Sat, 28 Mar 2020

What Separates the Top Wide Receivers in the 2020 NFL Draft

New York Jets
22 Feb 2020, 17:56 GMT+10

Wide receiver Robby Anderson, who was QB Sam Darnold's go-to wideout in the signal-caller's first two seasons, is set to hit free agency in March. If Anderson walks, luckily for the Jets, this year's WR class is both top-heavy and deep.

Many mock drafts have 15 WRs projected in the top 100 picks with none predicted to come off the board in the top 10. If that transpires on April 23, that would leave the Jets with their pick of the litter at WR if they elect to go that route. Selecting a receiver in the draft is licking picking ice cream - it comes to one's flavor preference.

Here are some nuggets on the consensus top three receivers available in the 2020 NFL Draft based on top mock drafts and comments from Dane Brugler, the long-time draft analyst now working at The Athletic.

CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma (6'1", 190)

Lamb returned to Norman, OK for his junior season as the Sooners' top target and with a new quarterback in Jalen Hurts after QB Kyler Murray and WR Marquise "Hollywood" Brown were both selected in the first round last April. Lamb responded with a career-high 1,327 yards and 14 TDs on 62 receptions (21.4 avg).

He left OU third in career receiving yards with 3,292 and 14 100-yard games. He finished second in school history with 32 receiving TDs and his 19.0 yards per catch is a school record. Lamb caught passes from Baker Mayfield and Murray, who both won the Heisman and were the No. 1 picks in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Quote-Unquote: "I just wanted to show people, obviously, you could have a great quarterback, but a receiver can do a lot," Lamb said. "It doesn't matter who you put back there."

Brugler's View: "His stats are so impressive, but when you break down the traits that's what really stands out. It's a loaded class, but Lamb is at the top for me. ... I think the ball skills really stand out. His focus, his finishing skills, they're both above average. He makes those difficult catches look easy and when I was getting feedback from different scouts around the league, several of them mentioned how they were very surprised about his football IQ and how high it was. He understands the details of the position and how to create route leverage. Then his competitive nature. He'll make defenders miss with his body strength. He's one of the most eager blockers I've ever scouted. Lamb is an easy player to like."

Green Flags/Red Flags: Consensus All-American. ... Led all non-seniors in career receiving TDs (32) and yards (3,292). ... Can draw flags being too aggressive with DBs. ... Didn't see a lot of man coverage in college.

Jerry Jeudy, Alabama (6'1", 192)

Jeudy came onto the national scene in 2018 with a 68-reception, 1,315-yard, 14-TD season while averaging 19.3 yards per catch. He was QB Tua Tagovailoa's go-to target and leaves Alabama second in Crimson Tide history with 26 receiving touchdowns, five behind Amari Cooper. He has game-altering speed and can shift his gears with ease mid-route. He was also the 2019 Citrus Bowl MVP.

Quote-Unquote: "I really think I'm a great route runner," he said. "I can play anywhere on the field - inside, outside, and I can do whatever it takes to get open and win 50-50 balls. I can do it all. Run after the catch, anything you want me to do, I can do it."

Brugler's View: "He can accelerate in a blink, brake on a dime and get back to full speed. With his profound releases because of his quickness, he's very technically skilled with the leverage of his routes and the way he can set up defensive backs. He's similar to Calvin Ridley in a lot of ways, another Alabama receiver, just because of their start-stop quickness. He was so productive over his Alabama career. ... Jerry Jeudy not only has the physical traits but he put up the production as well."

Green Flags/Red Flags: Headed to 'Bama as the No. 3 player and No. 3 WR out of Florida. ... Thin-boned frame with decent height and length. ... Needs to improve finishing plays by turning short plays into big gains.

Henry Ruggs, Alabama (6'0", 190)

Ruggs' biggest asset is his speed. His teammate, Jeudy, believes Ruggs will run a 4.2 40-yard dash at the Combine. He finished his three-year career with the Crimson Tide 2 TDs behind Jeudy with 24, which ranks third in school history. Ruggs also returned kicks for 'Bama this season and averaged 23.8 yards per return on 12 attempts.

Quote-Unquote: "I didn't really look for attention," Ruggs said last March after running a 4.25 at Alabama's Pro Day last year. "It was just that they told us to come up here and do that stuff and I just did what I had to do, and it just so happened I came out with those numbers. I actually was kind of upset after I ran because I didn't feel like I had a good start, but after they told me the numbers I was like ... I still feel like I can do better."

Brugler's View: "A lot of guys that are fast on football tape are track guys or they might be a little soft. That's not Henry Ruggs. This is a true football player. He's more than just the track speed. His competitive makeup really stands out and sometimes it's tough for that to stand out on tape, you don't necessarily see that. But you see him blocking through the whistle, pursuing down the field, continuing to try and get open for his quarterback, so while corners must respect his speed and that opens up options underneath, that competitive nature really stands out on tape."

Green Flags/Red Flags: 27 of his 40 career receptions either went for a first down or touchdown. ... Five-star prospect coming out of Robert E. Lee High School in Montgomery who was rated the No. 2 player in Alabama. ... Needs to break more tackles at the pro level.

More Birmingham News

Access More

Sign up for Birmingham News

a daily newsletter full of things to discuss over drinks.and the great thing is that it's on the house!