The Draft Prospect Superlatives series moves to the offensive side of the ball after highlighting edge rushers last time. Derek Carr needs a top tier NFL wide receiver to throw the ball after TE Jared Cook and RB Jalen Richard were his most reliable targets in 2018. In the absence of Amari Cooper none of the Raiders wide receivers were able to step up and be that guy for the Silver and Black. Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock have multiple first round picks so don’t be surprised if one of them turns out to be a WR.
This wide receiver class is packed full of talent and the mid rounds will have quite a few players who could make an impact as well. Here are a few who stood out in areas of interest for talent evaluators.
Jalen Hurd, Baylor
Jalen Hurd started his career as a running back at Tennessee before transferring to Baylor to play wide receiver in his final year of eligibility. If that doesn’t make you blink it will when you find out Hurd stands at 6’5 230lbs with a 77+ inch wingspan. Talent evaluators might take a pause when considering his skill set to be a pass catcher but his stature will be a coveted trait.
Hurd’s size is enough for him to get drafted. He needs to learn to play the position so perhaps he ends up a day 3 pick. His measurables however are elite for the wide receiver position.
Winner of the Highest Skill award for incoming NFL draft prospects at WR goes to Hunter Renfrow. Renfrow might not be the biggest or fastest guy but he always runs his routes beyond the sticks and boasts a complete NFL route tree. pic.twitter.com/11dK8ERvCs— DWillSkills (@BDWilliams18) February 4, 2019
Hunter Renfrow, Clemson
Hunter Renfrow should be the most skilled receiver entering the draft considering he’s played at Clemson for over 17 years. Jokes aside, Renfrow has competed at a high level on 3 different championship quality teams and made clutch plays each and every time. Renfrow has the quick feet to get open against man coverage and the savvy to sit in open areas against zone.
Watching his tape you’ll see an NFL ready player who varies his releases and sets up defensive backs all game long. He’s also a reliable target who catches with his hands away from his body. He’s not flashy and he has the hairline of a 37 year old man, but a team who needs an upgrade in the slot could do much worse.
Winner of the Most Athletic award for incoming NFL draft prospects at WR goes to Deebo Samuel. Samuel reminded everyone at the Senior Bowl why he got so much hype in college. He's a quick twitch athlete who can contribute on all downs in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/afJY6gen2E— DWillSkills (@BDWilliams18) February 4, 2019
Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
The hype train started rolling for Deebo Samuel in 2016 due to the big plays he made that would end up on ESPN. A true human highlight reel Samuel put together his best and most consistent season as a senior weapon for the Gamecocks.
Samuel put on a clinic at the senior bowl with staggeringly quick releases against press coverage. He has an interesting body type standing just shy of 6’0 but weighing close to 220lbs. He’s a wide receiver in a runningback body and it carries over to the pinball style he plays with on gameday. Samuel’s catch and run above showcases those abilities; great stop and start acceleration combined with the power and balance to break 9 tackles against the eventual national champions.
Winner of the award for Strongest incoming NFL draft prospects at WR goes to Hakeem Butler. Butler is a powerful man who requires more than 1 defender to take down when he gets the ball in his hands. Excellent in contested catch situations as well. pic.twitter.com/8PC7YlYU5I— DWillSkills (@BDWilliams18) February 4, 2019
Hakeem Butler, Iowa State
Imagine trying to tackle a horse. That must be what it felt like to bring down Hakeem Butler for Big 12 defenders this season. Butler looked like the big brother who came to play backyard football against kids much younger than himself for much of the 2018 season. He has elite NFL size and more speed than given credit for, but his ability to win contested catches will turn the most heads.
Butler routinely showcased the balance and concentration to adjust his catch radius while a defender was draped all over him. He finished most of those catches with elite strength and should be a day 1 red zone target for a team in need of a pass catcher who plays above the rim.
Winner of the Highest Upside award for incoming NFL draft prospects at WR goes to DK Metcalf. Metcalf is expected to blow up the combine because of his top tier athleticism. He's a true vertical threat with prototypical NFL size to win on the outside as a pro. pic.twitter.com/d7432FmtNK— DWillSkills (@BDWilliams18) February 4, 2019
DK Metcalf, Ole Miss
The top wideout on most draftnik’s boards, Metcalf comes from a long line of NFL talent. Grandfather Terry Metcalf was a Pro Bowl Runningback for the then St. Louis Cardinals in the late 70s. His Uncle Eric Metcalf was an All-Pro return specialist for the Cleveland Browns and San Diego Chargers. His father Terry Metcalf Jr was an offensive lineman for 9 years mostly with the Chicago Bears.
Metcalf is a freak who not only has great NFL size but elite athleticism to go along with it. Many detractors point out he wasn’t even the most productive receiver at Ole Miss and he basically only ran 3 routes in his college offense. That’s why he gets the highest upside award. Possessing attributes most could only dream of—Metcalf is a ball of clay that a great team could mold into a premier NFL receiver before his rookie contract expires.
John Ursua, Hawaii
Few draft eligible receivers posted the production that John Ursua was able to while at Hawaii in 2018. Ursua finished in the top 10 of every statistical category for pass catchers including leading the FBS with 16 touchdown receptions. Andy Isabella from UMass and Antoine Wesley from Texas Tech are getting pre draft hype but somehow it stops short for Ursua.
Ursua wins with outstanding quickness and NFL ready route running similar to those wide receivers. He might now wow anyone with his athleticism at his pro day but a team who needs competition in the slot will get a day 3 pick who has the ability to play better than his draft position.
N’Keal Harry, Arizona State: Highest Upside
Kelvin Harmon, NC State: Strongest
AJ Brown, Ole Miss: Highest Skill
Marquis Brown, Oklahoma: Most Athletic
Andy Isabella, UMass: Highest Skill
Mecole Hardman, Georgia: Most Athletic
JJ Arceaga-Whiteside, Stanford: Strongest
KeeSean Johnson: Fresno State: Most Underrated
Terry McLaurin, Ohio State: Most Athletic
Anthony Johnson, Buffalo: Most Underrated
Collin Johnson, Texas: Strongest