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.
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.
Defensive back wanted no part of tackling Laviska Shenault pic.twitter.com/XXpx22iMUd
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) January 29, 2020
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.
#Colts GM Chris Ballard on what he's looking for in wide receivers: "Just want somebody who can catch the ball and go score."
If that's the case, Jalen Reagor at No. 34 makes too much sense. His father, Montae, won a Super Bowl with Indianapolis. pic.twitter.com/HJ2sWKhmP2
— Locked On Colts Podcast (@LockedOnColts) February 16, 2020
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.
Henry Ruggs III joined track as a Senior in high school, and ran a 10.42s 100 meter in his second meet.
“Official” PR (with wind reading) was 10.53s.
Class 7A Alabama 100 meter state champion and record holder. He’s got the jets. pic.twitter.com/IcAQAp4A54
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) October 14, 2018
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.
Virginia WR Hasise Dubois #NFLDraft
• Size: 6’2 219
• Natural hands and extension
(76 receptions to 1 drop)
• Increased receptions, yards and TD’s each year of college
Final 3 games of his career against Virginia Tech, Clemson and Florida:
24 receptions – 352 yards – 3 TD’s pic.twitter.com/VNvo8TVvkN
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) December 31, 2019
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.
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) December 18, 2019
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.
Jerry Jeudy’s acceleration out of his breaks is what makes him the best wide receiver in college football pic.twitter.com/qrb0RJDOEI
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) January 8, 2019
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.
Denzel Mims has had his share of inconsistencies, but for consecutive seasons against Oklahoma he’s looked like the best WR in the #NFLDraft. I still believe that could be his ceiling: pic.twitter.com/hzuqRiaaCi
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) December 28, 2018
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.
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) February 6, 2020
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.
— NFL Draft Videos (@NFLDraftVideos) February 19, 2020
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.
KJ Hill is always open pic.twitter.com/qvXFyHWNce
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) January 24, 2020
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.
Whenever teams tried to press point of the bunch, Justin Jefferson torched it. He didn’t take many boundary reps this season, but I don’t have many concerns about his projection there in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/HLZEcrQ8ok
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) February 3, 2020
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.
Jauan Jennings is one of the most physical WR prospects I’ve ever evaluated – violent hand fighting when he’s crowded pic.twitter.com/3CkfYNn9Zi
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) January 21, 2020