2020 NFL Draft Preview: Final Wide Receiver Tiers
Ahead of the beginning of the 2020 NFL Draft on Thursday, we're putting together some final tiered rankings of players in each of the Vikings' major areas of need. These are not my rankings, but rather the consensus of over 60 big boards, as compiled by Arif Hasan of The Athletic.
After trading Stefon Diggs, the Vikings are in serious need of talented receivers to complement Adam Thielen. Expect them to bring in multiple players to compete with Tajae Sharpe and Bisi Johnson for secondary roles. Here are the best options available in the 2020 draft, with brief commentary on the top four tiers.
Tier 1: The cream of the crop
1. CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Has it all: contested catch ability, route-running, explosive YAC. 4.5 speed but plays faster than that. Should be a No. 1 option early in his career.
2. Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
Best route-runner in the draft, hands down. Separation ability is reminiscent of his training buddy Stefon Diggs. Great acceleration after the catch. Deep threat potential. Neck and neck with Lamb. Vikings could trade up to get him.
3. Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
Ridiculous, all-world athlete. 4.27 speed, 42-inch vertical, 131-inch broad jump. Large, sticky hands and a threat to score whenever he touches the ball. A notch below Lamb and Jeudy because of lack of elite production, but won't make it out of the top 15 picks.
Tier 2: Potential first-round picks
4. Justin Jefferson, LSU
Monster senior year (1,500 yards, 18 touchdowns) and surprising combine performance (4.43 40) have made him close to a first-round lock. Extremely polished route-runner but may be limited to the slot in the NFL, making the fit next to Thielen an iffy one.
5. Denzel Mims, Baylor
This dude has absolutely skyrocketed up draft boards since the 2019 season ended. Was outstanding at the Senior Bowl and then posted D.K. Metcalf-like numbers at the combine. Combination of size and speed will probably entice a team late in the first.
6. Tee Higgins, Clemson
27 career touchdowns at Clemson, the same number as DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins. Great length, hands, and toughness. Underwhelming 40 and vertical jump at pro day are concerning. Vikings may be wary of a Laquon Treadwell repeat.
7. Jalen Reagor, TCU
Remarkably explosive athlete in the open field. Three punt return TDs last season. Not just a speed guy; also a great route-runner with major contested-catch prowess at just 5'11".
8. Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
Similar to Reagor in that he's a big-time YAC threat with added value as a returner. Good length and jumping ability. Needs to get stronger and work on releases versus press coverage.
Tier 3: Day 2 picks with upside
9. Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado
Big, strong, and quick with good hands. Versatile, gadget-type player with question marks about his route tree and durability after several injuries in college. Upside is through the roof if he improves the technical aspects.
10. Michael Pittman Jr., USC
Big (6'4"), physical wideout with great hands and high-pointing skills that will make him a major red zone threat. Not an elite separator. NFL seems to be higher on him than this ranking.
11. KJ Hamler, Penn State
Lightning-quick slot receiver with crazy burst and change-of-direction ability. Fun to watch in the open field.
12. Chase Claypool, Notre Dame
Combine numbers are bananas: 4.42 speed, 40.5-inch vert at 6'4", 238. That's Calvin Johnson-esque. However, his upside is limited by a lack of agility. Some have suggested a move to tight end.
13. Bryan Edwards, South Carolina
Similar to Pittman and Claypool in that he's big and physical but may struggle to separate. Smart player who knows how to use leverage and is excellent at the catch point. Might be best as a "big slot."
Tier 4: Middle-round targets
14. Van Jefferson, Florida
One of the better route-runners in this class. He can get open and catch the ball through contact. Good competitiveness and some short-range burst. Limited upside due to his age (turning 24 in July) and lack of long speed.
15. Devin Duvernay, Texas
Super shifty, bursty slot receiver who finished fifth in NCAA in yards last season. 4.4 speed makes him a weapon after the catch. Undersized and needs to improve his releases and route-running to reach his NFL ceiling.
16. Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan
Has the size, speed, and athleticism scouts salivate over. 44.5-inch vert and 139-inch broad jump are 99th-percentile figures. Really good ball skills but lacked production in college and doesn't have much experience against press coverage.
17. Tyler Johnson, Minnesota
Super productive college player who could be a steal early on Day 3. Crafty route-runner with contested-catch skills. Decision not to do athletic tests at the combine may scare some teams off. Might be best suited in the slot.
Tier 5: Intriguing day 3 picks
18. Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty
19. Lynn Bowden Jr., Kentucky
20. K.J. Hill, Ohio State
21. Gabriel Davis, UCF
22. Collin Johnson, Texas
23. James Proche, SMU
24. Isaiah Hodgins, Oregon State
Tier 6: The best of the rest
25. John Hightower, Boise State
26. Quartney Davis, Texas A&M
27. Quintez Cephus, Wisconsin
28. Isaiah Coulter, Rhode Island
29. Joe Reed, Virginia
30. Jauan Jennings, Tennessee
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