NFL Draft News & Analysis

Top-graded players: True freshman wide receivers with strong debuts in 2018

Dec 1, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Georgia Bulldogs during the third quarter in the SEC championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

While we've discussed the top true freshman signal-callers and their prowess throwing the ball this bowl season, we figured now is the best time to highlight those players on the receiving end of those passes and look into which true freshman receivers had the strongest seasons in 2018.

Some games are still to be played for several high-profile true freshman receivers, but nevertheless, here are the top-graded true freshman receivers after the 2018 regular season.

Time is running out to register for the Eckrich $1 Million Dollar Challenge! Register now for your chance to win. Eckrich – Official Sponsor of the College Football Playoff.  

1. Jaylen Waddle, Alabama – 90.2

Waddle was named a first-team All-American by us at PFF and for good reason, hauling in 74.5% of his passes for 803 yards and an average of 8.6 yards after the catch per reception.

2. Rondale Moore, Purdue – 89.7

Moore was electric in 2018, gaining 822 of his 1,164 yards after the catch and forcing 34 missed tackles, numbers that led the FBS for all receivers, not just freshman.

3. Justyn Ross, Clemson – 85.8

Ross led all true freshman receivers by averaging 20.6 yards per catch, hauling in 34 receptions that included six touchdowns and 19 more first downs.

4. Jayden Reed, Western Michigan – 78.4

Reed dominated MAC play and averaged a whopping 7.3 yards after the catch per reception, gaining a true freshman, second-best 409 yards after the reception.

5. Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC – 75.5

St. Brown had his struggles in 2018 along with the rest of the Trojans but the connection from fellow true freshman and high school teammate in QB J.T. Daniels was apparent. St. Brown hauled in 30 first-down receptions in addition to his three touchdowns, meaning half of his receptions moved the chains.

Other notable true freshman receivers:

KeSean Carter, Texas Tech – 74.2
Tre Turner, Virginia Tech – 72.8
Jeshaun Jones, Maryland – 70.9
Rashod Bateman, Minnesota – 70.0
Elijah Moore, Ole Miss – 69.6


NFL Draft Featured Tools

  • 250+ three-page scouting profiles - advanced stats, 3-year grades, player comps, combine data and Senior Bowl grades - for the 2022 draft class.

    Available with

  • PFF’s CFB preview magazine provides an advanced overview every FBS team entering the 2021 season, including PFF-exclusive advanced stats, player grades, scheme analysis and more.

    Available with

    CFB Grades+
  • PFF's Big Board for the 2022 NFL Draft offers three-year player grades, combine measurables, position rankings, and in-depth player analysis for all of the top draft prospects.

    Available with

  • Our latest 2020 NFL mock drafts.

  • Our exclusive database, featuring the most in-depth collection of NCAA player performance data.

    Available with

    CFB Prem Stats+
Pro Subscriptions

Unlock NFL Player Grades, Fantasy & NFL Draft

$9.99 / mo
$39.99 / yr

Unlock Premium Stats, PFF Greenline & DFS

$34.99 / mo
$199.99 / yr
College Subscriptions

Unlock College Player Grades and Preview Magazine

$7.99 / mo
$27.99 / yr

Unlock NCAA Premium Stats & PFF Greenline NCAA

$29.99 / mo
$119.99 / yr