A – Top Tier
B – Starter
C – Backup
D – Practice Squad
Recent Prospect Grade Comparison: Julio Jones, A+
1. Michael Gallup – The most complete receiver in the draft, Gallup has the makeup of a legitimate WR1. He is a great runner with the ball in his hands, the result his combination of speed and elusiveness. Although not huge, he possesses adequate size to win jump balls while still remaining a big play threat with the ball in his hands. He is a natural receiver who catches the ball easily and fluently with strong hands away from his body. He has great ball skills in the air, with the ability to pluck balls away from defenders and use adjust his body to win 50/50 balls. Additionally, he is an above average route runner with the knowledge and ability to run the full route tree. He is physical at the line of scrimmage, and is somewhat effective at using his hands to generate separation. Although he blocks well, he can sometimes show a lack of effort when not the focal point of a play. His only major flaw is he sometimes gets scared of safeties, but he is generally a consistently dominant player. However, is still talented enough to build an offense around.
* Antonio Calloway – One of the most talented and explosive players in the draft, Calloway’s stock plummeted after he was forced to sit out the 2017 season due to disciplinary reasons. He is very fast and agile, with the ability to explode out of stops and cuts with great speed. He is an extremely smooth runner with the ball in his hands, contributing to his outstanding talent as a returner. His footwork and agility is impeccable, using it both to elude defenders and run routes. When paired with the wide array of routes in his arsenal, this makes him a very good route runner. Additionally, he is able to line up on the outside and in the slot. While he is a smaller receiver, he can effectively deal with press coverage by using hand moves and quick feet. He also possesses great hands, and especially good at adjusting to deep balls. He isn’t a prolific jump ball receiver, but he can still make tough catches in traffic or on the perimeter. Although he is one of the biggest playmakers in the draft, the immense off the field issues make him a major risk that most teams won’t want to draft until late in the draft. Skill-wise, however, he is one of the best receivers in the draft.
2. Dante Pettis – One of the best punt returners in NCAA history, Pettis is also a very good receiver. His prolific punt return talent is somewhat surprising as he lacks top tier long speed, but his great vision and elusiveness make up for it. Although he is not particularly good at making sharp right angle cuts, he has a penchant for subtle open field moves that help him gain extra yards. He is a very good route runner, with an advanced route tree and intelligence in altering routes according to coverage. He is very effective at selling his routes subtly and directly, and he can use his hands to create good separation at the line of scrimmage. He is a natural and fluid ball catcher who extends his arms to catch away from his body with his hands. Additionally, he does a good job high pointing balls in the air with his decent size. His hands are very reliable, and the ball sticks in his hands with minimal bobbling. He is not a good blocker, but he doesn’t lack effort. He can play well both in the perimeter and in the slot. Pettis is an exceptional receiver, and although he is not quite a lead receiver, his punt return talent elevates his stock.
3. Jester Weah – A big perimeter receiver, Weah is a well rounded wideout with high upside. He is exceptionally smooth catching the ball, in large part due to his soft and strong hands. He is very talented at winning jump balls on the outside, using his large frame and strong hands to help him get the ball. Additionally, he contains a muscular frame that helps him dominate opponents physically outside the numbers. This is a benefit to his route running and jump ball skills, as he is rarely bodied in a direction he does not want to go. He is reasonably fast, with sufficient speed to get over the top of defenders on deep routes. He is surprisingly elusive for his size, and his sturdy frame helps him escape would-be tacklers. He is a solid route runner, with generally crisp cuts and good use of speed change. He has a somewhat limited route tree. His size enables him to deal with press coverage, although his release is merely decent. Although he has the traits and ability to be a WR1, he can disappear for stretches of games. His talent is undeniable, especially after a great outing at the combine. While his upside is high, his tendency to disappear could be a problem on the professional level, although much of that may have had to do with inconsistent quarterback play.
4. DJ Moore – Similar to Jarvis Landry in style and skillset, Moore is mainly a run after catch receiver with good playmaking talent. He is very fast and elusive, and is an outstanding runner with the ball in his hands. His amazing elusiveness gives him the ability to make big plays, and he can make defenders like a running back. He is a solid route runner, although he is not quite a special talent getting open. Similarly, most of his routes are run close to the line of scrimmage, giving him limited options within a given passing attack. He can make some cuts well in his routes, although not as many as would be expected with his agility. He has great hands and excellent body control, as he can elevate and make contested catches. While it is not common that he is deep enough on a route to exhibit such displays, he is exceptional. His biggest problem, however, is that is ineffective when faced with strong contact. Jams at the line and contact throughout the route are a big problem, as he cannot get a good release or make catches. Although an explosive playmaker, his chance to excel in the NFL banks on his ability to deal with press coverage. Regardless, his showing at the combine was impressive, showing off speed and explosiveness that would help him make up for his flaws.
5. Anthony Miller – An outstanding technician, Miller displays the necessary talent to thrive at the NFL level. He is one of the best route runners in the draft, with the ability to run the full route tree well. He can face press well, using his hands to generate a release and restack his routes. His feet are not particularly quick when he runs, although he is good at adjusting to balls quickly. He is very fast, which contributes to his excellence at running deep routes. Additionally, he has tremendous focus on such routes, a skill which also translates to sideline routes. He generally has very reliable hands due to his focus, although he sometimes has some concentration drops on short routes that likely stem from turning to run too quickly. However, he is not scared of catching in traffic or of getting hit over the middle, and is excellent at catching with defenders on top of him. As a runner after the catch, he exhibits solid vision and running ability that is greatly helped by his slippery elusiveness. He is not a particularly prolific jump ball receiver, but he has the excellent jump timing and hands to make difficult catches. He lacks the adequate ball skills and size to be an alpha receiver, but he is an outstanding slot receiver who can also play well outside the numbers.
6. Deon Cain – A typical Clemson receiver, Cain is a big and fast wideout with the potential to be an alpha receiver. He is a pure perimeter receiver who excels at winning jump balls due to his ability to high point balls in the air. He has good body control and great adjustment to balls in the air, although his hands are on the smaller and weaker side. As such, he generally comes down with 50/50 balls that are within his big catch radius. For a big receiver, he has above average speed and talent running with the ball. Although he is a good, physical route runner, he has a route tree that is somewhat limited. However, he shows very good discipline on the routes that he does run. Additionally, he can hand fight exceptionally well at the line, during the route, and when the ball is in the air. He is a good blocker, whose size allows his to be aggressive at the point of attack. His biggest flaw is that he can sometimes lose focus catching the ball, either looking to run too soon or failing to bring the ball in. Another important problem is that his production does not seems to match his talent, something that can be seen as a red flag. While he is a very good prospect overall, he needs stronger and bigger hands to be considered a true big play threat.
7. Auden Tate – A typical big bodied wideout in the mold of Kelvin Benjamin, Tate has a tremendous catch radius and great ball skills. He is not a fast player, although his agility is not bad for a player of his size. His hands and size combine to be his biggest assets, as he is at his best when fighting for contested and tough catches. He utilizes his size extremely well, as he can pluck the ball out of the air and extend to reach high or misthrown balls. His body control is outstanding, as he can adjust to balls thrown nearly anywhere in his vicinity. This makes him a great redzone threat and deep perimeter threat, regardless of his lack of speed. Additionally, he is great at holding on to the ball through contact, making him a reliable safety net receiver. Due to his lack of speed, his hands can be inconsistent at times if he is forced to chase down a ball. He is a very inconsistent route runner, mainly because of his lack of speed and quickness. However, his routes should be able to be refined and are not a problem due to the type of wideout he is. He can handle press by using his size, although his hands also help him somewhat. A classic redzone receiver, Tate struggles to gain separation downfield, limiting his ability to be an elite receiver for a team.
8. Calvin Ridley – Widely believed to be the top receiver in this draft class, both Ridley’s floor and ceiling put him in the range of a top tier secondary wideout. He is among the most polished route runners in the draft, utilizing his top end speed and great agility to get open. He is extremely good at using head fakes to get open without excessive cuts, particularly at the line where he has has very good nuance in his routes. Although he is extremely fast, his release and acceleration are merely good. He is a very smooth runner with and without the ball, and has the ability to catch cleanly without breaking stride. He is also shows intelligence in knowing when to break off routes and help his quarterback. He exhibits good vision and elusiveness, and makes quick, crisp cuts when running in the open field. His hands, while not great, are very consistent and he rarely has drops. Additionally, his hands aren’t very strong, limiting his jump ball talent even though he has some ball skills. His blocking is average, but considering his size and experience doing it at Alabama, it should be an asset to his game. Ridley is one of the safest prospects at the position, regardless of his few flaws.
9. Deontay Burnett – The safety blanket for top quarterback Sam Darnold, Burnett is a very good receiver who will be held back in the NFL due to his stature. Although he is not a great route runner, he has excellent footwork and a very good football IQ. As such, he is very good at making sideline catches. He sells his fakes on routes very well, using his speed and small size to help him get open. Additionally, his experience with Sam Darnold has made him extremely good at running routes on broken plays. He is an average runner with the ball, as he is not particularly elusive. However, he is very smart in how and when he battles for extra yardage. He also has very good hands and technique catching the ball. His hands are very reliable in traffic, and he is fluid in catching and then bring the ball to his body for protection. He is also adept at extending for diving catches and balls that seem outside his reach. He has the potential to be a Pro-Bowl receiver, but his weak build could cause him to get pushed around, no matter how much talent he has. As such, he is not good at winning jump balls on the outside. Depending on if he can add more muscle, his potential varies drastically.
10. Christian Kirk – Highly touted as a top tier slot receiver in this draft, Kirk lacks the difference making ability to be more than an average slot receiver in the NFL. Although he is a very good punt returner, this talent does not usually show up in his play at wideout. He is a reliable player in the slot, but he does not have any exceptional talent besides being a returner. He is pretty fast and somewhat elusive, making him a decent runner in space. He is also very smooth in catch and run situations, enabling him to pick up additional yards after the catch. He is a solid route runner, with a well built route tree that he can run effectively. He also has very reliable hands, although he lacks the talent to make many impressive catches. Similarly, he has great concentration, adding to his ability to rarely drop balls. He is a player whose floor is set as a reliable slot receiver who can offer good support in the return game, however he lacks the playmaking athletic ability of anything else at the NFL level. The combine also reaffirmed that he has the size and strength to handle the rigors of playing slot receiver and going over the middle.
11. DJ Chark – Chark emerged after the conclusion of the CFB season, putting on amazing performances at both the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine. His speed, explosiveness, and jumping ability were some of the best at the combine, but that does not show up in games consistently. He has limited ability as a route runner, although he is very smooth running with the ball in his hands or making cuts on routes. Chark has great footwork as well, showing good talent making catches on the sideline. He is great at tracking deep balls, a skill which combines with his speed to make him a good deep ball threat. He is good at adjusting his body to win some jump balls, and at times can show flashes of outstanding body control. The weakest part of his game, however, are his relatively weak and very inconsistent hands. Additionally, he tends to catch with his chest much more often than he should. However, he is decent at catching over the middle, which will serve him well regardless of his hands. He is also a very good punt returner, with good vision and elusiveness. While he shows some explosive traits, his talent as a receiver is held back by his ability to put them into action.
12. Simmie Cobbs – A player who relies solely on his amazing hands and height, Cobbs is a highly developmental prospect with upside in the redzone. He shows an extreme lack of effort, something which causes his ability to suffer greatly. Although he is decent at running the fade and the hitch, his route tree is extremely limited otherwise. Additionally, he is a sloppy route runner, regardless of the small degree of effectiveness displayed in those two routes. He is not a great athlete, offering very little athletically besides his height. As such, he is slow and bad running with the ball in his hands. He is somewhat strong, contributing to his great talent as a redzone and jump ball receiver. Cobbs has great hands individually, with the talent to make outstanding catches with one hand. He is the best pure receiver with the ball in the air and other jump ball situations, however he is below average at nearly everything else. Cobbs’ sloppiness and lack of effort is a major red flag for a player with such high redzone potential, something that will greatly limit his NFL success.
13. Courtland Sutton – Highly touted as one of the best receivers in college football, Sutton is an athletic player with limited positional talent. He is very long and fast, and takes advantage of this by being an aggressive runner and blocker. He is a very sloppy route runner, due in large part to his lack of agility. Additionally, he is very bad at using his hands against defensive backs, either during or at the start of the route. His hand work is a detriment to his talent, as it leaves him susceptible to physical defense. For a physical receiver, he gets pushed around easily in press coverage. He has very good body control that enables him to release from defenders at the top of his route. However, he doesn’t use his size well when going for jump balls or boxing out defenders, even though he has solid jumping ability. He has strong hands when he extends them away from his body, but generally they are inconsistent. He is a good runner with the ball for a bigger receiver, as he can find running lanes but is not elusive. An extremely raw player, it would take a tremendous amount of coaching to develop him into a productive NFL player.
14. James Washington – Given the Biletnikoff Award as the nations best receiver, Washington’s college numbers do not match up with his NFL talent. He is fast, with the ability to take the top off the defense. Additionally, he has excellent adjustments to deep balls over the shoulder, although less so on back shoulder or sideline type catches. He is a bad route runner, consistently rounding off his routes and failing to sell his moves. While he is good at running deep fades, much of that is pure reliance on speed and failure by the defensive back to play even adequate coverage. He does not have particularly fluid catching ability, with the ball occasionally not sticking in his hands as well. This, along with his lack of strong hands, is a big factor in Washington using his chest a lot to make catches. Built like a running back, he is not good at making moves in space, greatly lowering his value as a receiver. Overall, he lacks any significant talent besides the ability to run straight away deep routes, something that will only serve him well as a deep backup.