This isn’t a good year to need a wide receiver, as evidenced by the contracts teams handed out to free agents. There was only one high-end prospect that made it to market and the rest were mediocre at best.
The weak group extends to the draft as well. Only one is considered a lock to go in the first round and one other possible prospect going in the first 32 picks, according to NFL.com’s projection.
Here are the top five wide receivers as well as an underrated, overrated and a sleeper prospect.
#1 – Calvin Ridley, Alabama
Ridley is the most talented receiver in the draft and there seems to be a decent gap between himself and the rest of them. He has decent size and hands to go along with very good speed. But, what separates him from the rest of the group is his ability to get into and create large areas for the quarterback to throw into. His future in the NFL will be working out of the slot in short and intermediate routes. His weakness is the deep routes, he does not pull away from corners nor catch up to throws over his shoulder. He also does not win many of jump balls.
#2 – Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
Kirk is a stocky, slot receiver with good build and speed. He can make plays in space both as a receiver and on sweeps and reverses. He is very difficult to tackle in space. He catches the ball with hands and can make the tough grab in traffic.
#3 – Anthony Miller, Memphis
Miller is very difficult to tackle when he gets the ball in his hands. He catches the ball with this hands, but will drop the ball. He has good speed and balance in space. He has the ability to make the big catch in the big moments of the game.
#4 – Deon Cain, Clemson
Cain has the size and speed to be a starter in the NFL. He can make defenders miss in space after the catch, but does most of his damage prior. He runs good routes, but needs to create more separation out of his breaks. He needs to get better at catching the ball in traffic. He also needs to keep his focus more consistently before the snap. He was penalized too often for false starts and appears to get frustrated with big corners opposite him.
#5 – Antonio Callaway, Florida
There is no denying Callaway’s talent. He is a tremendous athlete that can take the ball to the house every time he has it in his hands. He is a bit undersized and will drop the ball from time to time. He is one of the more talented receivers in the draft, but had multiple legal incidents (a marijuana arrest as well as credit card scheme that cost him all of the 2017 season) that are a big concern.
Underrated – DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State
Hamilton is a thick and fast slot receiver with the ability to separate from corners out of his breaks. He had a limited route tree at Penn State, but showed the ability to get inside on defenders on in routes and over the top on deep routes. He plays at one speed and is one of the better people in the draft.
Overrated – Courtland Sutton, SMU
Sutton is a big receiver that can get downfield. He entered the season as one of the top wide receivers in the draft class, but did not keep his stock up. He is purely an outside receiver that takes corners with him. He does not create separation from defensive backs and loses more jump ball opportunities than he wins. His quarterback play was not very good last season, but he did not help things either, especially against better competition.
Sleeper – Byron Pringle, Kansas State
Pringle is not a player people talk about much, if at all. However, he has good size (measured 6-2 and 205-pounds at the combine), speed and playmaking ability in multiple facets of the game. He shows good patience to set up his blockers as a return man and loses cornerbacks with subtle movements out of his breaks as a receiver.