2020 NFL Draft WR prospect reset: Whose stock is up and down, who needs big Senior Bowl and combine, and more
Maybe you've heard: This wide receiver class is bursting at the seams with talent
With just one bowl game remaining -- a rather large one, the national title game between LSU and Clemson -- and a few underclassmen declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft seemingly every day, it's time to reset what is the most top-heavy and deep class at wide receiver in at least the past five years.
Jerry Jeudy, Tee Higgins, and CeeDee Lamb are the Round 1 headliners, but there's truly a surplus of talented pass-catchers in this group. The wideouts are listed here based on how their bowl performance impacted their stock and/or simply where they likely stand heading into the pre-draft process.
Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
Jeudy was a sleeping giant for a while -- two 100-yard games in his final eight of 2019 -- then awoke against Michigan in the Citrus Bowl with 204 yards on six grabs, including an 85-yard touchdown on Alabama's first pass of the game. His violent route-running sharpness was on full display, as was his incendiary acceleration after the catch on another long catch later in the Crimson Tide win. At the end of somewhat of a down year after winning the Biletnikoff Award as a sophomore, Jeudy finished his Alabama career on a high note, which should help to restore his draft stock a bit heading into the pre-draft process.
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Oklahoma flopped against LSU in the CFP semifinal, but Lamb accounted for more than half of the Sooners' passing yards and reeled in a 51-yard bomb from Jalen Hurts early in the game. In his last two contests -- the Big 12 title game and the Peach Bowl -- Lamb had 12 grabs for 392 yards. Yeah, stock up.
Tee Higgins, Clemson
Higgins only had four catches for 33 yards in the CFP semifinal win over Ohio State, and while the comeback from Clemson has justifiably mostly been credited to Trevor Lawrence, the Tigers offense was night and day with and without Higgins on the field. When he returned in the second half -- after suffering what appeared to be a head injury on a nearly ridiculous sideline grab with two defenders in close -- the Clemson attack started to move the football again. Higgins has a big-time matchup with Kristian Fulton in the national title game.
Johnson had a glorious ending to his illustrious career at Minnesota by scorching a talented Auburn secondary to the tune of 204 yards on 12 receptions with two scores, both of which were of the highlight variety. One was a 73-yard catch and run; the other was a catch of the year candidate in the red zone. The senior made the grab with one hand and somehow got a foot down. The surprising Senior Bowl snub reminded everyone he's one of the best receivers in a loaded class with his superb showing against an SEC defense in victory.
Justin Jefferson, LSU
As has been the case for essentially everyone on the LSU offense, Jefferson has experienced a remarkably productive season. However, a large chunk of his production came on wide-open deep crossers from the slot or quick underneath routes. Against Oklahoma, in a game in which he scored four touchdowns in the first half, Jefferson was able to demonstrate his contested-catch skills down the field. He finished with 14 snags for 227 yards and the four scores, which absolutely boosted his stock a great deal. At 6-foot-3 and around 200 pounds, Jefferson looks one of the premier big slots in this class.
The hyper-productive slot wideout with track speed demonstrated his acumen as a downfield threat in the bowl win over Utah with three grabs for 92 yards and a score, and two of his catches were outstanding, over-the-shoulder snags. While not the twitchiest slot option in the class, the power in Duvernay's legs allows him to burst off of the snap and after a break in his route. He caught 106 passes for 1,386 yards with nine touchdowns this past season.
K.J. Hamler, Penn State
Hamler is an electric athlete, there's no doubting that. But more volume to his production in 2019 would've obviously helped his stock, although the drop in quality of Penn State's quarterback play must be taken into account. Hamler finished with four straight games with fewer than 60 yards receiving, including a two-catch, 46-yard effort in Penn State's win over Memphis in the Cotton Bowl. Was the outing disastrous for his stock? No. But it likely didn't help it.
Henry Ruggs, Alabama
Another explosive, take-the-lid-off-the-defense burner, Ruggs was unstoppable scoring machine early in the 2019 campaign. Five of his first 16 touches as a junior went for touchdowns. He also had two 100-yard receiving contests in that time frame. While he did manage four more touchdowns down the stretch, Ruggs did not eclipse the 100-yard mark again at Alabama and had five games with fewer than 50 receiving yards, including his Citrus Bowl performance with 27 yards on two receptions. Ruggs might be the fastest player in this class, and he's twitchy, but he won't check the production box for many teams.
Notable Senior Bowl participants
Gandy-Golden showed out all season for the Flames and capped his super-productive senior campaign with a touchdown on five grabs in the Cure Bowl. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds with decent wiggle and outstanding ball skills, AGG will be one of the top big wideouts in this class.
Proche reeled in a ridiculous 204 passes over the past two years as SMU's ultra-reliable pass-catching option, and his final game with the Mustangs, while a defeat, reminded everyone as to how complete of a receiver he is. Proche had nine catches for 86 yards with one touchdown, and he had a circus grab overturned by review. He also ran over a defensive back after the catch. The smaller but smooth receiver believes he can catch any ball thrown even remotely close to him, and he typically brings it in.
Michael Pittman, USC
The 6-foot-4 senior closed on a tear with four 100-plus outings in his last six. At his size, with his length, Pittman is going to naturally be a jump-ball specialist. But in his final year with the Trojans, he showcased crisp route-running skills and just how difficult he can be to bring to the turf once the ball is in his hands.
Aiyuk isn't going to break ankles on a route with multiple cuts in it. But he might take a slant 80 yards to the house. He's a long-strider down the field and gets to top speed in a hurry. His 81-yard touchdown against Oregon basically sealed that huge win for the Sun Devils. Aiyuk nearly averaged 19 yards per grab this past season on 65 receptions.
Jennings is another big-bodied wideout who's obviously strong in traffic down the field but is also a nightmare to tackle in the open field thanks to a sturdy frame and running back like contact balance. He was held back by his quarterbacks at Tennessee and is a prime candidate to be a better pro than the player he was in college.
After a collegiate career arguably more impressive than anyone in this class from a longevity perspective, Edwards has seemingly been "off the radar" for a while now after suffering an injury in early November. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound wideout caught 44 passes for 590 yards with four scores as a true freshman all the way back in 2016 then went over 60 catches and 700 yards in each of the next three seasons. Edwards has legitimate high-point skills and explodes down the field after catching a screen faster than you'd expect for someone of his size and with his "possession receiver" label.
Claypool is one of the few "possible tight end conversion" wideout prospects in this class, as he's listed at 6-foot-4 and 229 pounds and his movement skills lean more tight end than they do receiver. That's not to say he's a stiff, lumbering pass catcher, Claypool is just more impressive in a straight line than he is making cuts, and he consistently boxes out down the field.
Collin Johnson, Texas
Johnson is even taller than Claypool at 6-foot-6 and a listed 220 pounds, although he looks heavier than that on film. His separation abilities shined in 2018 but an injury-plagued senior campaign pushed him down quite a bit. He had his fewest receptions, yards, and touchdowns since his freshman season but will get an opportunity to redeem himself to certain degree at the Senior Bowl. Johnson may have the largest natural catch radius of any receiver in the class based on his height, length, and leaping ability.
Likely to be forgotten until the combine
Reagor is arguably the biggest enigma in the entire receiver class. In terms of speed and sudden movement that equates to easy separation as well as major yards-after-the-catch production, the former TCU star is close to Jeudy. Seriously. But his quarterback situation was brutal in college, so his statistics don't pop. As a junior, Reagor will wait until the combine to showcase his athletic talents.
Laviska Shenault, Colorado
Another junior entrant in this draft, Shenault is a more household name than Reagor because there was more hype for him entering 2019. At 6-foot-2 and 220-ish pounds, Shenault is a moose in the open field and flashed awesome ball-tracking skills during his time at Colorado. Injuries and average-at-best quarterback quality held him back, but he'll likely be on the first-round radar when all is said and done with the pre-draft process.
A junior college transfer, Hightower flourished in his two seasons at Boise State. He averaged over 16 yards per catch in 2018 then 18.5 as a senior with a grand total of 14 touchdowns. And beyond the stats, Hightower's a fascinating prospect because he's a natural burner who just so happens to be 6-foot-2. He's listed at 172 pounds but has to be bigger than that. Tall downfield threats are a fun luxury to have in the NFL.
Hodgins isn't far behind Higgins in terms of pure ball skills, and he's around the same size as the Clemson star at 6-foot-4 and 209 pounds. His statistics improved in each of his three seasons with the Beavers and culminated with an 86-catch, 1,171-yard, 13-score masterpiece tucked away in Corvallis, Oregon on a 5-7 team that was a blast offensively but couldn't stop anybody. Back to his ball skills -- I'm telling you, just throw it to a spot in which the official scorer would technically call it a target for Hodgins, and he will go up and get it. In 2019, he showcased sharper cuts, so the all-important separation aspect of his game improved too.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan
I have a feeling Peoples-Jones is going to go earlier than people expect. He never lived up to the top-recruit hype at Michigan but is probably going to test pretty darn well at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds with athleticism that does show up on film as a route-runner. Consistency evaded him in college, but he runs like a deer and flashed polished ball-tracking capabilities in college.
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