2020 NFL Draft: From Jerry Jeudy to CeeDee Lamb to sleepers, 14 wide receivers to keep your eyes on
The 2020 wide receiver class is absolutely loaded with youthful and dynamic talents
Prepare yourself for this class of wide receiver prospects to get heaped with praise from the outset of the college football season all the way until Day 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft.
With the likes of Jerry Jeudy, Laviska Shenault, CeeDee Lamb and Tee Higgins flashing outstanding traits in their sophomore seasons, the top of the pass-catcher group is young and explosive.
The 2014 draft class is the recent gold standard at the position. Odell Beckham. Mike Evans. Davante Adams. Brandin Cooks. Allen Robinson. Jarvis Landry. The 2019 class was somewhat of a downer. So were the previous four before it. But the 2020 class has a legitimate shot to put close to as many stud, truly instant impact wideouts in the NFL as we saw in 2014.
This is our definitive scouting primer on all the top receivers in the 2020 receiver class, and a few more names are bound to pop up throughout the season.
Cream of the crop
Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
NFL comparison: Amari Cooper
Jeudy is a 6-foot-1, 192-pound big play waiting to happen. At 19 years old in 2018, the former No. 3 receiver recruit in the country per 247 Sports became one of the youngest winners ever of the Biletnikoff Award as college football's top wideout. He accounted for a very respectable 27% of Alabama's receiving yards last season (1,315 yards) on 68 catches and scored 14 touchdowns.
Jeudy's game is predicated on an amazing ability to shift into top gear almost instantly after the snap along with elite-level suddenness as a route runner and with the ball in his hands after the catch. He consistently stops on a dime in the open field, leaves defensive backs in the dust, and because of his power to accelerate rapidly, it takes a blink of an eye to change directions. Jeudy's cuts almost look painful to his body. He deploys AND1 mixtape-type crossovers much more often than subtle twitchy slashes.
He's a natural hands catcher with plus body control but has a somewhat spindly frame. He will run by most defenders in college football and is just as frightening catching a five-yard slant as he is on a post. Despite his status as the No. 1 wideout in the Crimson Tide offense last year, Jeudy was primarily utilized out of the slot, not necessarily a bad thing. Just unusual. He enters his junior season in Tuscaloosa with the most hype for a receiver prospect since Julio Jones.
Laviska Shenault, Colorado
NFL comparison: Sammy Watkins
Shenault erupted in 2018 with 1,011 yards on 86 receptions with seven receiving touchdowns in just nine games last season. His 1,011 yards accounted for a 33.7 percent of Colorado's yards through the air, a tremendous figure for a wideout in his second-to-last season and ridiculous when considering he missed three contests.
Most used as a gadgety, quick-game target, Shenault is an effortlessly dynamic mover with great long speed to take the top off a defense when needed. He has smooth agility that allows him to not lose much momentum on a juke, and he's a load to bring to the turf thanks to impressive contact balance at 6-2 and 220 pounds.
Shenault proved he's not simply a screen and go route wideout on a handful of occasions last season -- and showed he can track it into his hands down the field -- but more intricacy on classic routes in 2019 would go a long way in him being categorized as a complete receiver.
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
NFL comparison: Allen Robinson
I'm enamored by everything Lamb's already demonstrated he's capable of as a receiver. While not as flashy as some of the other names in his loaded receiver class, he's probably the most ready -- right now -- to step into an NFL offense and be a No. 1 receiver on the outside. I'm serious.
Lamb averaged slightly more yards per catch than Marquise Brown last season and even with a first-round pick in his wideout group, the sophomore still accounted for a solid 25.6 percent of Oklahoma's receiving yards and scored 11 touchdowns.
At 6-2 and 191 pounds, Lamb has good size to play on the perimeter. And his game checks all the boxes. He creates separation at all levels of the field with precise routes, uses noticeable quickness to beat press at the line, is outstanding in contested-catch/high-point situations and reasonably talented after the catch. Also, he possesses ideal body control to make tough snags near the sideline. Lamb doesn't have incendiary speed but has enough juice to threaten down the field, and his ball skills make him a legitimate deep-ball option. I can totally envision a scenario in which Lamb generates the least buzz of the first-round receivers then ultimately has the steadiest NFL career of anyone in his class.
Jalen Reagor, TCU
NFL comparison: Stefon Diggs
Reagor is a 5-11, 195-pound nightmare to tackle in the open field. His movements are the smoothest of any receiver prospect in the 2020 class. The TCU star was blessed with incredible long speed to go along with instant acceleration off the line and once he has the football in his hands.
After averaging 17.5 yards per catch with eight scores as a freshman in 2017, Reagor more than doubled his reception total (33 to 72) and accumulated 1,061 yards with nine touchdowns in 2018. And those 1,061 yards don't even tell the whole story about how productive he was. Reagor accounted for 38.5 percent of the Horned Frog receiving yards, a super-high figure for a wideout in what likely was his second-to-last collegiate season.
Despite his lack of imposing size, Reagor's leaping ability and ball skills made him surprisingly effective in contested-catch situations, but in general, he was significantly held back by a wildly inaccurate quarterback duo at TCU last season. Because of his twitchiness, forward lean, and ease at which he changes directions, you want Reagor running double moves or intermediate routes with multiple breaks. He is an elite separation-generating receiver prospect.
Tee Higgins, Clemson
NFL comparison: Tyrell Williams
Higgins is a towering receiver at 6-4 and 205 pounds, and the first aspect of his game that pops on film is his soft hands. Rarely -- if ever -- do you see him make a catch with his body. He reels in passes well outside his frame often in contested-catch situations and simply when a throw isn't perfectly on target.
All that means Higgins has a gigantic catch radius, which after the ability to get open is a quarterback's best friend. Higgins has great long speed as well, and if given a free release, he can take the lid off any coverage. He's a gazelle in the open field, a long-strider who routinely runs away from defensive backs.
And if he's not given a free release, Higgins has displayed the ability to beat press at the line of scrimmage with advanced hand work and/or quick crossover moves. Some tall, somewhat skinny wideouts typically have problems beating press at the line because of a unrefined hand work and or limited quickness to shake smaller corners. Higgins doesn't have either of those problems, which is part of the reason he's such a dangerous vertical threat. He could stand to add some strength, which would really round out his already impressive game. Higgins averaged over 20 yards per grab as a freshman and was just below 16 yards per reception on 59 catches with 12 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2018.
Eyeing first-round conversation
Collin Johnson, Texas
NFL comparison: Mike Williams
Johnson is a new-age possession target at 6-6 and 220 pounds with deceptive athleticism, especially when diving/jumping for the football. He lumbers a bit when getting downfield or when attempting to beat press at the line but makes up for relatively slow acceleration with plus ball skills.
Actually outproduced by Lil'Jordan Humphrey last season, Johnson still accounted for a respectable 27.2 percent of the Longhorns' receiving yards, and he upped his touchdown figure from two in 2017 to seven in 2018.
Johnson legitimately plays like a rock-solidly built rebound-specialist at the power forward spot on the basketball court. If he's able to display more efficiency in his releases against tight man coverage, he can move onto the first-round radar. Don't be surprised if he goes over 10 touchdowns this season at Texas.
Bryan Edwards, South Carolina
NFL comparison: Michael Thomas
Edwards has been productive from the moment he stepped onto a collegiate football field. As a freshman at South Carolina in 2016, the 6-3, 215-pound wideout had 44 catches for 590 yards with four touchdowns. In 2017, his line jumped to 64-793-5. Even with Deebo Samuel back in 2018, Edwards posted a decent 23.8 percent receiving-yard market share on 55 catches (846 yards) with seven scores.
At 6-3 and 215 pounds, Edwards has traditional boundary wideout size and knows how to use his large frame to shield defenders. A gifted high-pointer with subtle wiggle in space and plus contact balance, Edwards' game features a nice blend of chain-moving traits and yards-after-the-catch skills that lead to a relatively complete game.
He's not close to being the twitchiest nor the fastest receiver prospect in the 2020 class, but Edwards consistently gets the job done. He had at least three catches in every game last year and seven contests with at least 50 receiving yards. With Samuel off to the 49ers, Edwards is in line to be the Gamecocks' No. 1 target in 2019. I think he has a 1,000-yard plus season with double-digit touchdowns in him.
Day 2 with something to prove
Ty Johnson, Minnesota
NFL comparison: Davante Adams
Johnson might be the most "natural" wideout of any prospect at his position in this class. From super-smooth routes to repeated hands catches to explosiveness, and running-back like vision after the catch, there's not much of which Johnson is incapable on the football field.
Well, actually, he's not incredibly fast down the field and more strength when beating press would make him a master in that area. But his springiness and creativity with the ball in his hands make him a big-play threat. He'll carry a hefty 15.6 yards-per-reception average into his senior season at Minnesota, and he dominated the team's passing game in 2018. Johnson accounted for an otherworldly 43% of the Gophers' receiving yards last season. At 6-2 and 205 pounds, he has requisite outside receiver size and has proven he can thrive in the slot.
Henry Ruggs, Alabama
NFL comparison: Emmanuel Sanders
Ruggs is a cheetah. He's easily one of the most effortless speed receivers I've ever scouted. Beyond that, he has well above-average twitch to change directions, and shot-out-of-a-cannon burst off the snap. His forward lean is ridiculous. In high school, Ruggs ran a personal-best 10.53 in the hundred. For context, John Ross, the fastest man in (officially recorded) combine history in the 40-yard dash (4.22) had a personal-best time of 10.66 in the 100-meter dash. But Ruggs is not all speed and no polish. He doesn't have the most reliable hands, but rarely allows the ball to get into his body, and down the field his ball-tracking is stellar. Because he's so fast, his contact balance is impressive too. Weak arm tackle attempts glance off him. Ruggs just needs more polish (and strength) beating press at the line when facing physical corners.
At 6-0 and 190 pounds, Ruggs has good, not great size, but his frame fits the profile of a frightening downfield (and efficient YAC) pass catcher. He's shown the ability to run explosive jerk routes at the short levels of the field and can hit home runs from anywhere on the field on a shallow cross. Obviously, he get fly vertically too. After averaging 19.1 yards per grab as a true freshman in 2017, Ruggs nearly quadrupled his reception total (12 to 46) and managed 741 yards -- 16.1 yards per -- with 11 touchdowns last season. With Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle, and Devonta Smith, Ruggs isn't likely to be a receiving-yard market share star, but his supercharged athleticism will make him a hot commodity come draft season.
Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State
NFL Comparison: James Washington
Last season in Stillwater, Wallace debuted as the Cowboys' go-to target with 86 catches for 1,491 yards with 12 touchdowns. His receiving-yard market share was 37%. That's a hefty figure for a receiver prospect in his final season in college. Wallace registered that as a 19-year-old redshirt sophomore.
Oklahoma runs a classic Air Raid system in which its wideouts are utilized on a variety of routes off the vertical stem. Wallace thrived getting down the field last year and flashed outstanding leaping ability and ball skills to come down with a plethora of passes in tight overage. Wallace looks like a 40-plus inch vertical type of wideout.
His game is almost solely predicated on his long speed. While not someone who takes forever to get into top gear, he's not a burst/twitch wideout and is most effective moving North-South. With more of a physical nature at the line, Wallace can further his game as one of the premier downfield receivers in this loaded class.
Names looking to make a move
Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan
NFL comparison: Jordan Matthews
Just ahead of Jeudy and Higgins, Peoples-Jones was the No. 1 receiver recruit in the country in the 2017 class, per 247 Sports. And while he hasn't risen as astronomically as the No. 2 and No. 3 wideouts in that class, he's certainly on the draft radar heading into his true junior season.
Though DPJ only accounted for 21.8 percent of Michigan's receiving yards in 2018, he flashed the natural hands, deceptive long speed, and especially excellent body control, all of which were likely major parts of why he was such a highly touted recruit. From a skill standpoint, did Peoples-Jones improve as a wideout from his freshman season? I didn't see a major jump, but that could be coming in 2019, as his statistics did get noticeably better from 2017 to 2018. His releases are good, not great. More power in his upper body and nuance when swiping cornerback's hands away would allow him to take the next step as a wideout.
With big-bodied teammate Nico Collins -- Michigan's leading receiver last season -- still in the mix, Peoples-Jones is unlikely to be the program's clear-cut No. 1. But at a sleek 6-2 and 208 pounds with smooth hips and above-average speed for his size, DPJ has the makings of a riser during the pre-draft process.
Kendrick Rogers, Texas A&M
NFL comparison: Marcell Ateman
Rogers was a low-volume wideout in A&M's offense last season with two marquee games that really popped. Against Clemson, in the Aggies' narrow defeat, the 6-4, 204-pounder with tentacles for arms, had seven receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown. In that game alone, he made a handful of ridiculous high-point grabs that showcased his massive catch radius.
Then, in the seven-overtime win over LSU, Rogers had six receptions for 53 yards with two touchdowns and again put freakish high-point skills on display. While he certainly could grow into his frame, Rogers already looks pretty filled out. A slow-out-of-his-stance mover with limited long speed and average-at-best wiggle, Rogers' game is centered around the reckless abandon with which he attacks the football in the air, his length, and leaping ability. He needs a much more productive season than the 27-336-5 line from 2018, but the redshirt junior has elite rebounding skills on the outside.
Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty
NFL comparison: Brian Quick
Predominantly used as a jump-ball, go-route receiver at Liberty, AGG has dominated his competition in college. He accounted for 31.2% of the receiving yards (1,066 yards) with 10 touchdowns in 2017. Last season, the 6-4, 220-pounder upped his receiving-yard market share to 33% on 1,037 yards with 10 more scores.
He tracks it extremely well and has long arms that cast a wide catch-radius net. Despite his large size, Gandy-Golden is decently slippery and has deceptive long speed after the catch, but neither of those traits will scare NFL defensive backs. He has very minimal experience beating press at the line. AGG does possess the ability to make one dynamic cut per route -- which mostly have been slants -- and he shields the football with his big body very well.
K.J. Hill, Ohio State
NFL comparison: Randall Cobb
Hill is a short-area specialist, with shooting-guard like quickness in and out of his breaks. Despite his jagged athleticism, Hill looks like a quicker-than-fast wideout. He hasn't been featured down the field often at Ohio State, especially relative to his usage in the short-passing game.
After the catch, Hill morphs into a multi-cut capable running back and has plus contact balance through tackles. Hill's receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns through the air have increased in each of his first three seasons in Columbus. With Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin, and Johnnie Dixon off to the NFL, Hill will be the elder statesman for the Buckeyes this season and should be Justin Field's top target. In a pure West Coast system, Hill can be a electric receiver in the NFL.
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