The 2020 NFL Draft is fast approaching so decided it’s time to rank my Top 10 Wide Receiver Draft Prospects for 2020.
Top 10 Wide Receiver Draft Prospects – 2020
1. Henry Ruggs III – Alabama
Speed kills and Ruggs has this in spades. Horizontal, vertical, it doesn’t matter. After the catch there is no loss of speed, in fact the jets are turned on. A guy who can win both on the outside and in the slot. Great blocker and has open field prowess. Give him an inch and he may go a mile with just one or two moves. Ruggs III is the type of player who forces the defense’s hand based solely on where he lines up in the formation. His explosiveness will open things up for other receivers/backs and he has the ability to be deployed as an active ingredient in any offense exploiting the weaknesses of a defense. I acknowledge the fact that he did play with Jerry Jeudy and two other potential 1st rounders in the 2021 draft, but Ruggs is the standard in the 2020 NFL Draft Class among wide receivers in my opinion.
2. CeeDee Lamb – Oklahoma
Not the fastest nor the strongest but a guy who a QB will fall in love with due to his ability to be open when it appears like he is not. Lamb has an exceptional ability to go up and get the football, turning bad throws into catches. High pointing the ball whether there is a crowd of bodies around or not, all the while contorting his body how ever necessary to get his hands on the ball and both feet down in bounds. Route-running was no issue as he would win at the top of his routes over and over. I’m impressed with his ability to make plays after the ball is in his hands making folks miss or running through would be defenders. Because of all these attributes Lamb can be deployed in so many ways within any offense. However, it should be noted that CeeDee did play in a predominately RPO offense. This made it more difficult for defenses to focus their efforts on slowing him down and resulted in atypical holes in the coverage at times.
3. Jerry Jeudy – Alabama
The best route-runner of the group and a guy who wins with demonstrative and explosiveness as well as subtle footwork within the route or at the top of the route. The separation between him and the defender after the break or breaks in the route were at times just absurd and ridiculous. Jeudy offers some open field prowess as well; and like Ruggs there is no loss in speed after the ball is caught. I do believe Jeudy would be best served in the slot but because he is such a reliable route-runner he can play on the outside and win consistently. Like Ruggs III, Jeudy played with multiple first rounders in the receiver core at Alabama who can stretch the defense creatingg all kinds of issues and making it untenable to roll coverage to any one playmaker.
4. Denzel Mims – Baylor
A well rounded receiver who has a little of what the Top 3 receivers have when you talk about speed, creating separation, and the ability to make contested catches. The three guys above him have an elite talent in one or two areas while Mims isn’t quite elite in any one area. However, he is great in all of the aforementioned phases. His ability to play any of the receiver positions should result in immediate playing time and he has the skill-set depending on his landing spot to push for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in a loaded wide receiver class. Watching him throughout Senior Bowl Week reaffirms that he is coachable and still has plenty of room to grow considering that he got better everyday of practice.
5. Justin Jefferson – LSU
Jefferson was deployed from the slot predominantly during LSU’s historic 2019-2020 run but he has copious experience playing outside of the numbers as well (see 2018 film). Jefferson can adjust to damn near any throw in his area code. I liken him to a more dynamic Michael Thomas. There is something to be said about a receiver who plays with physicality and violence at all times; whether blocking, running after the catch, or within his route-running, it really didn’t matter what he was doing he would punch you in the mouth. His play style is what makes me think he’ll be just fine playing outside the numbers when called upon at the professional level. His mentality is something that I think will separate him from many in this class and may put him in folks’ Top 3 at the receiver position.
6. Tyler Johnson – Minnesota
Could challenge Jeudy as the best slot receiver coming out. Runs and fights thru press with pure strength and is about that life in the run game hemming defenders at the point of attack. Johnson is a very good route-runner from the stop and start standpoint. A guy who will lull you into a false sense of security prior to breaking the defender off, especially deep. His stutter-step can be lethal and he’s terrific at high-pointing the fooball. Johnson looks extremely comfortable with bodies around him catching passes in traffic as well. In the redzone the Gophers would have Johnson flex outside the numbers and rack up touchdowns using his route-running acumen, physicality, and his penchant for attacking the football at its highest point.
7. Jalen Reagor – TCU
There are some receivers in this draft who were victimized by poor quarterback and offensive line play and Reagor is one of those individuals. He is something different. EASY SPEED. Able to reach his top speed within the first few steps and changes gears smoothly like an automatic transmission. He is as electric as any player in this crop of receivers. As good as he is with the ball in his hands, his ability to go up and get the ball is exceptional and something that wowed me over and over. While he had some success when challenged at the line of scrimmage by my top corner back in this class, Jeff Okudah, he rarely faced press coverage in the Big 12 which is a concern of mine as Reagor enters the NFL.
8. KJ Hamler – Penn State
Closest thing to DeSean Jackson there is. Hamler was deployed predominantly from the slot and he was open alot, ALOT! Yet another victim of poor quarterback play, what could have been? I believe Hamler can be a guy who wins consistently out of the slot or on the move at the snap. If he is accompanied by a #1 WR he can be a big time problem. He has the ability to get down field and sever, not split, sever the seam. Hamler’s stop and start ability is among the best in the country and if given space the sky is the limit. I recognize that he is not a guy who does the jump ball, contested catch thing but that is expected to some degree considering he is a smaller, slot receiver who’s game is predicated on his speed, acceleration and suddeness.
9. Brandon Aiyuk – Arizona State
A demonstrative route runner who runs hard, strong and aggressive at all times. Appears to have that build up speed. Off coverage is the worst thing a defense can do because this gives him the opportunity to use his speed and strength unabated. Aiyuk struggles arose when he was pressed at the line of scrimmage. Not that he couldn’t get off the line, but he didn’t create separation consistently when challenged at the line of scrimmage. When he got his opportunity he made the most of it but the issue was this didn’t come as often as he nor anyone that knows what he is capable would’ve liked.
10. Laviska Shenault – Colorado
Lined up predominantly in the slot or wing T position. Exceptional ball skills. Has zero issue locating the football at any angle. Not going to win with route-running but rather with body position and at the highest point. Strong runner when the balls in his hand. Big time yards after catch guy and used in multitude of ways. Keep it simple and get him the ball. When it comes to blocking, he lacks tenacity in general but specifically in space. Consistently missed blocks both in recognition or little to no contact. Shenault needs to be in an offense that understands what he is which is not just a receiver but a guy you can develop plays for. I believe his ceiling is uncapped but again this is dependent on where he goes and how he is deployed.