Josh Norris


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Wide Receiver Rankings

Saturday, March 4, 2017

If you read nothing else but the rankings, be sure to listen to my podcast with Matt Harmon on this receiver class. It is embedded below and a link to download can be found here.

As you can tell, I separated outside and slot receivers. I’m sure there will be crossover in the NFL, but this is how I see it. I also listed receivers not ranked below. They will be added when I feel comfortable with their evaluations.

Athletic profiles, drop rates and other important figures will be added to this ranking as it progresses during the process. Enjoy, and you can argue with @JoshNorris. And I lied in this tweet.

1. Corey Davis, Western Michigan

Where He Wins: A 6-foot-3 receiver who can dominate in the small game: creating separation, sustaining it and picking up yards after the catch. Has run practically every route from the outside and the slot, both sides of the field. Big frame allows him to naturally win contested in some opportunities. Aggressive for a receiver after the catch and on final contact.

Ranking explanation: The premiere receiver in this class and just turned 22 years old. Only question is if he can be a focal point of a passing game, a true No. 1 as some put it.

2. Mike Williams, Clemson

Where He Wins: Very good at contested catches. If he has the positional advantage and the pass is on target, it is over. Converts some real circus catches, the game slows down for him on tipped passes. Creates separation on inside breaking routes. Wins vertically by playing big.

Ranking explanation: Has a clear area where he wins that translates and works in the NFL. Will somewhat rely on a QB willing to test tight coverage.

3. Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech

Where He Wins: Explosion is ridiculous. Wins both in the slot and outside. Wins contested despite 5-foot-11 frame. One of the best I’ve seen after the catch. Threat as a kick returner.

Ranking explanation: Has a chance to be the premiere receiver in this class. Yep. Refinement, comfort, nuance… if those buzzwords enter his game, watch out.

4. Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky

Where He Wins: Creates separation and sustains it, both underneath and downfield. Displayed plenty of success both inside and outside. Acceleration and explosion is there. Will try to win contested catches, leaves the ground at 5-foot-11 thanks to 32-plus inch arms. Can create after the catch.

Ranking explanation: Big plays and a consistent output from the slot and outside. Athletic expectations are high. Played on just the right side for majority of final season.

5. John Ross, Washington

Where He Wins: Vertical receiver where everything plays off of his downfield game. Speed is outstanding, as is quickness to break off routes to the outside. Kick returner and yards after catch threat. Outstanding red zone and end zone production as well.

Outlook: No receiver’s medicals are more important than Ross’ A meniscus injury in both knees, a torn ACL, microfracture surgery and surgery to repair a torn labrum after the Combine. How he still has his level of explosion is astounding.

6. ArDarius Stewart, Alabama

Where He Wins: Big plays. Produced the best yards after the catch in the 2017 class last season. Speed to separate downfield and also flashes leaving his feet for contested catches when coming back to the football.

Ranking explanation: Turned 23 years old in December. Dealt with subpar quarterback play in 2016. Is he more than a one trick player? Even if not, that one trick is impactful.

7. Chris Godwin, Penn State

Where He Wins: The best contested catch receiver in this class (85.7%). Sideline awareness is special to convert plays others cannot. Displays balance and power after the catch.

Ranking explanation: Looking forward to seeing Godwin’s athleticism. Is he a cheaper version of Mike Williams, in terms of specializing in contested catches?

8. Chad Hansen, Cal

Where He Wins: Speed and size from the outside. Can win after the catch. Flashes outstanding catch radius with acrobatics. Can turn a screen into a big play. Creates even more separation when the ball is in the air.

Ranking explanation: Still learning the position. Solely played on the right side and limited to a few routes. Despite catch radius, produced poor contested catch rate. Just one season of real production. Just turned 22 years old.

9. Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M

Where He Wins: Gives off a Marvin Jones vibe. Downfield and sideline playmaker who creates slivers of separation at the catch point to convert bucket grabs.

Ranking explanation: Just turned 22 years old. Can his game be more than those vertical routes on the right third of the field?

10. JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC

Where He Wins: Crossing routes and downfield routes over the middle. Can be good after the catch when hit in stride. Nice speed/size combination.

Ranking Explanation: The youngest receiver in this class. Posted huge numbers in 2015. Corey Davis after taxes?

11. Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma

Where He Wins: Impressive after the catch. Body control is very real, tight ropes sideline on a few occasions and adjusting to off target passes. Another vertical option.

Ranking Explanation: Played on the outside at Oklahoma, but his game might be best from the slot.

12. Jalen Robinette, Air Force

Where He Wins: Tall, vertical receiver with athleticism. Plays with explosion in his game. Flashes winning in traffic over the middle.

Ranking explanation: This is a difficult projection since Robinette is exiting a run-based offense that threw vertically when passing. He looked good during East-West Shrine week, but struggled after arriving late to the Senior Bowl. Robby Anderson-like.

13. Isaiah Ford, Virginia Tech

Where He Wins: “Solid” in a number of areas. Can create separation with body control, can separate with body control, can win contested thanks to body control. Displays very good ball tracking.

Ranking Explanation: I don’t see an area where Ford shines. I don’t see an extra gear to his game. Maybe he shows it when working out?

14. K.D. Cannon, Baylor

Where He Wins: Right side vertical routes. Everything is built off his speed. Post, comeback, curl. Acceleration and speed.

Ranking Explanation: Will his game expand from this linear style? Or is he Sammie Coates?

15. Noah Brown, Ohio State

Where He Wins: Natural athleticism and smoothness are evident. Won contested in the end zone. Sample size is so, so small.

16. Amara Darboh, Michigan

17. Speedy Noil, Texas A&M

18. Shelton Gibson, West Virginia

19. Chad Williams, Grambling

20. Mack Hollins, UNC

Slot Types

1. Zay Jones, ECU

Where He Wins: Short and intermediate receiver who wastes zero movement in his routes. Will extend away from his body to come down with off target passes. Allows him to play big.

Ranking Explanation: On this list, I think he has the best chance of succeeding on the outside.

2. Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington

Where He Wins: Makes the most of manufactured space with great play speed after the catch. Creates a sliver of space to win in tight situations with subtle hesitation or push offs, an uncommon trait for an on the ground receiver.

Ranking Explanation: Will be 24 years old prior to his rookie year. Posted production in every season in college, but it is valid to question how much skills translate when facing FCS-level 19 and 20 year olds. I think he is solely a slot receiver and question how others can project him outside.

3. Ryan Switzer, UNC

Where He Wins: Exposures of him winning in the short, intermediate and downfield areas of the field, plus he offers return skills thanks to speed and vision. Has the body control to smoothly adjust to off target passes.

Ranking Explanation: He fits the stereotypes you think he does and uses his athleticism to win with the ball in his hands.

4. Curtis Samuel, Ohio State

Where He Wins: All around offensive weapon. Dangerous with the ball in his hands. Useful to go from 11 personnel, one back sets, motion out to empty and attack mismatches.

Ranking Explanation: I listed Samuel at receiver because he will work out with that group at the Combine, but I would not be surprised if he sees the majority of his snaps at running back.

5. Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech

Where He Wins: Quickness along with finding soft areas to sit in and accelerate out of. Accelerates off a single plant foot. Sets up cuts with head fakes and exaggerated movements.

Ranking Explanation: He is 5-foot-8 and 177-pounds. Simply put, there are few examples of success with players of that size. But I bet Taylor succeeds.

6. Artavis Scott, Clemson

7. Fred Ross, Miss State

8. Austin Carr, Northwestern

(To be ranked: Travin Dural, Damore’ea Stringfellow, Jehu, Chesson, Kenny Golladay, Malachi Dupre, Amba Etta-Tawo, Stacy Coley, Jamari Staples, Rodney Adams, Drew Morgan, Darreus Rogers, Gabe Marks, Deangelo Yancey, Keevan Lucas, Josh Malone, Ishmael Zamora)

Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for Rotoworld and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Josh Norris

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