NFL Draft Primer: Wide Receivers

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Apr 20, 2017

At the top of the wide receiver draft class, your No. 1 likely comes down to preference. Do you like possession receivers? Go-up and get it receivers? Or just good old-fashioned speed guys?

We’re now halfway through our NFL Draft Primer series that’s catching you up on what’s expected to happen in the draft next week. Whether it be your curiosity as to who your team is picking, or if it’s purely for your fantasy needs, we have you covered. Over the last few days, we’ve covered quarterbacks (read here) and running backs (read here).

Today we’ll dive into the wide receiver position, which is somewhat deep in this talented 2017 draft class. We’ll try to give you an idea about which players are bound to be drafted in the first round, as well as players who’ll contribute in fantasy, regardless of situation. If you’d like to read more in-depth on the players, you’ll find links to their scouting reports at the end of this article, along with my pre-draft rankings.

Overview

It’s really a “pick your poison” on Day One of the draft, as there are three wide receivers slated to go in the first round, and they all have different skill-sets. Western Michigan’s Corey Davis is your prototypical No. 1 possession-style receiver who can break tackles similar to the way Brandon Marshall did when he came into the league. Clemson’s Mike Williams offers the big 6’4” frame and can go up and get the ball similarly to the way A.J. Green does. And lastly, Washington’s John Ross is a speedster that can burn you with speed, as well as his phenomenal route-running.

Once you get out of the first round, the remainder of the field is up for debate, though they seem to have tiers among them. USC’s Juju Smith-Schuster is a name to keep an eye on, as he has No. 1 potential and is a dynamic playmaker, so it’s unlikely he lasts beyond the second round. Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel is somewhat of a wide receiver/running back hybrid who has been getting hype as the draft nears, and is now slated to go in the first two rounds.

The next tier of wide receivers who should be expected to go on Day Two of the draft include Penn State’s Chris Godwin, East Carolina’s Zay Jones, and Alabama’s ArDarius Stewart. Of these players, Godwin is likely the most pro-ready wide receiver, though I don’t think he has the ceiling of someone like Stewart, who can be used all over the field. I have some concerns about Jones’ smaller bottom half, as well as his need for volume in order to produce.

Other names that could potentially sneak into the top three rounds include: Louisiana Tech’s Carlos Henderson, Eastern Washington’s Cooper Kupp, and Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook. The crowd is extremely split on Westbrook, as he was one of college’s best players, but lacks the body frame (6’0” 178 pounds) you’d want at the NFL level.

With wide receivers, it’s not very common that one will come in and be a fantasy stud right away, as they need to learn the full route-tree and move up on the depth chart. With that being said, Corey Davis, Mike Williams, and John Ross should make fantasy impacts almost immediately. The teams looking for wide receivers in the first round have some major voids at the position, which should lead to plenty of opportunity.

Sleepers

When I wrote up Western Kentucky’s Taywan Taylor last month he was considered a sleeper, but since that time there is plenty of buzz surrounding his name. While he doesn’t offer you No. 1 type upside, he’s someone who could provide steady, constant value at the position. He’s one of my favorite Day Three targets from both a real-life football standpoint, as well as from a fantasy one.

It’s almost certain that Cal’s Chad Hansen will be drafted on the third day of the draft and while he won’t contribute immediately, he’s a player that should make you happy as a fan, should your team draft him. He’s got great awareness and body control that cannot be taught and has overcome obstacles before as a college walk-on.

Lastly, Virginia Tech’s Isaiah Ford is someone who could surprise as a late-round pick. Prior to the NFL Combine, Ford had some teams convinced that he was a third-round pick, but his 40-yard dash time of 4.61 seconds has reportedly hurt his draft stock. While measurables matter to a certain extent, Ford doesn’t play like a 4.6 wide receiver, and actually reminds me of Brandon Lloyd, a receiver who led the league in receiving back in 2010. He’ll need to land in a good situation in order to produce, but he’s definitely a name to monitor in dynasty leagues.

Pre-Draft Rankings

  1. Corey Davis, Western Michigan (View Scouting Report)
  2. Mike Williams, Clemson (View Scouting Report)
  3. John Ross, Washington (View Scouting Report)
  4. JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC (View Scouting Report)
  5. Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky (View Scouting Report)
  6. Chris Godwin, Penn State (View Scouting Report)
  7. Curtis Samuel, Ohio State (View Scouting Report)
  8. ArDarius Stewart, Alabama (View Scouting Report)
  9. Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech (View Scouting Report)
  10. Chad Hansen, Cal (View Scouting Report)
  11. Zay Jones, ECU (View Scouting Report)
  12. Isaiah Ford, Virginia Tech (View Scouting Report)
  13. Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington (View Scouting Report)
  14. Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma (View Scouting Report)
  15. Amara Darboh, Michigan (View Scouting Report)
  16. Malachi Dupre, LSU
  17. Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M
  18. Travin Dural, LSU
  19. Jalen Robinette, Air Force
  20. KD Cannon, Baylor


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Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

 

 

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