NFL Rookie Wide Receiver Rankings & Predictions

Rankings:

  1. Corey Davis- Tennessee Titans (Western Michigan)
  2. Juju Smith-Schuster- Pittsburgh Steelers (USC)
  3. Cooper Kupp- Los Angeles Rams (Eastern Washington)
  4. Kenny Golladay- Detroit Lions (Northern Illinois)
  5. Mike Williams- Los Angeles Chargers (Clemson)
  6. ArDarius Stewart- New York Jets (Alabama)
  7. Zay Jones- Buffalo Bills (East Carolina)
  8. John Ross- Cincinnati Bengals (Washington)
  9. Taywan Taylor- Tennessee Titans (Western Kentucky)
  10. Chad Hansen- New York Jets (California)
  11. Chris Godwin- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Penn State)
  12. Josh Reynolds- Los Angeles Rams (Texas A&M)
  13. Rodney Adams- Minnesota Vikings (South Florida)
  14. Mack Hollins- Philadelphia Eagles (UNC)
  15. Austin Carr- New England Patriots (Northwestern)
  16. Josh Malone- Cincinnati Bengals (Tennessee)
  17. Carlos Henderson- Denver Broncos (Louisiana Tech)
  18. Curtis Samuel- Carolina Panthers (Ohio State)
  19. Robert Davis- Washington Redskins (Georgia St)
  20. Trent Taylor- San Francisco 49ers (Louisiana Tech)
  21. Chad Williams- Arizona Cardinals (Grambling)
  22. Malachi Dupre- Green Bay Packers (LSU)
  23. Dede Westbrook- Jacksonville Jaguars (Oklahoma)
  24. Ryan Switzer- Dallas Cowboys (UNC)
  25. Travis Rudolph- New York Giants (Florida St)
  26. Shelton Gibson- Philadelphia Eagles (West Virginia)
  27. Gabe Marks- New York Jets (Washington St)
  28. Isaiah Mckenzie- Denver Broncos (Georgia)
  29. Artavis Scott- San Diego Chargers (Clemson)
  30. Drew Morgan- Miami Dolphins (Arkansas)

Predictions:

Best Career in the NFL:

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JuJu Smith Schuster- Pittsburgh Steelers (USC)- Round 2, Pick 62.

Former USC receiver JuJu Smith Schuster has the perfect size for a wide receiver, as well as the ability to play to his size which should easily translate towards the NFL. Smith Schuster is an excellent competitor with great awareness, and is known to use his physicality to make all the tough contested catches.

Although, he is competing within a deep and talented receiving core in Pittsburgh, expect him to be able compete right away for a starting spot on their depth chart. Smith Schuster definitely has the potential to be a star receiver for many years, and could excel on the other side of Antonio Brown.

Honorable Mention:

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Corey Davis– Tennessee Titans (Western Michigan)- Round 1, Pick 5.

Former Western Michigan All-American receiver Corey Davis has had a tremendous four-year college career including a 97 receptions, 1,500 yards, and a nation leading 19 touchdowns in his senior year. Davis was the first WR taken in the 2017 NFL Draft, selected at 5th overall by the Tennessee Titans. Davis has all the tools to be an All-Pro reciever in the NFL, and it should be no surprise that he will instantly become Marcus Mariota’s favorite target.

Most Overvalued:

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John Ross- Cincinnati Bengals (Washington)- Round 1, Pick 9.

There is no questioning the athletic ability of John Ross, whose rare vertical speed clocked in as the fastest 40-yard dash time ever recorded at the NFL Combine at 4.22. The question is whether or not John Ross has the play strength and durability to compete every week in the NFL especially for being a top-10 draft choice.

Ross is undersized and is below-average in his play strength, which could be a challenge some weeks going up against physical overpowering cornerbacks. His long-term durability is a huge red flag based on his past injury concerns including shoulder and major knee surgeries to both his knees. Despite all of the talent Ross possesses, time will only tell if he will be able to compete every single week for many years to come.

Most Undervalued:

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Cooper Kupp- Los Angeles Rams (Eastern Washington)- Round 3, Pick 69.

Former Eastern Washington receiver Cooper Kupp appears to have been overlooked in the draft process possibly due to his lack of competition in the Big Sky conference Eastern Washington, or questions of his speed (4.62) 40 yd. time. There is no questioning his ability to produce, in which he posted ridiculous career numbers. Kupp broke all three college football career receiving records with 428 receptions, 6,464 receiving yards, and 73 reception touchdowns.

Kupp has excellent hands and is a very advanced route-runner, which should instantly translate to the NFL. It will be interesting to see how Kupp will be used in his rookie season under new head coach Sean McVay, as well as how he meshes with second year QB Jared Goff. Expect Kupp to produce immediately in the NFL, and should no doubt be one of the top rookie receiver this season.

Honorable Mention

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Chad Hansen- New York Jets (California): Round 4, Pick 141.

Former Cal receiver Chad Hansen has an excellent combination of hands and strength to be able to make all the tough catches. He finished first in the FCS in receptions per game (9.2), and his 6’2″ frame with a 4.53 40 yd. time is a very nice combo of size and speed. Hansen should have no problem seeing the field for the Jets this season, and should end up being a great value pick late in the fourth round.

Most Potential:

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Kenny Golladay- Detroit Lions (Northern Illinois)- Round 3, Pick 96.

Former Northern Illinois receiver Kenny Golladay was extremely overlooked throughout the entire draft process. The 6’4″ receiver has incredible size with long arms (32″), and has the potential to be a top-3 receiver in this class despite being drafted in the late third round.

His height and long arms could easily make him Matthew Stafford’s favorite target. Detroit has been searching to replace former All-Pro WR Calvin Johnson’s red zone threat ability, and it appears they may have found it with Golladay. Golladay has room to put on more size and strength as well, and the potential to be a match-up nightmare in the red-zone resulting in many touchdowns for Golladay.

Honorable Mention:

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Mack Hollins– Philadelphia Eagles (UNC)- Round 4, Pick 118.

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Mack Hollins is 6’4″, 220 lbs with 4.53 40-time speed which is a very rare combination of size and speed. The fourth round receiver only played seven game last year at North Carolina due to a collarbone injury.

Hollins has shown the ability to be a legitimate vertical threat, but needs to work on his routes and hands to be dominate in the NFL. Hollins will immediately contribute on special teams, but once he begins to start developing more he will have the potential to be a very dangerous vertical deep threat in Philadelphia’s offense.

Biggest Sleepers:

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ArDarius Stewart- New York Jets (Alabama)- Round 3, Pick 79.

Former Alabama receiver ArDarius Stewart might have been overlooked by all of the talent around him at Alabama, as well as his smaller size at 5’11”, 205 lbs. Stewart is very tough, and is a extreme competitor who posses that alpha-dog mentality that shows in his play.

The Jets got a steal in Stewart who is also a tremendous athlete with the ability to score on any deep ball. The Jets released veterans Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, which results in them having very limited talent at receiver on their roster. Stewart is already one of their most talented players in the group, and his extreme competitiveness will give him a great shot at cracking the starting group very early into the season.

 

Honorable Mention:

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Josh Reynolds– Los Angeles Rams (Texas A&M): Round 4, Pick 117.

The Los Angeles Rams selected former Texas A&M vertical threat Josh Reynolds in the fourth round. The 6’3″ receiver dominates on the vertical routes, where he has an excellent ability to track the ball at the highest point.

Reynolds also has the deep speed to burn corners off the edge, as well as a being a mismatch to smaller corners especially in the red zone. Reynolds will need to improve his strength to be able to beat more physical corners, but expect him to be a dangerous vertical threat right away for quarterback Jared Goff.

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Rodney Adams Minnesota Vikings (South Florida): Round 5, Pick 170.

Former South Florida receiver Rodney Adams plays very fast with the ability to both excel in both deep, and short routes. Adams recorded a 4.44 for his 40 yd. time, and can be a dangerous weapon when he is running after the catch. The Vikings got a great value with Adams in the fifth round, where he should be able to compete for a starting role in as a slot-receiver.

Biggest Disappointment:

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Amara Darboh- Seattle Seahawks (Michigan)- Round 3, Pick 106.

The Seattle Seahawks selected the 6’2″ receiver Amara Darboh out of Michigan in the third round mainly due to his combination of size, and speed (4.45 40-time). Despite his fast 40 yd. time, his play speed doesn’t translate as much on the field, in which he typically doesn’t have the speed to burn cornerbacks. Darboh also struggles with press coverage, and doesn’t always catch with his hands which leads to drops.

The biggest issue with Darboh is he will be faced with a tough competition within a deep receiving corp in Seattle for playing time, which could negatively impact the value they selected him at in the third round. Darboh’s value seems to be more of a fifth-sixth round prospect, and it won’t be surprising if he doesn’t get too many targets in his first season.

Best Un-Drafted Free Agents:

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Austin Carr- New England Patriots (Northwestern)

The New England Patriots picked up former 2016 Big-Ten receiver of the year Austin Carr out of Northwestern. Carr failed to be drafted despite his excellent production last year where he recorded 90 receptions, 1,247 yards with 12 touchdown. Patriots may have found another un-drafted slot receiver gem in Carr, who appears to possess very similar abilities to Chris Hogan, and Julian Edelman.

Carr has shown throughout the preseason that he is highly competitive, and is not afraid to take a hit when going across the middle. Carr has made some impressive highlight reel catches that have caught the eyes of everybody around the league. With the recent season-ending injury of Julian Edelman, expect Carr to make the team, as well as make an immediate impact in the slot.

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Travis Rudolph- New York Giants (Florida St)

The New York Giants signed former Florida State receiver Travis Rudolph as an un-drafted free agent despite his projection to be a a late round draft pick. It was a bit surprising that Rudolph went un-drafted, and the main reason could have been his 40 yd. time which was recorded as a 4.65.

Despite the potential concern of his play speed, Rudolph has shown throughout the preseason he is a solid route runner, and has natural hands to make tough catches. Rudolph has proven himself so far in preseason enough to have a chance to compete for a back up job in the Giants offense, and the potential to become a productive player in his rookie season despite not being drafted.

Honorable Mentions:

Gabe Marks- New York Jets (Washington St)

Artavis Scott– Los Angeles Chargers (Clemson)

Drew Morgan– Miami Dolphins (Arkansas)

Riley McCarron– Houston Texans (Iowa)

Ishmael Zamora– Oakland Raiders (Baylor)

Kendrick Bourne– San Francisco 49ers (Eastern Washington)

Gehrig Dieter– Kansas City Chiefs (Alabama)

Michael Clark– Green Bay Packers (Marshall)

 

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