Bobby Sylvester’s Top 2020 NFL Draft Wide Receivers
Folks, we are just 16 days away from what may be the best sports event of the year. The NFL Draft is actually going to happen and while NFL teams will have a bit of a different experience, our viewing pleasure will very much be the same. This year’s class is oozing with talent and that is especially true of the wide receiver position. We have 35 legitimate wide receiver prospects and today I’ll give you my rankings along with the projected rounds they’ll be taken in and some quick-hitting NFL comps/notes. I’ll expand on a handful of my favorites as well. Let’s do this!
Everyone seems to want to put Ruggs into this tier and it wasn’t long ago that many considered Shenault and Higgins to be likely high-1st round picks, but these two are in a class of their own. Besides Chase Young, Jeff Okudah and Joe Burrow, I have Jeudy and Lamb neck and neck as the #4 and #5 prospects on my big board. Jeudy may very well end up as the best route-runner in football before long and has the chops to make plays after the catch as well. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if he was leading the NFL in receptions a few seasons from now. Lamb, meanwhile, is a bit more raw but has more upside. Some have compared him to DeAndre Hopkins and while that is the prototype, it’s unfair to loft a hall-of-fame comp on a 20-year-old kid. With that said, his upside is limitless.
#3 Donovan Peoples-Jones – Michigan (2nd), Comp/Notes: DJ Chark w/wiggle
#4 Denzel Mims – Baylor (1st/2nd), Comp/Notes: DeVante Parker -ish
#5 Justin Jefferson – LSU (Late 1st), Comp/Notes: JuJu Smith-Schuster lite
#6 Henry Ruggs III – Alabama (Top 15), Comp/Notes: Santana Moss
#7 Tyler Johnson – Minnesota (3rd), Comp/Notes: Eric Decker
#8 Tee Higgins – Clemson (1st/2nd), Comp/Notes: Corey Davis
#9 Brandon Aiyuk – Arizona St. (1st/2nd), Comp/Notes: Nate Burleson
#10 Jalen Reagor – TCU (2nd), Comp/Notes: faster Sterling Shepard
#11 Laviska Shenault Jr. – Colorado (2nd/3rd), Comp/Notes: James Jones +
This may cause some of you all to double-take or even tempt you to stop reading. But please remember that I was hyping up Terry McLaurin as one of my favorite receivers in last year’s draft class too. I’m not doing this for hyperbolic effect, but rather because I am a huge believer in DPJ. His highlights are as electric as any receiver in this draft class. You would be right to say that the production has not been there, but Michigan’s offense has just been a trainwreck. He has the athletic profile to become a star, a top-of-the-line football IQ and could blow up at the next level if he has the right landing spot. I’d love to see Indianapolis draft DPJ in the early 2nd or even see him drop into the 3rd where Oakland could snag him with one of three picks.
#12 Bryan Edwards – South Carolina (3rd/4th), Comp/Notes: Mohamed Sanu
#13 KJ Hamler – Penn St. (2nd/3rd), Comp/Notes: big-play threat
#14 Gabriel Davis – UCF (3rd), Comp/Notes: mismatch/athlete
#15 Michael Pittman Jr. – USC (3rd), Comp/Notes: polished/low ceiling
#16 Lynn Bowden Jr. – Kentucky (3rd/4th), Comp/Notes: dynamic/raw
#17 Binjimen Victor – Ohio St. (4th/5th), Comp/Notes: raw/hidden gem?
#18 Collin Johnson – Texas (3rd/4th), Comp/Notes: big/agile/raw
#19 Quintez Cephus – Wisconsin (3rd/4th), Comp/Notes: slow/gamer
#20 Chase Claypool – Notre Dame (2nd/3rd), Comp/Notes: huge/fast/raw
#21 Devin Duvernay – Texas (3rd/4th), Comp/Notes: fast/gamer
#22 Antonio Gandy-Golden – Liberty (3rd/4th), Comp/Notes: upside/huge
#23 K.J. Hill – Ohio St. (4th/5th), Comp/Notes: safe slot or WR4
I can’t imagine anyone in the industry is higher than I am on either Edwards of Victor so I’ll highlight both from this tier. Edwards is savvy to the core, using any means necessary to win a catch. He may not be the fastest or strongest, but this warrior refuses to be beaten and his production is evidence of it. I expect him to find his way onto the field from Week 1 and he should be an asset right away. Victor, meanwhile, may take two or three years to develop. Heck, it may never happen or his thin frame might not hold up, but if we get to see him reach his potential, we would all be looking back and laughing about him falling into the fourth round. Victor has been hidden behind other NFL wideouts for long enough that we don’t have a ton of tape but what we do have has me drooling. His catch radius is ridiculous and he catches balls that no one has any business catching. Not only that but he is brave in traffic and eludes tacklers when the ball is in his hands. You should hope your NFL team gambles on Victor in the late rounds.
#24 Jeff Thomas – Miami (4th/5th), Comp/Notes: small/speedy
#25 Jauan Jennings – Tennessee (4th/5th), Comp/Notes: WR4/+football IQ
#26 Omar Bayless – Arkansas St. (5th/6th), Comp/Notes: size/+hands
#27 Isaiah Hodgins – Oregon St. (4th/5th), Comp/Notes: big solid WR4
#28 Quartney Davis – Texas A&M (5th), Comp/Notes: starting slot upside
#29 Quez Watkins – Southern Miss (4th/5th), Comp/Notes: blazer/raw
#30 Van Jefferson – Florida (4th), Comp/Notes: spirited/low ceiling
#31 James Proche – SMU (5th), Comp/Notes: ++hands/raw routes
#32 Tyrie Cleveland – Florida (5th/6th), Comp/Notes: vertical threat
#33 John Hightower – Boise St. (5th), Comp/Notes: big plays/erratic
#34 Cody White – Michigan St. (5th/6th), Comp/Notes: big/raw/slow
#35 Kalija Lipscomb – Vanderbilt (5th), Comp/Notes: reliable/low-ceiling
There isn’t a ton to be excited about in this tier, but it is absurd that these receivers, who would typically go in the late second to early fourth may drop all the way to the sixth in some cases because there are 30+ good receivers in the draft. Among this group, keep a close eye on Jeff Thomas who was a top-notch high school recruit, passing up offers from Alabama, Auburn, and Ohio State among many others. He isn’t an alpha receiver by any means but this speedster has Tyler Lockett upside written all over him.