Slot Receiver Battle Royale: Who Stands Out?

Photo: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The fastest growing position in the NFL is the slot receiver, as their utilization seemingly grows every year. While receivers are asked to vary their alignments now more than ever, players such as Cooper Kupp and Julian Edelman will align primarily in the slot.

The class of wide receivers entering the NFL Draft is a deep one, and with that comes versatility. Today, I’ll be looking at prospects who I would project to be primary slot receivers. This won’t include “Z” receivers who will take reps inside, but rather your traditional, undersized and quick slot types.

For the 2019 NFL Draft, the primary slot receivers that stick out are Marquise Brown, Hunter Renfrow, Mecole Hardman, Andy Isabella, Penny Hart, Greg Dortch, Ryan Davis.

Here is how they stack up against each other trait by trait:

Route Running

  1. Hunter Renfrow
  2. Marquise Brown
  3. Penny Hart

Marquise Brown has the highest potential as a route runner not only among these players, but possibly in the entire class. His cuts are explosive, and he has a unique understanding of how to set up defensive backs before bursting in the other direction. However, to this point, Renfrow is the superior, more consistent route runner. His breaks are quick and steady, and he will rarely waste motion in his cuts.

Athleticism / Speed

  1. Marquise Brown
  2. Mecole Hardman
  3. Andy Isabella

This was closely contested, and is difficult to gauge without athletic testing. Brown, Hardman and Isabella will all be candidates to run in the 4.3s range during the 40 yard dash.

Hands / Ball Skills

  1. Hunter Renfrow
  2. Ryan Davis
  3. Mecole Hardman

Hunter Renfrow catches everything. With possibly the best hands in the class, he was the easy choice to lead this trait. Davis has racked up a ton of receptions during his career, and has easy transitions from receiver to ball carrier. While Hardman can suffer from drops, he is consciously using his hands to catch passes.

Ball Carrier

  1. Marquise Brown
  2. Mecole Hardman
  3. Penny Hart

This was the most hotly contested trait, as players such as Greg Dortch are dynamic enough to be considered. However, the three players that are listed have the most explosive cuts. Each of them are homerun threats any time they touch the ball, which includes special teams.

Stalk Blocking

  1. Mecole Hardman
  2. Penny Hart
  3. Ryan Davis

An area where most slot receivers struggle, this is a trait where effort is paramount. Hardman has the best combination of filled out frame and effort, and he will cut off defenders while running his feet.

Versatility

  1. Mecole Hardman
  2. Greg Dortch
  3. Penny Hart

Almost all of the slot receivers offer value on special teams. Each of these three have experience as punt and kick returners, and project into those spots at the next level. Hardman has also taken reps defensively throughout his time at Georgia.

Pre-Combine Rankings

  1. Marquise Brown
  2. Hunter Renfrow
  3. Mecole Hardman
  4. Penny Hart
  5. Andy Isabella
  6. Greg Dortch
  7. Ryan Davis

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.

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