The Alabama wide receivers are ridiculous.
We know that during the Nick Saban era, recruiting at Alabama has consistently been close to the top throughout the entire country. Additionally, their on-campus player development has been equally as impressive. Since Nick Saban's arrival in Tuscaloosa, highly-touted wide receivers such as Julio Jones, Amari Cooper and Calvin Ridley have come though the school. Other wideouts like Robert Foster, Gerhig Dieter, Cam Sims and ArDarius Stewart have gone from Alabama to the NFL.
While the Crimson Tide wide receiver corps have always been strong, it has never been more talented than it currently is. In fact, not many times in college football history has there been a wide receiver group as deep and talented as the current version of Alabama’s.
Jerry Jeudy is a rising junior who earned the Biletnikoff Award as a true sophomore. His blend of route running, explosiveness and ball skills has him currently sitting as my preseason WR1 for the 2020 NFL Draft. Counterpart Henry Ruggs III might be the fastest player in all of college football, but don’t sleep on his hands and absurd body control in the air. If I were asked right now, I’d predict that Ruggs is also a top 3 wide receiver prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Another rising junior, Devonta Smith, is the smoothest and most technically sound of the group. While he can get overshadowed at times, his clutch plays and consistent separation suggests that he’s close to the same level as Jeudy and Ruggs III. True sophomore Jaylen Waddle might be the most naturally explosive of them all, and his speed in the open field can just ruin the angles of defenders. While excruciatingly early, Waddle seems destined to compete for the top wide receiver spot in the 2021 NFL Draft.
I hold each of these prospects in high regard, as I currently see Jeudy, Ruggs and Waddle as top 3 wide receiver prospects in their respective classes, and Devonta Smith as a top 10 in his class. Projecting them to the NFL level, we could easily be talking about multiple players from this group entering the top 10 of wide receivers throughout the NFL.
When comparing them to NFL wide receiver groups, they have more natural talent than most depth charts. With four legit players, there is more depth than a lot of NFL teams as well. However, these four are still “just” prospects, meaning we don’t know exactly how they will turn out. Still, though, their natural abilities would have me leaning towards taking them over most NFL wide receiver groups.
Would your NFL team trade their wide receivers for Alabama's wide receivers?
Miami Dolphins - Yes
I’m not sure this one needs too much explaining, as Kenny Stills is realistically the Dolphins best wide receiver. While they have a lot of young wideouts who offer potential in different ways, none of them have the natural talent of the Alabama foursome.
New England Patriots - No
The main reason for choosing the Patriots group would be the potential unknown of Josh Gordon (suspension) and Demaryius Thomas (injury). Those two, along with Julian Edelman and intriguing rookie N’Keal Harry, gives the Patriots the slight nod. It’s possible that New England doesn’t get much out of Gordon and Thomas, which would sway this match-up the other way.
New York Jets - Yes
I’m a fan of what the Jets have built with their receivers adding Jamison Crowder to Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa. Despite that, it’s hard to say that any of those three have the potential of a Jeudy, Ruggs III or Waddle. I’ll take the ceiling of Alabama’s group here.
Buffalo Bills - Yes
Buffalo did a good job adding quality veteran targets to their wide receiver room this offseason, but I’m not sure that Cole Beasley and John Brown raise their overall ceiling too high. Robert Foster, who projects as the Bills third or fourth target, once got outproduced as a senior at Alabama by true freshman Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III.
Pittsburgh Steelers - Yes
With the departure of Antonio Brown, the Steelers wide receiver depth chart is basically JuJu Smith-Schuster and a bunch of question marks. I easily prefer the Alabama foursome to recent Steelers day two draft picks James Washington and Diontae Johnson. Bama's depth takes the win here.
Cleveland Browns - No
This one was difficult, but comes down to the fact that Odell Beckham Jr. resembles the potential ceiling of some of the Alabama receivers. Surrounding Beckham are solid possession types and younger wideouts with potential, the Browns rebuilt group are a safe projection. With a combination of high floor and high ceiling, Cleveland narrowly takes this one.
Baltimore Ravens - Yes
Baltimore’s main targets are Willie Snead and a bunch of rookies or second-year receivers with minimal experience, all of whom don’t hold up to Alabama’s top targets. Snead is decent, but not nearly enough to make up that difference.
Cincinnati Bengals - No
With A.J. Green and 1,000 yard wide receiver Tyler Boyd in house, the Bengals quietly have one of the better wide receiver depth charts in the NFL. Add in boom or bust candidate John Ross, and the potential of Cincinnati’s group could be outstanding. Cincinnati easily has enough talent to lean towards them as the more proven group.
Kansas City Chiefs - Yes
I’m not convinced that Henry Ruggs III doesn’t eventually make the same impact in the NFL that Tyreek Hill currently does. I’m likely going to prefer Jerry Jeudy to Sammy Watkins and Jaylen Waddle to Mecole Hardman, giving the nod to the Alabama group based on potential.
Los Angeles Chargers - No
This one is tough, but I absolutely adore the Chargers top two wide receivers in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. With a combination of smooth route running, a boundary and redzone presence and plenty of size, they're one of the best duos in the league. Alabama has the depth, but it’s hard to pass on the known quality of Allen and Williams.
Denver Broncos - Yes
With Emmanuel Sanders battling back from injury, the Broncos will be relying heavily on second-year receivers Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton. While Denver likes what they saw from that duo last season, the Alabama receivers offer a ton more potential. Add in the fact that I easily prefer Devonta Smith to the Broncos fourth option of River Cracraft, and Bama gets the nod here.
Oakland Raiders - No
With future hall of famer Antonio Brown in the fold, the Raiders are going to be tough to beat in any wide receiver competition. Oakland also signed Tyrell Williams away from Los Angeles, and he’s proven to be a legitimate WR2 in the NFL. With other intriguing young receivers in-house, Oakland offers depth and potential, just enough to beat out the Crimson Tide.
Houston Texans - Yes
I have Deandre Hopkins as the best wide receiver in the NFL. However, his surrounding talents have left a bit to be desired in recent years. With Will Fuller recovering from a torn ACL and Keke Coutee only able to play in 6 games as a rookie, Alabama's depth takes over this match-up for the win.
Indianapolis Colts - Yes
Initially, I thought that there was no way that I'd prefer Alabama to the Colts wide receivers. However, Indianapolis' passing game is really ran through their tight ends. While T.Y. Hilton is an underrated stud receiver, Devin Funchess has his flaws and Parris Campbell is equally as unproven as the Alabama receivers. This favors the Crimson Tide's depth, along with their high-end talents.
Tennessee Titans - No
Tennessee has built solid depth at the receiver position in recent years, matching the four quality Alabama receivers with Corey Davis, A.J. Brown, Tajae Sharpe and Taywan Taylor. With three of those being mostly proven commodities, and the potential of A.J. Brown, I currently lean towards the Titans in this match-up.
Jacksonville Jaguars - Yes
Jacksonville has struggled to develop their wide receivers in recent years, leaving a ton to be desired. It's possible that we'll view them in a different light with new starting quarterback Nick Foles behind center, but for now the elite potential of Alabama's foursome surpasses the Jaguars group.
Dallas Cowboys - Yes
Similar to other teams with a top-end WR1 in Amari Cooper but mostly question marks around him, the Alabama group takes this one. I wouldn’t be surpised if we’re talking about Jerry Jeudy in the same breath as Amari Cooper once was as a prospect. The rest of the Bama boys would far outweigh the impact of the rest of the Cowboys receiver group.
Philadelphia Eagles - No
Philadelphia has one of the best wide receiver groups in the NFL with Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Desean Jackson and JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Depth and proven talent win this one.
Washington Redskins - Yes
The Redskins don’t have any receiver who resembles an NFL WR1, while Alabama has three that could get there. While Washington has intriguing young options, they just don’t have the ceiling that the Crimson Tide receivers do.
New York Giants - Yes
After trading Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns, the Giants added soon-to-be 31-year old Golden Tate to "replace" him. I like the talent of Sterling Shepherd, but the Giants will be relying on rookie Darius Slayton and perennial journeyman Cody Latimer behind him. Alabama's group once again has the superior talent and depth.
Green Bay Packers - Yes
Similar to the Steelers, Cowboys and others, Green Bay has one bona-fide stud in Davante Adams and a lot of question marks surrounding him. I’ll take the potential of Alabama here.
Chicago Bears - No
I've previously written about how much I like the wide receiver depth chart that's been built in Chicago. With Allen Robinson as a legitimate WR1 across the league and ascending second-year Anthony Miller, their top two targets are quality. Taylor Gabriel is one of the better slot receivers in the league, and I like recent draft pick Riley Ridley similar to Alabama's Devonta Smith. Chicago has equal depth with proven talent.
Minnesota Vikings - No
Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are the best wide receiver duo in the NFL. Their proven complimentary games is something that Alabama will be hoping to replicate. It's tough to pick against that proven and talented of a commodity.
Detroit Lions - Yes
I want to believe in the Lions wide receivers, but I’m concerned about Marvin Jones future coming off of knee surgery and missing their offseason program. Kenny Golladay is an ascending talent, but it’s not clear if the Lions have much behind him. Alabama's talent win this match-up.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Yes
Mike Evans is a top 10 wide receiver in football, and Chris Godwin is seemingly an ascending WR2. However, Tampa's options behind them are underwhelming. This one could change if Godwin takes the next step this season and they get production from their third and fourth options, but for now I'd lean towards Alabama's elite ceiling.
Atlanta Falcons - No
While I love the potential of the Alabama receivers, former Bama wideout Julio Jones is already one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Fellow former Crimson Tide receiver Calvin Ridley’s ceiling resembles that of Jeudy and company as well. The Falcons have the best wide receiver trio in the NFL (along with Mohamed Sanu), giving them to win here.
New Orleans Saints - Yes
Michael Thomas has developed into one of the 5 best wide receivers in the NFL, but the Saints are quietly a bit lacking around him. Ted Ginn Jr. is still a serviceable deep threat, but the Saints don't know exactly what they're getting from Cameron Meredith, Austin Carr or Tre'Quan Smith. That lack of depth makes me lean towards Alabama in this match-up.
Carolina Panthers - Yes
I was high on DJ Moore during the 2018 NFL Draft, but Carolina doesn’t have a ton of juice surrounding him. Not only is Alabama's group already deeper, but their potential is astronomically higher.
Los Angeles Rams - No
The Rams might have the best 1 through 4 wide receivers in the NFL in Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds. That talent and depth is difficult to top, especially as proven talents in the league.
Arizona Cardinals - Yes
Larry Fitzgerald is the ageless wonder, but the rest of the Cardinals depth chart is second-year Christian Kirk and a bunch of rookies. While I like the Cardinals potential, the Alabama foursome has them beat.
Seattle Seahawks - Yes
Tyler Lockett is one of the most underrated wide receivers in the NFL, with a blend of speed and route running. DK Metcalf was my WR1 in the 2019 NFL Draft, meaning I hold him in at least the same light as Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III. However, he’s just as unproven in the NFL as the Alabama receivers. With the potential of Jaylen Waddle and Devonta Smith, I’m leaning Alabama here.
San Francisco 49ers - No
I had 2018 draft pick Dante Pettis and 2019 draft pick Deebo Samuel both in my top 2 receivers in their respective classes, which means I hold them in a similar regard to the top of Alabama's depth chart. San Francisco has done an excellent job of adding depth to their wide receiver room with Marquise Goodwin, Jordan Matthews, Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd. That proven talent, potential and depth gives San Francisco the nod.
Overall, I would exchange a whopping 20 NFL wide receiver depth charts with Alabama's.