Building the perfect wide receiver prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft

Are the top wide receiver prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft the best in recent memory? With elite talent, depth and diversity of skill-sets, they might be.

Up to this point in the 2020 NFL Draft season, it’s been well documented that this particular class of wide receiver prospects have the chance to be a special group. With elite talent, depth, and diversity of skill-sets, the class could eventually rival the 2014 group as the best in recent memory. Building the “perfect” wide receiver prospect is an exercise I do every draft cycle and is a way to highlight the best traits for wide receivers amongst the class.

If all of these traits were within one prospect, that player would dominate the entire NFL. Let’s go trait by trait and get to know the wide receiver class a little bit more.

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Physical Profile – Chase Claypool, Notre Dame

Chase Claypool’s measurements at the Senior Bowl were otherworldly. Here they are with accompanying percentiles among wide receiver prospects. Honorable Mention: Michael Pittman Jr.

Height – 6’4 ⅜ (92nd percentile)
Weight – 229 pounds (96th percentile)
Hands – 10” (86th percentile)
Arm Length – 33 ⅛ inches (82nd percentile)
Wingspan – 80 inches (90th percentile)

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Athletic Profile – Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado

Colorado decided to deploy Laviska Shenault Jr. as a boundary receiver, slot receiver, H-Back, running back, and Wildcat quarterback. That impressive versatility required insane athleticism for the 6’2 and 220-pound Shenault. Expect a memorable performance at the NFL Scouting Combine from him. Honorable Mention: Donovan Peoples-Jones.

Vertical Explosiveness – Jalen Reagor

Jalen Reagor has the juice. While running routes on the vertical plane his combination of short-area quickness and straight-line speed is special, as well as his ball skills to finish downfield. Expect his immediate NFL role to be a field stretcher, whether from the outside or the slot. Honorable Mention: Brandon Aiyuk.

Speed – Henry Ruggs III, Alabama

I’ve already written extensively about Henry Ruggs III and his elite straight-line speed. Back in high school, Ruggs III once broke the Alabama 7A state record in the 100-meter dash in his second career track meet. His speed shows up both in his route running and after the catch. Honorable Mention: Jeff Thomas.

Hands – Hasise Dubois, Virginia

Hasise Dubois is currently an underrated wide receiver prospect but his calling cards are his strong hands. With 0 drops on 75 receptions last season and an impressive catch radius, there isn’t much that gets away from Dubois. Honorable Mention: Devin Duvernay.

Body Control – Isaiah Hodgins, Oregon State

Part of the reason that Isaiah Hodgins is such an intriguing prospect is his work in the redzone. He is able to win in tight spaces with his body control. His fluidity on the ground and natural adjustments in the air are a work of art. Honorable Mention: James Proche.

Route Running – Jerry Jeudy, Alabama

Jerry Jeudy is a true route salesman, who has a rare combination of acceleration and deceleration on stop routes. He’s a double-move artist, being able to sell initial breaks with the best of them, creating separation even from double coverage. Honorable Mention: Van Jefferson.

Catch Radius – Denzel Mims, Baylor

Denzel Mims is more than a contested-catch receiver, but his ability to make absolutely preposterous receptions along the boundary is one of the most impressive traits for any receiver in this draft class. Get the ball in the air close to him and he’s coming down with it. Honorable Mention: Collin Johnson.

Elusiveness – K.J. Hamler, Penn State

Once K.J. Hamler gets into space, he’s a near-impossible tackle for defenders who can’t match his quickness. Since so few defenders have his agility, his elusiveness will lead to a ton of explosive plays for whichever NFL team drafts him. Honorable Mention: Lynn Bowden Jr.

Ball Skills – CeeDee Lamb, Alabama

The reason some evaluators have compared CeeDee Lamb to DeAndre Hopkins is because of his ability to adjust his body in the air and extend away from his frame towards the catch point. His ball skills are legitimately special for a wide receiver prospect. Honorable Mention: Tee Higgins.

Stalk Blocking – Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty

Antonio Gandy-Golden’s physical profile leads to impressive potential as a blocker, and his effort results in positive production in that area. His strength along the boundary against smaller defensive backs allows him to create space for ball carriers. Honorable Mention: Binjimen Victor.

Technical Prowess – K.J. Hill, Ohio State

When it comes to all-around technique, K.J. Hill is probably the most refined receiver in the draft class. From a standpoint of route running (both breaks and releases) his hands and his stalk blocking, the redshirt senior is a true student of the game. There’s a reason he’s Ohio State’s all-time leader in receptions. Honorable Mention: Bryan Edwards.

Releases / Beating Press Coverage – Justin Jefferson, LSU

While Justin Jefferson played a lot of snaps from the slot and bunch alignments, teams still tried to test him with press coverage. Whenever they did so, his flexibility and length combination allowed him to separate at the line of scrimmage with ease. Honorable Mention: Tyler Johnson.

Power – Jauan Jennings, Tennessee

Jauan Jennings is a bully as both a blocker and ball carrier, which was the main cause of his 30 broken tackles on just 59 receptions during his senior season. That figure led the country among all wide receivers. Honorable Mention: Antonio Gibson.

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