).
With that said, here are my wide receiver rankings for the 2022 NFL draft:
1. Garrett Wilson, Ohio State (JR, 6'0", 183 pounds)
Wilson has outstanding body control, ball skills and is dynamic after the catch. Quick and elusive, Wilson ran a (slightly) faster-than-expected 40-yard dash (4.38) in Indianapolis. My top-ranked wide receiver prospect, Wilson is a complete receiver that finished 2021 with 70 catches for 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns.
2. Drake London, USC (JR, 6'4", 219 pounds)
Starting his USC career as a dual-sport athlete with basketball, London knows how to use his large frame and wide catch radius to win at the catch point. Before a broken ankle ended his season in October, London hauled in 88 receptions for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns in just eight games.
3. Jameson Williams, Alabama (JR, 6'2", 179 pounds)
Catching only 15 passes in 10 games over two seasons at Ohio State, Williams had a breakout season (79/1,572/15) in 2021 after transferring to Alabama. While not just a deep threat, Williams’s track background shows up on the field with his game-breaking speed. He tore his ACL during January's College Football Playoff final, but he is apparently “ahead of schedule” in his rehab timeline. Williams has the talent to emerge as the WR1 in this draft class even though he may miss time to start his rookie season.
4. Treylon Burks, Arkansas (JR, 6'2", 225 pounds)
Burks ran a slower-than-expected 40-yard dash (4.55), but he plays faster than that when he reaches top speed. Due to his physicality, run-after-catch prowess and how the Razorbacks varied his alignments, it’s easy to see how his new team could use Burks similarly to how the 49ers used Deebo Samuel last year. Burks finished 2021 with 66 receptions for 1,104 yards, 14 carries for 112 yards and a total of 12 touchdowns.
5. Chris Olave, Ohio State (SR, 6'0", 187 pounds)
Olave creates easy separation as one of the most polished route runners in this year’s draft class. Due to his speed and ability to track the ball well, he can be a weapon in the vertical passing game. He finished his Ohio State career with a school record for receiving touchdowns (35) and averaged 15.4 yards per catch.
6. Jahan Dotson, Penn State (rSR, 5'11", 178 pounds)
Creating separation with his nuanced route-running and quickness, Dotson has outstanding hands and is elusive in the open field even though he won’t break a lot of tackles. Adding value as a punt returner, Dotson finished his final season at Penn State with 91 catches for 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns.
7. George Pickens, Georgia (JR, 6'3", 195 pounds)
Pickens’s best season came as a highly-touted true freshman when he hauled in 49 receptions for 727 yards and eight touchdowns in 2019. While he missed most of the past season with a torn ACL, the lanky receiver has natural hands and excellent body control.
8. Skyy Moore, Western Michigan (JR, 5'10", 195 pounds)
An option quarterback and defensive back in high school, Moore was recruited to WMU as a cornerback. Converting to receiver based on team needs, Moore led the Broncos in both receptions (51) and yards (802) as a true freshman in 2019. He had a 95/1,292/10 line in ’21 and PFF credited Moore with 26 broken tackles after the catch, which led FBS wide receivers last season. There’s a decent chance that he’s drafted earlier than former teammate and second-round pick Dee Eskridge (56th in ’21).
9. Christian Watson, North Dakota State (rSR, 6'4", 208 pounds)
Following strong performances at the Senior Bowl and combine, Watson has been one of the biggest “winners” during the pre-draft process. Watson has an elite combination of size and speed with a wide catch radius and is elusive for a big receiver. The son of a former NFL safety (Tim Watson) ran the sixth-fastest 40-yard dash (4.36) among wide receivers and led all combine participants in the broad jump (11'4"). A big play waiting to happen, Watson averaged 20.4 yards per reception in his career and returned a pair of kickoffs for scores in 2020.
10. Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama (rSR, 6'1", 194 pounds)
A savvy route runner with natural hands, Tolbert has had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons for the Jaguars as he led the Sun Belt in receptions (82), yards (1,474) and yards per reception (18.0) in 2021. Tolbert had more than 140 yards in half (six) of his games last season. Among my top 20 wide receivers, Tolbert is the oldest.
11. David Bell, Purdue (JR, 6'1", 212 pounds)
The time wasn’t impressive, but Bell’s slow 40-yard dash (4.65) wasn’t necessarily a surprise either. Bell isn’t a burner, but he uses his size, strength, toughness and hands to win at the catch point. Despite opponents being focused on slowing Bell down, he was highly productive with an average line of 8/101.6/0.7 per game over his three-year Purdue career.
12. John Metchie III, Alabama (JR, 5'11", 187 pounds)
Metchie is neither the biggest nor the fastest receiver in this class. Like his speedier teammate, Metchie is rehabbing from a torn ACL he suffered in the SEC championship game in December. While he lacks elite traits, he has a well-rounded skill set and the versatility to align outside or in the slot. The junior wideout finished the 2021 season with 96 receptions for 1,142 yards and eight touchdowns and was at his most productive down the stretch with a 62/779/6 line over his final seven games.
13. Khalil Shakir, Boise State (SR, 6'0", 196 pounds)
14. Alec Pierce, Cincinnati (SR, 6'3", 211 pounds)
15. Justyn Ross, Clemson (rJR, 6'4", 205 pounds)
16. Calvin Austin III, Memphis (rSR, 5'8", 170 pounds)
17. Romeo Doubs, Nevada (SR, 6'2", 201 pounds)
18. Wan'Dale Robinson, Kentucky (JR, 5'8", 178 pounds)
19. Kyle Philips, UCLA (rJR, 5'11", 189 pounds)
20. Erik Ezukanma, Texas Tech (rJR, 6'2", 209 pounds)
21. Makai Polk, Mississippi State (JR, 6'3", 195 pounds)
22. Tyquan Thornton, Baylor (SR, 6'2", 181 pounds)
23. Charleston Rambo, Miami (FL) (rSR, 6'1", 177 pounds)
24. Danny Gray, SMU (SR, 6'0", 186 pounds)
25. Kevin Austin Jr., Notre Dame (JR, 6'2", 200 pounds)
Kevin Hanson is contributing mock drafts and position rankings to The MMQB during the 2022 NFL draft season. His mock drafts have been graded as the seventh-most accurate (tied) over the past five years, per The Huddle Report. His ’15 NFL mock draft was graded as the most accurate.
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