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2017 NFL Draft Positional Superlatives: Wide Receiver

DEC 02 MAC Championship Game - Western Michigan v Ohio
Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire

Scouting Notes

2017 NFL Draft Positional Superlatives: Wide Receiver

Next up on my positional superlatives series are wide receivers which features six prospects ranked among my top 50 prospects and 14 with day one or day two grades. While the class offers only a few prospects that project as true number one receivers, there is a slew of intriguing players that have considerable upside to become number two targets.

For complete analysis on the entire 2017 NFL Draft class, Joe Marino’s 2017 NFL Draft Scouting Portfolio is NOW AVAILABLE. The Portfolio consists of 300 prospect reports and is available with an NDT Scouting Premium Subscription.

Best Prospect: Corey Davis, Western Michigan

Davis’ dominant, all-around skill set projects to a number one NFL receiver. He excels at all aspects of receiver play at a high level. The most exciting aspect of Davis’ game is his ability to pick up yards after the catch. Davis sees the field extremely well and has exceptional upfield burst to eat up yardage. He is physical when challenging tacklers to maximize his carries and has plus skills with his off ball hand to stiff arm tacklers and create yards.

Able to work all levels of the field, Davis is an exceptional route-runner that can create quick separation. He gets a clean release off the line, works his stem to gain leverage, and makes crisp cuts to run away from cornerbacks. Davis has strong hands, consistently plucks the ball out of the air, and secures the football away from his body. Able to track the football, Davis excels at the catch point with well-timed jumps to elevate, high point, and come down with contested receptions. Playing with a “my ball” mentality, Davis is an alpha receiver who can keep the chains moving.

Best Resume:  Isaiah Jones, East Carolina

My resume grades factor the injury history, off-field concerns and accolades that a player accumulates in their collegiate career and Jones scored as the best receiver. Jones played in 50 career games without notable injury and no off-field concerns.

He finished his career among the most well-decorated players in the class:  

  • 2013-Team WR of the Year, Conference USA All-Freshman team.
  • 2014-Team Most Inspirational Player Award.
  • 2015-Team MVP, 2nd Team All-AAC.
  • 2016-1st Team All-AAC, Biletnikoff Award Finalist, Senior Bowl Invite.
  • *FBS all-time leader in career receptions

Best Size:  Bug Howard, North Carolina

My size metric weighs all official measurements against positional averages over the last five years and Howard scored best. He checks in at 6041, 221 pounds with 33 ⅛” arms and 10 ⅜” hands.

Best Athlete:  John Ross, Washington

My athleticism metric weighs all athletic testing results against positional averages over the last five years and Ross scored best. His 40-yard dash time set a new NFL Scouting Combine record.

  • 40-Yard Dash:  4.22
  • 10-Yard Split:  1.49
  • Vertical Jump:  37”
  • Broad Jump:  11’1’’

Best Production:  Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington

My production metric factors total games started and consistency in statistical output and Kupp scored the best. He is NCAA’s all-division leader in receiving yards with 6,464 on 428 receptions and 73 touchdowns.

Best Yards After the Catch:  Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech

DEC 23 Armed Forces Bowl - Louisiana Tech v Navy

FORT WORTH, TX – DECEMBER 23: Louisiana Tech Bulldogs wide receiver Carlos Henderson (1) evades a tackle by Navy Midshipmen safety Daiquan Thomasson (26) during the game between the Navy Midshipmen and the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs on December 23, 2016 in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl at Amon G Carter in Fort Worth, Texas. Louisiana Tech beats Navy 48-45. (Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire) Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire

Henderson is electric and dynamic with the ball in his hands. He’s highly competitive and can easily create yards on his own in space. He accelerates quickly up the field and snaps his hips around immediately after the catch to work up field.

He sees the field well and is a natural runner. Henderson will challenge with pad level and physicality which provide a  physical component. He is a true home run threat each and every time the ball is in his hands and makes people miss at a rare clip.

Best Route Runner:  Corey Davis, Western Michigan

Davis runs crisp routes and knows how to create significant separation. I really like how he intelligently works tempo in his stem. He has tremendous hip sink, ability to carry speed through tight angles and snap his head around. He works all levels of the field with nuance.

Best Ball Skills:  Mike Williams, Clemson

Williams is dominant at climbing  the ladder and elevating to compete for the football. He tracks, locates, and adjusts his body well with excellent control. His timing is outstanding and he attacks the football with an alpha mentality. He’s the type of player you throw it up to and let him do the rest.

Top Sleeper:  Josh Malone, Tennessee

Malone emerged considerably down the stretch for Tennessee in 2016, providing consistent ability to make big plays when the Volunteers most needed him. A reliable receiver, Malone does well to focus at the catch point and work for the football with good tracking and body position. He has good play speed combined with size and skills at the catch point that make him appealing.
Be sure to checkout the rest of the positional superlatives series:

Tight End



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Joe Marino

Marino began his career as the Assistant Editor for USA Today Digital Properties Draft Sites Network in 2011. A member of the FWAA, Marino writes about the NFL, College Football and NFL Draft for FanRag Sports.

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