Rising NFL Draft Prospects Week 12: Week of the Wide Receiver
In last week’s piece, we mentioned that this is the time of the year where the cream rises to the top -- when the top prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft would make themselves known and separate themselves from the rest of the class. Week 12 delivered on that front in a BIG way. There were a ton of great performances that all deserve mention.
However, there was one prevailing theme from this week above all others: Wide receiver play. It seemed like no matter which game you were watching on Saturday, you were bound to see a top-flight wide receiver turning in a great game. Players like Jermaine Johnson II, Leddie Brown, Zach Charbonnet, and Jalen Pitre all had amazing performances for their team and may see a bump in their 2022 NFL Draft stock because of it.
This year’s NFL Draft class promises to be one of -- if not the -- deepest classes in recent memory. Not just in the sheer volume of players eligible but the quality of talent available. This year will be a good year to fill holes on the roster with some young talent.
Chris Olave & Garrett Wilson - WR, Ohio State
A program rarely has two of the best wide receivers in the nation. It’s even rarer when the same team fields three top-flight wide receivers. Yet that’s exactly the case with this year’s version of the Ohio State Buckeyes. The trio of Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba has torched defenses this season, with their best work coming Saturday against Michigan State.
The trio has earned the illustrious nickname “Earth, Wind, and Fire,” with all three guys bringing something different to the wide receiver room. Smith-Njigba isn’t eligible for the 2022 NFL Draft, but both Olave and Wilson figure to be two of the top picks at the position when the festivities open up next April.
Ohio State could do no wrong on Saturday against the Spartans. C.J. Stroud played a near-perfect game and bolstered his case for the Heisman Trophy award at the end of the season. For their part, Olave and Wilson combined for 14 receptions, 266 yards, and four touchdowns en-route to decimating the Spartans and ending any hope they had of reaching the College Football playoff.
Whether Olave or Wilson is picked first in the draft will come down to a matter of preference. Wilson is the explosive playmaker of the group. The guy who opens up things underneath and is always a threat to hit a home-run from anywhere on the field. Olave is the guy who is always going to come down with the ball. He’s the route-running technician who has soft hands and excellent body control. Pick your poison with this duo.
Jameson Williams - WR, Alabama
When you can do something that’s never been done before as an Alabama wide receiver, you’re doing something very right. Such is the case for Jameson Williams. The Ohio State transfer has come into Tuscaloosa and dominated the Crimson Tide wide receiver room. He’s been their “everything” player and is a big play waiting to happen.
In recent memory, Alabama has been home to DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Jerry Jeudy, Calvin Ridley, and more. Yet it is Williams who stands alone atop the Alabama record books as the only wide receiver in program history with four touchdowns of 75 yards or more in one season. Considering the pedigree of wide receivers to come through Tuscaloosa, that’s an amazing accomplishment.
Over the last month, Williams’ play has positioned him squarely in the conversation for the Biletnikoff trophy award at the end of the season. It has also vaulted him into the discussion of top wide receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft class. There’s a ton of talent available in this class, but Williams has shown the traits to stand up against any of them. He has the speed, the explosion, the savvy route-running ability. There’s not much Williams can’t do out there.
The biggest concern with Williams is going to be that he only has one year of production. The former Ohio State receiver couldn’t see the field much during his time in Columbus. However, he’s made the most of his opportunity with Alabama, and the limited production likely won’t be enough to scare most scouts away from the obvious talent.
Treylon Burks - WR, Arkansas
Jameson Williams commanded most of the attention in the Saturday matchup between Alabama and Arkansas, but he was far from the only elite receiver on the field on Saturday. Williams put up 190 yards and three touchdowns in the Alabama win, but Burks was with him step-for-step in Akansas’ near-upset of the #2 team in the nation.
For his part, Burks was able to haul in eight receptions for 179 yards and two touchdowns. He also showed that Williams wasn’t the only home-run threat on the field. While Williams bested Burks with a 79-yard score, Burks wasn’t far behind with a 66-yarder of his own.
In a day filled with outstanding performances at the position, Burks only solidified his standing as one of, if not the top options. He’s the guy in the Arkansas offense that everyone on the field knows will get the ball in an important moment, and yet no one can stop him. This season, he’s been dominant and brings a prototypical blend of size, speed, and physicality to the position.
These four wide receivers have separated themselves from the rest of the pack in the 2022 NFL Draft class. It’s going to be fun to watch these guys down the stretch try to out-duel each other and stake their claim for post-season awards and the coveted WR1 position come draft day.
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