News & Analysis

Day 2 of the 2019 NFL Draft should see the pass-catchers fly off the shelves

Sep 1, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Mississippi Rebels wide receiver A.J. Brown (1) celebrates his touchdown reception against the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the third quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Round 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft came in a flurry and made history with Arizona's selection of Kyler Murray first overall. With an abundance of defensive players taken (17 in total, third-most in the common draft era), that meant a position on offense would certainly be left out.

LIVE DRAFT ANALYSIS FOR ALL 7 ROUNDS

Of the 15 offensive players selected, only four of them were pass-catchers and only two of those were wide receivers. Both Iowa tight ends, Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson, heard their names called early, as predicted, but it wasn't until Pick 25 that the first receiver heard his name as the Baltimore Ravens selected Marquise Brown. Arizona State's N'Keal Harry rounded out the first round as he went to the New England Patriots at Pick 32, signifying the run on receivers may come just as the clock starts ticking on the Arizona Cardinals on Friday night with Pick 33.

So, with a furious run on pass-catchers expected in Rounds 2 and 3, we outline who should, in all likelihood, hear their names called on Friday.

[Editor’s Note: To view all of Pro Football Focus’ advanced stats and grades for draft-eligible players, check out our 2019 NFL Draft Guide. All EDGE and ELITE subscribers already have access to the guide, and for those who don’t, you can get your copy for as low as $9.99!]

Of our top 15 receivers heading into the draft, Brown & Harry represented our No. 5 and No. 8 ranked players, respectively, and it's highly likely the run on receivers begins with the duo from Ole Miss. D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown are the top two remaining receivers on our draft board. Metcalf has all the measurables to be a true ‘X' receiver despite lackluster college production, and Brown can win all over the field and dominated in the slot with the Rebels.

After Metcalf and Brown, we've been extremely high on Stanford's J.J. Arcega-Whiteside all offseason long. His contested-catch abilities are second to none in the class. Andy Isabella is a small-school talent who displayed his receiving prowess on the big stage when he dismantled the Georgia secondary while at UMass. From there, our rankings start to see players jumping up, as Hakeem Butler's big frame (6-foot-5, 227 pounds) and Deebo Samuel's return ability should keep their names heavily in the front-end conversation for Round 2.

The duo of receivers from Ohio State are also viable candidates for early selections on Friday night. Terry McLaurin has deep speed and crisp routes, and his teammate Parris Campbell held the fastest 40-yard dash time at the combine. Georgia's Riley Ridley may be the class' best route runner but lacks top-end speed, similar to his brother Calvin, while Diontae Johnson from Toledo suffered from a downgrade in quarterback play during his final season at Toledo.

Kelvin Harmon, Miles Boykin and Emanuel Hall round out the rest of our top 15 from our pre-draft rankings while there are plenty of other options left behind them.

Other names to be mindful of in Rounds 2, 3:

Preston Williams, Colorado State

Williams finished fourth in the draft class with 605 yards on deep passes, as he was the nation's most-targeted receiver, seeing 166 passes come his way in 2018.

Travis Fulgham, Old Dominion

Fulgham dominated lesser competition at ODU, hauling in all 18 of his catchable deep passes. His 51 combined first-down and touchdown receptions were the 11th-most in the class.

Greg Dortch, Wake Forest

Dortch was a slot machine while at Wake, and despite seeing a dropoff in production without John Wolford at the helm in 2018, he still possesses the draft class' top receiving and overall grades from the slot over the last two seasons combined.

Dillon Mitchell, Oregon

Mitchell is shifty with the ball in his hands, forcing 16 missed tackles after the catch, good enough for 13th in the class.

Gary Jennings Jr., West Virginia

Jennings was overshadowed by his teammate at WVU (David Sills) but possesses the better overall grade, receiving grade and by far a higher passer rating when targeted (144.7 vs. 112.4).

Anthony Johnson, Buffalo

Johnson averaged 17.7 yards per reception over his two years at Buffalo, hauling in back-to-back seasons with 1,000-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns. In his lone game against Power-5 competition, he caught 11 passes for 140 yards and five combined first downs and touchdowns.

With the Iowa tandem gone from the ranks, that leaves our top 10 completely intact, minus the top two.

Texas A&M's Jace Sternberger is an NFL TE and produced the highest receiving grade in the country while Alabama's Irv Smith Jr has all the athleticism to be a downfield threat. Josh Oliver from San Jose State was the most targeted tight end in the class with 99 balls coming his way and he finished with just four dropped passes in 2018 while leading the draft class with 195 deep receiving yards. Ole Miss' Dawson Knox put forth the draft class' third-highest run-blocking grade while Caleb Wilson showed that he could dominate at times and even had one of the highest-graded games from a college tight end we've ever seen against Texas A&M to open the 2017 season.

Kaden Smith from Stanford, Dax Raymond and Drew Sample round out the rest of the top 10, but like receivers, there are certainly others who could hear their name called sooner than later.

OTHER NAMES TO BE MINDFUL OF IN ROUNDS 2, 3:

Foster Moreau, LSU

Moreau logged an incredible 506 run-blocking snaps for the Tigers in 2018, most in the class while he hauled in 81.5% of the targets thrown his way for 272 yards.

Trevon Wesco, West Virginia

Wesco forced 12 missed tackles after the catch on only 26 receptions as 15 of those 26 went for either a first down or a touchdown.

Keenen Brown, Texas State

Brown was the second highest-graded tight end in the country a season ago, behind No. 8 overall pick T.J. Hockenson as he was a monster with the ball in his hands. His 427 yards after the catch were second most in the class while his 24 missed tackles were double the next closest tight end.

Donald Parham, Stetson

Parham's movement skills and hands for a 6-foot-8 tight end with plus-36-inch arms make him an intriguing red-zone threat.

C.J. Conrad, Kentucky

A four-year star with the Wildcats, Conrad's career was dotted with injuries. If he can stay healthy, he proved to be a reliable receiver downfield who also possesses some of the draft class' best reps in pass protection.

NFL Draft Featured Tools

  • 250+ three-page scouting profiles - advanced stats, 3-year grades, player comps, combine data and Senior Bowl grades - for the 2021 draft class.

    Available with

    Edge
  • PFF's Big Board for the 2021 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

    Edge
  • PFF signature stats download for all draft prospects by position.

    Available with

    Elite
  • 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