The 2020 NFL Draft has the potential to be the best wide receiver class in more than 5 years, with both high-end talent and depth. After the NFL Scouting Combine, the order of the top wide receivers has become clearer in my eyes, so I took a stab at ranking the 2020 NFL Draft top 5 wide receivers.
I view the top 3 wide receiver prospects in their own tier, meaning they’re essentially interchangeable in order depending on which team is drafting. Skill-set fit for each team, as well as the current depth chart situation, could change the order. Beyond the top 3, the following two wide receiver prospects are in a tier by themselves as well. These are the only five wide receiver prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft who I have graded in the first round.
First Round Grades (Top 12)
1. Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
Henry Ruggs III has a standout trait that separates him from the rest of the wide receiver class: his world class speed. But don’t be fooled, Ruggs isn’t just a speed threat, he’s a complete wide receiver prospect.
Ruggs mostly aligned on the outside of the formation for Alabama, facing plenty of press coverage from SEC cornerbacks. That gave Ruggs a lot of reps to refine his press coverage releases, something he’s improved upon during his collegiate career. With his athletic traits both in a straight line and to drop his hips and break, he found consistent separation with his route running.
With his speed, he’s an angle buster after the catch, who can be a home run hitter (25 touchdowns on 100 career offensive touches). Additionally, he only has 3 drops during his entire college career.
So let’s review his strengths: Stretching the field with speed and taking an extra defensive back with him, vertical receiving and consistent hands, picking up yards after the catch, and turning elementary throws into touchdowns. Each of those traits are some of the most valuable that a wide receiver can possess.
2. CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
CeeDee Lamb showed during his sophomore season that he was the more complete wide receiver prospect than Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, and his progression continued in 2019. Lamb is a detailed route runner on the boundary, who can create passing windows in the intermediate and deep portions of the field. Even when Lamb is tightly covered, his body control and ball skills are sublime.
While Lamb didn’t test out as an elite athlete, he’s still 6’2″, about 200 pounds, with a 4.50s forty-yard dash and 124” broad jump. He has a natural projection to the boundary, with the catch-point talent and run after catch ability to become a dominant “X” receiver and top passing option for whichever team that selects him.
3. Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
Jerry Jeudy’s skill-set is easy to identify while evaluating him, and his translation to the next level should be a natural one. Jeudy runs a full route tree, capable of explosive cuts and double moves. Jeudy is a very good athlete for the position, and with his route running technique, he’s a consistent separator at all three levels.
When it comes to his work in the open field, Jeudy plays with excellent field vision and elusiveness. He’ll make the first defender miss and can embarrass the opposition with his fluidity and deceleration.
While I have Jeudy as a top 12 prospect in the class, the reason he’s ranked below Ruggs and Lamb is because he has shaky hands (7 drops in 2019) and will fail to properly extend when he’s contested. His slight inconsistencies at the catch-point are the difference between WR3 and WR1 in a loaded draft class.
First Round Grades (Top 24)
4. Justin Jefferson, LSU
Speaking of an easy evaluation, Justin Jefferson’s junior season at LSU showed the traits that should make his translation to the next level an easy one. Jefferson is a natural route runner, especially for his size at 6’1″ and 202 pounds. He showed NFL-ready ability on option routes, which every NFL offense has in their playbook.
Jefferson caught 111 of 134 total targets last season, showing consistent hands and the ability to make last adjustments to the ball in order to expand his catch radius. There were questions about his play speed, but he answered those by running 4.43s in the forty-yard dash.
With easy explosiveness through cuts, and a solid combination of strength and footwork after the catch, he should immediately fill a “Big” slot role in the NFL. Jefferson projects as a Tyler Boyd type of player with even more upside.
5. Denzel Mims, Baylor
Denzel Mims has been a pet cat of mine for a few years, as he was showing potential first-round traits back in his sophomore season. Mims is a body control freak, being able to extend the boundary by making natural adjustments to the ball. He’s a detailed player, who uses his hands to create late separation at the catch-point.
On top of his film, Mims has undoubtedly been the pre-draft winner at the position. At the Senior Bowl, Mims dominated 1-on-1 periods and team drills, showing vertical separation and the ability to win while contested. Beyond his dominance on the field, he had an excellent week with team and media interviews.
At the NFL Scouting Combine, Mims had elite athletic testing.
6’3″, 207 pounds
33 ⅞” arm length (93rd percentile)
4.38s forty-yard dash (90th percentile)
38.5” vertical jump (84th percentile)
131” broad jump (94th percentile)
6.66s three-cone drill (90th percentile)
With production over multiple years, a strong showing at the Senior Bowl, and one of the best combine performances for any position, Mims has worked himself into a first round grade.
The 2020 NFL Draft top 5 wide receivers are all very good athletes and playmakers, and it’s easy to see why this class is such a deep one.
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