As the NFL draft draws closer and closer here are some questions that are circulating that pertain to prospects and their draft stock as well as their potential and projected impacts at the next level.
Which wide receiver prospects deserve to be talked about more leading up to the draft?
Nearly all of the pre-draft buzz on this year’s receiving class has been circulating around D.K Metcalf, his Ole Miss teammate A.J. Brown, Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown, Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry and Iowa State’s Hakeem Butler. However, there are some other prospects at that position that warrant some more media attention and coverage but are assuredly not being overlooked by scouts and decision makers. Here’s a list of some of those players:
• WR Kelvin Harmon: This former N.C. State standout is the safest bet at the position and is viewed as the most complete receiver in the class. He is as pro-ready as any player in this draft beacause his sure hands, refined route running and breakaway speed are already at a pro level.
He also has a knack for making adjustments to back shoulder as well as off-target balls, shows exceptional spatial awareness and tends to get two feet down in bounds when working the sideline. Harmon will also go get the ball wherever it’s thrown in his general vicinity whether it’s overthrown, down low near the turf or up for grabs as a 50/50 ball. He is projected to go high in the second round but could possibly sneak into the late first round.
• WR Paris Campbell: He built a reputation as a burner and put up huge numbers at Ohio State for the Buckeyes. His route tree in the team’s offense was limited to mostly verticals, slants, deep and shallow crossers as well quick and bubble screens, many of which he took the distance for long scores. His blazing speed also makes a weapon that could be employed on jet sweeps and even in the return game.
However, throughout the pre-draft process, he has proven that he can run a diverse number of routes at both the Combine and at his Pro Day before it was cut short after he tweaked his hamstring. He could also sneak into the bottom of the opening round but will most certainly come off the board early on day two.
• WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside: Although N’Keal Harry is receiving a lot of the love for being the most renown 50/50 ball receiver in this class, the former Stanford star is arguably the best contested-catch receiver in this entire draft.
He climbs the ladder and out muscles defensive backs down the field as well as in the red zone to make those tough snags. He’s especially lethal near the goal line when the offense is in scoring position because he boxes out defenders in the red area like a post player in basketball. One of his underrated qualities is his savvy route running because while he rarely beats his man off the line with sheer speed, he does create separation with some nifty moves and stutter steps off the line as well as down the field.
• WR Terry McLaurin: He was Campbell’s running mate on the opposite side of the field at Ohio State on the track team of weapons that made up the Buckeyes’ skill position groups. While he possesses top-end speed on par with his more highly touted former teammate, he has shown an ability to adjust to under, over or poorly thrown balls and is able to create even more separation at the top of his routes on the rare occasion that a defensive back is able to keep up with him down the field.
There will be a lot of corners with speed at the next level so those other intangibles will serve him well at the next level. He is expected to be a day three pick, most likely to go in the fourth but could possibly sneak into the bottom of the third on day two.
• WR Riley Ridley: Ever since he showed up his older brother Calvin, who was drafted in the first round by the Atlanta Falcons last year, in the National Championship game two years ago, he has gone on to be regarded as one of the top possession receivers in all of college football.
He runs crisp routes, fights through press coverage and shows great concentration when hauling in passes downfield or in the intermediate level. His game doesn’t resemble his brothers that much because he’s not quite as explosive. However, like the New Orleans Saints Pro Bowl receiver Michael Thomas, he does everything well, rather than certain things great and others at a mediocre level.
• WR Andy Isabella: The UMass product might be the most underrated prospect, not just receiver in this entire draft. His production speaks volumes toward how effective he can be, but it’s not until you turn on the tape, that you will be able to see the kind of incredible talent he really is.
He’s viewed as the top pure slot receiver in this year’s class, but he can do much more than just run slant, shake and rub routes. His spectacular speed paired with his sensational agility in the open field makes him a dangerous run after catch threat every time he gets the ball in his hands.
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