2018 Top 5 NFL Draft Prospects by Position – Wide Receivers
D. J. Chark, WR, LSU, 6′ 3″/199, Combine Results: 40/4.34, Bench/16 Reps, VJ/40″, BJ/10′ 9″. In 2017 Season, Chark had 40 Receptions for 874 Yards, with a 21.9 YPC average and 3 TDs. Chark produced some of the most impressive Combine measurables among all positions at the Combine. His Combine Measurables and his pass catching workouts blew up the Combine, clearly displaying Chark as the most Athletic Wide Receiver in this year’s Draft class, in addition to raising his Draft stock considerably. Chark possesses near world-class speed, and the strength and power necessary to excel in the NFL. He’s a smooth Athlete who’s elusive after the catch, and his speed allows him to blow past Defensive Backs as he showed in this year’s Senior Bowl. He has the upside to be a #1 Receiver in the NFL with Pro Bowl potential. He should continue to learn the finer mechanics of the NFL route tree and catch the ball away from his body consistently. On film, I did notice Chark will occasionally cradle the ball in and catch it too close to his body, instead of extending his arms and reaching out to pluck and grab the ball. Outstanding Kick and Punt returner in College.
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama, 6’/189, Combine Results: 40/4.43, Bench/15, VJ/31″, BJ/9′ 2″. In 2017, Ridley had 63 Receptions for 967 Yards, with a 15.3 YPC average and 5 TDs. Ridley has very good speed coupled with refined route-running skills. His route-running ability should help him significantly in the NFL. He’s a smooth Receiver who can separate from DB’s effectively while using his explosive burst in and out of his breaks. Has command of the entire NFL route tree. He sets up defensive backs with his smooth, fast and sharp cuts. He plucks the ball out of the air in full stride. He was projected to run faster at the Combine. His Vertical and Broad Jump measurables are only average for a receiver who’s projected as a top 15 selection in the NFL Draft. Ridley needs to become stronger for greater NFL success. Greater strength and use of his hands are needed for him to keep press corners from jamming him at the line and throwing him off his route release. He has shown difficulty with big and strong corners who can re-direct him at the line of scrimmage. Ridley is projected to be drafted high in the first round, and he should become a starting NFL receiver.
D. J. Moore, WR, Maryland, 6’/210, Combine Results: 40/4.42, Bench/15, VJ/39.5″, BJ/11″. In 2017, Moore had 80 Receptions for 1,033 Yards, with a 12.9 average per catch and 8 TD’s. Moore has speed, strength, and power. He’s a super Athlete as demonstrated by his impressive Combine results. He has strong and sure hands that reach out and pluck the ball at the high catch point. He runs extremely well after he catches the ball. He’s tough and hard to tackle. He’s a receiver who constantly works for extra yards after the catch. Moore is also a very good red zone threat. He has very good moves with the skill set to make double moves with precision. He sets up Defensive Backs with sharp, explosive cuts in and out of his breaks. His resume also includes the ability to control his body to make receptions by positioning himself to shield the ball away from the defender. This helps him to make more difficult catches while coming back for the ball. He’s a complete receiver who should be very productive in the NFL and could be the sleeper receiver in this year’s draft. Moore and LSU’s Chark are the two most complete receivers in this draft class.
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State, 5′ 11″/213, Combine Results: 40/4.54, Bench/14, BJ/10′, Pro Day: 40/4.49, VJ/39″. Washington wisely re-ran his 40 at his Pro Day, improving his Combine timing of 40/4.54, to an improved Pro Day 40/4.49. In 2017, Washington totaled 1,549 Receiving Yards, with a 20.9 YPC average and 13 scores. Washington is an athletic Receiver who has the body type of a Running Back. He is primarily a deep threat while excelling in the Post and 9/Go Routes. Washington has deceptive, built-up type speed which allows him to separate from Corners on the deeper routes. He tracks the ball well and makes necessary adjustments to catch the ball at high point. His long speed also permits him to make good comeback moves back to the ball. He has the ability to escape the press at the line of scrimmage. Uses stiff-arm effectively to ward off defenders when he has the ball in his hands. He’s not proficient with the complete Route Tree, which may limit his productivity at NFL level. May struggle underneath in NFL against man coverage because of lack of explosive, sharp cutting ability. Washington was a finalist for the Fred Biletnikoff award in 2017 College Season.
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU, 6′ 3″/218, Combine Results: 40/4.54, Bench/18, VJ/35.5″, BJ/10′ 4″. In 2017, Sutton caught 68 Receptions for 1,085 Yards, with a 16.0-yard average and 12 TDs. Sutton has the size, toughness, and confidence that NFL Scouts look for in an NFL Receiver prospect. He doesn’t have the deep speed to become a downfield threat in the NFL. However, he has the upside to develop into a very good NFL possession Receiver, and a possible Red Zone threat because of his size and strong hands. He is adept at using his body positioning to shield Defensive Backs away from the ball to make traffic catches. He is very good at making intermediate route receptions underneath. Sutton makes good use of his hands to push Defensive Backs away from his body so Quarterbacks can have an open window to throw the ball into. Sutton doesn’t have the speed to separate deep in the NFL, but he can make a living in the NFL as a possession Receiver and a possible Red Zone threat. Some Scouts have Sutton rated high as an NFL Draft prospect, even though he lacks top-level speed.
Talent Deserving WR (WR):
Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A & M, 5′ 10″/201, Combine Results: 40/4.47, Bench/20, VJ/35.5″, BJ/9′ 7″. In 2017, Kirk caught 71 passes for 919 Yards, with 10 TD’s. Kirk has the speed, strength, and power necessary for success as an NFL Slot Receiver. He produced very good strength and power Combine results. However, Kirk was expected to run his 40 in the high 4.3’s to low 4.4 range. He has strong hands and he is quick in and out of his breaks. Quicker than fast. He’s very good with the run after the catch. Runs good routes underneath. Struggles with physical Corners. He’s elusive and shifty in open field. Catches the ball close to his body. Good punt returner in College. Strong enough to break away from Press Corners.
This article was organized by former Pro Football Scout James Watkins who is one of our go-to guys in the NFL.
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