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Ja'Marr Chase, LSU (January 13, 2020)

Ja’Marr Chase – © USA TODAY Sports

WIDE RECEIVERS

Format includes a quick position overview, my grading scale and what the number means, the summary and final grade from my final report on my top 20, a quick additional note on the player, and my ranks 21-40 with grades only.

*I AM NOT DOING NFL COMPARISONS

QUICK POSITION OVERVIEW

Just as the Giants did early in Eli Manning’s career and just as the Panthers did early in Cam Newton’s career under Dave Gettleman, the front office brought in a sizable target at receiver for Daniel Jones. Kenny Golladay was signed to a huge contract with the hope that he will bring in the missing component to help elevate the 31st-ranked offense. Golladay played in just 5 games last season because of injury, but the big-play threat is just 2 years removed from leading the NFL in touchdown catches and finishing 3rd with 18.3 yards per catch. Adding him to the outside with deep threat Darius Slayton along with the reliable slot Sterling Shepard gives this position group hope for the near and long term. John Ross III, one of the fastest players in the NFL, was also signed to fill the depth chart along with Dante Pettis (who flashed late in 2020), C.J. Board, and Austin Mack. Much of this position group will revolve around Golladay’s ability to stay on the field and Slayton hopefully returning to the form he showed as a rookie in 2019 after a sluggish sophomore campaign.

GRADING SCALE

90+ All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

81-84: 1st rounder – Should be able to play right away

79-80: 2nd rounder – Should be able to rotate right away – Year 2 starter

77-78: 3rd rounder – Should be able to rotate by end of rookie year – Year 2/3 starter

74-76: Early Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup/possible starter

71-73: Mid Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup / gamble starter

68-70: Late Day 3 – Back end of roster / Practice Squad / Development guy

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

TOP 20 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1. Ja’Marr Chase / LSU / 6’0-201

Grade: 89

Summary: Junior entry from Harvey, Louisiana. Two-year starter that opted out of 2020 altogether. 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner after a record setting sophomore campaign where he totaled 20 touchdowns and 1,780 yards which are both current SEC records. Chase is a competitive and physical receiver that attacks the ball and will create on his own after the catch. He plays the game with a bruising running back’s mentality. While his skill set as a receiver, in particular route running and release techniques, will need improvement, there is a lot to his game that will help a NFL offense right away. Chase is machine when he is near the ball in the red zone. Even though he lacks desired size for contested situations, his competitive streak and strong hands will make a difference early on. He projects as a year one starter from both inside and outside receiver positions that will have a limited upside but raised floor.

*I’ll tell you what. There are two holes in his game that bother me a tad when it comes to him being graded as a VERY good receiver and a GREAT receiver. His lack of dominant size and the fact he doesn’t play as fast as he times. However, Chase has proven to be effective in traffic because of big time ball skills and a rare competitive streak. And he is still raw as a route runner, thus if and when he figures that out, he will play to his legit sub 4.4 speed. The two issues I have with Chase’s game can be completely erased in a short amount of time. He has the potential to be an All-Pro, one of the best 5-6 WRs in the game. It will come down to how hard he works and how he is used. Remember how well Justin Jefferson performed as a rookie with MIN in 2020? Chase is light years better.

2. DeVonta Smith / Alabama / 6’0-170

Grade: 87

Summary: Senior entry from Amite, Louisiana. Three-year contributor in a wide receiver room that was stacked with first round talent. Two time All American and All SEC respectively and winner of the 2020 Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff, and Paul Hornung awards. Left Alabama as the program and SEC conference’s all-time leader in receiving touchdowns with 43. The previous record holders were tied at 31. He also set the school record for career receiving yards. Smith led the country in catches, yards, yards after catch, and touchdowns as a senior while adding even more production as a punt returner. Simply put, Smith put together one of the most dominant seasons in the history of college football. The former five-star recruit was always highly regarded but there was only one ball to go around the previous three years in an offense that was hosting multiple first round talents all over the place. Smith shined when he was the spotlight guy in a way that none of them did, however. His body type may give initial concern to some, but Smith is as tough and competitive as they come, and it is refreshing to see him couple that with a pure blue-collar approach. He is all business, all about winning. That combined with his elite burst in and out of breaks, sticky hands, and ability to create after the catch can make him an elite feature receiver at the next level.

*I’ll be honest, I had a late 1 projection on Smith before the season despite the main southeast guy I work with telling me that he needed to be top 15 at worst. I watched him a ton in 2020, went back and watched some 2019 as well. Smith is a top 10 non-QB in this class and there is no question about it. I did downgrade him a bit because of the frame, but nothing drastic. It is an issue and I bet some teams will steer clear because of it. It has less to do with him being injured, more to do with him getting beat up at the line by quality press corners, something he rarely saw in college. But the information I have on Smith’s work ethic, attitude, and passion for the game made me feel better about that. Take the weight out of the question and you have a kid who moves in and out of breaks as good as anyone. You have a kid who catches nearly everything thrown his way. And you have a kid who accelerates like no other, which will make him play faster than his (he has been clocked sub 4.45 by a credible source). I’ll never say Smith’s frame is something you can completely overlook. It is a potential issue, absolutely. However, there are some risks I am more willing to take than others, this is one of them. And I think he is on the NYG short list.

3. Rashod Bateman / Minnesota / 6’0-190

Grade: 83

Summary: Junior entry from Tifton, Georgia. Three-year starter that has been re-writing Minnesota’s receiving record book. 1st Team All Big 10 and 3rd Team All American in 2019, a season that also saw him win the Big 10’s Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year Award and end up as a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. Bateman has the ideal size, straight line speed, and ball skills to be considered a downfield threat at the next level. In addition, he is a factor after the catch because of his competitive streak and strong, but loose lower half. Bateman may be limited underneath, as he struggles to initially separate, but he brings big play potential to the field every time he steps foot on it. He is a guy who doesn’t need to be found in wide open space in order to make things happen, as he can create on his own no matter what or who is around him.

*There isn’t enough talk about Bateman but I think the league is going to like him. He plays bigger than his size and he has a nasty competitive streak. The one negative I have written down a few times is he has a tendency to disappear for stretches. Upon further review, he just wasn’t thrown to as much as some of these other guys. He also has zero help in the passing game when it came to other targets taking some attention off him.

4. Jaylen Waddle / Alabama / 5’10-180

Grade: 82

Summary: Junior entry from Houston, Texas. One-year starter who was heavily involved in the wide receiver rotation all three seasons. Two time All SEC performer on special teams and a 1st Team All American returner in 2019. Winner of the SEC Freshman of the Year Award in 2018. Waddle had his junior campaign cut short by a serious ankle/lower leg injury. He did come back for the National Championship and was clearly less than 100%, but it showed his toughness and desire to win. Waddle has clearly shown enough over his career to be considered one of the top explosive playmakers in the class. He has such an effective burst and also has the speed to top it off that can run away from anybody and everybody. Waddle lacks ideal size to compliment that speed, however he somewhat overrides it with a competitive streak that very few possess. He can change the outlook of an offense by simply being on the field whether he is in the slot, on the outside, or returning punts and kicks. Simply put, Waddle is going to score a lot points and create space for others.

*I put a first round grade on Waddle but because of where he is stacked, some will say I don’t like him. I do think I am lower on him than most, but I understand and respect what he can do for an offense. I just don’t love the value of him at #11 overall. Would it be a bad pick? Absolutely not and just like the others, I would be excited to see him in blue. I just think there are limitations in his game that will make him disappear for stretches. I don’t think he is an all-situation threat. Speed kills though, and he has plenty of it.

5. Elijah Moore / Mississippi / 5’10-178

Grade: 82

Summary: Junior entry from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Three-year starter that took his game to another level in 2020, earning 1st Team All SEC and All-American honors after leading the nation in both catches and yards per game in the shortened season. Moore is the kind of playmaker that uses his lack of ideal size to his advantage in multiple ways. His stutter step quickness and burst are elite both as a ball carrier and route runner. He is a hard guy to touch, let alone wrap arms around and get to the ground. He has elite balance and vision which makes his ability to play with different gears downright dangerous. He projects as a dangerous slot at the next level that needs to get 7-10 touches per week whether it is in the passing game or on jet sweeps/reverses. He also adds potential return value. Moore is a scary player for the opposing defense to try and catch in the open field that does have limitations stemming from his size but can be a lethal weapon if used correctly.

*I think Moore can have a similar impact on an offense as Waddle but could be had a round later. If NYG does not go WR in round 1 Moore is there (either of them actually), he will be hard to pass on. The catch? Shepard is going to man the slot and that will limit how many times we can him on the field. I am all about intra-squad competition and depth, thus I would still move forward with under the assumption Jason Garrett can make it work. Also keep in mind as much as I love Shepard, he has a pricey cap number, and his production is merely average. Moore would be a more economic slot and provide more big plays.

6. Rondale Moore / Purdue / 5’7-181

Grade: 81

Summary: Junior entry from New Albany, Indiana. Burst on to the scene as a true freshman in 2018, putting together one of the best seasons of all time in NCAA history by a first-year player. He was a 1st Team All American and winner of the Paul Hornung Award. His 114 catches were just the third time in Big 10 history a player finished with over 100 receptions in a season. That was the last time Moore played more than 4 games in a season, however. He injured his knee and hamstring in 2019 and played in just 3 games after initially opting out of the 2020 season before coming back. Much of Moore’s grade will revolve around projection, but there is no denying the objective fact that he has elite burst, speed, and quickness. In addition, he is a football-junkie and intelligent kid that truly loves the game. While the risk with a player like this is high, his versatile contributions to a team that has a creative mind running the show on offense is sky-high. He will need specific roles and plays made for him and if he can develop the skill set at receiver accordingly, he will be a big-time playmaker.

*There are small receivers every year. But the level of small (well, short) here is below the minimum some have at the position. While he has running back type thickness and leg strength, Moore’s lack of radius is a problem. He is elite in multiple other areas of the position, but a big part of his impact will need to be manufactured. He needs to be paired with an already-strong offense and creative play caller. Even though KC doesn’t exactly need more offensive talent, that is a place he could go and thrive. Just not sure he would do so here in NY with Garrett running the show. Could be a big-time payoff though if it pans out schematically.

7. Terrace Marshall / LSU / 6’3-205

Grade: 80

Summary: Junior entry from Bossier City, Louisiana. Two-year starter that opted out of the duration of the 2020 season after 7 games. Nephew of former NFL player Joe Delaney. A former 5-star recruit, Marshall had a hard time living up to the hype because of the abundance of talent the program had at the receiver position. He started off fighting an uphill battle because of a severe leg injury suffered his senior season in high school that broke his fibula and dislocated his ankle. In 2019 however, he started to break out with a 13-touchdown year for the LSU championship squad. In 2020 he was supposed to be the guy and he responded with a solid 7-game season before opting out. Marshall still plays a raw game when it comes to ball skills and routes. He needs more experience and there are still a few edges that look rough, but the upside is up there with the best in the class. His tools are first round-worthy and he has shown on tape that those tools are starting to come to light.

*This could be a hidden gem here. Maybe shouldn’t call him a hidden gem since there are some reputable people I know that have him at WR4 or WR5 in this class. If Justin Jefferson or Ja’Marr Chase hadn’t been on the roster, we could easily be talking about Marshall as a top tier prospect. He has something the guys above don’t, and that is size. His radius plays big, he is really strong, and he has interesting athleticism. I don’t love his acceleration and agility though. That is what keeps him down a notch for me. Still an interesting guy though.

8. Dyami Brown / North Carolina / 6’1-189

Grade: 79

Summary: Junior entry from Charlotte, North Carolina. Three-year starter that earned All American and 1st Team All ACC honors in 2020. Became the first player in program history with two 1,000+ receiving yard seasons. Brown doesn’t have elite speed or size, but he has constantly been a big play threat. His burst off the line, easy and smooth agility, and impeccable footwork makes him look like he is playing on ice. He is an easy operator that looks like he can play as fast as anyone in short and intermediate areas while looking like he is going for a walk in the park. When it comes to getting open, Brown is heading toward an elite level. His ball skills are still developing, particularly on deep passes, but this is a year-one contributor that has star potential. Brown has just about as much upside as any receiver in the draft if he can get stronger and bring the ball in more consistently on all levels.

*If you catch the right stretch of tape for Brown, you are going to think he is a first rounder. He may be the smoothest athlete of all the receivers in the class. It is easy for him to burst off the line, swing his hips, plant that foot in the ground and burst in any direction he wants to go. At the very least, Brown is a safe pick that will be around for a long time. His playing strength and lack of true top end speed may prevent him from being a top tier threat, but he can do so many things like a pro right now and he still has loads of progression to go through.

9. Josh Palmer / Tennessee / 6’1-210

Grade: 79

Summary: Senior entry from Brampton, Ontario. Four-year starter that came to Tennessee as an overlooked recruit that was very raw to the game after being a star basketball player growing up. Palmer is a dog on the field, meaning he is tougher and more physical than the guy that he is up against at all times. He wants it more, plain and simple. He plays such a physical and aggressive brand of football and it does make up for some skillset shortcomings. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking his talent with that in mind. He is more than fast enough, he has plus-burst in short areas, and he can go up and get it. Palmer still has some rawness to the techniques and mechanics the position requires, but this is a pure gamer that will make things happen with the ball in his hands. He projects to be a really solid number two or three option in a good passing offense.

*Palmer is going to be a coach and fan favorite. If every player could play as hard as he does, teams would be so much better off. He is a fun kid to watch, and I respect the dog in him. While his sheer talent and athletic ability may leave some to be desired, he is no slouch there. He has some Anquan Boldin in him when it comes to how his thickness and power can overtake a defensive back. He will then sneak by a corner that is too caught up in the physical matchup and get him over the top. Palmer has won matchups against some of the best corners in the country and yes, that means something.

10. Nico Collins / Michigan / 6’4-215

Grade: 79

Summary: Senior entry from Birmingham, Alabama. Two-year starter that opted out of the 2020 season. Honorable Mention All-Big 10 in both 2018 and 2019. Collins was a big play threat for the Wolverines. He averaged 16.6 yards per catch in 2018 and conference-leading 19.7 in 2019, a season in which the team awarded him Offensive MVP honors. The one statistical draw back? He averaged just 3 catches per contest over that 2-year span. Collins is one of the bigger and more physical receivers in the class. His height, wingspan, and strength presence make him a very difficult one on one matchup. This is the kind of receiver that can be open no matter where the cornerback is, including all over Collins. He understands body positioning like a basketball player. The deep speed is there but the short area turn and burst is not, thus a reason why he just doesn’t make enough impact play to play. He will need a specific role at the next level and there will be stretches where he disappears and/or won’t be a factor, but he can be a missing piece to a passing offense that needs that big downfield threat.

*Prior to Golladay being signed, I perceived Collins as being the day two target NYG would go after. He is a really big kid that plays strong and will show some build up speed. His catch radius is big time. Maybe NYG wants to add even more size on the outside? That would be a really interesting strategy by them, and I’ve always felt it could change their offense. Golladay on one side, Collins on the other, Engram up the seam with Shepard manning the slot and Slayton giving the occasional deep threat. That is a tough thing to defend, all that size, in today’s NFL. Would be an interesting weapon and strategy.

11. Tamorrion Terry / Florida State / 6’3-207

Grade: 79

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Ashburn, Georgia. Three-year starter that earned All ACC honors in 2018 and 2019. Opted out of the duration of the 2020 season after 5 games. Terry has been a big play threat since the moment he stepped on the field. He set numerous records for the Florida State program and led the country in 2019 with an average of 57.9 yards per touchdown reception, highest over the previous 15 years among receivers that had 9+ touchdowns. Terry’s size, speed, and ability to make the spectacular catch in traffic is going to make him an attractive and desired weapon for a downfield passing attack. In addition to the talent, Terry plays tough and physical whether he is involved in the play or not. He still has some rawness to his game when it comes to ball skills and routes. He drops too many easy passes and doesn’t always pay attention to the finer details of running routes. There aren’t many receivers that can match his talent level, but he will need to clean the other areas up before he is considered a play-to-play threat in the NFL. Boom or bust type that will need to prove the maturity is there.

*I think I have Terry slotted way higher than most, as it sounds like he will be taken somewhere day 3. I will acknowledge he is a risk and may need extra time in relation to guys that I have this kind of grade on. There are certain guys you watch though that just give you a certain feeling and this is the classic “Go with your Gut” prospect. Terry needs to be smoother around the edges, but his ability to burst downfield, track the ball, and go get it can be hard to find at his size/strength combination. If NYG ignores WR early on, I would be ecstatic with taking the chance on him. The potential reward here is big time.

12. Tylan Wallace / Oklahoma State / 5’11-194

Grade: 78

Summary: Senior entry from Forth Worth, Texas. Three-year starter that was a two-time 1st Team All Big 12 honoree in addition to being named 2nd Team in 2019. Wallace missed 5 games at the end of 2019 after suffering a torn ACL in practice. He was among national leaders in receiving numbers across the board when the injury occurred. This was a season after he was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award and a 2nd Team All American. Wallace came back just as strong his senior season, if not better, than where he left off pre-injury. He is a true competitor that plays bigger than his size. His ability to twist, turn, and react to the ball in relation to what and who is around him is borderline special. The questions around him are limitations that come from not having plus size or straight-line speed. He may be restricted at the next level, but even if he is a specialty player he will be reliable and tough. His production has always been consistent and his best tape has come against his toughest competition in the biggest moments. He won’t be a number one, but Wallace has a steady and long career ahead of him.

*Part of a deep wide receiver class revolves around how many quality starters one will project within the group. Here we are, 11 receivers in, and I am talking about a guy that can start for this team in 2022 and we still have a few more to go. Wallace is a gamer, a tough dude. If NYG is going to bring in some attitude to the offense without overlooking downfield talent, Wallace is a real possibility. I think his lack of size is a bit of an issue, but there are plenty of outside threats with this physical makeup and again, I love the way he plays.

13. D’Wayne Eskridge / Western Michigan / 5’9-190

Grade: 77

Summary: Fifth year senior entry from Bluffton, Indiana. Four-year starter that also has some experience at cornerback. 1st Team All MAC in 2020 in a year where was finally the feature receiver on the team. Eskridge is a blazing fast and quick playmaker that has sustained big play ability from the start of his career. He accelerates in a blink and is a hard guy to even touch when he has the ball. Eskridge did make a part time move to cornerback in 2019 because he was the best cover-man on the roster despite being overly raw. His sheer talent and willingness to make multiple back and forth moves to help the team and excel in whatever role that is, says a lot about him as a player and person. Eskridge can be an immediate jolt to any offense’s ability to put points on the board. He has averaged 22 yards per catch since the start of 2018 in addition to adding dynamic return ability. There is so much Eskridge can do on the field and his elite speed will make him sought after.

*Eskridge is really exciting talent that plays to his sub 4.40 speed. To think he hasn’t been a full-time receiver for more than a couple years can enable coaches to dream about what he can be. The size is going to hold him back a bit. I see a future slot that can be moved to the outside on plays where they really want to stretch the defense. He is still too raw to be considered an every down guy right away, but a creative mind should be able to make it work and get him the ball 6-8 times per game including special teams. From there, it will be all about how he progresses the skill set.

14. Kadarius Toney / Florida / 6’0-193

Grade: 77

Summary: Senior entry from Mobile, Alabama. One-year starter that was a key part of the offense all four years. 1st Team All SEC in 2020. Toney saved his best for last as a senior. He broke out in a big way and finally translated potential into real production. He did more in 2020 than his three previous seasons combined, partially because of the amount of talent the Gators had ahead of him on depth chart before this past fall. Toney has joystick quickness and change of direction whether he is running routes or carrying the ball. He is the kind of guy that can miss contact in the phone booth and will always fight for more yards. Toney plays bigger and tougher than his frame suggests. It will be hard to find a more competitive spark plug than him. There are concerns around character and durability and he needs a specific role. The right offensive mind can make him a dangerous weapon though, one that can really elevate an offense as a whole.

*There are some teams that have Toney in the top 5 according to one of the very few media resources I trust and speak with. That really surprises me. I won’t give details here but there are a few serious red flags with character, and I just don’t see Toney having a high ceiling. He is as tough as they come, and I love his stop-go quickness. He will make plays with the ball in his hands. But there is a cap to his speed, he doesn’t play very big, and there are a lot of shortcomings I see when it comes to routes/ball skills/awareness etc. Really intrigued to see where he goes.

15. Amon-Ra St. Brown / USC / 6’0-197

Grade: 77

Summary: Junior entry from Anaheim Hills, California. Three-year starter that earned All-Pac 12 honors in both 2019 and 2020, 1st Team in 2020. The team captain is the brother of current Green Bay wide receiver Equanimeous and also has another brother that plays receiver for Stanford. St. Brown is the son of a former bodybuilding worldwide champion. The genes are strong in this family and Amon is on a trajectory to be the most accomplished on the gridiron. He is the kind of receiver that doesn’t let the ball hit the turf if it comes in contact with his hands, plain and simple. His consistency with his ball skills and attention to detail are pro caliber and will help him exceed his physical potential. St. Brown won’t impress many with size or speed but the skill set and hustle will make things happen. He projects best in the slot and will have a limited, but important impact on an offense.

*St. Brown looks like a pro across the board. He runs such precise routes; he looks the ball into his hands and rarely shows any wiggle upon contact. He plays a very balanced and quick game. And he has a man’s body. I liked his brother coming out of Notre Dame a few years ago, albeit knowing he was really raw still. He is still on the Packers and I think this upcoming season will be his last real shot. Amon is a better football player, but maybe a little less gifted. I think we will see him playing in this league for awhile, ideally in the slot.

16. Jonathan Adams / Arkansas State / 6’2-210

Grade: 76

Summary: Senior entry from Jonesboro, Arkansas. Two-year starter that really broke out over his 13 games. 1st Team All Sun Belt and the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2020. Adams was dominant all season and seemed to blossom at the exact right time. In just 10 games, he brought in 12 touchdowns and 1,111 yards, both top 3 in single season history at Arkansas State. Adams doesn’t win with speed or explosion; he is simply a dominant physical force with top tier hands that make the 50/50 situations seem more 70/30 in his favor. There are going to be certain skills that need to be refined, namely route running and tracking the deep ball, before he can be thrown into the mix. He is a developmental player that has the makings of a starter if he really applies himself once under the tutelage of an NFL program.

*I was all over Adams in September. On the preseason grading lists that I get access to prior to the season, he wasn’t even in the top 40 seniors. What a rise he has had. He may end up getting drafted lower than this, but I would take a chance on him day three no matter what team I am. He plays the game really big and strong. One of the few guys in this class that showed dominant traits with the ball in the air in 50/50 situations. His workout went better than expected as well, showing some signs of ability that can really make him stand out once he gets with an NFL coach.

17. Tutu Atwell / Louisville / 5’9-155

Grade: 76

Summary: Junior entry from Miami, Florida. A former high school quarterback that started for two seasons at Louisville, earning all ACC honors both times. The 2019 conference receiving yards and touchdown leader respectively is also a program single season record holder in both categories. Atwell has the kind of speed that can change the game for the offense he gets added to. He is in a rare tier of explosive playmakers that brings that superior burst and acceleration to the field as a route runner and playmaker post-catch. He is a weapon that can knife through the top of a secondary, stretch the defense, and open things up for players around him. The lack of size and playing strength will cap the impact he can make individually, but if he is paired with a successful deep passer and there are other complimentary weapons around him, Atwell is the kind if playmaker that can bring an offense to another level.

*Atwell’s speed is different-level. Not just in the straight-line top end kind of way, but how quickly he can accelerate in addition to his ability to alter direction as a route runner. My initial outlook on him was heading toward a day 2 trajectory but the size issues in combination with holes I found with his skillset (routes + ball skills) pushed him down a bit. I still think he would be a useful day three pick if is there and NYG ignores the position early on, as he has some DeSean Jackson within his ability to move.

18. Sage Surratt / Wake Forest / 6’3-209

Grader: 76

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Lincolnton, North Carolina. Two-year starter that opted out of the 2020 season. Really broke out of his shell in 2019 where he led the Power 5 conferences with 1,001 receiving yards prior to getting injured and missing the rest of the year. The former High School North Carolina Player of the Year in both football and basketball scored 2,951 points on the hardwood, 2nd all time in the history of the state. His skill set on the field is very much a product of that basketball success, as he shows elite ability to attack the ball once it is in the air. His understanding of how to work around defenders bodies with ease and fluidity will make him a QB-friendly target at the next level. His lack of top end speed and ability after the catch will keep him out of the elite tier, but this is a player that will help an offense early and often.

*I had to bump Surratt down a notch. He had a really poor Pro Day workout and there are also a few notes about his lack of motivation that I received. This discouraged me a little extra because I really want to like Surratt. I love how he attacks the ball, and his 2019 tape is some of the best I have seen out of this group. I knew there were some athleticism issues from watching the tape, but his times lead to some extra negativity here. I still would love to see NYG take a chance on him day 3 if they ignore WR early.

19. Seth Williams / Auburn / 6’3-211

Grade: 76

Summary: Three-year starter from Cottondale, Alabama. Williams has been a key piece to the Auburn offense since he stepped foot on campus. His talent and tool set are a hard combination to find. He is tall, strong, and fast with outstanding leaping ability. He was an all-state medalist in high school in both the long jump and high jump. Williams is an easy prospect to like when it comes to his physical traits. The issue with him revolves around inconsistency across the board. While he does have good, strong hands, he too often did not come down with the ball in contested situations. Even though he has plus-athletic ability, he gets sloppy with his release and route running, Williams has shown enough to warrant an opportunity in the NFL, but he really needs to take in coaching and apply himself to maximize what he already has. Boom or bust.

*One negative I have on Williams was the fact he really struggled when matched up against future pros. He just didn’t seem to have a twitchy mind when it came to reactions whether it was to the ball or the defender himself. There are teams that will see the size and movement ability and want to give him a shot, though. He may be a day 2 pick.

20. Jaelon Darden / North Texas / 5’8-174

Grade: 75

Summary: Senior entry from Houston, Texas. Three-year starter that earned 1st Team All-Conference honors in both 2019 and 2020. Also a 1st Team All American and the Conference USA Most Valuable Player in 2020, a season in which he finished second in the country in touchdowns (19) and yards per game (132.2), behind only Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith. Darden is an electric playmaker that shows elite quickness, agility, and anticipation with the ball in his hands. He can create something out of nothing, he fits into creases that others cannot even find, and plays with a big-time competitive streak. Darden’s size will limit him to specific roles at the next level, but there is no denying how dangerous he can be. He will add a spark to any offense he gets drafted to if the offensive mind that runs the show can be creative enough.

*I don’t think enough has been made about how good Darden was in 2020. He was easily one of the most dominant players in college football. Who he played against does matter a bit, but I still think there should be more talk about how good he can be. Darden’s size, like a few guys in this class, are going to be a huge factor in regard to where he gets drafted. He has rare-level agility and ability to miss contact though. If he can figure out route running and gain a higher understanding of playing the slot in the NFL, he can big time.

21. Austin Watkins Jr / UAB / 6’2-207: 75

22. Simi Fehoko / Stanford / 6’4-222: 75

23. Amari Rodgers / Clemson / 5’10-212: 75

24. Frank Darby / Arizona State / 6’0-201: 74

25. Anthony Schwartz / Auburn / 6’0-186: 73

26. Cornell Powell / Clemson / 6’0-204: 73

27. Shi Smith / South Carolina / 5’10-186: 73

28. Ihmir Smith-Marsette / Iowa / 6’1-181: 72

29. Brandon Smith / Iowa / 6’1-218: 72

30. Josh Imatorbhebhe / Illinois / 6’1-218: 71

31. Tre Nixon / Central Florida / 6’0-187: 71

32. Dez Fitzpatrick / Louisville / 6’2-208: 70

33. Cade Johnson / South Dakota State / 5’11-184: 70

34. Trevon Grimes / Florida / 6’4-220: 70

35. Jhamon Ausbon / Texas A& M / 6’2-217: 69

36. Javon McKinley / Notre Dame / 6’2-215: 69

37. Dazz Newsome / North Carolina / 5’10-190: 69

38. Brennan Eagles / Texas / 6’4-225: 69

39. Marquez Stevenson / Houston / 5’10-180: 68

40. Ben Skowronek / Notre Dame / 6’3-220: 67

NYG APPROACH

Before I get into what I think NYG should do, I have to say this is going to be a very tricky situation. One can easily make the case they should use #11 on a receiver while someone else can make an equally credible case they should use their draft assets elsewhere. A lot of this will depend on the outlook of Darius Slayton. He was one of the best rookie receivers in the NFL in 2019 but there is cause for concern with how much he disappeared in 2020 (finished with 3 or less catches in 7 of 16 games). You then have Sterling Shepard, who has a $10+ cap number in both 2021 and 2022, has averaged 10 yards per catch since the start of 2019, and has missed 4, 6, and 5 games in 3 of the past 4 seasons respectively. Simply put, there are major question marks here.

To echo past comments I’ve made, the 31st-ranked NYG offense was not a Kenny Golladay-away from being competitive enough. It was not even a Kenny Golladay + Saquon Barkley away from being a competitive enough. Solving this puzzle needed multiple pieces, both along the offensive line and at the skill positions. Wide receiver is, and should be, very much in play at #11 and any pick beyond. We need to know if Daniel Jones is the long-term answer after year 3. That is usually my barometer for a young QB. You won’t know if he is the answer until you protect him with better blocking and you give him a realistic, formidable group of playmakers to work with. If that means you put a hold on building up the defense, fine. This WR group as a whole, just like a year ago, is incredibly strong. However, the longer you the wait the lesser chance you have at hitting a home run, triple, or double. I would be disappointed if NYG went 3 picks without adding another pass catcher. It does not have to be #11 (although it certainly could), but they need another weapon. There are multiple pro-ready guys here who will add a dimension to the offense it sorely needs. Imagine NYG get this year’s version of Justin Jefferson. What would that do to this offense with Barkley + Golladay + improved OL play? That is the jump they need, not just want, if they want to be ultra-competitive.

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David Syvertsen

David Syvertsen, aka Sy'56, has worked for Ourlads Scouting LLC since 2013, starting off as a college depth chart manager and now a lead scout for one the most-sold NFL draft guides year-in, year-out. He has been scouting for over 10 years and will compile anywhere from 400-600 scouting reports per season, with that number increasing year by year. He watches and studies game films 20-25 hours per week throughout the entire year with his main focus being NFL Draft prospects.

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