We have talked at great length about this year’s wide receiver class and how it could be even better than last year’s historic class. Now that is not something I say lightly, as last year’s class might honestly be the best receiver class to ever enter the NFL, but this year’s does have more depth.
Last year’s class saw 13 receivers go in the first two rounds with six in round one and seven in round two. The class produced multiple future stars in Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson, Dallas’ CeeDee Lamb, and Cincinnati's Tee Higgins, while players like Pittsburgh’s Chase Claypool, San Francisco’s Brandon Aiyuk, and Denver’s Jerry Jeudy all had moments of brilliance. The chances that this year’s class produces the level of first-year success that last year’s class did is slim, but I don’t think it’s impossible.
At the top of this year’s class, we have the “big three” in LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase and the Alabama duo of DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. These three receivers are all very likely to go in the top 15 in this year’s draft with Chase having a very real chance of going in the top five. These three receivers compare very favorably to last year’s top guys, and Chase would be my overall WR1 if we combined the two classes.
After the big three, I believe that we will likely see two more receivers come off the board in round one of this year’s draft and that’s Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman and LSU’s Terrace Marshall. Both of these receivers offer good size and athleticism, and both have very good hands and ball skills. Bateman is an outstanding route-runner with very good suddenness to get in and out of breaks and is very crafty after the catch. Marshall, on the other hand, is more of a vertical down-the-field receiver who offers long strides to glide past defensive backs and is also very good on breaking routes such as slants, overs, and posts. Both of these players have the ability to win on the outside and in the slot, and that’s what separates them from the rest of the talented receivers who are beneath the big three.
The next group of receivers after the five I already mentioned is where this class separates itself from 2020’s group. Teams who don’t invest in the position in round one will be able to add a very good starter on day two and feel great about their pick. This group of pass-catchers offers a wide variety of skill sets. Depending on which team is in the market for a receiver, we could see these players come off in an order that could surprise some. We as draft analysts must remember that when we scout these players, we scout without factoring in how they would fit in a particular scheme, whereas NFL teams are evaluating the player based on their specific scheme and receiver room.
Here are five receivers who will hear their name called on day two and their best team fits.
Los Angeles Chargers: Dyami Brown, North Carolina
The Chargers got solid production out of both Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson last year playing as the No. 3 receiver behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, however both players are best suited as backups rather than real contributors. Los Angeles should look to invest in a talented No. 3 receiver who can be a true deep threat to help pull the defense deeper to allow Allen and Williams more room to work in the short and intermediate levels of the field. Brown is a true deep threat and was one of the most productive receivers in college football on vertical passes. He offers very good downfield speed to separate and is a natural tracking the football over his shoulder down the field. His ability to stretch the field should make for some big plays with Justin Herbert but also make life easier for the other receivers on this roster.
Chicago Bears: Elijah Moore, Ole Miss
Chicago put the franchise tag on star receiver Allen Robinson keeping him on the roster for this season but the fact that the team still was in pursuit of Kenny Golladay tells me they would like to add more playmakers on the outside. Moore would be the perfect receiver to play in the slot with Robinson and Darnell Mooney playing outside. Moore has excellent speed down the field and is a very fluid mover in and out of his breaks. He’s a uniquely flexible player who is a smooth and easy mover. Moore can win at all three levels of the field and is a big play waiting to happen.
Baltimore Ravens: Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC
This is one of my favorite potential day two fits. The Ravens are in dire need of receiver help and even though they signed Sammy Watkins, they are still lacking playmakers out wide. Prior to signing Watkins, the Ravens were in heavy talks with JuJu Smith-Schuster, so they clearly want a receiver who can make contested catches as well as win over the middle with toughness and strong hands. Enter St. Brown. All this kid did was make plays with the Trojans and is about as reliable of a receiver as they come. He runs excellent routes and is very nuanced in his release packages. St. Brown has outstanding hands and ball skills and is exactly the type of reliable chain mover Lamar Jackson needs. His tough and physical brand of football screams Baltimore Raven.
Green Bay Packers: Rondale Moore, Purdue
I would love to see the Packers actually address the receiver position opposite Davante Adams, but I'm only going to believe it when I see it. If the Packers do take a receiver early in the draft, I’d love to see them take Moore. Moore lasting this long would be a shock to me, as I think based on a pure talent perspective he belongs in or near the first round. The issues with Moore begin with his durability, as he’s dealt with lingering injuries over the last two seasons. When healthy, Moore is one of the most explosive players in this entire draft. He offers outstanding speed, short-area quickness, and change of direction. He is a threat to score every time he touches the football, and puts all sorts of stress on the defense as he can align at multiple positions. I envision head coach Matt LaFleur utilizing him similarly to his old mentor Kyle Shanahan uses Deebo Samuel, although I do think Moore is a better deep threat than Samuel.
New England Patriots: Amari Rodgers, Clemson
For the first time in what seems like forever, the Patriots are now in the market for a slot receiver. With the retirement of Julian Edelman, the Patriots have very little in the slot and quarterback Cam Newton has a long history of utilizing his inside receivers. Rodgers would be an outstanding pick and his playstyle screams that of a Patriots receiver. Rodgers runs great routes, has outstanding hands, and is very physical after the catch. Rodgers' dense build and his quickness with the ball in his hands makes him a weapon on manufactured touches, whether it's on jet sweeps, tunnel screens, or touches out of the backfield. His consistency, toughness, and leadership are going to allow him to succeed at the next level and this is the type of receiver that head coach Bill Belichick is going to love.
- Aug 08, 2022
- Aug 05, 2022