Josh Downs Panthers
Josh Downs

Josh Downs

  • WR North Carolina
  • Junior
  • #27
  • 5'10"
  • 171lbs
  • Prospect
  • Atlantic Coast

2022 Season









Prospect Summary

Josh Downs NFL Draft Scouting Report

WR, North Carolina Tar Heels

North Carolina wide receiver Josh Downs was a 4-star recruit and the 17th-ranked player nationally at his position. Downs was an outstanding athlete coming out of his school. He was a three-sport athlete (football, basketball, and track). Downs finished third in the state triple jump and fourth in the long jump. As a junior, he clocked in at 4.47s 40 and jumped 42-inch vertical. He earned playing time as a true freshman but production did not find Downs with the weapons UNC had that season. After the mass departures to the NFL, he became the No. 1 receiver for Sam Howell last season. His success was not derailed with the new and unproven quarterback in Drake Maye. Downs has back-to-back 1,000-yard and 8-plus touchdown seasons. 

Josh Downs is a dynamic and productive slot receiver. Downs has showcased the ability to win at all three levels of the defense. He is a crafty and sudden route-runner. Downs thrives off attacking the defensive back’s base and leverage. He uses sudden stops and starts that stress their coverage abilities. His oily hips are pivotal to his sharp change of direction skills. Downs excels in playing basketball on grass. He strings together quick and elusive moves to manipulate his opponent. Downs is great at alternating his speed and pace throughout the route stem. He uses a slow/delayed release versus off-coverage to lull defenders to sleep before shifting gears to fly past them. 

The surprising aspect of Downs’ game is his effectiveness in contested-catch situations. He’s caught more than 72% of his contested-catch targets. He embodies the phrase “plays bigger than his size.” He does a good job attacking the ball at its highest point, even with his limited radius. Downs provide an offense with a quick passing option with dynamic run-after-the-catch skills.

Downs is one of those prospects that will not be for everyone. Those who prefer “traditional” height and weight measurements will not be fond of Downs. He lacks a large catch radius and frame. This is visible when facing physical coverage—he can be knocked off his route stem when contacted. There are not a large number of reps facing press alignment with bump-and-run coverage. This leaves questions on how advanced his release package is at this stage of his career. He is given ample free access to grass without immediate disruption. Downs does move all over the Tar Heels’ offense but they put him in advantageous positions pre-snap with multiple access points to space. As a result, he may be a slot-only candidate that needs those specific alignments for optimal chances of success. 

Downs is not an ideal play-side run blocker. He does not have the play strength or frame to block second or third-level defenders with great effectiveness. Downs has dealt with drops over the last two seasons, too. This has to be cleaned up to earn and maintain the trust of NFL quarterbacks.

When drafting Downs, you are receiving a dynamic space player with plus-route running. Downs projects best as a slot receiver given a two-way go. He has a play style that fits the chain-mover model. I believe Downs would be a fantastic option/choice route option for an offense. His ceiling may be limited due to his size and frame but the floor is enticing. 

Top Reasons to Buy In:

  • Dynamic and explosive athlete
  • Highly-productive career
  • Run after catch 

Top Reasons For Concern:

  • Non-traditional height/weight combination
  • Drops
  • Limited alignment flexibility (slot only)

Size (NFL Combine):

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 171 lbs

Arm Length: 30 3/8”

Hand Size: 9 1/4”

Athletic Testing (NFL Combine):

40-yard Dash: 4.48s

Vertical Jump: 38.5”

Broad Jump: 10 ’11”

Short-Shuttle: TBD

Three-Cone: TBD

Bench Reps: TBD 

Ideal Role: Slot receiver  

Scheme Fit: Spread offense with option routes  

Prospect Comparison: Tyler Lockett/Jahan Dotson

TDN Consensus Grade: 83.00/100 (Second-Round Value)

  • Parson Grade: 83.00/100

Written By: Damian Parson

Exposures: Florida A&M (2022), Notre Dame (2022), Virginia (2022), Wake Forest (2022)

Josh Downs NFL Draft Scouting Report. Add him to your big board here.