2020 NFL Draft receiver rankings: CeeDee Lamb at No. 1 in absolutely stacked pass-catcher group
You're well aware of CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy, but which other prospects should you know as we head into draft season?
This is the draft you want your team to pick a wide receiver. Actually, selecting two wouldn't be a bad idea.
The likes of CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, and Tee Higgins will be off the board rather quickly, and for good reason. But the depth at the position is downright insane and indicative of how important receivers are to the college game today.
Just last year, Day 2 picks at receiver like D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown, Terry McLaurin, and Deebo Samuel had the best rookie pass-catcher seasons , and their successes serve as a reminder that it's very possible to find instant-impact wideouts outside of Round 1.
The prospect rankings below are based on the CBS Sports composite rankings. Each prospect is listed with his overall rating, which roughly translates as follows: 90s are for players considered Round 1 locks, 80s should go in the first three rounds, 70s are expected to be drafted and 60s are on the draft bubble.
1. CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma, 93
Lamb has quietly ascended up boards as film sessions have gotten into full swing over the past few months. Why is he higher than Jeudy on our board, you ask? Because he provides the same, electric yards after the catch ability at a bigger size and with more experience on the outside.
Also, Lamb didn't have a relatively disappointing season like Jeudy in 2019. He had 62 receptions (after 65 in 2018) for 1,327 yards (21.4 yards per snag) with 14 touchdowns after 11 scores as a sophomore.
Catching passes from Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts in his three-year stay in Norman with the Sooners, Lamb's complete game led to 32 touchdowns at an even 19 yards per reception on 173 catches. The only concern with Lamb is the fact that he rarely faced press coverage and will enter the league from the most creative, wide-open offense in college football. Jeudy will probably prove to be faster, yet Lamb has plenty of juice and made many ridiculous contested catches in college. Expect him to go off the board in the top 10.
2. Jerry Jeudy, Alabama, 92
Jeudy just moves different. From his ultra-snappy routes, to his dazzling, multi-cut runs with the ball in his hands, to his go routes that look like he was shot from a cannon, the former Biletnikoff Award winner was a prized recruit back in 2017 class (No. 3 receiver in the country per 247 Sports Composite) and erupted as a sophomore with 1,315 yards and 14 touchdowns.
He took a sizable step back in 2019, as fellow teammates Henry Ruggs, Devonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle took turns as the focal point of the Crimson Tide's passing attack, then Tagovailoa got injured in November.
Beyond just being a super-sudden, high-caliber athlete, Jeudy is clearly a technician with his routes, selling them with head fakes and subtle hip fakes to create separation at any portion of the field.
3. Henry Ruggs, Alabama, 90
Ruggs is a real threat to break John Ross' record time of 4.22 in the 40-yard dash. His speed on the field is easy to notice, even when running routes in the same receiver group as Jeudy.
While not a particularly high-volume pass catcher during his time at Alabama (98 catches in three years), Ruggs had a bananas touchdown rate, as 24 of those 98 receptions went for scores. And, he scored on a 75-yard end around in 2019. Importantly, Ruggs isn't just a linear speedster. His film shows twitchy movements off the line and when running short or intermediate routes. There will be some questions about the fact that he only having five games with at least five catches over the past two seasons, but no one on planet Earth will question Ruggs' burst and elite top gear.
4. Tee Higgins, Clemson, 89
Higgins, the No. 2 receiver recruit in the country in the 2017, did not disappoint for Dabo Swinney's club, as a dangerous downfield rebounder during the rise of Trevor Lawrence at quarterback.
Listed at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Higgins caught 59 passes in each of the past two seasons with a grand total of 25 touchdowns at a hefty 17.8 yards-per-catch average. After somewhat taking a back seat to freshman phenom Justyn Ross in 2018, Higgins was the clear-cut go-to target for Lawrence this past season and had seven 100-plus yard receiving games over the past two campaigns at Clemson.
While not a dynamic, change-of-direction wideout, Higgins understands how to change pace in his routes to lull defenders to sleep, has fluid movement skills, and boasts the best ball skills of any pass-catcher in this class. Seriously, his catch radius is unreal. Higgins routinely reels in any pass thrown in his general vicinity and is a magician near the sidelines on back-shoulder throws and instances when he needs to extend for the football then get his feet in bounds.
5. Laviska Shenault, Colorado, 88
I've repeatedly referred to Shenault as a horse in the open field, and at 6-2 and 220 pounds with twitchy movements and tremendous acceleration, I'm sticking with that human-to-animal comparison. Imagine trying to tackle a horse in an open field. Not happening.
With average quarterbacking, Shenault racked up 142 catches for 1,775 yards (12.5 per) and scored 10 total receiving touchdowns in his last two years at Colorado. He also reached the end zone seven times on the ground. Because of his running back like juking skills and plus contact balance, his coaching staff utilized him as a wildcat quarterback and on more end arounds and straight handoffs than any of the other top receivers in this class. Shenault accumulated 276 yards on his last 40 carries for the Buffaloes (6.9 yards per), so the team that drafts him will be adding that element its offense.
Red flags? Well, Shenault did have two quasi-mysterious injures in 2018 and 2019 and was held under 50 yards receiving in six of his 11 outings as a junior.
6. Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State, 86
Aiyuk's game is almost completely predicated on his speed down the football field, whether that be on a vertical route or after catching the ball on a slant. He's a home run hitter by the classic definition and has good size for the sprinter distinction and over 6-0 and around 200 pounds.
Aiyuk went the junior college route -- like Dede Westbrook, Marquise Brown, and Michael Gallup -- and after a rather pedestrian debut season (33 catches for 474 yards and four touchdowns) at Arizona State playing in the shadows of future first-rounder N'Keal Harry, Aiyuk exploded onto the scene as a senior.
He nearly reached the 1,200-yard plateau at a robust 18.3 yards-per-snag rate with eight scores catching passes from true freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels.
While not someone who ran a variety of routes at Arizona State, Aiyuk doesn't need to do so to create space between himself and the defender covering him.
7. Jalen Reagor, TCU, 86
Reagor is a smaller but rocked up and incredibly slippery, blazing fast wideout who plays bigger than his size thanks to high-quality ball-tracking and jump-ball skills in traffic.
He would likely be more universally liked had he played with better quarterback play during his time at TCU, and in 2018, when his passers were adequate, the speedster did have 1,061 yards on 72 catches (14.7 yards per) with nine touchdowns. To provide proper context on his 611-yard junior campaign, it represented the same percentage of his team's receiving yards (25%) as Justin Jefferson's 1,540 yards for LSU (25.5%) in 2019. Crazy, right?
There are some concentration drops on Reagor's film which are, in a way, counteracted by a handful of high-point grabs with coverage on him down the field. His super-smooth movements look so effortless -- both as a route runner and after the catch -- as is the case with his acceleration down the field. Reagor is a natural separator at all levels of the field and provides return ability.
8. Justin Jefferson, LSU, 84
Jefferson played second fiddle to Biletnikoff winner Ja'Marr Chase in LSU's legendarily prolific passing offense quarterbacked by Joe Burrow, and repeatedly was found on deep crossers, slants, and screens during the Tigers' perfect, national-title winning season.
Listed at 6-3 and 193 pounds, Jefferson is lanky-ish and plays with a basketball style against press coverage, attempting to win with shoulder fakes and wide crossover moves instead of hand use, efficient steps, or power. Despite the gigantic outburst in receiving production, Jefferson isn't one of the consensus top wideouts because much of his production was schemed, brilliant play designs and RPOs got him open for Burrow to find him, and he predominately spent his time in the slot.
Also, he doesn't look to be noticeably fast, especially compared to his 2020 draft class contemporaries.
9. K.J. Hamler, Penn State, 84
Hamler is one of the many incendiary wideouts in this class who seemingly plays with little rockets on his cleats. His acceleration off the snap is arguably as impressive as Lamb or Jeudy, and he sustains his threatening speed down the field. At under 6-0, he doesn't have traditional No. 1 receiver size, yet his highlight-reel plays are among the best in the class, and they're not all just deep connections down the field.
Hamler has loose hips, which allow him to maintain his balance after cutting or absorbing contact in the open field, and many times in 2019, he made difficult diving catches.
His tiny frame will hold him back against towering, physical cornerbacks, but Hamler does have familiarity running on the outside as well as in the slot, so he can easily be moved around to get him into advantageous situations. I'll be surprised if Hamler doesn't run somewhere in the 4.30s at the combine. He's that explosive.
10. Denzel Mims, Baylor, 83
Another springy wideout, Mims is a somewhat large downfield perimeter weapon with hops and high-level concentration to make circus grabs on long balls. While his nearly 6-3 frame doesn't allow him to really sink and rapidly change directions, he has just enough wiggle -- and plenty of physicality -- to combat press coverage, and he demonstrated sick route-running ability at the Senior Bowl.
Mims was a reliable big-play option on RPOs, digs, slants, and go routes during his career in Waco. During his final three seasons, he scored 28 touchdowns while averaging just under 16 yards per catch. While he'll be 23 during his rookie season, the Baylor product broke out in his age 19/20 season when he averaged 17.8 yards per catch during a 1,087-yard campaign.
11. Bryan Edwards, South Carolina, 83
With Edwards, you're getting one of the most complete receivers in the class. He is a smart route-runner, has crazy-good ball skills, and can weave through traffic to hit a big play on screen all at 6-3 and 215 pounds. And he had the most fascinating career of any of his contemporaries. Not the best, but the most fascinating. Edwards enrolled early at South Carolina and actually stepped on the field as a 17 year old (!) for the Gamecocks. During that true freshman season, he had 44 catches for 590 yards with four touchdowns. After that, Edwards was a steady contributor with more than 50 catches and 775 yards in each of the next three years.
12. Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan, 82
Peoples-Jones is a tall wideout with good build who can really run for his size and has a flair for making the outrageous diving grab. While he appears to be a high-caliber athlete, he's not deft at creating separation and is more of a build-up speed receiver than a dynamic accelerator. He was the No. 1 receiver recruit in the nation (ahead of Higgins and Jeudy) in the class of 2017 but never really lived up to the hype at Michigan.
13 Tyler Johnson, Minnesota, 81
Johnson is a smart, well-rounded big slot who starred at Minnesota for a long time and pieced together back-to-back nearly identical seasons for the Golden Gophers as a junior and senior. While not the most explosive receiver prospect in the class, Johnson is keenly aware of multiple ways how to beat press at the line, flashed phenomenal ball skills on errant passes in his career, and is a springy running back in space with outstanding vision. He accounted for at least 40% of Minnesota's receiving yards in each of his final three years there. That feat is incredibly rare.
14. Devin Duvernay, Texas, 81
Duvernay is interesting because he's not the traditional slot receiver who can shake defenders in small spaces but isn't particularly fast down the field. The Texas product is actually a bit stiffer than most slot prospects yet boasts track speed. After 41 snags in 2018, Duvernay erupted for 101 receptions at just over 13 yards per grab with nine scores in 2019.
15. Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty, 80
In some ways, Gandy-Golden is a classic rebounder type to plug on the outside and let him win jump balls down the field. But he's not a plodder by any stretch of the imagination and displayed the shiftiness needed to get clean releases off the line in most of his one-on-one reps at the Senior Bowl. Gandy-Golden was a junior-college transfer who starred over the past two seasons at Liberty and produced regardless of the competition he faced. He only had three games with fewer than 40 yards receiving and had 11 100-plus yard performances.
16. Isaiah Hodgins, Oregon State, 80
Hodgins is a tall, decently filled out double-move specialist with hands that make you think he's wearing stickum on his gloves. At around 6-4 and 209 pounds, Hodgins naturally has a huge catch radius, and he gets to the football at every inch of that radius with great regularity. He's adequately twitchy for his size and once he gets shifting gears, his top-end speed is solid. Hodgins' statistics improved in each of his three years at Oregon State and culminated with a 86-grab, 1,171-yard, 13-touchdown season in 2019.
17. Michael Pittman, USC, 79
Son of Michael Pittman Sr., former NFL running back, Pittman was blessed with above-average athleticism compared to other 6-4, 220-ish pound wide receivers. He has strong hands and gets open more frequently than you would expect for a sizable, outside option. He lacks in the explosiveness department yet finds a way to accumulate yards after the catch. In 2019, Pittman caught 101 passes with 11 touchdowns at 12.6 yards per reception.
18. Chase Claypool, Notre Dame, 79
Claypool is essentially a tight end playing wide receiver at nearly 6-5 and 229 pounds. He was a linear, one-break route runner at Notre Dame but repeatedly overwhelmed defensive backs with power at the line and during the route and especially at the catch point. He isn't going to run away from many NFL cornerbacks or safeties but can be a useful option on a team with a quarterback willing to give his targets a chance when they're seemingly covered. Claypool caught 13 touchdowns in 13 games as a senior.
19. Lynn Bowden, Kentucky, 78
Bowden's acceleration, efficient cuts, and vision are his strongest attributes as a playmaker. He had to take over quarterback duties at Kentucky in 2019 and did an amazing job out of the Wildcat for Kentucky. He's really an offensive weapon more than a pure wide receiver, and scouts will love that he essentially demonstrated his yards-after-the-catch skill as a runner frequently this past season. Bowden carried the ball 185 times at 7.9 yards per pop after a sophomore season in which he caught 67 passes for 745 years (11.1 yards per).
20. K.J. Hill, Ohio State, 77
Hill could be this year's Terry McLaurin, although he's not expected to run the 4.31 his fellow Buckeye timed in the 40 at last year's combine. Somewhat overlooked in an Ohio State offense that liked to spread it around over the past few years, Hill is a stellar route-runner capable of generating separation on any type of route imaginable and won't drop many passes. His lack of size shows up on film down the field, and he was almost primarily utilized out of the slot during his long tenure at Ohio State.
21. Jauan Jennings, Tennessee, 77
Jennings is one of the most imposing, large receivers in the class and as a former dual-threat quarterback recruit, he's seemingly impossible to bring to the turf at times. There are some contested catches on his film, but the Tennessee product has build-up speed rather than explosiveness and is somewhat slow in and out of his breaks. However, he's a huge running back after the catch with excellent vision and plus contact balance.
22. Gabriel Davis, UCF, 76
Davis is one of the sleepers at the receiver spot in this class because despite not running an enormous route tree in UCF's Air Raid offense, he has good size at 6-3 and 212 pounds and some twitch to go along with deceptive down-the-field speed. He also proved to be able to track the football into his mitts very well at UCF. In 2019, he caught 12 touchdowns and reeled in 72 passes for 1,241 yards (30.1% market share). While it may take time for him to run a variety of routes, Davis has the size, athleticism, and pure speed to take the lid off defenses immediately, and he's creative after the catch.
23. Van Jefferson, Florida, 76
Jefferson's dad is a former NFL wide receiver and has been a wide receivers coach in the NFL since 2007. Those facts show in Jefferson's game. He's a perfectionist running routes and losing defenders at the line of scrimmage often. After he started his career at Ole Miss, Jefferson transferred to Florida. Although he never was a high-volume option, he scorched defensive backs at the Senior Bowl. He lacks speed, but his route-running prowess will benefit him greatly during his acclimation process to the NFL.
24. Collin Johnson, Texas, 76
There's been draft buzz about Johnson for multiple years now, as he surprised many by returning for his senior year in 2019. At 6-6, he towers over every cornerback he sees and plays with a very physical style at the line of scrimmage to counter his lack of lateral movement skills.Johnson will have problems creating separation at the next level but is a power forward down the field.
25. James Proche, SMU, 75
Proche is a savvy, ball-skills specialist out of the slot with average athletic talents but enough quickness to get open at the short-to-intermediate portions of the field. He was a tremendous possession wideout from the slot over the past two seasons at SMU and hit some big plays earlier in his career while Courtland Sutton was the star on the outside.
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