Welcome to the back half of my top 30 rookie WRs! Kudos to the degenerates reading this, as you’re obviously in a deep dynasty format. If you’ve been following my offseason process, you know what I look for when ranking prospects. If you are a first timer please check out this article explaining my general rationale.
Additionally, you can see the ascent and decline of various WRs since February with my pre-combine rankings and post-combine rankings.
There are some major shakeups now that we know draft capital and landing spot. There were some bubble guys that got surprising draft capital and some late round picks falling into nice situations that got a bump. After the 3rd round, I weigh draft capital a little less round to round.
Tier 5 – Close But No Cigar
All these players have nice profiles but failed to secure a day 2 selection, with one exception
WR16 – Gabriel Davis
The UCF product had a nice career in Orlando and falls just outside of the 3rd round and onto a team with 2 good WRs already in place. The Bills just traded a 1st round pick for Stefon Diggs and have 2019 star John Brown signed through 2021. Davis has lofty potential should he develop, and a spot could open up for him by 2022 at the latest.
WR17 – Quintez Cephus
A sneaky pick for Detroit in the 5th round, Cephus may only have to redshirt a year before his chance to shine. Jeff Okudah, who the Lions also selected with the 3rd overall pick, declared him the best WR he had to cover in college. Marvin Jones has only played 20 games in the last 2 years, is now 30 years old, and comes off the books after 2020. As with any 5th round pick, he’ll have to earn his spot, but there it’s easy to see a path to relevance for Cephus.
WR18 – Tyler Johnson
The quintessential metrics vs. data debate raged this last season with Johnson squarely in the crosshairs. His age-adjusted production at Minnesota was fantastic, however many on the flip side said he didn’t look athletic enough on tape to project him for NFL success. In the end, he goes to the Bucs with a 5th round selection. He’d still have been higher than 18th for me if the depth chart wasn’t so stacked in Tampa Bay. He’s still a Twitter darling, coming in second place on a recent poll I ran. Certainly worth a shot in later rounds of rookie drafts, but playing time will be an issue. Chris Godwin comes off his rookie contract after 2020, but I would think the Bucs will make it a priority to re-sign him.
WR19 – Van Jefferson
The only thing anyone says when Van’s name is brought up is his slick route running. I remain unconvinced that “route running” is a skill that leads to elite fantasy production. It’s certainly nice to have, as is a 2nd round draft slot, but he just doesn’t have the college profile to project into NFL success. A classic “better in real life than fantasy” prospect, I will need to be proven wrong before I change my tune on Jefferson.
WR20 – Isaiah Hodgins
The inverse of Jefferson, Hodgins has a very nice prospect profile but failed to impress any NFL decision makers, leading to a 6th round selection. Buffalo is getting to have a crowded WR room, bringing in 2 rookies, and Hodgins will need to impress quickly to earn a roster spot. I still think he is an intriguing prospect but the facts are late picks like this have a very short leash.
Tier 6 – Deep League Stashes
This tier is only for those in leagues with huge rosters or taxi squads where there’s not a detrimental opportunity cost to stash longshots
WR21 – Quez Watkins
One of my favorite small school stars, Watkins landed on a roster likely to see major overhaul at the receiver position soon. Classmate Jalen Reagor should come in and be a threat to lead the team in targets, but Watkins could earn snaps with his blazing deep speed. When Desean Jackson moved on, there will be an opening should Watkins develop.
WR22 – Darnell Mooney
With a 4.38 forty time, Mooney could be a poor man’s KJ Hamler (who is a poor man’s Henry Ruggs) and serve as a deep threat in the NFL. He technically snuck in a freshman breakout with a 24-267-2 line and ascended from there, turning in a ridiculous 47% market share as a junior. There is some intrigue here if he can take the Taylor Gabriel role.
WR23 – Joe Reed
The biggest riser on the list is probably Reed, going from not even “on the bubble” to WR21. Typically a death knell, he never finished higher than third in receiving at Virginia. However, the Chargers must have seen his interesting skill set and liked it enough to select him in the 5th round. I like that he was a good punt returner throughout his career and that is likely why he’ll have a roster spot in LA. For these later picks that’s a big deal, so he gets some benefit of the doubt and is worth a poke.
WR24 – Donovan Peoples-Jones
With DPJ sliding to the 6th round, he feels like the kind of raw size/speed prospect that is better for a Madden team than real life. Low level college production and poor draft capital really hurts his projection, even if you want to dream on his measurables.
WR25 – James Proche
A very productive college receiver, Proche certainly could earn a role on the Ravens. Old for a prospect, he spent 5 years honing his craft in college so maybe he can at least be a veteran presence at rookie minicamp.
WR26 – John Hightower
Picked ahead of Watkins by the Eagles, I still have him ranked behind. Hightower is not as fast as Watkins and is very thin at 6’1″ and only 189 pounds. He didn’t blossom until his senior year at Boise and I don’t see him as a very interesting prospect. However, he was selected by one of the most WR needy teams, so there’s opportunity to impress.
WR27 – Isaiah Coulter
I had previously been interested in a different receiver from Rhode Island, Aaron Parker, however he failed to get his name called last weekend. Coulter has some very nice numbers with a final line of 72-1039-8 as a junior. He shouldn’t have trouble sticking with a depleted Houston WR corps.
WR28 – Jauan Jennings
After a disastrous combine, Jennings fell out of my top 30, but sneaks back in after being drafted by the 49ers. He could be a big slot receiver in the NFL, which is what Shanahan probably wants 2019 3rd round pick Jalen Hurd to be. However, he is still rehabbing an ugly back fracture and Jennings may be the insurance policy. With intriguing yards-after-catch prowess, Jennings is at least worth a stash on deep rosters.
WR29 – Collin Johnson
An interesting red zone threat, the 6’6″ Johnson could make a living as a big bodied post man.
WR30 – KJ Osborn
The former Buffalo Bull transferred to Miami as a 5th year senior and led the team in receiving, however it was not a dominant performance by any means. He should be a depth piece for the Vikings.
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