With the 2019 NFL Draft nearing, my evaluations are concluding and I've been revealing my final positional rankings. With 18 receivers carrying grades in the first four rounds, it's a good year to need weapons in the passing game. This week’s edition of 6-Pack Thursday is dedicated to revealing my final WR rankings and sharing my top takeaways from the crop.
I hope that this column has become a staple for you each week, but just in case you are new, 6-Pack Thursday is my weekly brain dump on six football-related things that involve the NFL, College Football or NFL Draft.
Let’s crack this thing open!
My full rankings can be found at the bottom with scouting reports on each prospect if you click on their name.
DK is WR1
I don’t expect everyone to agree on everything. If that were the case, how boring would it be? I enjoy consuming draft content as much as I love delivering it, so partaking in the evaluations on DK Metcalf has been fascinating. As someone who is quick to admit that I’m not the smartest person in the world, learning from my peers whose process I trust is important to me. With that said, I am surprised by how much variance there is regarding DK Metcalf’s valuation. To me, he has the highest ceiling of any offensive prospect in this year’s class.
He is a rare blend of size, strength and speed and it has led to dominance on those traits alone.
His poor 3-cone and short-shuttle time has energized his doubters, but I implore you to consider that receivers come in various sizes and skill sets. The way Mike Evans wins is very different than Julian Edelman. Julio Jones makes plays differently than Robert Woods. On the linear plane, Metcalf can be too much to handle. Give him chances to win after the catch, ask him to cross the face of the corner or send him on a vertical route and there are very few people on the planet that can match up with him. His doubters also like to point to his lack of production at Ole Miss. At the point Metcalf’s 2018 campaign was over due to injury, he had 569 receiving yards and five touchdowns. AJ Brown had 586 yards and four touchdowns.
Still not convinced? Check out this article from our wide receiver, Brad Kelly, on if those agility times are a concern. I'd draft Metcalf in the top-10 without hesitation.
Kelvin Harmon is a True Alpha
Harmon is an alpha wide receiver with blue chip play strength. That, combined with his impressive hands and ball skills make him a monster in contested situations. But don't confuse his physicality, size and ability to win 50/50 balls with him not being able to run routes and separate. He has enough juice and elusive traits to uncover and get open. He is a detailed route runner that knows how to maximize his physical ability. Harmon is best blocking receiver in the class and should be a welcomed addition to any offense.
Mecole Hardman Can Fly
Between clocking a 4.33 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine and watching the explosive plays he made at Georgia, identifying Hardman’s speed isn’t hard to do. With that said, what I really love about Hardman is that he carries that speed through the catch point. He doesn’t slow down for the football and he adjusts beautifully to the trajectory of the football down the field, maximizing his speed. There are other speedy receivers in this year’s class, but Hardman may slip to Day 3 and provide his team a dangerous weapon.
Here’s my summary from my scouting report:
Like most of the Georgia offensive skill players, the production doesn’t stand out due to the run-heavy nature of the offense and the other worthy targets in the passing game. What makes Hardman so exciting is that he offers top speed, but he also has excellent ball skills that makes him a legitimate vertical threat that can stretch defenses. Hardman complements his vertical receiving skills with dynamic potential in the return game and creating after the catch. I would like to see Hardman develop a broader route tree to become a more complete receiver, but he profiles as a starting slot receiver in the NFL that can be used in a variety of ways.
Johnnie Dixon is Intriguing
If I’m looking to draft a receiver later in the draft, Dixon is a guy I would be targeting. From his proven ability to win on special teams to his speed and ball skills, Dixon is an appealing prospect. The hype around Ohio State’s receivers this year is Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin. While they certainly deserve the buzz and should be drafted much higher than him, Dixon is interesting in his own right.
Here’s my summary from my scouting report on him:
A highly regarded recruit, it took some time for Dixon to make an impact for Ohio State but he showcased a potent skill set over the last two seasons. While there is some technical refinement needed, Dixon has outstanding speed and separation quickness while also showcasing good hands and ball skills that makes him a potent weapon to all levels of the field. Dixon profiles as a versatile playmaker at the next level that should be effective stretching the field, working from the slot and given chances to contribute as a returner. Dixon has been a prominent fixture on kick coverage units which increases his valuation given that experience. There is a lot to like about what Dixon can offer a football team in terms of depth at receiver.
JJ Arcega-Whiteside is More Than A Jump Ball Specialist
I like so much about Arcega-Whiteside’s game. While his dominance in contested situations stands out on film, he is so much more than a 50/50 ball specialist. Before I dig into my other favorite components of his game, let’s talk about those moments. Arcega-Whiteside does a terrific job of positioning his frame in condensed areas of the field, boxing out opponents and restricting their ability to elevate and challenge throws. Of course his size, length and strength are notable, but it's how he blends everything together that makes him so effective. His concentration, ball skills, body control and hands are also top-notch traits.
Arcega-Whiteside is a detailed route-runner that is incredibly nuanced in his releases. I love how he deploys a variety of hand techniques, footwork, angles and body fakes to clear press coverage and set up his route stems to gain leverage. He’ll be a heck of a consolation prize for a team that misses out on Metcalf, Harry, Butler, Harmon on Brown. As you will see in my rankings, I think he belongs right in that mix.