The 2020 NFL Draft had a lot of fast receivers in the first 50 picks. Most of these receivers succeeded in college because of their speed more than their physicality. They were agile and elusive more than brawny or tall. Let’s check in on the top 10 receivers taken in the 2020 draft and see what they have done through two weeks – and in one receiver’s case, three games (Laviska Shenault with the Jacksonville Jaguars).
Henry Ruggs (Raiders, No. 12)
There were two very fast and agile receivers out of the University of Alabama in this year’s wide receiver draft class. Ruggs went first before teammate Jerry Jeudy. Ruggs caught three passes for 55 yards in his NFL debut against the Carolina Panthers. He suffered a minor injury and was limited to one catch for four yards against the New Orleans Saints. Ruggs certainly shows promise on a young and talented team which is 2-0. Staying healthy will provide a better glimpse of what Ruggs can achieve on the field. The 49ers are at +3000 to win the Super Bowl, according to the current Super Bowl odds.
Jerry Jeudy (Broncos, No. 15)
The other Alabama star was taken by another AFC West team. The Broncos, however, have lost quarterback Drew Lock for a few weeks. Jeff Driskel is the backup. Jeudy caught four passes from Lock in Week 1 versus the Tennessee Titans, and four more from Driskel in Week 2 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jeudy hasn’t created huge plays yet, but he is averaging over 14 yards per catch, which is solid. Getting Lock back later in the season should help Jeudy in his rookie season.
CeeDee Lamb (Cowboys, No. 17)
The Oklahoma star has made a difference in Dallas through two games. He caught six passes for 106 yards this past weekend against the Atlanta Falcons. He is averaging over 80 receiving yards per game through two games. He has created two plays plays of over 30 yards, a 37-yard gain against the Falcons and a 33-yard gain against the Rams. More of this will make Lamb a core part of the Dallas passing game. There are a lot of good receivers on this roster; Lamb will make it hard for teams to double-team Amari Cooper. This is a very good situation for Lamb. He should continue to thrive as the season continues.
Jalen Reagor (Eagles, No. 21)
The TCU receiver was injured in preseason camp. He caught one pass in the season opener against Washington which went for 55 yards. He caught four passes for 41 yards in Week 2 versus the Rams. He has started slowly, but the potential is certainly there for him to emerge within the Philadelphia offense.
Justin Jefferson (Vikings, No. 22)
The LSU receiver has started slowly, along with the Minnesota Vikings’ entire offense. The Vikings were shut down by the Indianapolis Colts in Week 2, and scored a large number of points in Week 1 only because the Green Bay Packers had a huge lead for most of the game and were playing a soft prevent defense most of the way. Jefferson has collected a total of only five passes for 70 combined yards. His longest catch has been 22 yards. The real question right now is if Kirk Cousins’ struggles at quarterback are driving Jefferson’s modest level of production, or if Jefferson is failing to do things to make himself a better target for Cousins. This is a mystery which could become clearer as the season moves along. The Vikings need Jefferson to be an elite receiver opposite Adam Thielen if this team and this passing game are to turn things around in 2020.
Brandon Aiyuk (49ers, No. 25)
The 49ers had multiple first-round draft picks as a result of trades they made. They took Aiyuk with their second pick in the opening round. The Arizona State receiver got injured in camp. He missed Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals. He played against the New York Jets in Week 2 and caught two passes for 21 yards. The 49ers are a MASH unit right now. Jimmy Garoppolo will miss Week 3 against the New York Giants. A ton of other players, including receivers, are out for the Giants game as well. The Niners are just trying to survive at this point in the season and won’t have their normal starting lineup for a few weeks, though Garoppolo is expected to be back for Week 4 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Aiyuk is working within a context defined by a lot of constraints. He will be given time to develop and adjust this season.
Tee Higgins (Bengals, No. 33)
The Clemson receiver is trying to make his way in the NFL alongside a rookie quarterback, Joe Burrow. It makes sense that Burrow is looking for more veteran receivers such as A.J. Green within the workings of the Bengals’ passing game. Burrow and Higgins haven’t really formed a strong connection yet, with Higgins catching three passes for just 35 yards. The Bengals are in a rebuild, so the pressure on Higgins to be emphatically good in his rookie season is modest. This is a multi-year project, and the Bengals know it. The main thing the Cincinnati organization wants is for Higgins to improve over the course of the season and have a good rapport with Burrow at the end of 16 games, giving the franchise something clear to build on entering 2021.
Michael Pittman (Colts, No. 34)
The USC receiver has caught six passes for just 47 yards. He hasn’t made a single high-impact play yet. However, Colt receiver Parris Campbell is out with an injury, so Pittman will have a chance to get more targets in the coming weeks and become a more prominent part of the Colts’ passing game. Indianapolis has not been able to generate an especially potent passing game in the first few games of Philip Rivers’ tenure with the Colts. The new quarterback and coach Frank Reich are trying to figure things out. Pittman has to adjust to this situation and see where he can make the biggest impact.
Laviska Shenault (Jaguars, No. 42)
The Colorado receiver has collected 11 receptions in three games, but for only 105 yards. He hasn’t amassed more than 37 receiving yards in any of his three games. He has been a safety outlet for quarterback Gardner Minshew in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ passing game. The Jaguars will need him to get free down the field and become more of a threat.
K.J. Hamler (Broncos, No. 46)
The Penn State receiver was injured for the season opener against the Tennessee Titans. He played in Week 2 and caught three passes for 48 yards. As with Jerry Jeudy, Hamler will have to deal with Drew Lock’s absence for the time being. Jeff Driskel will play this Sunday. The Broncos will give Hamler time to evolve once Lock gets back, because Lock is the quarterback of the future in Denver.
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