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Top NFL 2019 Draft Class Wide Receivers

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You’ve had a look at the quarterback and running back classes, we now take a closer look at the 2019 wide receivers class. You could say we left the best for last as this class of receivers looks stacked compared to the last couple of drafts.

When I dissect wide receiver prospects, I classify them in two categories. We have our feature receivers: those are the prospects with WR1 ability. Includes receivers that embody every trait you look for in a receiver; they perfectly combine explosiveness, hands, physicality and route running. I then look for what I call “utility” receivers. These can be slot receivers, blocking receivers or explosive gadget wideouts for example. These are prospects with elite standout skills to fit as role-players on an NFL offense (a growing trend in NFL offensive personnel).

Following this framework, I’ll begin with the three top feature receiver prospects. I will then follow-up showcasing three utility receivers that I believe have the tools to be excellent gadgets for a creative offensive mind.


Top NFL 2019 Draft Class Wide Receivers

Check out the latest NFL Mock Draft analysis for the upcoming draft.

D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss

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Metcalf was a part of the best wide receiver corp in college ball at Ole Miss, surrounded by A.J. Brown and DaMarkus Lodge. They were referred to as the N.W.O. committee this season (Nasty Wide Outs). An SEC receiving corp which brings back memories of the 2013 LSU Tigers with Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham.

Metcalf was on track for a 50+ reception season with over 1000 yards and seven touchdowns, until sustaining a season-ending neck injury against Arkansas. However, great news came out this week announcing that Metcalf would be cleared to participate in the NFL Combine!

D.K. Metcalf is a man and a half. At 6’04” and 230 pounds, he takes up a whole lot of attention from secondaries he faced. In a team that comprised of Brown and Lodge, he opened the game up drastically for Ta’amu to spread the ball around. Metcalf was the biggest, speediest and effectively the most dangerous receiver on this team.

Scouting

While his stats at Ole Miss are undermined by A.J. Brown’s, there is a lot to like about D.K. Metcalf skill set. He possesses all the traits necessary to become a WR1 in the NFL. Metcalf has home run speed to take the top off secondaries (i.e. as he showed on the first play from scrimmage against Alabama this year). He also cooks up one of the best releases against press coverage in this draft class. With quick hands and elite footwork, he easily gains leverage on his corner. He can beat his man and create separation right off the snap.

Prospects like D.K. Metcalf don’t come very often. He presents a rare combination of size, physicality and elite speed and burst. He is even more dangerous in space, than is his route running. Metcalf’s size offers a big catch radius for his quarterback, and the ability to high-point throws above defenders. He is slightly inconsistent with his hands at the catch point, but he’s got the hand strength to hold on to the ball through contact. He uses his size well when run-blocking, and puts enough consistent effort to be trusted play-side. Metcalf is a young promising prospect who checks all the boxes. His versatility shows he is destined for a great future at the NFL level.

Keelan Doss, UC Davis

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If you haven’t heard of Keelan Doss, don’t worry, you’re not alone. But you’re about to hear a lot more about him as draft season moves along. Doss is the best FCS prospect in this draft class, and I believe he also beats out most FBS receivers on display. He is coming off a stellar Senior Bowl week, and his stock is on the rise.

Keelan Doss finished his Aggie career with two extremely productive seasons (over 1300 receiving yards on 110+ receptions both years). He was offensive captain for the Aggies his two final years. His exceptional seasons earned him two AP All-American honors.

The competition level argument is always brought up when scrutinizing lower division prospects. Well, Doss fared very well against his FBS competition over his career. He averages over nine receptions for 115+ yards since his sophomore season (5 FBS games). Just like at the Senior Bowl, he steps up when competition steps up.

Scouting

Keelan Doss is big and lean (checked in at 6’02”, 207 lbs at the Senior Bowl), and he uses his frame well. His best trait is by far his ability to box defenders out and high point the football. He climbs the ladder and snatches the ball out of the air in full extension with ease. Doss is physical with strong hands at the catch point and through contact. A great finisher. He succeeds best against zone coverage with a good ability to locate soft spots and adapt his routes accordingly.

My biggest doubt on Keelan Doss was his route running against man coverage. He’s very good beating press coverage with physical hands. Although, I found he lacked the burst and quickness out of his breaks to create true separation. He answered some of those doubts at the Senior Bowl, especially in 1v1 drills. He shows a great feel for stacking his corner after beating him, and creating windows for his quarterback. His comeback route was a work of art during Senior Bowl practice week.

Doss should test very well on the 40 at the combine, his vertical speed is not in question. However, his short-area quickness is still questionable. Nevertheless, Keelan Doss is a threat after the catch as he turns upfield very smoothly. His acceleration isn’t the best, but as a long strider, he can quickly slash a defense if he has space.

The switch from FCS to the pros is always steep, but Keelan Doss has the elite toolset to stick in the NFL. He’s got plenty of experience from all receiving positions on all levels of the field. His versatility and potential will be highly sought after come Draft night.

Kelvin Harmon, NC State

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Kelvin Harmon had a productive three-year career with the Wolfpack. He finished on two 1,000+ yard seasons with four and seven touchdowns. During his sophomore season, he became the first NC State receiver to reach a 1,000-yard season since 2003. He earned first-team All-ACC on his final year.

Kelvin Harmon comes in third on the all-time receiving yards for NC State, behind Torry Holt and Jerricho Cotchery (who both played 4 seasons). He was on pace to break their records. He also holds the second most productive receiving game by an NC State receiver, accounting for 247 receiving yards against Syracuse this year.

Scouting

Harmon is another big framed receiver (6’03”, 214 lbs) with the talent to eventually take on a number one role in an NFL offense. For a prospect of his size, he’s got surprisingly quick feet. This allows him to beat defenders at the line of scrimmage and gain leverage with quick releases. With crisp footwork, he has experience running an extended route tree.

His best trait is by far his ability to constantly win in contested catch situations. Harmon won’t wow you with five-yard separation every route, but he’ll gain enough to box out defenders and adjust perfectly to the ball. He tracks it exceptionally well and has the ability to extend or high point it off any base.

His ability to make catches in traffic and through contact will propel him at the NFL level. Kelvin Harmon is one of the most polished WR1 prospects in this class, and perhaps the safety net of the three I’ve presented here.

 


Utility Receivers

Deebo Samuel, South Carolina

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Out of these three utility receivers, Samuel is the most likely to find success as a lead receiver in the NFL. Deebo Samuel was the perceived as the top receiver participating in the Senior Bowl, and he didn’t disappoint. Although he checked in six pounds above expected weight, he looked just as quick and explosive as on tape.

Samuel has a modern running back build with the speed, quickness and route running savvy of a receiver. He owned the 1 on 1 drill at the Senior Bowl practices. When Dabo Sweeney was asked who he’d miss facing the least on Saturdays, he answered “Deebo Samuel”. Not surprising considering he burned their talented secondary for 10 receptions, 210 yards and three touchdowns…

Unfortunately, Samuel’s college production was affected by injury issues. He fractured his fibula on the third game of his junior year, against Kentucky, and missed the entirety of the season. His final season for the Gamecocks, he recorded 62 receptions for 882 yards and 11 touchdowns. Samuel’s comeback senior season earned him first-team All-American and All-SEC honors.

Scouting

Skill-set wise, Deebo Samuel is the most complete receiver out of those I list under utility. With his crisp and polished route running, Samuel has the potential to play all over the line of scrimmage. His stocked build at 5’11” should allow him to make plays between the hashes from the slot. He’ll be a matchup nightmare for linebackers at the next level.

Samuel is so quick off the line and out of his breaks, he creates major separation on most of his routes. His speed and quick release make him a deep threat on vertical routes. He’s a safe pass catcher, and even more of a threat after the catch. He impressed me with his ability to high point the ball off-platform despite his height. I’ll be looking for his vertical jump performance at the Combine.

Deebo Samuel’s main weakness seems to be his consistency. I’d like to see him put the same effort in his run blocking as in passing plays. He’ll have the opportunity to contribute on special teams as a returner at the next level, and a good one. He scored four kick return touchdowns in his career at South Carolina. Samuel is a big play waiting to happen at the next level.

Andy Isabella, UMass

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Andy Isabella is a name you need to get familiar with. He’s a prototype New England Patriots slot prospect if I’ve ever seen one. He had an extremely productive senior season for the Minutemen with 1698 yards on 102 receptions, for 13 TDs. He earned consensus All-American honors, and finished as a finalist for the Fred Biletnikoff Award (most outstanding receiver). An award previously won by the likes of Brandin Cooks, Amari Cooper, Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Larry Fitzgerald etc… Alabama receiver Jerry Jeudy won it this year (draft-eligible next year).

Scouting

Andy Isabella has the safest skill-set in the draft. You know exactly what you are getting. He’s a quick, shifty receiver, that can change directions and cut on a dime. Isabella is extremely quick in and out of breaks which helps him run very crisp routes. He has safe hands, tucking the ball away to secure the catch quickly.

His most underrated trait is by far his vertical speed. He doesn’t look like it, but the man has wheels. He beat out Denzel Ward in a track meet back in 2015 (Ward ran a 4.32′ at the combine). Check the video above, Isabella is in lane 6 and Ward in 5. Rumor has it, Isabella ran a 4’26” 40 at Randy Moss’ training program. Definitely be on the lookout for his 40 at the Combine.

His speed and short-area quickness make him a dangerous threat after the catch. He almost always slips out of the first tackle. Andy Isabella leaves everything out on the field. He’s a 100% effort player and NFL scouts will love that.

He has struggled against bigger, more physical and quicker corners on tape, so his role in the NFL may be limited to the slot. But he’s as much of a sure-thing as a slot prospect as we’ve seen in years. Some have dubbed him “the Julio Jones of slot receiver prospects”.

Penny Hart, Georgia State

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Hart is a prospect I had never heard of until the Senior Bowl. Matter of fact, when I saw him on the roster, I was very dubious. Man was I wrong. From day one of practice, he burned everybody that came against him in 1 on 1’s. Penny Hart is a small receiver (5’08”, 180 lbs at the Senior Bowl). His small catch radius will limit him to the slot at the next level, but he’s too explosive to keep off the field.

His junior season stats at Georgia State are underwhelming (49 rec/669 yds/2 TDs), mostly why he’s been off my radar until the Senior Bowl. But he accounted for 2230 yards on 146 receptions over his freshman and sophomore seasons with the Panthers. He was also used as a kick and punt returner, a facet of the game where he can be a major threat in the NFL.

Scouting

My first word when I saw Penny Hart run a route at the Senior Bowl was “wow”. Wow is he quick. He has elite quickness in his stem, then kicks into second gear right out of his break to create separation. Quite stunning. He’s got extremely quick feet. I remember a specific rep, where he put Nasir Adderley (one of the top safety prospects) on skates on a corner-post route, making it look way too easy. This is not the route I have in mind, but still against Adderley, check out the burst out of his break…


Another matchup NFL safeties and linebackers should not be looking forward to.

His size does limit his possibilities at the next level, but I guarantee you some offensive coordinators are salivating at the thought of having such a weapon on their roster. He’ll need an accurate quarterback because of his small frame, and he has shown inconsistency extending out of his frame on some catches.

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I’m surprised he wasn’t used more in the running game for Georgia State, he’ll probably be tested in this area by NFL teams. He seems like a legitimate weapon on jet motions. A player with his speed, agility and burst should not go on notice, he’s my dark-horse prospect in this draft class.


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About Selyan Lonqueux

Selyan's a football addict (no rehab planned). Winner of countless fantasy football championships. Prospect tape grinder, rookie draft smasher, and re-builder of dynasties. Oh, and also plays wide receiver.

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