Wide Receivers- NFL Draft 18

1. Calvin Ridley (Alabama)- What a career he put together in Tuscaloosa for the Alabama Crimson Tide. For a good portion of his time in college, Calvin was considered as the second option. After Amari Cooper went pro, he became the top receiving target and one of the best receivers in the country. To be a successful wide receiver at any level, you have to display consistent speed and that’s Calvin Ridley for you to a T. He’s always finding ways to get open to get the football. He can dominate cornerbacks at the line of scrimmage, especially if they give him a free release and he has elite separation talent. He runs his routes with smooth acceleration and when his quarterback would scramble to extend plays, he always found a way to get open in “scramble space”. He’s got a lethal mentality after the catch meaning he can maneuver his way into open space and he uses the entire field as his playground. I really think his touchdown totals would’ve doubled with more consistent quarterback play.

2. Courtland Sutton (SMU)- When he was coming out of high school, Courtland Sutton was a safety at first and excelled on both sides of the football. The coaching staff at SMU saw the potential he displayed as a big-bodied wide receiver and he never looked back. He has a big and durable frame and doesn’t get hung up on contact. He enjoys operating in traffic along with showing tremendous focus and poise throughout the catch process. He plays what I call “grown man football” and plays the position with the mentality of a big man on the basketball court. Once he catches the ball, he moves well and plays smaller when hitting open space. He’s consistent at working back to get open and catch underthrown passes. He’s also a very solid blocker and can help open up the field for running backs.

3. Christian Kirk (Texas A&M)- This kid was born to play football. One of the top recruits in his receiving class, Christian decided to attend Texas A&M over Arizona State and when he got there, it didn’t take him long to make an impact on the team. He could be the most versatile receiver in this draft class as he can also return kicks and punts. As a wide receiver, he’s built well with great overall strength in his upper and lower body. He plays with a consistent tempo and good suddenness. He’s tough and will make a catch with two or three defenders around him. He plays with strong and natural hands as a pass-catcher. Against a zone look, he can sink himself into space and does a good job of protecting the catch. He shows a strong competitiveness with the football in his hands.

4. James Washington (Oklahoma State)- I became a big fan of James Washington over the past few seasons and he was a key piece of the offensive juggernaut ran in Stillwater and he was also Mason Rudolph’s go-to guy. Whenever a play had to be made, Washington was always targeted. When you first see him, he has the build of a running back, but don’t let that fool you. He has great initial quickness and he’s a true vertical target that averaged over 20 yards per reception over the last three seasons. He can plant his foot down on slant routes and from there, he can create an open look down the field for his quarterback to get him the football, we saw a lot of that at Oklahoma State. What really caught my attention after watching him play for the first time was how he tracks the football as if he were a center fielder racing for the warning track. Although he’s smaller, he’s able to go up and come down with a jump ball and displays excellent body control. He’s able to work outside and in the slot.

5. Dante Pettis (Washington)- When John Ross declared for the draft last year, he became the number one receiving target for Jake Browning. He’s physical as a receiver, runner and blocker. He’s able to play wide as your typical receiver and from the slot. He’s a sharp route runner that can run the entire route tree and he accelerates off the line and uses his hips to break for sharp turns and cuts. He’s very route savvy and moves cornerbacks around with very effective fakes. He’s a natural pass catcher and when running deep routes down the field, he makes in-air body adjustments to make the catch, body control is always a plus to play this position. He’s also a factor in the special team’s aspect of things.