In the pre-combine WR rankings I laid out the key factors I was looking for and why I ranked the players where I did. As a follow up I am now adjusting based on new information such as body mass index (BMI), speed and overall post-combine buzz coming out if Indianapolis.
There was a lot of movement within the WR rankings because so many players are very close and small details can cause big ripples. I did penalize the players who did not run at the combine because I think in a class so tight, that will matter on draft day, impacting projected draft round.
A Word About BMI
Numberfire ran a nice study in 2015 and their conclusion was “If we’re talking absolute, elite production, your best bet is more than likely a tall wide receiver, and a heavy one, too.” The correlation was fairly weak, but in general bigger WRs had more success. The study found that the average BMI for WRs that scored 10+ touchdowns was 27.09 and the average BMI declined in groups with less touchdowns. While that was from 2015, this past season saw 10 of the top 12 WR finishers in points per game had a BMI of >26.5 and 7 of them had a BMI >27.
Only DJ Chark (24.1) came in under 26. I don’t think it’s linear, as in a 28 BMI is better than a 26.5, but I do think a threshold is probably needed. Most WRs at the combine hit at least 26 because that’s just the typical pool of NFL players. This year is odd because the top 2 consensus WRs did not register a 26, but draft capital cures a lot of ills. The lesser known players that didn’t get to 26 (ahem, Isaiah Hodgins) got dinged for me because their draft slot was already tenuous.
I Don’t Care About the Forty Yard Dash
…but NFL decision makers probably do.
|Rank||Movement||Name||School||Forty||BMI||Projected Draft Round|
|WR2||+4||Justin Jefferson||Louisiana State||4.43||26.5||1|
|WR7||+2||Henry Ruggs III||Alabama||4.27||26.2||1-2|
|WR8||-4||Laviska Shenault Jr||Colorado||4.59||30.3||2-3|
|WR9||+7||Michael Pittman Jr||USC||4.52||27.1||3+|
|WR10||-2||Bryan Edwards||South Carolina||n/a||26.7||4+|
|WR11||+3||Brandon Aiyuk||Arizona State||4.50||28.1||2-3|
|WR13||-3||Isaiah Hodgins||Oregon State||4.61||25.8||4+|
Tier 1 – Safest and Best
WR1 – CeeDee Lamb
There’s no stopping this train.
WR2 – Justin Jefferson
I really really wanted to have JJeff higher prior to the combine but it just seemed crazy to assume a first round draft pick for him, and so he got knocked down a few pegs. On paper, however, he is a very clean prospect. He met everything I could have wanted pre-combine then he showed up over a 26 BMI which was a nice surprise. Then he put on a show running a 4.43 for the scouts. That time put him on the map as one of the “biggest winners” in Indy and now it appears a first round pick is almost a lock. He checks all the metrics boxes and the film side compliments his versatility, citing that he can win from multiple positions and formations. We knew he was crafty and got open, but we know if needed he can take it to the house.
WR3 – Jerry Jeudy
Nothing to add, he’s a very safe dynasty pick.
WR4 – Jalen Reagor
This drop has little to do with his testing and simply everything to do with what Jefferson did. Reagor is still a tantalizing prospect and I am still including him in the top tier. He was explosive, ran a wonderful forty (despite the odd disappointment from some) and was bigger than expected. I like him, there just is a little more uncertainty to his draft stock now compared to Jefferson.
Tier 2 – Floor Concerns
WR5 – Denzel Mims
My heavens what a performance. If JJeff wasn’t the darling receiver of the combine, Mims was. He was scintillating from the moment the doors opened and just kept impressing at every turn. He met the 26 BMI threshold, then proceeded to literally shock the world with a 4.38 forty time. His other tests were great as well, and all that adds up to a likely 2nd round pick. This draft slot security moves him up.
WR6 – Tee Higgins
After talking a big game all week about a 4.4 time, Higgins declined to run at the last minute and did not participate in any of the athletic testing. At the end of the day, I don’t think it matters too much as his resume speaks for itself. But I do think there were players that shined so bright, Higgins could be overlooked to an extent on draft day. One mock I saw recently had him in the 3rd which was a far cry from the first round lock he was just a few weeks ago.
WR7 – Henry Ruggs III
He moves up NOT because of his 4.27, just because I had to knock some hopefuls down a peg. My thoughts on Ruggs’ fantasy value remain the same.
WR8 – Laviska Shenault
After sustaining an aggravation of a previous injury, Shenault slides way down. To make matters worse, he announced after the combine he would be undergoing surgery. If not for the trip to the operating table, I think he probably sits a few spots higher but this is not a good look for a guy who already had durability concerns. Word is he should be ready to go by minicamp, so as long as his draft stock doesn’t tank he will probably end up a nice value in rookie drafts.
Tier 3 – Sneaky Good
WR9 – Michael Pittman Jr
I think I owe someone on Reddit an apology. I was a bit snarky when a commenter claimed that there was no way Pittman shouldn’t be top 15, and well now I am eating crow. He is the biggest riser of them all! He tested much better than I was anticipating and probably got his name moved up some draft boards as a result. In a perfect world, he’s probably a side-kick to a true WR1 but that doesn’t mean he can’t be productive in the right offense. I’d be very excited to see Pittman in a “jumbo slot” role like Tyler Boyd or what JuJu did alongside AB.
WR10 – Bryan Edwards
We knew going into the combine he wouldn’t participate after sustaining a broken foot. That should heal by summer but still I can’t help being an injury pessimist. My biggest fear with my first love in this class is that he’ll be a day 3 guy. He remains a top 10 WR and I am hoping for a 3rd round draft slot.
WR11 – Brandon Aiyuk
While some people thought his speed was a disappointment, I was just fine with his time. He has a very intriguing makeup with a thick BMI of 28, but also an 89th percentile arm length (33.5″) despite being only 6 feet tall. He was explosive in the jump tests and confirmed all the exciting YAC ability seen on tape. Aiyuk’s age throws cold water on all of this, but it’s not like he came out of nowhere. He was awesome in the prep ranks before grade trouble sent him to JUCO where he smashed as well. It’s not the typical profile but he may just be one to break the mold.
Tier 4 – Complementary Pieces
WR12 – Antonio Gandy-Golden
AGG showed enough to keep me interested. I’m here, I’m watching. Let’s see what happens on draft day.
WR13 – Isaiah Hodgins
He came in kind of skinny, which may limit his upside. The 4.61 forty may knock him out of an already unlikely day 2 selection. I’m still interested but arrows are pointing down.
WR14 – Gabriel Davis
This guy is my ride or die for 2o2o. Davis is not getting nearly enough attention in this class and I just don’t understand. From a metrics standpoint he is a beast with a 19 year old breakout where he led his team in receiving, then a 20 year old follow up breaking the 30% market share barrier. He’s a big, thick alpha size WR with a BMI over 27 who has a nice ceiling. He’s probably a day 3 pick, making him a longer term investment.
Tier 5 – If Everything Goes Right…
WR15 – Donovan Peoples-Jones
A major bump is due for DPJ after he absolutely wowed the field in Indy. It wasn’t unexpected to see him test as a freak, but it was still impressive to behold. I am still wary of his college production, but at this point in the rankings everyone has considerable warts. I am interested in a guy with his combination of size, speed and dynamic return ability at the next level. Fingers crossed for the ol’ “better pro than college player” narrative to come true.
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