This year’s class is loaded at the wide receiver position, one that has divided a lot of draft analysts across the country. But everyone does agree that it is a phenomenal class, just for different guys and overall reasons. Still, it is a class that will reinvigorate the wide receiver position with multiple types of receivers that are all extremely talented. And thus, here are my top-10 wide receivers in the 2020 NFL Draft.
1. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Since October, CeeDee Lamb has found himself at the top of wide receiver rankings for good reasons. This is a guy that will be a potential top-10 pick and has all the tools to be a fantastic receiver at the next level.
Lamb excels in two areas of the position, in particular, those being after the catch and with his ball skills. Those areas of his game are downright elite. Combine his ball skills with elite body control, and you can see that this guy will not lose in contested-catch situations.
I do not have that many concerns about his route running skills, either. He has sharp and violent jab steps and breaks down quite well. The real question marks with Lamb will be his long speed and releases. We have not seen his entire release set since he was not tested enough against press coverage at Oklahoma. If Lamb wants to solidify this position, all he needs to do is run well at the NFL Combine.
2. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
This is another one that I am guessing was expected. Jerry Jeudy has been hyped up for a long, long time ever since we first saw his effortless style of route running enter the college football landscape.
And that is precisely what Jeudy excels at doing. The technical things, right down to when to fire out his hands, are all there. He is an incredibly polished prospect in his releases, route running, and football IQ. To me, Jeudy is the best pure route runner in this class due to his efficiency and proficiency already.
After the catch, Jeudy is a menace as well. The final jab steps and cuts that are the highlight of his route running transfer over into the open field where he showcases good open-field vision and contact balance.
The biggest thing I would like Jeudy to work on is his blocking and a willingness to play a physical brand of football. If he added physicality to his arsenal, this would be a guy that would be my top receiver in this class.
3. Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
The fastest guy in the class is right here. Henry Ruggs is going to run a time that is bonkers at the combine, and because we all expect that, I do not think his stock is going to be affected all that much by his performance at the combine.
However, since Ruggs has turned into a bit of polarizing prospect, I want to layout just why I have Ruggs this high. He is not a fantastic route runner, but he is by no means a bad one. He has a good route tree and has the releases to still create separation for himself through those means. His ball tracking and contested-catch skills are especially useful for a guy who does not play with a ton of physicality. He can climb the rack and play above the rim.
However, I use the term ‘magnetism’ for wide receivers a lot. That means, is this guy going to be a coverage alterer and force defenses to change their entire scheme just for him? The answer with Ruggs is a big yes! Ruggs is such a dynamic player that teams will have mold gameplans around him, and that alone makes him incredibly dangerous.
4. Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
And not far behind one speedster is the other dynamic coverage alterer that has a lot of similar traits to Ruggs. Jalen Reagor saw a dip in his production this year, but it was far from his fault. Reagor improved on film this year in a lot of areas.
I thought Reagor’s ball-tracking and ball skills improved a lot throughout this season. There are still some issues with concentration drops that pop themselves up as pesky issues, but Reagor has been flagged by the NFL for some route-running concerns as well.
I think Reagor has a decent amount of nuance in his breaks and is not purely built off of speed. This is a guy that is master of releases at the line, and his start-stop ability is among the best in this class. After the catch, Reagor is a terror with physics-defying cuts all over his tape.
This is a guy that can rise higher up my board if he can answer some of his issues with drops over the course of the draft process. His field drills in Indianapolis are going to be a critical evaluation point on how good his hands are.
5. Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
While most of the guys I have talked about are not built off of physicality, Laviska Shenault is the complete opposite. This guy oozes physicality throughout his game. He uses it to help him separate, he lowers his shoulder to run over guys in the open field, and he likes to push guys around to go up and grab a jump ball.
His best trait is probably the work he does after the catch. This guy is a freight train coming at you when he gets momentum worked up, and he is a hard task for any defender to take down in a one-on-one situation. My concerns lie almost all in his route running and releases, and that is why he is down here anyways. He does have the route tree or the nuance in either of those areas quite yet.
6. Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Justin Jefferson is a technical receiver to his core. His route running is fantastic. He knows how to set cornerbacks up to fail and deceive them with his feet, head, and eyes. And once he gets the ball in his hands, watch out.
Jefferson is a guy who might not be a spectacular athlete or, in general, a flashy player on a lot of his plays, but he is a guy who you can immediately see being a productive receiver in the NFL. He has all the traits to become a quintessential number two receiver.
He has a lot of questions to answer in terms of his releases simply because he worked so much out of the slot with free releases, but he still has upside at the next level.
7. Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
Here is the biggest riser in my top-10 wide receivers from the Senior Bowl. Denzel Mims was the best receiver in Mobile and that week has catapulted him up to this slot.
Mims had already put out a lot of good tape at Baylor. He has a height, weight, and speed combination that never really was all that fair. His nuances were not great, but he had the physicality to separate and win the contested catches, just like he did all the time at Baylor.
In Mobile, however, we saw quick feet, and he did a great job of separating from every cornerback he faced that week. He was unstoppable. There are some questions he still has to answer about the nuances of position to me, but Mims has firmly put himself in the conversation to be picked in the second round.
8. Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Yes, I have my concerns with Tee Higgins, which is why he is this low in the first place. Can he consistently separate at the next level? I have my questions about that, although he does an excellent job of using physicality in and out of stems and at the top of routes to gain that separation.
Higgins is a contested-catch guy first, and that is where he will win at the next level, mainly. I do not expect him to become a route running savant or be faster than expected. However, if he does run well and test well in general, Higgins can see himself up the board.
Still, I do not see Higgins as a particularly dynamic player after the catch or in general. It will cap his ceiling, but he can still be an excellent receiver at the next level with the skillset he possesses.
9. Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan
My fellow draft analyst Matt Valdovinos is a big fan of Donovan Peoples-Jones, and I had to see why for myself. The guy can play, and he really should be getting more buzz than he is getting right now. This guy has robust athletic tools to work with at the next level.
Peoples-Jones combines his deep speed and big-play ability with good footwork and an expansive release set that allows him to win deep and then stack the cornerback. He has fantastic hands and body control, so those back shoulder fades are money with him.
And most importantly to me, I liked the hip sink and ability to separate he showed on tape. He has a lot of wonderful things on tape that make me think he is going to be extremely solid. There are some downsides to his game, especially his lack of physicality, and he needs work against press coverage, but he is a guy being slept on right now.
10. Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
The reports out of the Senior Bowl have been that Brandon Aiyuk is destined to be a future first-round pick. I had to go back and see what this buzz was all about, and sure enough, Aiyuk has some real juice to his game.
He is another guy that is predicated a lot off of speed. It makes his game dynamic. His yards after the catch ability is where he is going to make his money. Aiyuk has excellent acceleration, vision, and contact balance. You can manufacture touches for him, and he can take one to the house.
The real reason he is down here at the bottom of the top-10 wide receivers list is those press coverage issues. Aiyuk is not there yet. He has to improve as a hand fighter to bat those hands down. Aiyuk can stretch the defense vertically quite well, but he will have to answer those issues about press coverage to end up higher.