Preseason Top 5: Big 12 Wide Receivers

Photo: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

[dropcap]Wide receiver play in the Big 12 is one of the most exciting positional groups in college football. In fact, the last three Biletnikoff Award winners for best collegiate wide receiver have come from the Big 12. Additionally, four wide receivers from the Big 12 were drafted during the 2018 NFL Draft.

The wide-open spread offensive systems attract star recruits to Big 12 schools, and as a result? The most impressive positional group in the conference. The Top 5 wide receivers from the Big 12 include an All-American in David Sills V, and a player with elite pro potential in Denzel Mims.

1. Denzel Mims, Junior, Baylor (6'3, 208)

Despite a rough 1-11 season for Baylor in 2017, Denzel Mims showed the potential of an elite wide receiver prospect.

At 6’3, 208 pounds, Mims has incredible athleticism stemming from his high-end track-and-field background. However, Mims isn’t just a speedster, rather an all-around receiver with track speed. He put together a 2017 campaign of over 1,000 yards and 8 touchdowns as a true sophomore.

Mims has an incredible catch radius, and is able to extend to all passes around his frame and tuck them into his body immediately. As a route runner, he’s able to get in and out of horizontal breaks efficiently despite his longer frame. Additionally, Mims does a nice job of varying his pace and using his elite burst to generate separation vertically. Mims will be draft eligible for the first time in 2019, and isn’t a guarantee to declare, but his ceiling may be as high as any wide receiver in the potential class.

2. Collin Johnson, Junior, Texas (6'6, 215)

Johnson has elite potential in his 6’6 and 215 pound frame. He was able to produce 765 receiving yards as a true sophomore despite inconsistent quarterback play.

As a route runner, Johnson releases at the line of scrimmage at will with an arsenal of hand usage and solid lateral agility for his size. His body control is his biggest weapon, as he’s able to pull in an array of passes vertically and horizontally. He consistently positions his frame well in order to win contested catches.

Despite this ability, Johnson only produced 2 touchdowns last season, and will need to improve in this regard next season in order to become a legitimate pro prospect.

3. T.J. Vasher, RS Sophomore, Texas Tech (6'6, 190)

Vasher shows flashes of potential in 2017, despite being a secondary option in the Red Raiders passing attack. With veteran producers Keke Coutee, Dylan Cantrell, and Cameron Batson gone to the NFL, the wide receiver room in Lubbock now belongs to Vasher.

His 6’6 and 190 pound frame needs to continue to be filled out, but his length is his main weapon. Vasher has excellent body control that allows him to really pluck the ball out of the air.

Vasher is a surprisingly smooth athlete for his height, with the flexibility to suggest that he can improve as a route runner. His ball skills and above-the-rim ability give him one of the highest ceilings in the entire country, if he can put all of his tools together with more opportunity.

4. David Sills V, Senior, West Virginia (6'4, 205)

It’s surprising to see a player with David Sills’ production (18 touchdowns in 2017) this low, but the film tells a story that his production may be a product of his environment.

Sills is the beneficiary of playing with star quarterback Will Grier, in a high-powered offense that affords him consistent 1-on-1 match-ups. Additionally, he doesn’t have the high-end traits that players like Mims, Johnson, and Vasher have.

On film, Sills has proven to have active and quick releases at the line of scrimmage. He possesses great body control and is a slippery runner as a ball carrier. However, he’s built upright and doesn’t have the most imposing frame. He has inconsistencies catching the ball and wastes a lot of movement getting in and out of breaks as a route runner. Though there is NFL potential with Sills, his ceiling is limited in comparison to others in his conference.

5. Marquise Brown, Junior, Oklahoma (5'10, 160)

Brown is built like a traditional slot receiver at just 5’10 and 160 pounds, and needs to add bulk and strength for the next level. Luckily, the rising junior has time to fill out before entering the NFL, and could be a candidate to return to school.

On film, Brown has elite lateral agility and goes from 0-60 in an instant. He is a swift and dynamic runner as a ball carrier, who can slice between potential tacklers. Brown will need to add weight which should help improve his contact balance and strength, as he’d had issues in contested catches and with fumbles.

This upcoming season will be key for Brown’s prospects as he will no longer be the recipient of high-level quarterback play, and producing with Kyler Murray under center will prove that he wasn't a product of the Baker Mayfield/Lincoln Riley offense of 2017.

Written By:

Brad Kelly

NFL Draft Analyst

NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Wide Receivers Coach at Salve Regina University. Salve Regina Football ‘15.