2020 Senior Bowl Preview: Wide Receivers

Photo: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Every year there is a lot of versatility in the wide receiver rooms at the Senior Bowl, and 2020 is no exception. 

Big and small, there is going to be a receiver all NFL teams covet. We have big bodies, space-eating speedsters, possession players and along the way plenty of places to find mismatch opportunities and players who fit a certain scheme.

Here's a handful of them we'll have our eyes on in Mobile, Alabama.

Most Talented: Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State

There might not be a first-round pick from this group (maybe, who knows), but there will be a handful of these players who are chosen on Day 2.

Brandon Aiyuk took a big leap in production this season and could very well be one of those players. After recording just 474 receiving yards in 2018, he finished with 1,192 receiving yards in 2019. He also saw his yards-per-catch average jump from 14.4 to 18.3. As of now, Aiyuk is the player who brings the most to the table. He's fluid and quick when it comes to getting off the ball and into his route. If you don't get a hand on him, he's going to blow by you one way or another. He is very comfortable in space, and is a nightmare to pursue and tackle once he hits the open field.

The test for Aiyuk will be how he fares against man coverage. He is not as natural creating separation when dealing with physicality, and that’s necessary to play as a primary outside receiver at the next level. We'll see how comfortable he is with it in Mobile because the rest of the playmaking ability a team wants from a wide receiver is there.

Most Potential: Denzel Mims, Baylor

When it comes to the receiver with the most potential, you'd be hard-pressed trying to convince me it is anyone other than Denzel Mims.

Mims has been on the NFL's radar for years now. As a sophomore, he recorded his first 1,000-yard season averaging 17.8 yards per catch with eight touchdowns. He became the topic of conversation in summer scouting circles prior to his junior season but that year was not as productive. He once again hauled in eight touchdowns, but his yards and average dropped significantly. In turn, Mims stuck around for his senior season and should be happy he did. In 2019, Mims had career highs in receptions and receiving touchdowns.

Mims also improved as a player overall. His catch radius is up there with the best in this class, and he pairs a long, 6-foot-3 frame with good speed. You often don't see players of Mims' size as deep threats, but that’s his specialty. He needs to improve in his functional strength, whether that's beating press coverage or making contested catches. 

Biggest Sleeper: Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty

In two years as a stater, Antonio Gandy-Golden had two 1,000-yard seasons for Liberty. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound wideout proved to be too much for his defenders for two consecutive years and will be a treat for anyone who is a fan of what he's already done.

Gandy-Golden high points the ball very well. He's can not only be utilized but prioritized when it comes to short-yardage situations and red-zone chances. If the route allows him to stay vertical, he can create separation from man coverage. What many are looking to see in Mobile is just how he will hold up against the better competition. Gandy-Golden hasn't been tested much with press coverage and doesn't have a high success rate when challenged because of it. This will also be a good chance to see how diverse his route tree is.

Most To Prove: Collin Johnson, Texas

Collin Johnson was one of the top senior players entering the season. His junior year was his best to that point as he finished just 15 yards short of a 1,000-yard season and hauled in seven touchdowns. His 2019 year, however, was not as productive. The emergence of fellow Texas senior Devin Duvernay (who had 106 catches this season) had a lot to do with that.

Johnson is a very tall 6-foot-6, and no one is going to have trouble finding him. He's also a nice athlete for a player that size. Like Gandy-Golden, Johnson needs to work on how he deals with press coverage and how he create separation against man coverage. He's plus in the movement category for a player his size but doesn't have the imposing strength against smaller defensive backs like you would think. Perhaps we see it more in Mobile. If we do, you'll notice right away.