The reason we love professional sports is because there's nothing better than watching the best of the best. Whether it’s football, track and field, or even just stacking cups — we tune in to watch those who are simply more talented than everyone else. That’s why I’m writing this article. These are the best receiver prospects in this 2020 NFL Draft class in pretty much every aspect of the position we could think of.
Best Hands: Isaiah Hodgins, Oregon State
Honorable Mentions: Michael Pittman Jr., USC & James Proche, SMU
We have some pretty hard and fast data to back this one up. Hodgins dropped all of three passes on 179 catchable in his entire college career. That’s a 1.7% drop rate. And it’s not like he’s getting pumped screens, either — Hodgins' career average depth of target was 12.3 yards downfield. Pittman (five drops on 176 catchable) and Proche (nine drops on 311 catchable) are up there, but Hodgins takes the cake.
Best Route-Runner: Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
Honorable Mentions: CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma & K.J. Hill, Ohio State
There’s Jerry Jeudy … and then there’s everyone else as route runners in this draft class. He truly is unlike any prospect in recent memory with his ability to: a) Get off the line of scrimmage, and b) Set up defenders along his route. It’s not only that he moves differently than pretty much any receiver I’ve ever seen, but also that he’s refined his route-running to an art. The clip below is pure beauty.
— Receiver School (@ReceiverSchool) April 6, 2020
Best Deep Threat: Jalen Reagor, TCU
Honorable Mentions: Henry Ruggs III, Alabama & John Hightower, Boise State
I know what you’re thinking: how is the player who runs a 4.27-second 40-yard dash not a shoo-in for this? Well, because that 4.27 speed led to only 10 deep receptions over the past two seasons. With Reagor, that figure was 18 and he was missed on more open opportunities than any other receiver in this class. Reagor’s 42-inch vertical and 11-foot, 6-inch broad jump are far more indicative of his ability to separate downfield than his 4.47-second 40-yard dash.
— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) April 3, 2019
Best Jump Ball: Denzel Mims, Baylor
Honorable Mentions: Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty & Chase Claypool, Notre Dame
With a 38.5-inch vertical and a 6-foot-3 frame, Mims has been a circus-catch machine over the past couple of seasons. While honorable mention Antonio Gandy-Golden actually leads the nation with 35 contested catches over the past two seasons, Mims faced a little stiffer competition and isn’t too far behind with 31. Mims is not only tall, but long as well with 33 ⅞-inch arms.
Baylor's Denzel Mims rocketed up @PFF's draft board after a strong week at the Senior Bowl, going from No. 71 to No. 37.
Mims showed off advanced route-running ability in the one-on-one drills. He's an explosive, physical receiver prospect with legit skills. pic.twitter.com/FOjO4NJPkc
— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) January 27, 2020
Best After The Catch: Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado
Honorable Mentions: CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma & Jauan Jennings, Tennessee
Lest we forget just how dominant Shenault was before he got banged up this past season. He broke 29 tackles after the catch in only nine games as a true sophomore back in 2018. Even after Colorado schemed the ball into his hands less this past season, he still broke 15 tackles on 56 catches. Lamb and Jennings are no slouches themselves with 26 and 30 broken tackles this past season, respectively.
Grading Doesn’t Match Hype: K.J. Hamler, Penn State
Honorable Mentions: Henry Ruggs III, Alabama & Jalen Reagor, TCU
This isn’t saying Hamler or the guys mentioned are overrated by any means, but rather that their production on the football field hasn’t been matched others in this class. With Hamler, the reason is obvious: drops. He coughed up 12 of 68 catchable targets this past season (17.6%) — far and away the highest rate of any top wideout this past season. His game is separation, not winning at the catch point, but it’s worrisome considering he’ll have to win through contact more often at the next level.
Sleeper: John Hightower, Boise State
Honorable Mentions: Darnell Mooney, Tulane & Easop Winston Jr., Washington State
I hate the whole “sleeper” debate as to who is getting draft hype and who isn’t, but I think a small-school prospect like Hightower — who only had 1,447 career receiving yards — qualifies. With 4.42 speed, Hightower was utilized most frequently as the deep threat in Boise State’s offense. That role almost did him a disservice, though, as he’s a far more complete route-runner than simply the vertical tree.
???? 1 play. 76 yards. Touchdown.
— Boise State Football (@BroncoSportsFB) October 6, 2019
Most Fun to Watch: Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
Honorable Mentions: Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado & Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
This is easily the most subjective superlative, but just watch:
Stick & Move ???? pic.twitter.com/mADkNm93mF
— JJ⁴ (@jerryjeudy) July 30, 2019