Eric DeCosta described the 2020 receiver class as “prolific” which is fitting. In my eyes, there are five first round receivers, followed by a meaty second tier or high caliber prospects who just lack either consistency, or have one major flaw.
The Ravens General Manager also stated that he believes there is great value on day two and day three of this receiver class because it’s so deep. Two examples of that, for me, are Florida’s Vanchii Jefferson and Texas’ Devin Duvernay. In most draft classes, these are potential high second round picks. The depth of this class could push one of those receivers into the fourth round.
This year, there’s a plethora of receivers who should immediately upgrade NFL receiver rooms, presenting an interesting opportunity for a team like Baltimore, who possesses nine total selections in this year’s draft.
I’m going to break down the long list of receivers, where I think they would fit into the Ravens offense, and what pick(s) the Ravens would have to use to select them in my opinion.
When grading receivers, I weigh the ability to separate against man as well as find soft spots in zone, hands/catch radius, tracking ability and press release heavily.
I thoroughly appreciate receivers who are football players meaning that they take pride/enjoy blocking, special teams, contact and play with an attitude.
Being able to create after the catch is also an aspect that carries weight, as receivers should be playmakers with the ball in their hands. YAC ability shows instinct, spatial awareness, quick mental processing, functional strength, foot speed and more. Those who can create after the catch are ballers, no other way around it.
I prefer to stay away from the tall possession types who don’t separate or sink their hips in and out of breaks well. If a receiver can do both, that’s ideal.
I would prefer someone like KJ Hamler who has limited contested catch ability but can separate over someone like Antonio Golden-Gandy who is tall and can’t separate.
With all prospects, I prefer players that I’m confident would be able to step on an NFL field next week and be competent as opposed to projections, high ceilings, potential, etc.
Without further adieu. . .
- Cedarian “Ceedee” Lamb, Oklahoma.
Lamb is a star, there’s no doubt about it. He is an alpha receiver. Lamb possesses lighting quick feet like a smaller receiver with the attitude of a power running back.
His release package against press is complete and NFL ready. He knows how to use his hands to separate as well.
Lamb works at all three levels and can play on the boundary as well as in the slot. For my money, he’s the best receiver after the catch in this class.
While Jerry Jeudy is the best separator in the class, Lamb he often draws the comparison to Deandre Hopkins because of his late separation. The former Sooner uses his frame, physicality, tracking ability and quick feet to separate clean as the ball arrives. He’s an alpha dog at the catch point and throttles down.
Lamb is a complete route runner, who ran routes full speed for Lincoln Riley, whose offensive philosophy is only to run routes at 100%.
While Lamb doesn’t have the long speed others in this class possess, his release speed is elite. His 1.46s 10 yard split is second to only Henry Ruggs in his class. Lamb can chew up a cushion, then throttle down and snap off his routes well.
He also has great boundary awareness and despite not being a burner fights for great positioning and works back to the ball. He’s a deep threat, although he can’t quite run away from defenses overtop, he will break multiple tackles and find the end zone.
Overall, Lamb just works at all three levels, fights for every inch and is an electric playmaker. He checks all boxes, and is a dangerous deep threat because of his attitude and technique despite lacking game-breaking long speed.
If the Ravens acquired Lamb he would likely surpass Hollywood Brown in boundary snaps, moving Hollwood inside more. He would play as both a Z and X receiver who the Ravens would work the ball to underneath, while also establishing a top threat outside the hashes which the Ravens have severely lacked for years.
Lamar Jackson would be confident to throw to Lamb outside the hashes more than any other receiver because of his dog mentality to fight for the ball. He also is a bully as a blocker in the run game and loves to hit.
The Ravens would most likely need to trade up to acquire Lamb, which isn’t likely considering the depth of the receiver class.
‘Why CeeDee Lamb’— AngeloFF (@angelo_fantasy) March 29, 2020
Lamb seems to be the popular pick for the first receiver off the board in the 2020 NFL Draft and in a class full of talented pass-catchers, that is saying a lot.
What makes Lamb different for the other top tier receivers in this class?
2. Jerry Jeudy, Alabama.
What separates Jeudy and Lamb, who are somewhat similar, for me, is attitude. Jeudy is more difficult to cover. He creates more separation. He’s nearly as dangerous as Lamb with the ball in his hands. What Jeudy lacks is the dog mentality.
Jeudy often hears footsteps and gator-arms passes over the middle. He also has a tendency to shy away from contact as a blocker and simply doesn’t have the same functional strength as Lamb. Jeudy also had some concentration drops, but possesses strong hands overall, Lamb’s are just more consistent.
The comparison that I love for Jeudy is Chad Johnson, while Lamb is Deandre Hopkins. Both elite, top shelf receiving talent. I’m happy to have either on my team, but prefer Hopkins.
Jeudy is as fluid as receivers come and has already run every route in the book. Blaze out? Check. Post corner? Check. Out and up? Check. He’s also a machine on RPO slants, which Alabama used quite often.
Jeudy will embarrass a DB at some point throughout the game, every game. He’s the hardest receiver to stick with in this class from a pure route running standpoint who literally learned his jukes from Lamar Jackson as the two grew up playing football together with mutual friends.
Jeudy has worked out with Jackson and Brown this offseason and has a close relationship with the duo.
‘Jeu’ has some of the best press releases in his class and has showed off some mystifying releases against the best DB’s in college football over the past few years. Like Lamb, Jeudy works at all three levels, although he’s not a dog over the middle of the field. He has an innate ability to freeze corners before releasing on double moves to get deep and is truly a threat to win overtop on any play.
‘JJ’ doesn’t just have a knack for finding the end-zone, he has an addiction. The former All-USA five-star recruit has scored touchdowns in 24 of his last 28 games in every way possible. He was the clear cut No. 1 receiver on an Alabama roster that possessed four probably first round receivers.
Jeudy played more from the slot than on the boundary and figures to keep working from both alignments, similarly to Hollywood Brown. He presents the same jitterbug route running ability that Hollywood Brown possesses and would make a nightmare matchup for the Ravens opposition, as few, if any teams have a tandem that could matchup in the slot, boundary and stick with Brown/Jeudy consistently.
His work as a backside receiver in the RPO game is as good as it gets, and the Ravens run more RPO’s than any other team in the NFL, so Jeudy would immediately upgrade their scheme from the start. He would provide a deep threat who can work open and score overtop while also giving a more steady boundary presence than Lamar Jackson has had to this point.
The Ravens would likely need to trade up to acquire Jeudy, although if I had to put money on one of Jeudy, Lamb or Henry Ruggs III slipping into the 18-24 range, it would be Jeudy.
‘Why Jerry Jeudy’— AngeloFF (@angelo_fantasy) March 21, 2020
After a successful collegiate career at Alabama, there is anticipation that Jeudy will become an immediate primary option on an NFL offense.
What are the qualities he possesses that can lead to that type of role?
3. Henry Ruggs III, Alabama.
Ruggs is a game-breaker, plain and simple. While Lamb and Jeudy project to be receivers who are clear cut No. 1 on an NFL roster and the passing game runs through, Ruggs has never been that top wideout at ‘Bama.
The speedster, in my opinion, is misunderstood by most. Is he the fastest receiver in his class? Yes. Is he likely the fastest receiver in the NFL from day one? Yes. Is he the best deep threat in his class? No.
I would say that he was the third best deep threat on his own team behind Jeudy and fellow wideout Devonta Smith.
Ruggs’ game isn’t predicated on the deep ball. In fact, he only caught four deep passes in 2019 (although three went for touchdowns.) This is why comparing Ruggs to John Ross, Ted Ginn or other deep ball speedsters is silly. Ruggs doesn’t know how to use his speed deep as effectively as advertised yet. He struggles to truly stack overtop on the go ball, but runs high level deep posts.
If he gets a window deep, he will take a mile. That goes for what Ruggs does underneath more than deep. Once you let him open up, he’s gone. However, quality cornerbacks, such as LSU’s Kristian Fulton, showed that Ruggs can be boxed to the sideline. Fulton won pretty much every rep against Ruggs, especially deep. Fulton played Ruggs as if Ruggs ran a 4.5, not a 4.27.
With the misconception that Ruggs is purely a deep threat in mind lies another fallacy. Ruggs is truly a savvy, smooth and sudden route runner. With his work primarily in the boundary, he, like Jeudy, ran every route in the book. He changes pace exceptionally well.
Ruggs took the majority of his snaps on the boundary, where the Ravens have room than in a log-jammed slot depth chart.
Ruggs also defeats press with the best of them, which is a huge concern for speedy smaller receivers, but Ruggs plays with alpha mentality. In fact, Ruggs made 15 tackles on special teams during his time at ‘Bama.
In many ways, Ruggs reminds me of current Redskins standout and former Ohio State receiver Terry McLaurin. Tough, plays bigger than they are, loves contact, loves to block, loves to hit and are fearless over the middle. Both can also fly.
Ruggs has snared one hand catches over the middle in traffic, and has a bigger catch radius than his size indicates.
The former ‘Bama standout only dropped one pass last season, and has some of the best hands and hand speed in his class. This presents a rare combination of speed, toughness and catching ability. Sign me up.
Ruggs has 10 and 1⁄4 inch hands, which are massive considering his size, as well as his speed. Ruggs was used as a primary blocker in tight alignments quite often. Ruggs is often an impact returner, who will take kicks and punts back immediately wherever he goes.
Henry Ruggs presents a much different flavor than Jeudy and Lamb, which could make him the first receiver off the board. I believe he will go ahead of one of the two.
In the Ravens offense, Ruggs is exactly what the Ravens need. His speed is still being developed as a deep receiver, although he did score three times on four deep passes he hauled down in 2019. Pairing him with Hollywood Brown is truly a nightmare scenario for opposing secondaries. Ruggs also loves to block, has sure hands and would contribute immediately on special teams.
Ruggs is often compared to Tyreek Hill, but I see him more as a suped up version of Mecole Hardman. Hill has quicker feet and more agility, while Ruggs was clocked at 24.6 mph on a touchdown in 2019, which would’ve been about 1.9 mph faster than the top speed of any NFL ball carrier at any point in 2019.
Again, the Ravens would most likely need to trade up to acquire Ruggs, but he’s the one receiver who is worth it to me. The Ravens don’t need an 80 reception receiver in their offense, rather a pure game breaker with speed to prevent teams from stacking the box. Jeudy and Lamb both possess vertical ability, but Ruggs is next level scary while not being the high volume receiver.
4. Michael Pittman Jr., University of Southern California.
My favorite thing about the former Trojan is that he’s a damn football player. Pittman forced a fumble on kick coverage, made numerous tackles on special teams and blocked three punts throughout his time in college. That’s just. . . awesome.
Pittman is another misunderstood receiver. He’s tall, long and strong, so many assume he’s just a possession receiver. He’s not. He is a complete route runner who has an awesome inside release and can throttle down on quick routes extremely well. He also stacks vertically well.
He stacks better than he is fast, lacking run away speed after the catch, which reminded me of two current quality NFL receivers.
When looking for a comparison, my mind continuously jumped to Mike Evans and Kenny Golladay. The two are tall, smooth, long, physical but also complete route runners.
In fact, Pittman tested and measured nearly identical to Evans and Golladay. The only difference is the Pittman and Golladay possess long wingspans. . . Mike Evans has the wingspan of an NBA power forward. Other than that, I see many similarities.
Pittman uses head fakes, jab steps and subtle change of pace in his routes that make him a complete receiver. He blocks like a bull and is supremely physical in his routes. He was penalized for OPI a few times at USC, but I would rather have a receiver who is too aggressive in his routes than passive.
I find Miles Boykin to be too passive, so think of Pittman as a more physical, less (but still) agile receiver.
Pittman has the best hands in his class, dropping only five passes on 176 catchable targets. His tracking, hands, jump ball ability etc. are the best in show. As previously stated, this only matters if you can separate first. If you can do both, and have A1 hands, you’re going to be a beast in the NFL. Plain and simple.
Pittman is widely viewed as a day two receiver, but I can’t find anyone to tell me why he isn’t worth a first round pick. Pro Football Focus has him as the 35th player on their board, I probably have him slightly higher.
Big, physical, smooth, sudden, hands, tracking, stacking and blocking are all strengths for Pittman. He is tough to bring down after the catch, so he will fight for first downs, but he’s not a game breaker by any means with the ball in his hands. He won’t be taking slants to the house.
The Ravens would put Pittman on the outside, where he primarily worked at USC. He would compete for snaps with Miles Boykin, who I think Pittman would eventually overtake if Boykin doesn’t become more physical. Pittman is just more natural on a football field than Boykin, but don’t count Boykin out just yet.
The Ravens would be able to snag Pittman with their 28th selection certainly, with a 50/50 chance to take him at 55 or 60 in the second round. I see Pittman going in the top 50, but this class has so many options he could certainly slip.
Michael Pittman Jr, WR, USC-— Ryder (@RyderM25) April 6, 2020
- Contested Catch/Tracking
- Strong Hands
- Avoiding re-routes during stem
- Smooth route breaks
- Understanding of leverage
- Hand fighting to create separation
- Jab steps to manipulate DB's#NFLDraft #FightOn #Trojans pic.twitter.com/EmFmPWSboa
Troy Pride vs Michael Pittman again. Doesn’t end well for Pride. Pittman ghosts him off the line with a nice release pic.twitter.com/NomnyrjFoq— Tommy (@tmacdraft24) April 2, 2020
5. Justin Jefferson, LSU.
Jefferson checks every box other than quality play on the boundary.
In 2018, Jefferson was a decent target who played exclusively out wide. In 2019, the Tigers moved Jefferson into a slot only role, and he destroyed his competition.
Tall, fast, sudden, smooth, physical, good after the catch and a street fighter as a blocker. Jefferson gets in fist fights, straight up, as a blocker.
He runs the best slot option route in this class, almost un-coverable working over the middle of the field. Jefferson is also a tank in contested catch situations and has sneaky good 4.4 speed.
Jefferson’s lack of success on the boundary is my only concern, but he will, ‘worst case’ be like a more dangerous version of Jarvis Landry. Against man coverage, Jefferson displayed a good understanding of leverage and is a natural ball tracker. I trust his hands and ability to find holes against zone defense immediately.
Jefferson wasn’t the best receiver on his team, as fellow Tiger Jamar Chase torched nearly every notable defensive back in college football working from the boundary, which made life easier on Jefferson. He also benefitted from playing in one of, if not the most prolific and accurate passing attack in college football history.
With that being said, he was used as a blocker the same way that the Rams use Robert Woods. He will close and seal a defensive end, fight a linebacker, or maul a defensive back with great tenacity. He’s also a high energy, fun loving dude who brings a similar drip to the field that Lamar Jackson and Hollywood Brown do.
Jefferson’s floor is a mid-high level No. 2 receiver on an NFL team who regularly roasts teams in the slot. I see his ideal fit in Sean McVay’s offense. His fit with the Ravens would be in a slot role while testing his ability on the boundary, relying on him to get quick separation over the middle of the field, where Lamar Jackson loves to throw.
He’s a decent vertical threat with outstanding hands and contested catch ability, while also being slippery and dangerous after the catch. Because of his blocking ability, I think he would excel in the Ravens offense, although I think a precision passing offense like the Rams or Packers would utilize his skill set better.
Jefferson’s production against zone coverage displayed his euro/rocker step to snap then glide to open grass, which fits well into the Ravens offense. Teams are forced to play zone against the Ravens because of Lamar Jackson’s running ability, which would use Jefferson well, but with Hollywood Brown, Mark Andrews, Willie Snead already as viable slot options, looking to more of a boundary oriented deep threat would make more sense.
While many project Jefferson to be off the board before the Ravens pick, I am somewhat confident that he will be available at 28. There are quite a few effective slot receivers in this class, so Jefferson’s value might not surpass some of the more talented boundary options, although I could see a team like Philadelphia, Dallas or Green Bay taking Jefferson in the first round.
LSU WR Justin Jefferson— Alex Johnson (@a_johnsonFF) April 3, 2020
➕19.6 (Soph) Breakout Age
➕91% Catch Rate
➕111 receptions, 18 touchdowns in 2019
➕2.75 yards/team pass attempt
➕93.3% Contested Catch Rate
➖5 snaps out wide in 2019
➖ Limited impact in the return game
Now I’m moving into the second tier of receivers who I see as borderline first into second-third round guys who have dominant traits but lack consistency or possess major flaws. With the first five, I have few, if any questions about how their game will translate to the next level.
6. Jalen Reagor, TCU.
Pro Football Focus called Jalen the best vertical threat in the class. It’s easy to see why. All he does is challenge corners overtop. His speed is persistent and obnoxious. You can tell he’s always hungry for touchdowns. Maybe that’s why he drops screens and other easy passes. . .
Still, Jalen Reagor is a playmaker. He also suffered from the worst QB situation of any power five offense, with a struggling freshman. Reagor seemed to get visibly frustrated in 2019, which was understandable but also worth noting.
Reagor has game breaking speed, athletic ability, toughness and agility on the field. A strange combine put that in question, but it showed up time and time again on tape. He ran away from DB’s on go routes regularly, sometimes gaining 10+ yards of separation.
He’s both fluid and explosive with a squatty build and quick feet.
Reagor has one really effective press release, but he relies on the same release too often. He does a great job attacking his man vertically before breaking laterally with fluidity.
He has the foot speed and wiggle to beat press and lined up almost exclusively as the right boundary receiver in 2019, which I feel was a misuse of his ability as a ball carrier and on manufactured touches like bubble screens or reverses. He took a reverse against Oklahoma and destroyed Kenneth Murray’s pursuit angle with ease.
Poor QB play and coaching decisions aren’t his fault, however. Reagor was clocked at 22.6 mph on a 90 yard touchdown, which would’ve been the fastest time of any NFL ball carrier in 2019.
Reagor has outstanding tracking ability, but needs to work on his stacking ability. If he stacked more effectively with his home run speed, he would’ve reached the end zone in every game he played.
Reagor also has an insane catch radius, which was displayed by his 42-inch vertical. Playing for the Horned Frogs was appropriate, as Reagor can straight up leap. He will absolutely lay out to haul in a pass every chance he gets. You will never question “could he have gotten a hand on that if he tried?” Reagor will always give full extension to haul in a pass. High effort receiver downfield.
Reagor couldn’t quite string it all together in 2019. When he got separation, he would be overthrown or drop too many passes. Reagor dropped an alarming amount of bubble screens and easy catches, like fellow speedster K.J. Hamler.
If Reagor had his 2018 game tape and 2019 game tape flipped, he would be getting more legitimate first round consideration. He was outstanding in 2018 with less drops, more separation and was consistently lethal. He seemed discouraged by his poor QB play too often in 2019.
He fits a similar size and build profile to Deebo Samuel and can snap DB’s off in a similar way, but Deebo was an overall more advanced route runner with better hands and more physicality.
Reagor can be a Percy Harvin type weapon at his worst case, with the ability to be a Steve Smith Sr. like weapon at his best. Curtis Samuel is another comparison that I like. Not a No. 1 receiver, but a weapon who functions as a good route runner and quality playmaker.
Reagor is an average blocker who shows flashes of tenacity, but needs improvement in his technique.
He’s also arguably the best returner in this class, who was a threat to score every time he touched the ball on special teams, which translates to his ability after the catch. He will immediately be a star returner who could merit All-Pro consideration in year one.
I probably have Reagor too low on this list, but it is a testament to how outstanding the class is, and by no means a knock on Reagor. I can absolutely see why a team takes him in the first round, and if it were the Ravens, I would celebrate the pick.
The former Horned Frog seemingly added some bad weight in 2019 and didn’t drop it ahead of the combine, weighing in a little more than expected. He looked much more lean and explosive as a freshman and sophomore, which concerns me. The Ravens would whip him into shape.
In the Ravens offense, Reagor would provide explosiveness, speed and playmaking ability that they severely lacked on the boundary. I find Reagor to be a fun, exciting and great fit for the Ravens, who would add the missing element that takes the Ravens overtop. I prefer him to K.J. Hamler for Baltimore because of his ability to play on the boundary as a Z, while Hamler has exclusively played in the slot, which Reagor could do as well. Either would add the missing vertical element.
Reagor has been mocked all over the place, but there’s a decent chance he’s available when Baltimore picks at 28, where he would present incredible value and give the Ravens the vertical boundary threat that they desperately need. I would be surprised to see Reagor fall out of the top 40 picks.
Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU-— Ryder (@RyderM25) April 10, 2020
- Big play threat
- Play speed and explosiveness
- Nuanced route runner
- Body control/Contested catches
- YAC ability
- Understands how to manipulate DB's
- Easy separator
- Quick and precise release game#NFLDraft #GoFrogs pic.twitter.com/W0Rn9uezmd
7. Tee Higgins, Clemson.
Higgins is a difficult evaluation, but I feel he’s been picked apart a bit too much in the draft process. The rumor mill circulating says that NFL teams are much higher on Higgins than the media, which makes sense. Higgins comes from a receiver powerhouse, has produced consistently and heavily and was highly touted as a top recruit coming out of high school.
Higgins offers clean press releases, great hands, body control and is a natural, smooth deep ball receiver. He has a great feel for zone coverage. He understands how to manipulate safeties by varying his intermediate breaks and has a knack for getting open.
Against man coverage, Higgins is physical at times, although he doesn’t separate like you would want him to.
I compare Higgins to N’Keal Harry in some ways, simply because he doesn’t separate like I would like to see, but Higgins is considerably more advanced in his release package, football I.Q. and various techniques.
Higgins, like Justin Jefferson, is underrated after the catch. He’s willing to lower the shoulder and truck defenders. He plays with bad intentions at the catch point and elevates his play with the game on the line.
Higgins plays above to rim literally, with numerous viral videos of him dunking. He was Mr. Basketball in the state of Tennessee, receiving countless D-1 offers. That smooth athleticism translates to the football field, while he also received his Clemson degree in pushing off that Sammy Watkins and Deandre Hopkins have earned.
Higgins is a WR1 or WR2 in most classes, but inconsistent separation is his flaw. I believe that Higgins is capable of being a high volume target in a high volume passing offense. He might not ever be a game-breaker, but a solid tall/fast/hands receiver who plays above the rim like Hakeem Nicks with a bit more upside.
The Ravens would be an interesting fit for Higgins. I believe he would excel more in a pass oriented offense with a quarterback who prefers to throw outside the hashes more. I believe the Texans would be an excellent fit for Higgins, where DeShaun Watson relies on deep outside passes and explosive passes.
Perhaps Lamar Jackson would be more confident having a sky-scraper who will consistently win overtop and find soft spots in zone, which the Ravens mainly face from opposing defenses. When the Ravens get down, they need reliable targets who can compliment their slot receivers (Brown, Andrews, Snead) and Higgins fills that role.
As previously stated, the rumor is that NFL teams are high on Higgins and see him as a WR1, so perhaps he’s 50/50 to be available at 28, but I would be a little bit surprised to see him off the board before 28. I don’t believe he will be available when they pick at 55.
Jeeeeez Tee Higgins. Sells the post route well and creates separation on the corner route, then a nasty move. pic.twitter.com/AxNnucVSXE— Jake Schyvinck (@JakeNFLDraft) November 30, 2019
TEE HIGGINS WENT BEAST MODE pic.twitter.com/SlNj1XnEp4— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) January 14, 2020
Tee Higgins wins with his absurd catch radius and ball skills. His ability to separate isn’t on par with Jeudy or Lamb, but his ability to climb the ladder and win down the football field is impressive.pic.twitter.com/z4nNW46E9v— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) February 16, 2020
8. Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State.
Aiyuk can’t get off press. It’s concerning. I initially had a first round grade on Aiyuk, but he saw very little press jams, when he did, they instantly rerouted him.
Other than that, I love him as a prospect. He gets crazy low on his breaks, can run every route, is a legitimate deep threat, YAC monster and has crazy length. He’s not a contested catch guy, but he separates and has good hands, which I value significantly more than contested catch ability.
Aiyuk is an explosive returner, who would take those duties over for the Ravens.
I’m keeping his evaluation short, because in one sentence. . . Aiyuk will be a star if he can learn to get off the press in the NFL. That’s a big if, though.
The Ravens would deploy Aiyuk on the boundary where he will get gobbled up against press, but destroy off coverage. Aiyuk rarely, if ever lost a foot race in college.
The Ravens use a ton of motion and could would him from press by doing so. He didn’t line up in the slot much, but has agility to do so. If he stepped on a practice field against Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters and Jimmy Smith tomorrow, he wouldn’t get off the line. This could benefit him greatly if/when training camp starts.
The Ravens should be able to take Aiyuk at 28, although reports link him to the Saints and there’s a good chance he goes in the first round. I don’t think Aiyuk will be available at 55.
Brandon Aiyuk is the most underrated receiver in this class. NFL teams love speed and Aiyuk has a whole lot of it— Speak Up (@_SpeakU) February 24, 2020
▪️High-end straight line speed
▪️Excellent route runner
▪️Playmaker with the ball in his hands
▪️Threat in the return game pic.twitter.com/gU1PGYnhvw
9. Bryan Edwards, University of South Carolina.
Bryan Edwards plays the way people think Denzel Mims does.
I’m going to be a condescending tape snob here. I don’t care. If you watch Bryan Edwards’ all-22 tape, he is a complete, talented, NFL ready boundary receiver. He wins with size, he wins with speed, he wins with quickness, he wins with physicality, he wins inside, he wins outside. . . Edwards just wins.
Edwards has an imposing, Anquan Boldin-esque chiseled frame. He reminds me of ‘Q. There, I said it. He’s faster, and no one will ever match Boldin’s physicality, but they both look scary in pads. Edwards has a thick lower body with long yet built arms.
It’s truly alarming how many times Edwards torched SEC DB’s and didn’t get the ball. Every single game there were multiple reps that Edwards routed up defenders and the QB simply didn’t look his way. He didn’t care, he just kept winning. He can work double moves, sideline releases and is a tank after the catch.
I’m extremely confident in Edwards ability to produce at the next level because he can win against press, separate underneath and vertically and has great hands. Edwards has been a star since he was 13 years old, but for some reason has been vastly overlooked by NFL media pundits. Edwards is a ‘red star’ player for me, who I’m willing to bang the table for.
Edwards had stellar production as a freshman and did so before his 18th birthday. At 21 years old, Edwards is already quite polished, with yet more room to grow.
Edwards took 347 snaps on the boundary and 189 in the slot in 2019. He’s useful on gadget plays as well, forcing 15 missed tackles and averaging 7.6 YAC.
If you’re low on Edwards, it’s because you only watched his targets. The amount of wins he had and didn’t get the ball blows my mind.
Occasionally Edwards had reps where he didn’t space against zone coverage properly and found himself in tight coverage. He’s not perfect, but he checks all the boxes consistently. He works at all three levels and brings tenacity, press release, contested catch, separation, hands and run away speed. Sign me up.
His below average QB situation didn’t result in frustration or laziness (except one wide open potential game winning miss against App St.) High effort. High level competitor.
Edwards has had quite a few injuries, which is why he isn’t higher on my list. He couldn’t participate in the NFL combine because of a broken foot. Other than the injury concerns, Edwards is a clean prospect to me.
Ravens fans would love Edwards hard nosed mentality and he would quickly become a fan favorite. Edwards would primarily line up on the boundary, but would be a factor on screens, sweeps, reverses, etc. He brings physicality to the boundary that they currently lack, while also adding a solid vertical threat.
Edwards won’t generate first round consideration. He should be available at 55, 60 and potentially at 92 or 106. His injury history, no combine or pro day and people simply sleeping on his ability will end up having Chris Godwin like value on day two.
Bryan Edwards is very nuanced with his route running. He sells this out and up very well and then finishes strong. pic.twitter.com/leFszkkLJ5— Matt (@ZazzyJets) April 7, 2020
(Thread) #SouthCarolina WR Bryan Edwards @B__ED89 Bryan Edwards is a top 5 WR in this class. So sudden off the line, sharp route runner, super competitive, tough, playmaker. Below is everyone’s favorite BE play where he tosses this Bama DB #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/zh9hCFVaPv— Tommy (@tmacdraft24) April 6, 2020
10. Denzel Mims, Baylor.
If it weren’t for Mims’ Senior Bowl showing and combine, he wouldn’t be getting first round buzz. His tape shows inconsistent hands (19 drops over last two seasons) and some lazy/sloppy route running at times.
He’s one of, if not the most difficult evaluations in this receiver class.
Mims showed a full route tree at the Senior Bowl with one of the strongest performances in recent Senior Bowl history. His hands were reliable, he was shifty, nuanced and sudden. Mims has also always played aggressively with physicality as both a route runner and blocker.
That’s why it’s frustrating watching Mims bad reps, where he allowed smaller, lesser defensive backs to overtake him at the catch point at times. He also has the best body control and sideline awareness of any receiver in this class, perhaps along with Lamb and Tee Higgins. He’s an ‘accuracy eraser’ who has a massive catch radius.
Mims is just one of those odd receivers who can produce jaw dropping highlight reel catches followed by easy drops on back to back plays.
The former Bear works best in the intermediate and deep levels and as a boundary receiver, similarly to Miles Boykin, who also blew away the combine and has frustrating reps.
Mims loves to to angle off slant routes then use his long frame to snare passes away from his body. His vertical ability is great, where he is sudden in varying his speed, selling breaks and then accelerating deep, and he can run better than any big receiver in this class.
He has the makings of a star, but when hands and consistency are a concern, there are legitimate concerns that prevent me from putting Mims in the upper echelon.
An explosive athlete, Mims blew away the combine. His raw explosion is evident on tape, although he tested better in agility drills than I saw as a route runner (until the Senior Bowl).
Mims is boom or busty, but his boom is A.J. Green. Davante Parker would be a good comparison as well, with Martavis Bryant being Mims’ floor.
Mims is a tenacious blocker who has stated on multiple occasions that he would enjoy playing for the Ravens because his blocking separates him from his fellow receiver class. Again, Miles Boykin says hello.
The Senior Bowl and combine are great tools, but the game tape speaks the loudest. Mims’ tape is inconsistent and riddled with frustrating drops. I have flip flopped on Mims several times as a prospect and will probably continue to do so.
The Ravens would have Mims compete for reps on the boundary with Miles Boykin. Mims and Boykin are similar players. They blew the doors off the combine, block with tenacity and length and both allow smaller DB’s into their frame at the catch point too often. Mims does a better job being physical to defeat press, an area Boykin needs to improve on.
My fear is that the Ravens historically struggle to develop receivers. Hollywood Brown didn’t practice all summer then stepped in with two monster games. Hollywood was pro ready.
Mims lacks consistency and needs fine tuning. I see the Steelers being a great fit for Mims, who have a similar hard nosed culture, but excel at developing promising receivers.
The Ravens should be able to select Mims at 28, although I would prefer to wait until 55 or 60. Mims will likely go before 55 or 60, but I believe because of receiver depth, again, Mims will be available at 28.
For the Denzel Mims struggles with route running crowd:— Tyler Steege (@TSteegeNFL) April 4, 2020
Consistently wins at the LoS with hands. Can win short, intermediate, and deep.
He’s going to be a stud. pic.twitter.com/owTKRDUNON
Why Denzel Mims is the future WR1 we need in 23 seconds. pic.twitter.com/VuzX2v5uDI— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) April 7, 2020
11. K.J. Hamler, Penn State.
Hamler is incredibly similar to Hollywood Brown. Small, nuanced route runners who destroy off coverage. Hamler might be a tad faster, but Hollywood had experience getting off press at Oklahoma and worked both the boundary and the slot.
Hamler is built a little more solid and has more functional strength.
Hollywood possesses a larger catch radius and has better hands in quick passing, but both fill the role of lethal deep receiver. The two are jitterbugs and few teams would be able to cover both on the field together. Hamler would also present insurance if Hollywood’s foot flared up, or another injury occured.
I find Hamler and Brown to be interchangable, making one of the best receiver fits for the Ravens.
Having the NFL’s all time best rushing attack mixed with a track tandem in Brown and Hamler, then the consistency over the middle of Mark Andrews would be fun!
If Hamler can release against press and play on the boundary, look out.
The Ravens could likely select Hamler at 55 or 60, with a decent chance to take him at 92. 106 might be a stretch, but Hamler’s drops and slot limitations make it possible.
2nd-3rd Round Steal:— JET UP (@NYJFilms) April 4, 2020
KJ Hamler, PSU
- Extremely Elusive
- Great Catch Radius
- Deep Threat Ability pic.twitter.com/d5tVVv91cb
12. Vanchii Jefferson, University of Florida/Mississippi.
Van Jefferson might be the best route runner in this class. He routed up LSU, crushed the Senior Bowl and consistently separated in most games of his career.
He routes dudes up, has great tracking ability, solid hands and can run after the catch. He has a severe lack of functional strength that makes him slide down this list, plus he’s the oldest of the receiver prospects. He will be 24 in his rookie year.
Jefferson has outstanding balance and footwork that allow him to freeze DB’s. His father is currently the New York Jets receivers coach, and it shows.
Jefferson is extremely similar to Calvin Ridley in style and the fact that they were technicians, smooth, deep threats, weaker physically and the oldest prospect at their position in their class.
I’m probably higher on Jefferson than anyone, but I truly believe he’s an elite separator and pass catcher. His attention to detail in his release and route is pristine. He will do most of his work from the slot, but can split out wide and play every receiver position. He will win reps against man coverage every game.
Jefferson is a ‘high floor’ guy, which is what I’m into. He could will separate against NFL corners as soon as he steps on the field.
I believe he would fit very well with the Patriots, Packers or Saints.
He’s tough as nails and brings attitude to the position, although he’s not strong or a particularly successful blocker.
In Baltimore, he would line up at all three receiver spots, although he would likely not see high volume because of his lack of blocking and play strength. He would provide them with someone to rely on when the Ravens find themselves trailing.
The Ravens will be able to take Jefferson with the 60th pick, potentially 92 or 106, but 106 is a stretch.
A TD + 3 reps against Derek Stingley by Florida WR Van Jefferson pic.twitter.com/R1Q6gazYbM— John Mollica (@JohnM_98) April 9, 2020
Quick film thread of Flordia WR Van Jefferson. He is intriguing prospect for the middle rounds in this month's draft. #NFLDRAFT #NFLDraft2020— Damian Parson (@DP_NFL) April 7, 2020
4 ⭐ recruit
32 3/4 inch arms
9 1/8 inch hands
Try not to blink.— James Russell (@jamesru1) April 8, 2020
You will miss Gators WR Van Jefferson's break. pic.twitter.com/gLQN7kTXUL
Florida WR @VanJefferson12 couldn’t run the 40 at Combine (foot injury) but @ZebraTechnology had him as fastest player at the @seniorbowl with max speed of 21.05 mph, which is faster than Devin Duvernay (20.90/4.39), Denzel Mims (20.26/4.38), and Antonio Gibson (20.15/4.39). pic.twitter.com/t7Y8nRmonn— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) April 4, 2020
13. Laviska Shenault, Colorado.
I have an awful gut feeling that I’m going to look like a moron for having Shenault this low, but I have a few concerns that make me hesitant.
First, Shenault ran four routes at Colorado. Four.
Go, spot, hitch and drag. This might have been because of QB limitations more than anything else, but it worries me nonetheless.
Second, Shenault didn’t consistently separate by any means. Too many contested catches.
Third, he was overused at Colorado as a wildcat QB and on manufactured touches. He’s injury riddled and prone to getting hurt. He pulled his groin and the combine, which was the cherry on top.
Fourth, when watching Shenault’s tape, I felt that I was watching the classic college player that doesn’t translate to the NFL the same way.
When I have this many concerns with a player, I don’t consider them a clean projection, which makes me hesitant to take them early in the draft, where I want starters.
Shenault is amazing with the ball in his hands. He’s a first down machine who pummels defenders regularly. He has insane functional strength as a runner, but for some reason that didn’t show up as a blocker at all.
Watching Shenault, you can tell that he has an extremely high football I.Q. He knew where every receiver was supposed to be, what his spacing should be, when to adjust to get himself open for his QB, and has natural instincts after the catch.
This is why I feel that I’m too low on Shenault in my gut.
As a route runner, he flashed great spacing against zone, knew how to find his QB’s attention and did have some good cuts and head fakes in his routes.
He has really solid hands.
In the end, I’m just worried that if I take Shenault in the first or second round that I’m getting Cordarelle Patterson and not a starting No. 1 or No. 2 receiver for my team.
Pro Football Focus compared him to Saquon Barkley, and I think there’s some truth to that comparison.
Shenault is best used as a weapon more than a receiver. Getting him carries in simple blocking concepts would be fun. Throwing him screens would be fun.
As far as a fit for the Ravens, I just prefer the guys who stretch the field and make defenses respect speed more right now. Shenault’s health also worries me. His level of competition wasn’t the highest and his best games were often against lower level competition. I largely fear saying this, but I hope the Ravens avoid Shenault in this draft.
I have no clue where Shenault will go, but I doubt he will be available past 92. Pro Football Fous has him as their 17th ranked player. Many other credible draft pundits have him as a top 40 player, I just have too many concerns to take him early.
The Ravens will likely have Shenault on the board when they pick at 55, but I don’t think he makes it out of the 60-70 range.
Laviska Shenault, Colorado— Thomas R. Petersen (@thomasrp93) April 3, 2020
+ Awesome after catch, good play speed
+ Reliable hands short/intermediate
+ Good cuts in intermediate routes, can drop weight
- Positions poorly down field
- Tracks ball inconsistently
- A lot of production against shaky CBs#Eagles pic.twitter.com/qOfZoDPXRF
Yards per route vs. man coverage leaders for WR class over past two seasons:— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) April 7, 2020
1. Laviska Shenault Jr. 4.98
2. Tee Higgins 4.25
3. Easop Winston Jr. 3.75
4. Jauan Jennings 3.52
5. K.J. Hamler 3.43
For me, these 14 receivers graded as immediate impact players that the Ravens should consider with their first four picks (28, 55, 60, 92).
There is more depth, especially at slot receiver with players like Tyler Johnson, Devin Duvernay, K.J, Hill, etc.
The Ravens, as I probably established a bit too emphatically, the Ravens don’t need slot receivers. They need boundary help, and vertical threats that can force opposing defenses to respect speed and fear stacking the box.
There isn’t as much depth in boundary talent as their is with slot talent. An interesting fit later in the draft would be John Hightower from Boise St.
Hightower is a true vertical receiver a la Mike Wallace. He can make plays underneath with suddenness then linear speed after the catch (sub 1.5 10-yard split) and break angles, but his bread and butter is the good ole’ nine route.
Hightower has a slender frame and great boundary awareness. He’s not a contested catch guy, but who cares?
He can tip toe down the sideline at full speed and is a great tracker of the football. He tracks like a center fielder on a deep line drive, bending his neck back and getting direct vision to the ball.
Hightower fits a need and finds himself buried in a deep class. He didn’t have insane production, while facing inferior competition, but has dominant traits.
He will stretch the field early and often, while providing return ability. Hightower is a sneaky good fit in round 3-4 for Baltimore.
Overall, the Ravens have lost Seth Roberts and Hayden Hurst, made no veteran additions, and will certainly add at least one pass catcher on April 23rd or April 24th.
Baltimore needs another vertical boundary threat desperately. One injury to their current receiver room, particularly to Marquise Brown or Mark Andrews, would devastate their passing game.
Opposing defenses would be more confident to stack the box and contain the Ravens prolific rushing attack. The Ravens offensive line also suffered a monumental loss with the retirement of All-World future Hall of Fame right guard Marshal Yanda, which will also need to be addressed in the draft.
The receivers who figure to stretch the field and provide value due to a deep receiver class are Jalen Reagor, Michael Pittman, K.J. Hamler, Denzel Mims and Van Jefferson and John Hightower.
Adding one (or multiple) of those receivers, preferably in the second round, would bring an early contributor capable of stretching the field and immediately improving the Ravens offense.
If Baltimore doesn’t add a playmaker or address the interior offensive line, 2019’s top scoring offense will regress significantly.