Top Receivers in NFL Draft: Jerry Jeudy

Bill Huber

Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy, who plays for his sister, checks in at No. 1 in our ranking of the top receivers in the NFL Draft.

Jerry Jeudy wears a Star of David necklace.

“My last name, Jeudy, people sometimes call me Jeu, like Jew,” Jeudy said at the Scouting Combine. “So, I got a Jewish star. I'm not Jewish, though.”

The necklace is much more than a play on words, and much more than a fashion statement. Inside the star is a picture of his sister, Aaliyah. As detailed in SI.com’s Daily Cover story, Aaliyah premature with severe health complications that limited her speech and mobility, his younger sister required around-the-clock care for her entire life. Sometimes, if the night nurse was running late, Jerry would come home from practice, help feed Aaliyah and suction mucus from the breathing tube in her trachea while still wearing his football gear. Or he would just sit by her bedside and nuzzle her nose to nose while her laugh filled the room.

“When I took care of her, I used to think, ‘When I get to the league, I’m finna find these doctors to help her learn how to talk, how to walk, stuff like that,’” Jeudy told SI. “God had other plans.”

When he was a five-star senior receiver at Deerfield Beach (Fla.) High School, Aaliyah died. She was 7. Due in part to her brother’s love, she more than doubled her life expectancy.

I swear I’m going to make it for you and mommy,” he posted on Twitter at the time.

Jeudy’s almost made it. He’ll be a first-round pick in a few weeks.

Jeudy caught 159 passes for 2,741 yards and 26 touchdowns in his three seasons. He caught 68 balls for 1,315 yards and 14 touchdowns in 15 games as a sophomore, when he won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver, and 77 balls for 1,163 yards and 10 touchdowns in 13 games as a junior, when he was a Biletnikoff finalist.

Having announced his intentions to turn pro, he played in the Citrus Bowl, anyway, and destroyed Michigan with six catches for 204 yards and an 85-yard touchdown in his collegiate finale.

Jeudy perhaps will be the first receiver selected in a loaded group of pass catchers, with former Alabama teammate Henry Ruggs and Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb battling him for the honor.

“I feel like everybody should think they're the best receiver coming out in the class,” Jeudy said. “Everyone should have the feeling that they're the best. That's the mind-set you need to have.”

What we like

Jeudy dominated against elite SEC competition. He is a sublime route runner who won on the outside and from the slot. According to Pro Football Focus, he had just three contested catches. It’s hard to make contested catches when you’re open all the time. His elusiveness after the catch – he averaged 7.9 yards after the catch in 2019 – was honed in neighborhood games against and alongside Lamar Jackson. “I learned how to juke,” Jeudy said. “He’s very elusive, so he really taught me to how to juke and make defenders miss.”

What we don’t like

At 6-foot-1 and 193 pounds, and with 4.53 speed in the 40, he’s hardly the most imposing receiver in the draft. Big, strong corners could beat him up at the line of scrimmage. He had five drops in 2018 as well as 2019, with an 8.3 percent drop rate during his final season. His hands aren’t bad; they just aren’t great.

BILL'S RECEIVER PREVIEW

No. 1: Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy

No. 2: Alabama’s Henry Ruggs

No. 3: Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb

No. 4: LSU’s Justin Jefferson

No. 5: Baylor’s Denzel Mims

No. 6: Clemson’s Tee Higgins

No. 7: Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk

No. 8: Colorado’s Laviska Shenault

No. 9: USC’s Michael Pittman

No. 10: Texas’ Devin Duvernay

No. 11: Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool

No. 12: TCU’s Jalen Reagor

SI.com: The New Receiver U.

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