After a day off from these rankings, I’m back with the next installment on wide receivers. This is a position that the Ravens will have high on their lists of needs, and very well could be the position that the Ravens select from in the first round. Of all the position groups, the rankings of the receivers may be the most hotly contested. Here is my take on the group:
1) Corey Davis, Western Michigan
I’ve wrote a lot about Corey Davis over the pre-draft process, and over and over again I have stated that Davis is my top receiver in this year. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Davis comes is at the top of this list.
I've always loved Davis because of his superb route running. One of the best ways to create space in the NFL is precise route running, and that is a skill that Davis brings at much a earlier stage that most receivers.
In addition, Davis is excellent after the catch and seemingly always make the first defender miss. He often does this with his speed. While he doesn't have a time from the Combine due to his ankle injury, my guess is that he would run a time in the mid to low 4.4’s. Any team would benefit immediately from Davis.
2) Mike Williams, Clemson
Williams reminds me a lot of Mike Evans. Both are big receivers who can go up and make tough, contested catches.
Williams was a big play machine at Clemson, as the type of receiver that the quarterback could lob the ball up to down the field and expect them to make a play. Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson threw the ball to Williams’ back shoulder a lot, and Williams nearly always made the play.
This is especially true in the 2017 National Championship as Williams not only took advantage of his size to make tough catches, but he also made these plays at key points in the game. Williams is number two because I have concents about his ability to separate from defenders in the NFL.
3) John Ross, Washington
Ross is the premier deep threat in this draft class. After a record setting 4.22 second time in the 40-yard dash at the combine, Ross has secured his first round status.
At Washington, Ross played both outside and in the slot, as he stretched out the defense nearly every play.
Ross is small, he is under six feet tall, but has always made up for it with his speed. There is no need to make contested catches in the air when you’ve already blown past the man covering you.
Ross could be perfect in Tennessee which needs a receiver that can stretch the field.
4) JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC
I see Smith-Schuster as an Anquan Boldin clone. Both Smith-Schuster and Boldin are physical receivers with sure hands. Smith-Schuster served as a security blanket for Sam Darnold just as Boldin was a security blanket for Joe Flacco. Also like Boldin, Smith-Schuster does not possess high end speed.
Smith-Schuster appears to be a second round prospect who will add an edge to whichever offense he joins. His physicality is unmatched by any other receiver in the 2017 class. The quarterback Smith-Schuster ends up with will love to throwing to him.
5) Zay Jones, East Carolina
Even though Jones set the FBS record for career receptions, the East Carolina product entered the draft process as a relatively unknown prospect.
Then the Senior Bowl happened. In the first half, Jones made a spectacular catch in the back of the end zone. The catch is pictured above. Jones made a leaping catch while getting his feet down in the endzone for a touchdown. However, it was ruled incomplete as the official in the back of the end zone didn't think Jones got his feet down. Replay showed otherwise, but there is no replay review in the Senior Bowl.
Later in the game, Jones hauled in a long jump ball for a touchdown. However this was also called off, this time for a penalty away from the play. Jones proved in that game that he is a top receiver, and he built on it with a strong combine performance. He also looks to be a second round pick.
That’s my rankings of the top five wide receivers. How would you rank them?
Next edition will be tight ends.