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
1: Garrett Wilson – Ohio State – 6’0/186
Summary: Junior entry from Austin, Texas. A former 5-star recruit that also had Division I offers out of high school for basketball. Two-year starter, two-time 1st Team All Big 10 honoree and a 2021 2nd Team All American. Wilson is the kind of dynamic and explosive playmaker that is a threat to score each time he steps on the field. The size and speed are, respectively, both good enough but neither are top shelf traits. What makes him different is the elite body control and special awareness. He can twist and turn late in ways that most others simply cannot. The game slows down for him when defenders are near and the second, he makes his move, those defenders are often found wondering what just happened. Wilson can project to both the outside and the slot depending on the offense that brings him in. No matter what, expect him to make plays right away and ascend to one of the more dangerous threats in the league at the position.
*In a strong receiver class that lacks anyone near the elite-tier, Wilson gets the nod for the top spot. This could easily belong to one of the next few guys based on the style of offense a specific team plays. Wilson likely fits into any offense, however, as the skill set can go in a variety of ways. He is going to get open on all levels of the route tree and he can make special plays look easy. There is a looseness and flexibility to his core than screams playmaker. I do wish he had a little more presence against contact after the catch, as he goes down fast too often, but that is a negative I’ll deal with as long as he keeps everything else together. Wilson’s ceiling is similar to what we see in Stefon Diggs (a 5th round pick). I wouldn’t sleep on NYG making an aggressive move at WR in this draft. There are a lot of questions there on this team and the new regime did not bring any of the current ones on to this roster.
2: Jameson Williams – Alabama – 6’1/179
Summary: Junior entry from St. Louis, MO. One year starter for Alabama after spending two seasons at Ohio State where he started six out of 22 games played. First team All-SEC and first team All-American in 2021. Finished the season number three on the program’s all-time single season receiving list behind only DeVonta Smith (2020) and Amari Cooper (2014). Williams sure did capitalize on the transfer away from Ohio State where he would have been competing with three other future first round picks for targets. He can play as fast and smooth as it gets. The ability to call on different gears at any point, whether he is running routes or carrying the ball, can change an offense. His movement is so sure with nothing wasted no matter what he is asked to do. To match that athleticism is an aggressive mindset and gamer’s mentality. Williams was also known as one of the team’s hardest working players in practice, he is often found making downfield blocks, and he was used on special teams as both a gunner and returner. The torn ACL will impact his rookie season but when it is fully recovered, we are looking at a top tier talent that can be one of the best playmakers in the NFL.
*The tape-grade was the same as Wilson’s. The torn ACL, even though he is expected to recover fully, did bring him down a point. You just never quite know and that goes deeper than just the ligament and knee itself. The soft tissue problems that can stem from this are part of the fear. Regardless, Williams’ body type can be a small concern as well. If he had more size and contact-strength, we could be talking about a guy near the 90-range. Williams has the movement and playmaking skills that can truly change an offense. There could be some Justin Jefferson here if he bounces back. The lack of game experience does create some extra gray area here, but that really could go in both directions. This is a tough, physical dude that will not shy from contact when needed. If he gets on the right offense, which is the case for a lot of skill position players, watch out.
3: Chris Olave – Ohio State – 6’0/187
Summary: Fourth year junior entry from San Marcos, California. Three-year starter that earned 2nd Team All American honors in 2021 in addition to 1st Team All Big 10 in both 2021 and 2020, 3rd Team in 2019. Olave is a smooth and easy operator that moves with the kind natural suddenness to constantly get open underneath and intermediate. No matter where lines up, he will find the holes in coverage and become a quarterback’s best friend. In a league where separation is key, Olave may be the most reliable in that department. His attention to detail and ability to glide while moving at his top rate will bring him to open space. While his response to traffic and approach the catching the ball needs some refining, Olave is a safe bet to an ideal complementary, number two target in any kind of passing attack.
*You have to feel safe with Olave. I think he is the one guy up here that you know exactly what you’re getting out of when you draft him. He is such a smooth and easy mover, and it shows up every snap, every week. If he can be put into a role that gets him in space, I really don’t see a cornerback being able to stick to him. Olave is just too quick, too fast, and the body control is too easy for him. It would be a mistake to project him to be a true number one guy, however. He gets tossed around at the catch point and I don’t love the catching mechanics. He is an Isaac Bruce type. If GB or KC gets their hands on him, that is the type of situation where he starts catching 90+ balls per year. Put him on the wrong offense and he struggles to make an impact. Again, not an earth-shattering statement but he, more than most of these guys, needs that kind of plus-situation around him.
4: George Pickens – Georgia – 6’3/195
Summary: Junior entry from Hoover, AL. Spent one season as a starter but was a on the field a ton in his first season in. addition to missing almost all of 2021 with a torn ACL. Pickens put the nation on notice as a true freshman when he led the Bulldogs in catches, yards and touchdowns all by wide margins. While he has not taken it to the next level since, the tools and ball skills are worth an extra look. He has a lot of natural talent and easy movement about him. The suddenness combined with his size can create a lot both off the line and in contested situations. He showed something when he came back from the torn ACL suffered in March before playing games in November. This is a competitive player with the NFL size and speed and plus ball skills. If his maturity can be polished, Pickens has the ceiling of a first rounder but there are several bullet points under the risk factor.
*Yet another player that I had to go back to 2019 to find his best tape. I was surprised Pickens declared after missing nearly all of 2021 with a torn ACL. While I am impressed he fought hard to get back on the field just 8 months after the injury, there are several maturity question marks with Pickens. When I think about what Schoen wants on the field and in the locker room, I don’t see a potential marriage here. But I do want to say this: Pickens has the ability and upside of every WR in this class. If his head is on straight (and stays on straight), there will be a very lucky offense out there when he puts their uniform on. This is not the time for NYG to take that kind of risk, but I would be lying if I said I never thought about taking him in round 2. He has credible WR1 ability.
5: Drake London – USC – 6’4/219
Summary: Junior entry from Moorpark, California. Three-year starter that earned 2nd Team All-Pac 12 honors in 2020, 1st Team in 2021 in addition to 3rd Team All American honors in his injury-shortened junior campaign. London fractured his ankle in USC’s eighth game of the season. He was the only receiver in the country to average 11 catches per contest and he finished second in the nation with 135.5 yards per game. The former Division I basketball player brings a combination of size, grace, and power presence to the table that can make him a threat in traffic at all times. There have been some maddening inconsistencies in his game as a ball catcher, however. He allowed too many balls to bounce off his hands and hit the turf. Considering he also lacks the final gear to separate downfield, London’s ceiling falls short of a true number one threat. He can be an asset short, intermediate, and in the red zone but don’t bank on him being a top dog.
*At the time of this writing, London still has not had his private Pro Day. I’m not overly concerned by that situation in relation to his ankle, though. I have London as a first rounder, but not someone I am considering really high. There are too many little things about his game that add up to a grade that I feel is lower than what is out there. I see a cheap version of Mike Evans. Maybe he could evolve into something close to him, and in that case would be fully worth a high first rounder, but I think there will be issues separating from pro corners at the next level. I want my size-guys to catch the ball at a high level. I want to see them rarely let the ball hit the turf when they get near it. London needs to prove more in that department. I don’t see him being in the plans of NYG unless they trade down into the 20s, maybe late teens.
6: Jahan Dotson – Penn State – 5’11/178
Summary: Senior entry from Nazareth, PA. Four-year starter that left Penn State top five in program history across all major career receiving records. Earned second team All-Big 10 honors in 2021, third team in 2020. Dotson, a high school state champion long jumper and anchor in the 4×100 meter relay, brings elite movement in all directions to the table. His burst, quickness, and acceleration give him constant space to work with. He can run himself open on all levels of the route tree and once the ball is in the air, his ability to seal the deal with a catch is as good as it gets. His hands are like magnets to the ball and the body control is always there. Dotson’s lack of size and contact presence can hinder his impact in specific situations, but he often played bigger than what he looks like. Add the dynamic ability with the ball in his hands after the catch and in the return game, Dotson has potential to be a game-changing force at the next level.
*Which receiver has the best hands in the draft? Here you go. There are guys with excellent hands and there is Dotson. In this class, he is in a class of his own. His looseness below the waist as a route runner and the core flexibility when reaching for the ball in any direction makes him an inviting target to throw to despite the lack of true size. Dotson’s weight and presence against contact does concern me. That is what prevents him from a first round grade. He would be an excellent number two or three option in a high-powered offensive attack. With where I project him to possibly go (maybe late round 1), he could find himself in an offense like GB and KC and that is where he could be overlooked and evolve into a 100+ catch per year guy. Does he fit in with NYG? I can see Daboll liking him but again, I think he is an ideal complement to a true number one guy. Still very important, yes. Not sure I see NYG going in this direction though. I won’t ever bash a pick on a guy with this level of ball skills, though.
7: Treylon Burks – Arkansas – 6’2/225
Summary: Junior entry from Warren, AR. Three-year starter that capped his career off earning first-team All SEC honors. The versatile offensive weapon fits the mold of a growing trend in the NFL; strong and thick enough to make a difference with the ball in his hands and fast enough to pose as a downfield threat in the passing game. Burks lined up all over the field and produced from a variety of roles. In addition to his 146 career receptions, he also carried the ball 41 times and returned 12 punts. Simply put, no matter the situation or role, Burks is the kind of player that will create in a unique way when the opportunity is there. His skill set as a route runner and ball catcher are still developing, but the strides he made in 2021 were enormous and showed he has some number-one-receiver upside in him.
*The idea of Burks may exceed his physical potential. With that said, there are a few offensive minds that could truly get the most out of this versatile skill set. Are the Giants one of those teams? I’m not quite sure yet because even though Daboll has proven himself with Josh Allen and Buffalo, the talent here is not even close to that. Burks is a long strider. That isn’t a bad thing, but his speed only shows up after he gets a decent head start. I don’t see the sudden route runner that will get him open consistently. Now, I do like the strength at the catch point, and he does track the ball well downfield. I may be a bit low on him, but I think he is closer to Cordarelle Patterson than he is Deebo Samuel. Still a very good player, but someone I would slot into round 2.
8: Christian Watson – North Dakota State – 6’4/208
Summary: Fifth year senior from Tampa, FL. Three-year starter that earned All-MVFC honors all three seasons, first team in both 2020 and 2021. Also, an All-American in his final year. Watson is the son of former NFL safety Tim Watson. The tall, long, and explosive receiver is dripping with tools that are enticing. He was a big play threat throughout his career at North Dakota State, averaging over 20 yards per catch. His ability to run, jump, and play with toughness can go a long way at the next level. He is making a significant jump in competition and overall athleticism; thus, his adjustment curve will likely be steep. Watson needs to shore up some techniques as a pass catcher and route runner, but this short-term project should add a significant downfield threat to a vertical passing game.
*On paper, I can see why there are some that view Watson as a potential first rounder. It is incredibly rare for a receiver from FCS to break into round 1, just for the record (has not happened since 2001, and just once since 1989). Watson is a physical freak with tools that many will create dreams from. I like the ceiling here and I think it is worth looking into day two. But his issues with drops, lack of a variety in routes, and soft tissue problems after a 2019 knee surgery concern me enough to keep him closer to round 3.
9: Skyy Moore – Western Michigan – 5’10/195
Summary: Junior entry from New Kensington, PA. A lightly recruited former high school cornerback and quarterback that transitioned to wide receiver right away at Western Michigan. Three-year starter that earned first team All-MAC honors in both 2021 and 2019, second team in 2020. Moore has the elite quickness and precision as a route runner to consistently gain initial separation at the next level. He split time evenly between lining up at the slot and out wide, but he will likely project inside. His toughness and ability after the catch that stems from balance and vision can make him a force with the ball. He plays stronger and bigger than he looks. His lack of size and long speed will likely keep him from being an outside threat but there should not be a need to put him out there considering how refined and ready his skill set it to impact the game from the slot.
*For teams that need a slot, it is very possible he ends up with a top-of-second-round grade. He is the best pure slot guy in the class and in some offenses, the role of importance there is just as high as the outside receiver. Moore is a tough dude that plays at a high speed at all times. He makes some plays that scream Wes Welker. He has a long way to go to reach that level but the urgency, suddenness, and toughness are in that tier. I hope he finds a quality offense; he can be fun to watch. NYG will need a slot at this time next year, I think. Shepard’s days are numbered, and I would not be opposed to getting a guy in right now to learn the system and take over that role full time in 2023. If he falls to round 3, he is an option.
10: John Metchie III – Alabama – 5’11 – 187
Junior entry from Brampton, Canada. Two-year starter full time and also started four games as a freshman because of injuries. Earned second-team All SEC in 2021. In a very crowded wide receiver room, Metchie III caught 151 passes in 26 games. Built like a slot receiver, his inside-out versatility will help him get on the field early on. The play speed and burst can make things happen after the catch. He did not make a lot of deep catches over his career, but he can do a lot of damage within the short to intermediate portions of the route tree. While his top end potential may not be high, his impact within a quality passing game can be strong off the bat. He plays fast, moves with power, and is still developing the overall skill set that has shown quality flashes throughout his career.
*Metchie’s medicals are going to be very important. He has had multiple lower body injuries over the past two seasons, including a torn ACL this past December. He also had surgery the year prior, and he has an enlarged heart. This is one of those situations where you could see him drop multiple rounds over the course of the weekend and everyone is left wondering what happened. On the field, Metchie is potentially a top tier slot receiver. His routes and lower body stability have left several NFL-caliber corners dead in their tracks. He can stick in the league for a long time if he passes the medicals.
11: Jalen Tolbert – South Alabama – 6’1/194
Fifth year senior from Mobile, Alabama. Three-year starter that earned first team All-Sun Belt honors in both 2020 and 2021. Tolbert was a late bloomer in high school and did not receive a lot of attention from major programs. He then suffered a knee injury in 2017, forcing him to redshirt. He started to show glimpses of greatness in 2019 before really taking off a season later. Tolbert went on to set, and then re-set school records. The silky-smooth athlete makes certain components of playing the position look easy that certainly are not. His ability to play at different gears and attack the ball with precision and strength can make him a dangerous threat on all levels of the route tree. His skill set needs a lot of work, however, and a team will need patience before they throw him on the field. Tolbert drops too many balls and his body control as a route runner is inconsistent. These things are correctable, and his natural gifts are noteworthy.
*Tolbert is going to need some extra time to truly develop as a route runner and pass catcher. He is no longer going to be the top athlete on the field. He is going to longer have substantial size advantages over others. That said, the physical package this kid brings to the table is attractive. Perhaps NYG is looking at this receiver group knowing most of them will not be around in a year? That would be a good situation for a receiver like Tolbert to come into. No urgency to get on the field, learn the offense, enhance the skill set, and hopefully be the number one or two guy in 2023.
12: Wan’Dale Robinson – Kentucky – 5’8/178
Summary: Junior entry from Frankfort, KY. Spent two seasons at Nebraska before transferring to Kentucky for the 2021 season. Honorable Mention All-Big 10 in both 2019 and 2020, second team All-SEC in 2021. Robinson has been a hybrid receiver/running back from the start of his career and will give an NFL offense the opportunity to create a big-time playmaker out of him. He has the well-balanced athletic ability and overall skill set to do multiple things, align from different spots, and create on his own. He is much more than an undersized, underneath threat that can occasionally take a jet sweep. He has had a lot of success in the deep passing game and plays with the kind of competitive fire that an at least somewhat make up for the lack of ideal size. Because he has lined up all over the offense, Robinson is a little rough around the edges when it comes release and route nuances, but all can be corrected in time. He is a big play threat every time he gets on the field no matter where he lines up.
*Robinson is a guy I have a feeling about. The quickness and burst he has the instant he touches the ball is exactly what gets overlooked by many when looking at measurables. He has the knack to find creases immediately. He is also one tough, strong dude that understands he can use the diminutive frame to his advantage, as a weapon. He is a gadget player, not someone that is always on the field. An argument can be made that only an established offense should be using a pick on a guy like this. I would not agree. Robinson is someone that can make things happen on his own. He can create big plays from nothing and that is what a growing offense needs. Robinson will make grown men hold their breath every time he gets the ball. The way Daboll used Isaiah McKenzie in Buffalo is a nice template: 77 catches – 27 rushes – 21 punt returns – 29 kick returns since 2019. I see Robinson being a better version of that. Keep an eye here.
13: Alec Pierce – Cincinnati – 6’3/211
Senior entry from Glen Ellyn, IL. Three-year starter that earned second team All-AAC honors in 2021. Pierce, an accomplished jumper and volleyball player in high school, has the kind of explosion and straight line burst to pose as a downfield threat the next level. He averaged over 17.5 yards per catch over his four-year career. His linear movement and plus-length can be a dangerous weapon for a vertical passing offense looking to add an outside threat. He is not the twitchiest underneath route runner and there are occasional issues with his ability after the catch when it comes to innovation and creating extra yards, but in his lane, he can be a solid player. He will be role-specific, but in that role, he has traits that are hard to find. He is a physical gem when considering the secondary set of tools beyond an-already impressive set of tools.
*The size and leaping ability here are a big deal. He is going to be a weapon in the vertical passing game and near the red zone. Pierce has the potential to be a menace on third down. There are going to be issues separating though, and that is a big enough concern for me to keep him in the day three tier. He would be an asset to an offense that had other movement-based options in the passing game.
14: Calvin Austin III – Memphis – 5’8/170
Fifth year senior from Memphis, TN. Two-year starter that was also a key return specialist. Earned first team All-AAC honors in both 2020 and 2019. Also, a member of the school’s Track and Field Team where he earned multiple All Conference honors and was a 2019 All American. Austin was a nine-time state champion in high school on the track in several events. He will enter the league and immediately become one of the fastest players on the field every Sunday. What makes him different, however, is the suddenness and functional movement traits that show up on the field in multiple versions. He is a dangerous returner, he gets off press coverage with quickness, and can run routes with precision. Austin’s size and lack of natural ball skills will show up from time to time and will prevent him from being a steady and consistent player. With that said, a team that needs more juice on their offense will be able to use the speed of Austin to create opportunities for the offense as a whole right away and he should make an impact on special teams.
*Austin is a fun kid to watch, and it is easy to fall into the thoughts of “what if” with him. His long speed is elite but even better, the short area quickness and burst are next level. He is going to get open in the NFL as long as he doesn’t get eaten up by a quality press corner. He is going to run away from guys with the ball. This is how I felt about a guy with a scary-close profile, Marquise Goodwin. Goodwin battled significant injuries early in his career, but he has made plays. 2017 was his peak, catching 56 passes for 962 yards. He has 14 career touchdowns but never quite made the impact as a returner. If you could guarantee Austin would have a similar career, where would you draft him? That is what I think he will end up being.
15: David Bell – Purdue – 6’1/212
Summary: Junior entry from Indianapolis, IN. Three-year starter that earned accolades all three seasons. Three-time All Big 10, 2019 Big 10 Freshman of the Year, and 2021 Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year. Capped off his career earning 1st Team All American honors. Bell is not the most physically talented receiver. He is no slouch athletically but where he made his money came from how advanced he is with the skill set of being a playmaker. His routes, releases, and ball skills all stand out in a big way. He is a smooth criminal that will steal the ball away from defenders in traffic, make them look silly in the open field, and show a nasty side to him after the catch. He is a football player, plain and simple. While he won’t be an elite downfield threat and his separation downfield will be limited, he will make a strong impact if the right team finds the right role for him.
*Bell falls below the minimum speed numbers for some teams at both the 20-yard shuttle and 40. It is possible some will not even view him as draftable. I am still looking at him in that late 4/early 5 area because of dependable he is when the ball gets in the air. He tracks it as well as anyone and there is a competitive fire in him that I like. Bell is also an advanced route runner. Watch his footwork in cohesion with his hips and core control. He has it down. There are some young receivers that never get to that level. But you do have to be careful here with the speed and lack of ability to create space. As much as I like his game, the corners at the next level are an entirely different level than what he played against.
16: Erik Ezukanma – Texas Tech – 6’2/207
Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Forth Worth, TX. Three-year starter that led the Red Raiders in receiving all three seasons. Earned All-Big 12 honors in 2020 and 2021. Ezukanma is a tough, hard-nosed receiver with excellent play-strength. He plays bigger than his above average-frame will suggest both with the ball in his hands and attacking a pass in traffic. His mechanics as a receiver of the ball are consistent no matter what angle he is coming from. Ezukanma trusts his hands and has an automatic turn upfield immediately after the catch. There is some rawness to his route running and his speed is just average. The skill set will need time to improve but there is a lot to like here if he can fine-tune some of the little things.
*This is an intriguing day three target. I do think this is where NYG will pursue a receiver, that round 5-6 area where you stash a guy toward the back end of the group and possibly use him on special teams. Ezukanma does not have a lot of experience as a gunner, but his skill set and toughness lead me to believe he can do it. As a receiver, guys from Texas Tech have always been hard to project to the next level. Their scheme is relatively simple and there is a lot of unknown. One thing that does stand out beyond the toughness is his straight line ability. He can really go north and he can really jump. Throw in the plus-hands and aggressive style, there are multiple facets to his game that add up. Also, a good situation for him to be in for a year.
17: Velus Jones Jr – Tennessee – 6’0/204
Summary: Sixth year senior from Saraland, AL. Spent three seasons at USC prior to transferring to Tennessee in 2020. First team All-SEC in 2021 and second team All-Pac 12 in 2019 as a special teamer. Co-winner of the 2021 SEC Special Teams Player of the Year Award. Jones is going to make his initial and most likely mark in the league on special teams. He is a natural playmaker in the return game, stemming from his field vision and contact balance. His burst to speed and easy change of direction makes him an intriguing project at wide receiver as well. The body thickness is unique and could thrive in a quick-strike offense as an underneath target. There are multiple ways he can help and team and that should give his overall grade a boost. He did not get many intermediate-to-deep looks in the passing game at all and there are some catch radius issues, but Jones is a gamble at receiver with a high floor because of what he will offer on specials right away.
*Jones will turn 25 just days after the draft. He had a pretty rough path to Tennessee, but he was never in trouble and there are not any concerns there. Once he settled in, Jones started to show he was more than a special teams weapon. He gets off tight coverage in a hurry, he has the deep speed to get away from corners, and he may be one of the toughest dudes in this class with the ball in his hands. While I think his role should be centralized to the slot on offense, there is extra value he brings on special teams. He has a kick couple return touchdowns on his resume and I think there could be a potential gunner here too. Jones is a very poor man’s version of Deebo Samuel. My game notes on the two are scary-similar. Both have that running back thickness and power with the ball, but both will roast you in the passing game on multiple levels. Jones does not have some of the fluidity and his routes need work, but this is one of the bigger sleepers in the class.
18: Kevin Austin – Notre Dame – 6’2/200
Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Ft. Lauderdale, FL. One-year starter that played in just two games from the start of 2019 to the end of 2020. He was suspended from the team in 2019 for repeated violations and injured his foot multiple times in 2020, requiring multiple surgeries. Once on the field for good in 2021, Austin’s talent that had been lauded for a long time finally broke through. He led the Fighting Irish in receiving and proved to be a big play threat, averaging just under 19 yards per catch. What he brings to the table, physically, is as good as any receiver in the class. He is an explosive mover in all directions and his strength plus contact presence can be too much to handle for defensive backs. Because of injuries and the 2019 suspension, he simply did not gain the experience to properly develop his tools into refined skills. This is a super high risk, high reward prospect.
*Because of what I think this regime is going to pursue, especially in this draft, when it comes to “safety” in their picks, I don’t see Austin as a guy they will pursue. Remember the name though. This can be a worthy risk for an offense that is already explosive. If he hits, you have yet another weapon which makes the “embarrassment of riches” notion even stronger (KC? LV? LAC? MIN?) or it can make a decision easier when financial issues arise with a player coming off a rookie deal. For the record, there is one guy (a college coach) that I bounce thoughts off of when it comes to receivers and backs. He said Austin is a “top 3 WR in this class and nobody knows it”.
19: Tyquan Thornton – Baylor – 6’2/181
Summary: Senior entry from Miami, FL. Three-year starter that earned second team All-Big 12 in 2021 and honorable mention in 2019. A former accomplished track star, Thornton is going to bring an element of speed and big play potential to the table right away. He is a smooth accelerator that maintains quality body control as he tracks the ball downfield. His length and concentration as he approaches the ball with his hands showed up several times on tape. There needs to be some more versatility to his game, notably after the catch and as an underneath route runner. He is not overly physical or strong, and that will need time to develop, but there are some sneaky-high end traits here worth taking a shot on day three.
*There are a lot of guys that like the tool set Thornton brings to the table. He has a lot of speed and showed the ball skills that give him a deep threat label. There may not be a ton of variety to his game, so I do think he will be a niche player, but still someone that can create the explosive plays. That is the craze of the NFL right now and because of that, you may see this kid go a little higher than where I have him. The height and length will make him appear even bigger and faster at times. He can get to balls that others come up just short on. There will be some extra transition time for him, as he didn’t run a deep route tree. Nice potential project pick for NYG if they can find him day three and a cheaper option than what Darius Slayton brings to the table.
20: Khalil Shakir – Boise State – 5’11/196
Summary: Senior entry from Murrieta, CA. Three-year starter that earned All Mountain West honors all three seasons, first team in both 2020 and 2021. Shakir’s body type and water bug movement skills scream slot receiver at the next level. He also shows the necessary toughness and competitive streak to go headfirst into a crowd without hesitation. Shakir is the kind of asset on offense and special teams that could get the ball a combined ten times a game, three different ways. The drops and overall radius are both alarming, however. If he does not shore up the consistency, the speed and toughness he shows with the ball will be tough to utilize. His margin for error is very small. At the very least he should add value as a returner and does present upside as a hard-to-touch slot.
*If there was a separate grading stack for slot receivers, Shakir would be pretty close to the top of it. I could see him getting drafted toward the round 4 area if an offense wants a guy strictly for that role. He is quick and sudden but what I like the most is the contact balance post-catch. He is a tough guy to bring down. The issues with drops really bother me, however. It is a personal rule of mine that if you are going to be a slot-only, your hands need to be elite. Throw in length-issues and I just think he needs to be a mid to late day three guy.
BEST OF THE REST
21: Makai Polk – Mississippi State – 6’3/195: 71
22: Danny Gray – SMU – 6’0/186: 71
23: Romeo Doubs – Nevada – 6’2/201: 71
24: Braylon Sanders – Mississippi – 6’0/194: 71
25: Kyle Phillips – UCLA – 5’11/189: 70
26: Justyn Ross – Clemson – 6’4/205: 70
27: Bo Melton – Rutgers – 5’11/189: 70
28: Dareke Young – Lenoir-Rhyne – 6’2/220: 70
29: Tre Turner – Virginia Tech – 6’1/184: 69
30: Jacquarri Roberson – Wake Forest – 6’1/186: 69
31: Charleston Rambo – Miami – 6’1/177: 69
32: Jalen Nailor – Michigan State – 5’11/186: 69
33: Devon Williams – Oregon – 6’5/210: 69
34: Slade Bolden – Alabama – 5’11/193: 68
35: Isaiah Weston – Northern Iowa – 6’3/214: 68
36: Mike Woods – Oklahoma – 6’1/204: 68
37: Tanner Conner – Idaho State – 6’3/226: 68
38: Reggie Roberson – SMU – 5’11/192: 68
39: Jerreth Sterns – Western Kentucky – 5’7/178: 68
40: Tay Martin – Oklahoma State – 6’1/184: 68
This is a position that is going to need a lot of attention in the next year or two. I can easily see all three of Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton not on this roster at this time next year. In fact, I would parlay that bet and be very confident in it. So, what is NYG left with? The unknown of Kadarius Toney (drafted by the previous regime), although we should get some clarity in the 2022 season. All of the other current receivers are roster-hopeful types. There will be more money to spend the next two offseasons, thus we can assume a mid-to-high priced free agent will be brought in, perhaps even a trade (similar to what BUF did with Diggs). That still will not be enough. They are going to use pick(s) on a receiver in the next year or two, no question. Daboll likes receivers who can play BOTH the slot and on the outside based on situations and matchups. They don’t need to be overly big, but they need to be tough at the catch point and run quality routes according to the pro standard. There are a few guys in every tier who I think profile best to that kind of role. It is a long shot, but Wilson in the first round (even in the top 10) is a fit there. Day two I see guys like Jahan Dotson and John Metchie III being the fit. On day three, which is where I am expecting them to probably use a pick on one, names like Calvin Austin, Erik Ezukanma, Makai Polk, Danny Gray, and Reggie Roberson are names to keep an eye on. In today’s NFL, you can never have enough playmakers. NYG is starting from the bottom tier in that department.