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2018 NFL Pre-Draft Top 12 Wide Receivers

With the Super Bowl in the rear-view, most eyes are on the NFL Free Agency period which will kick off in March. As a dynasty owner, the FA period is all well and good, but much of that noise will already be on rosters and only available through trade. To our dynasty teams, most of the weight comes from the NFL Draft. We’ve had years to analyze these players and hope we can predict what they’ll do at the next level. We have now seen the combine and anticipate the pro days to see just how prepared these players are.

Wide receivers have started to take a back seat in drafts over the past few years. Since the 2014 draft where studs like Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins, and Allen Robinson were drafted, only a few wide receivers who’s been drafted at the top of the draft has produced in his first few years Amari Cooper and Mike Thomas being the biggest names. Lately it’s taking wide receivers two to three years to really start producing in the NFL, guys like Stefon Diggs, Jamison Crowder, Sterling Shepard, Tyreek Hill, Juju Smith Schuster, and Cooper Kupp.

The wide receiver class entering 2018 is not considered as strong as some of the past classes especially when put next to one of the strongest running back draft classes in history. For dynasty purposes most of these guys stock will improve depending on where they get drafted.
For this article we will be looking at the top 12 wide receivers in this draft. While currently I don’t see any of these wide receivers justifying a top five pick in dynasty drafts just yet, they could easily boost their stock with a nice landing spot in the NFL.

As the combine has now ended, I’ll add what the wide receivers did at the combine in a few of the key drills. I have left my projected 40-times to give an idea of who performed better or worse than expected.

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  1. D.J. Moore Maryland

  • Junior
  • 5’11 215lbs
  • Projected 40 time: 4.54
  • Receiving yards: 2,027
  • Rushing yards: 125
  • Combined TD’s: 18

D.J. Moore has the chance to be the best prospect in this draft. Moore has progressively gotten better in his three-year college career. His best year being his junior year where he finished with 1,033 yards on 80 catches averaging 12.9 yards a catch. Moore has decent size and speed combination. He showed quick feet and getting in and out of routes and great burst to get by defenders. Moore does an excellent job adjusting to his quarterback and breaks off routes when needed. He showed the ability to make tough catches adjusting his body and hands to throws behind him or away from his body. Moore showed great ability to avoid defenders and make them miss on bubble screens and short area catches, not afraid to take on contact and drive through defenders to get extra yardage.
Moore needs to do a better job working on his route running. He succeeds mostly on short throws compared to anything deep. Struggled with winning 50-50 balls and usually lost out to the defender. He struggled with getting deep and catching the deep ball.
Moore should be a day two pick and will move up boards if he shows out at the combine like I expect him to. Moore profiles to be an exceptional slot receiver in the NFL. He should succeed no matter where he’s drafted based on his skill set of catching the ball in the short area and making the big play with his legs.

**Combine Stats**

Actual 40: 4.42

Vertical: 39.5 inches

20-yard shuttle: 4.07 seconds

Moore is quickly becoming my favorite wide receiver in this class. He ran over 10 seconds faster than i projected, he also aced all the other drills at the combine. Moore has moved himself up to being my top WR of the class.

 

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  1. Christian Kirk Texas A&M

  • Junior
  • 5’11 200lbs
  • Projected 40 time: 4.42
  • Receiving yards: 2,796
  • Rushing yards: 121
  • Combined TD’s: 26

Christian Kirk is a top elite talent much like Moore and Ridley in this wide receiver class. Kirk much like Ridley had his best year his freshman year in 2015, he finished the year with 1,009 yards on 80 receptions for 12.6 average. He also struggled with good quarterback play yet never produced an average catch rate lower than 11.2. Kirk is well built and has shown good upper body strength. He has shown to be great at being quick in and out of routes and plays with a consistent tempo. He has also shown to be aggressive attacking the ball in the air, and once he’s made the catch excels at racking up yards and covering the ball. He shown to be great out of the slot being able to get free under the coverage. Kirk has also shown he can be a good punt and kick returner totaling 655 yards and two scores.

Kirk hasn’t shown the desired speed to be an elite down the field receiver, showing more quickness in short area’s than breakaway speed. He also struggled catching the ball if it wasn’t in or around his body. Kirk will likely be a day two pick and can help teams in multiple ways receiving and special teams if given the chance. Kirk should thrive in a slot role if given the chance he’ll be good in the short and middle game, but likely won’t burn many defenders deep.

**Combine Stats**

Actual 40: 4.47

Vertical: 35.5 inches

20-yard shuttle: 4.45 seconds

Kirk ran a little slower than expected but balled out in all of his drills. Kirk was close to being the top wide receiver in the class and narrowed the gap to a slim margin with his combine day.

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  1. Calvin Ridley Alabama

  • Junior
  • 6’1 188lbs
  • Projected 40 time: 4.46
  • Receiving yards: 2,781
  • Rushing yards: 40
  • Combined TD’s: 20

Calvin Ridley is among three other wide receivers who will be considered as the top wideout of the class depending on their landing spot. Ridley is the best route runner of the class and as such has arguably the highest floor. His best year was his freshman year 2015 were he secured 89 catches for 1,045 yards averaging 11.7 yards a catch. His catches dropped the next two years mostly due to bad quarterback play, however in his junior year he caught 63 balls for 967 yards averaging 15.3 yards a catch. He runs with a consistent speed, has great feet moving in and out of routes. Ridley possess elite separation skills, he also has reliable hands. He has shown the ability to slow down and adjust to poorly thrown balls and go up and get balls thrown to high. He also did an excellent job of adjusting routes when his quarterback was forced out of the backfield. Has shown the ability to break away from defenders and create explosive plays especially when given space.

Ridley’s size will give some general managers pause has he’s not very tall and has a thin frame. When played aggressively by corners he could at times be moved off his route and mess up his timing. He also struggled at times with drops having 20 drops in three seasons. Ridley also showed a tendency to go down with first contact not breaking many tackles. Many people believe Ridley will go in the first round. Ridley has game changing speed, great hands, and elite caliber route running ability. If given a chance and goes to an offense with an accurate quarterback, Ridley has the chance to produce in his rookie season and become a phenomenal NFL wide receiver.

** Combine stats**

Actual 40: 4.43

Vertical: 31.0 inches

20-yard shuttle: 6.88 seconds

Ridley had a decent combine he ran faster than I thought he would, but slower than some of his peers. While his combine didn’t hurt him, multiple wide receivers put themselves at the top of this class with him.

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  1. Anthony Miller Memphis

  • Senior
  • 5’11 190lbs
  • Projected 40 time: 4.50
  • Receiving yards: 3,590
  • Rushing yards: 148
  • Combined TD’s: 40

Anthony Miller tore up the American conference in his junior and senior year, posting over 1,400 yards and 90 catches both years. Miller is the most interesting prospect for me in this wide receiver class. Miller has some of the best hands and speed in this wide receiver class. Being a walk on has caused him to be extremely competitive and fight for everything he’s earned. He has shown the ability to thrive in the slot or working the outside. He also does an exceptional job accelerating in and out of his routes, making quick cuts to create separation. His hands are exceptional as well making difficult catches in and out of traffic. He does a great job accelerating and decelerating to make catches, he also does a good job adjusting his body to the throw. He does an excellent job working the sideline and making catches keeping both feet inbounds. He does a good job adjusting routes when quarterback is scrambling and forced out of the pocket, and he also top in this class in creating yards after the catch.
Miller does a much better job on deep throws than short ones. He double caught and dropped more throws within 5-10 yards, than any deep throws. He also has had some ball security issues with 5 fumbles in his college career. However, the biggest question lingering with Miller is his right foot. He had the Lisfranc injury. Miller will likely be a day three pick since his success came in the American conference. He should be able to play on the outside in the NFL, with his explosive speed and hands. If his foot is healthy and he’s able to play Miller has a shot to be a valuable number two wide receiver in the NFL.

**Combine Stats**

Miller only participated in the bench press, once his pro day comes we will have more information on him.

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  1. James Washington Oklahoma State

  • Senior
  • 6’0 205lbs
  • Projected 40 time: 4.48
  • Receiving yards: 4,472
  • Rushing yards: 70
  • Combined TD’s: 40

James Washington has been terrorizing defenses for the past three years. Having more than 1,000 receiving yards in his sophomore through senior year. His best year being his senior year where he had 1,549 receiving yards on 74 catches for an amazing average of 20.9 yards a catch. Washington has elite speed and it is possibly the best weapon in his arsenal. Has shown he can be successful in the slot and of course on the outside. Of course, his deep speed and ability to blow by defenders has helped him succeed the past few years. He has shown breakaway speed once he has the ball and is able to make moves around defenders, he has also shown he can break tackles especially arm tackles.
While Washington succeeds on deep ball routes, he seems to struggle on short area throws, not just on catches but also on running the routes. He was clunky at times moving in and out on short yard routes. He also had issues making catches when defenders were contesting the catch or closing in on him. His route running is a bit weaker than others in his class, and some question his hands. Washington will be a day two pick. I feel he has a chance to be a high upside wide receiver two and should succeed on most NFL teams.

** Combine Stats**

Actual 40: 4.54

Vertical: 34.5 inches

20-yard shuttle: 4.32 seconds

Washington ran a bit slower than expected as well. He himself had a good combine as well. While his pro day will likely provide better stats, his draft stock is still firmly in the top 5.

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  1. Equanimeous St. Brown Notre Dame

  • Junior
  • 6’5 203
  • Projected 40 time: 4.50
  • Receiving yards: 1,484
  • Rushing yards: 0
  • Combined TD’s: 13

Equanimeous St. Brown is another intriguing prospect in this draft. He only had one great year in college, which was his sophomore year. He had 961 yards on 58 catches for an average of 16.6 yards a catch, this was also the year he had DeShone Kizer as his quarterback. Brown has a tall body and deceptive speed and uses them to his advantage. He also plays in the slot and on the outside but plays better on the outside. Does a great job moving in and out of traffic and controlling his body to make catches in traffic. Willing to work over the middle and doesn’t shy away from contact. He does a great job of accelerating and getting passed defenders making big plays. Much faster than he looks and can run by defenders for the homerun play on deep balls.
One of his biggest questions his is lack of competitiveness he showed in 2017. Many people believed Brown made up his mind he was going to enter the draft, and was disinterested in playing and trying to avoid injury. Brown struggled in running routes at times sometimes breaking early or turning the wrong way. Would shy away from contact at times, causing some drops.
Brown is likely a day three pick and the spectrum of what he could be in the NFL is massive. He has the size speed combination to be a top flight wide receiver like he showed in 2016. However, what he showed in 2017 is very concerning. Brown likely needs to go to a good offense to succeed, and again could range from mid-tier wide receiver one to low end wide receiver two.

**Combine Stats**

Actual 40: 4.48

Brown only participated in the 40 and bench press. He also ran the gauntlet and looked good. He could easily jump into the top three of this class with a great pro day.

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  1. Michael Gallup Colorado State

  • Senior
  • 6’1 200lbs
  • Projected 40 time: 4.54
  • Receiving yards: 2,685
  • Rushing yards: 15
  • Combined TD’s: 21

Michael Gallup started out at Butler community college due to not getting any scholarship offers. After two great years there he was offered a scholarship at Colorado State and he accepted. This turned out to be a great move for both. He finished out his junior year with 1,272 yards on 76 catches averaging 16.7 yards a catch. His senior year he had 100 catches for 1,413 yards for an average 14.1.
Gallup has great size and good speed. He has quick burst into his routes, and shows quick hands attacking the ball for catches. He does an excellent job in the open field making defenders miss and tacking on yards after the catch. He thrived in contested catches high pointing the ball and coming down with it more often than not.
Gallup struggled at times in running clean routes, breaking off early and being pushed off his routes. He also struggled in tracking the ball downfield on deep throws. He also struggled to adjust to ball’s that were poorly thrown to him. Gallup also showed some poor effort on run blocking.
Gallup is likely a day two draft pick, he is still a bit raw in his route running ability so that may hurt his draft stock. However, his size and speed profiles to be a top wide receiver two, the more time he’s able to play and learn the position the better he’ll become.

** Combine Stats**

Actual 40: 4.51

Vertical: 36.0 inches

20-yard shuttle: 4.37 seconds

Gallup ran faster than projected and showed some good footwork and ball skills during drills. While a good pro day could help Gallup’s stock rise, he likely won’t break into the top five.

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  1. Courtland Sutton SMU

  • Junior
  • 6’4 215lbs
  • Projected 40 time: 4.50
  • Receiving yards: 3,220
  • Rushing yards: 2
  • Combined TD’s: 32

Courtland Sutton started out as a defensive back for three games his freshman year before converting to wide receiver. He had two great years at SMU and decided to come out his junior year after posting 1,085 yards on 68 catches and 12 touchdowns.
Sutton uses his body very well in making catches. He often plays like a basketball player and boxes defenders out when going up and catching the ball. He has shown that he’s not afraid to work the middle of the field and sticks with catches even while taking on contact. Still put up top wide receiver numbers with a below average quarterback. He does a great job in run blocking.
Sutton struggled at time when playing better competition, he didn’t show homerun speed to get by defenders. He also struggled in getting yards after the catch mostly being brought down by first contact. He sometimes tries to use his body to much in catches, instead of running into catch. He struggled in getting separation against defenders.
Sutton is likely a day two draft pick and has the tools to succeed in the NFL. He needs to work on getting separation from defenders, and better ball tracking. However, his ability to go up and get contested catches will likely land him a starting job, like most of this class he profiles more as a wide receiver two.

**Combine Stats**

Actual 40: 4.54

Vertical: 35.5 inches

20-yard shuttle: 4.11 seconds

Sutton ran slower than projected but he still had a good combine. He showed good in all his drills.

 

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  1. D.J. Chark LSU

  • Senior
  • 6’4 198lbs
  • Projected 40 time: 4.52
  • Receiving yards: 1,351
  • Rushing yards: 264
  • Combined TD’s: 10

D.J. Chark could be the next in line as a top wide receiver produced by LSU. LSU is tied with The Ohio State in the past 15 years both having produced 15 top wide receivers. Chark best year came his junior year posting 834 yards on 40 catches and only three touchdowns. Bad quarterback play limited his upside his senior year, while playing in the senior bowl with some of the best quarterbacks of the class, chark put up 160 yards on five catches and one touchdown.
Chark showed his jet’s all year running by defenders at times like he wasn’t even trying. He does a great job with double moves to help create separation. His size and speed make’s him a real downfield threat. His willingness to work as a blocker will improve his stock. He continued to help his quarterback by adjusting routes and coming back to the ball when needed.
Where Chark struggled at times is being consistent. He would show out some games and be almost non-existent in others. Some of that could be blamed on his quarterback play. He also doesn’t run efficient routes and doesn’t have an expansive route tree. He sometimes tries to use his speed to run by defenders too much instead of looking for breaks in coverage.
Chark will likely be a day two pick based mostly on his speed and big play ability. Once he starts to expand his route tree and route running he has the chance to be a dynamic play maker. He profiles as a wide receiver two but has a chance to break into the wide receiver one category especially if drafted by a good team.

**Combine Stats**

Actual 40: 4.34

Vertical: 40.0 inches

Chark was the talk of the combine with Moore. While some will take his combine and shoot him up their boards. He still has some inefficiencies in his game. He could end up in the top five of the class.

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  1. Dante Pettis Washington

  • Senior
  • 6’1 195lbs
  • Projected 40 time: 4.51
  • Receiving yards: 2,256
  • Rushing yards: 42
  • Combined TD’s: 24

Dante Pettis had four solid years at Washington. He never posted more than 800 yards a season. His best production year came his junior year, catching 53 balls for 822 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Pettis is a good athlete with great explosiveness, he played outside and in the slot. Pettis can run the full route tree and is a polished route runner. He does a good job accelerating in and out of routes, had strong and reliable hands once he catches the ball he rarely loses it. He can make catches in traffic and doesn’t shy away from contact. Pettis can be elusive and once he’s made a defender miss can turn on the jets for the homerun play.
Pettis seemed to struggle when playing against physical corners, allowing them to move him off his routes or disrupt timing. Considered to be more quick than fast. He will need to improve on deep route running.
Pettis is likely a day 3 pick with some upside. He has the skills to play in the NFL and he has size as well. He profiles to be more of a slot wide receiver and should be productive.

**Combine Stats**

Pettis was not at the combine but does still show a lot of promise and upside. We will have more about him after his pro day.

 

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  1. Key’vantanie (Keke) Coutee Texas Tech

  • Junior
  • 5’11 180lbs
  • Projected 40 time: 4.51
  • Receiving yards: 2,424
  • Rushing yards: 17
  • Combined TD’s: 18

Keke Coutee played three years at Texas Tech and his junior year was far and away his best year. He finished his junior year 93 catches getting him 1,429 yards and 10 touchdowns. Trying to capitalize on a great junior he entered the draft, looking to contribute on the NFL level like fellow red raiders Michael Crabtree and Wes Welker.
Coutee has tremendous speed and can blow by defenders. He has good hands and can make difficult catches on the sidelines keep both feet inbounds. His explosive speed routinely turns slants into huge plays.
Coutee has shown a limited route tree, although some of that may be the offense that was run at Texas Tech. He struggled to stay on routes when met with contact. He was frequently brought down at first contact.
Coutee will likely be a day three pick, and profiles to be a slot wide receiver. His speed and hands will help him in the middle of the field and help make short five-yard catches, turn into 10-20-yard runs. Coutee will likely be a ppr monster but more a mid level wide receiver two.

**Combine Stats**

Actual 40: 4.43

Vertical: 34.5 inches

20-yard shuttle: 4.15 seconds

Keke ran much quicker than projected, and had himself a good combine. He showed well in drills,and showed good hands. While some have called him a miniature Beckham, he still needs to have a good pro day to move up boards.

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  1. Jordan Lasley UCLA

  • Junior
  • 6’1 205lbs
  • Projected 40 time: 4.50
  • Receiving yards: 1,901
  • Rushing yards: -6
  • Combined TD’s: 14

Jordan Lasley may be one of the most talented wide receivers in this class, but his off the field issues have tremendously hurt his draft stock. His junior year even was suspended for three games and still put up 1,264 yards on 69 catches and nine touchdowns.
Lasley is quick off the snap of the ball and reaches his top speed quickly. He does a great job slowing into soft parts of coverage and seamlessly changing route direction. He can be very elusive and has a nasty stiff arm, once he’s by you he’s going to the house.
Lasley’s biggest issue is his suspensions and off the field issues. He has had multiple suspensions and doesn’t seem to take much responsibility for what’s happened. He also has the worst drop rate of wide receivers the past 3 years at 16%. Even though he has great speed sometimes comes to a complete stop to make catches instead of running into them.
Lasley is the hardest player to evaluate in this draft. He will likely be a day three pick but could very easily be a day one or two pick. If he can straighten up and stop the off the field issues, and work on his drops he could end up the best wideout in this class. He has the size and speed and explosiveness to be elite, be weary drafting him to high in dynasty leagues as he could be off the field more often than he’s on it.

**Combine Stats**

Actual 40: 4.50

Vertical: 34.5 inches

20-yard shuttle: 4.19 seconds

Lasley ran well in the 40 and showed well in all the drills. He is still in my mind one of the best wide receivers in this class. He could easily be a top five player in this class, however his off field issues will likely will keep him lower in this class.

 

The Author

Matthew Bruening

Matthew Bruening

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