Instead of doing individual players like last year, this year Draft Core will be highlighting the position as a whole.
Players deemed as “Primetime Players” are the elite crop of the draft. Draft Core evaluates the top rated players and highlight a trait or two that will translate to the next level. In addition, Draft Core will make a player comparison and a team that needs the player’s skill set.
This year’s Wide receiver class is the deepest at the position in quite some time. There are seven Primetime Players total which far exceeds last year’s class that had just two. This year’s WR Primetime Players are Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, LSU’s Justin Jefferson, Baylor’s Denzel Mims, TCU’s Jalen Reagor, and Colorado’s Laviska Shenault Jr.
CeeDee Lamb Oklahoma
Dynamic After The Catch
As both a College Football and NFL fan, I’ve waited for a long time for CeeDee Lamb to finally make his way to the NFL. He really is everything you’d want your number one wide receiver to be. All of the great wide receivers can run crisp routes or are physically gifted football players. The defining trait that makes the great wide receivers great is the ability to do more with the football after the catch is made. There are few wide receivers, in college or the NFL, that can do it better than Lamb.
Lamb won’t blow you away with his athleticism. At the combine, he clocked a 4.5 flat which is slightly above average in this class. When you put on Lamb’s tape, you don’t like him because he can run out of a gym, you like him for his ability to routinely turn even the most hopeless plays into 50, 60, 70 yard touchdown catches.
At Oklahoma since he was a freshman, Lamb time and time again made jaw dropping plays that you’d expect only the elite players to make. In a prolific Sooner offense from this past season, Lamb accounted for 38.1% of all of Oklahoma’s offensive production. This means opposing teams knew the ball was going to Lamb almost every play, yet they still could not find a way to contain him. He’s that good.
Player Comparison: DeAndre Hopkins
Hopkins by no means, when you look at his physical metrics, is a superstar athlete but his name is universally mentioned as one of the best in the game. He is dependable and able to make plays few can make. Lamb plays eerily similar to Hopkins and it is going to be scary what he does to NFL defenses in the coming years.
Team Fit: Arizona Cardinals (1st round, 8th overall)
In our mock draft, we predict Lamb is going 11th overall to the New York Jets, but the Cardinals would be Lamb’s best fit. He would have the opportunity to reunite with his college teammate Kyler Murray while also learning from DeAndre Hopkins who is his NFL comparison. Plus, an offense with Murray at quarterback and with Hopkins, Lamb, Larry Fitzgerald, and Christian Kirk running Kingsbury’s adapted Air-Raid offense would be a nightmare for the NFC West and for the rest of the NFL.
Jerry Jeudy Alabama
Elite Route Running
Simply put, Jeudy might be the best route runner in quite some time to enter the NFL. His ability to get open and to run any route you ask of him will allow him to play from day 1 and quarterbacks will love throwing him the ball.
The only knock I’ll say about Jeudy is the lack of special teams contribution and rushes on his profile. Maybe it is just how Alabama ran their offense, but if Jeudy is just a receiving threat and nothing else, his ceiling is slightly limited in the NFL. By no means is it a deal breaker, plenty WRs in the league rely solely on receiving production, but the great ones hurt you in multiple ways.
Player Comparison: Amari Cooper
Similar to when Cooper came out, Jeudy enters the NFL as an elite route runner with the ability to get open almost every play. Both are incredibly polished and are dependable number one WR options.
Team Fit: Las Vegas Raiders (1st Round, 12th overall)
The Raiders are in desparely need of some WR talent and Jeudy would fill that void in their offense. The drop in Carr’s recent production can be immediately linked to losing Amari Cooper and what better way to replace him with a prospect with similar play styles. It was not that long ago when Carr was a borderline MVP candidate in 2016.
Justin Jefferson LSU
Jefferson took full advantage of LSU’s new passing game concepts in 2019 and showcased a wonderful ability to make adjustments on the fly and read the coverage in front of him. The former Tiger has strong hands and made plenty of catches outside of his frame during the rare times a throw from Joe Burrow was inaccurate.
Watching his film, Jefferson did not seem like a game breaking athlete, but his 4.41 40-time at the combine open some eyes at the combine. In a WR class that’s as deep as this one, an all around skill set, like the one Jefferson has, is an easy indicator of future NFL success.
Player Comparison: Tyler Boyd
Not only are his hands solid, but the way Jefferson attacks the ball in the air is a trait he shares with the Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver. Boyd’s all around skill set allows him to line up both outside and in the slot. Jefferson can line up anywhere and fit wherever a team needs.
Team fit: Philadelphia Eagles (1st Round, 21st Overall)
The Eagles desperately need some consistent production at the wide receiver position. Philly has struggled to find that dependable option to pair with Alshon Jeffrey. Whether it was the ineffectiveness of Nelson Agholor, the injury history of DeSean Jackson, or selecting what looks like a bust in J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, the Eagles need a player like Jefferson who they can plug in and not have to worry about producing for them.
Denzel Mims Baylor
Mims started out the draft process as a 2nd or 3rd round prospect. But after an impressive Senior Bowl and Combine performance, Mims went from an intriguing sleeper option to a prospect worth garnering 1st round hype.
Everything about the former Baylor Bear screams violent play. If it is a one-on-one jump ball opportunity, Mims will manhandle the cornerback guarding him. If Mims runs a slant route, he bullies the defender trying to press him at the line of scrimmage. NFL defenses can not match up a smaller cornerback on Mims or else he will straight up embarrass him.
Player Comparison: Chris Godwin
This physical play style reminds me of the two Tampa Bay wide receivers. If Mims was 10 pounds heavier, then the comparison would be to Mike Evans, but he has a more slimmer build which is why Godwin is the comparison. Godwin finally got the chance this past season to contribute meaningful snaps and he broke out in a huge way.
Team Fit: Green Bay Packers (1st Round, 30th overall)
Aaron Rodgers would love throwing the ball to Mims. It is time for Green Bay to give Rodgers some help outside of Devonte Adams and Mims would be the perfect number two option in that offense.
Jalen Reagor TCU
Reagor’s top end speed isn’t all that impressive as he only ran a 4.47 at the combine. The impressive part of his game is his ability to reach that top speed and display the burst necessary to separate from defenders in the open field. He is agile enough to weave his way through traffic and then he turns on the jets on a dime.
Another trait I debated listing here is his body balance in the air when he jumps for a ball. Often in the red-zone, TCU would throw up jump balls to Reagor and he displayed the same burst to jump up and maintain his balance as he hauled in a catch. Due to poor quarterback play at TCU, this blend of explosiveness and balance was required as throws were often off target and Reagor had to regularly bail his QB out.
Player Comparison: Stefon Diggs
The traits I liked about Diggs coming out of Maryland are the same traits I see in Reagor. Diggs also dealt with poor QB play at Maryland, but still was able to produce. Reagor would thrive in an offense that lets him get vertical and provides him jump ball opportunities in the red-zone.
Team Fit: Minnesota Vikings (1st Round, 25th Overall)
The Vikings have a Stefon Diggs sized hole on their team and Reagor would be able to fill that role without all of the headaches that Diggs had during his time in Minnesota. Reagor would also complement Adam Thielan in that offense well.
Henry Ruggs III Alabama
Speed, Speed, and More Speed
It is no secret that Ruggs has wheels. The cliche phrases about being a threat to score on every touch are absolutely applicable. One wrong angle or missed step by the defense can result in six points because his ability to accelerate is from another planet. And Ruggs isn’t just a burner, he’s a fairly polished wide receiver that competes as a blocker.
I know Alabama had three other NFL-caliber WRs on that offense, but I would have liked to see him produce a little bit more during his time in Tuscaloosa.
Player Comparison: Tyreek Hill Lite
It is unfair to compare a prospect to Hill, but Ruggs just might be the closest prospect we will ever see. What makes both Hill and Ruggs special isn’t just the speed, but the ability to do other things is what separate them from other fast guys at the position. Labeling Ruggs as just a fast guy is disrespectful to his overall game.
Team Fit: Denver Broncos (1st Round, 15th overall)
Ruggs would be the perfect complement to Courtland Sutton in Denver. Sutton is more of a possession/jump ball wide receiver. Ruggs can take the top off of a defense while Sutton can do his damage underneath and in the middle of the field. Plus with Drew Lock’s arm strength, Ruggs would have a quarterback capable of making the most of his speed.
Laviska Shenault Jr. Colorado
Shenault had one of the most fun tapes in all of the draft. He is a versatile weapon that can challenge defenses at every level of the field. An impressive blend of size, physicality, burst and ball skills, Shenault has no limitations in the ways he can make plays. He’s a fierce competitor that was often held back in college on account of an unimaginative offense and erratic quarterback play.
The only concerns are an unpolished route tree and his injury history, but the route running can be slowly implemented as he develops in the NFL while his touches are monitored in the process. For the time being, teams should take advantage of his versatility by putting the ball in his hands and let him do his work.
Player Comparison: A hybrid of Deebo Samuel and Sammy Watkins
Shenault is physical and versatile like Deebo, but is a vertical threat like Watkins. It was hard to pin point one player in the NFL that resembles Shenault, so a combination of these two players was the best way of making a comparison.
Team Fit: San Francisco 49ers (1st Round, 31st Overall)
Shenault needs to go to a team that is willing to give him the ball in many different ways and the 49ers are more than capable of providing that opportunity for him. San Francisco already have Deebo and Jalen Hurd on the roster who are versatile playmakers themselves. Adding Shenault to that list would give Kyle Shanahan infinite options at his disposal as he creates his gameplans each week.