Welcome to Part One in a series analyzing positional talent for April’s 2019 NFL Draft. Gang Green must address numerous concerns, starting with a dearth of wide receiver talent.
One surefire way the New York Jets can help Sam Darnold become their first franchise QB since the glory days of Broadway Joe is to acquire him some top-flight receivers. The in-season re-signing of Quincy Enunwa was a nice start, but there’s plenty of work to go.
First, general manager Mike Maccagnan must decide the fates of wide receivers Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse. Expect a second-round tender for the frustrating Anderson and free agency to be granted to Kearse, the victim of inept game management by Jeremy Bates — who should never get rehired to another pro offensive coordinator position.
There are a number of options in free agency, but are Golden Tate or Randall Cobb really the answer for a No. 1 receiver? Perhaps the best moves would be to retain Andre Roberts, develop Deontay Burnett, sign lower-tier overachievers such as Geronimo Allison and Cole Beasley, and/or take a flyer on rejects like Martavis Bryant or Kevin White.
Below is a detailed analysis of this year’s bumper-crop of wide receivers in this year’s NFL Draft. The list is broken up in terms of Day 1, Day 2 or Day 3 talents, priority college free agents, and small college dreamers.
Day 1 Wide Receivers
N’Keal Harry, Arizona State — Sun Devil speed-demon goes pro after two straight 1,000-yard seasons. He can quickly become a scary red-zone threat.
D.K. Metcalf, Mississippi — Scouts voice concerns over dropped passes and iffy footwork. But here is a physical baller with plug-in-and-play talent.
Kelvin Harmon, NC State — Ryan Finley’s primary target (an ACC-leading 177 catches in two seasons) possesses all the tangibles to be a No. 1 receiver.
Next: Day 2 Targets
Day 2 Wide Receivers
Deebo Samuel, South Carolina — Despite injuries and poor QB play, Deebo played tough and smart in the slot. Might be off the board Day 1.
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford — An explosive big-framed flanker who did it all in the Pac-12 and is ready for the big time. A game changer.
Emanuel Hall, Missouri — Sure the Mizzou flanker drops some passes, but he is big and fast and mentally tough. Could excel with Quincy Enunwa.
Hakeem Butler, Iowa State — Many insiders believe that this brutish 6’6″ underclassman will be the steal of the this year’s WR class. Worth the risk.
Next: Day 3 Targets
Day 3 Wide Receivers
Anthony Johnson, Buffalo — The receiving leader of the MAC does nothing spectacular but performs solidly in all phases of the game. A pro’s pro.
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DaMarkus Lodge, Mississippi — While he may lack similar skill sets, this forgotten Rebel may become the elite pro of the vaunted Ole Miss stable.
Terry McLaurin, Ohio State — An NFL afterthought from a deep OSU WR corps before his monster Senior Bowl showing. Chippy in all the right ways.
Keelan Doss, UC-Davis — An impressive Oakland athlete who didn’t rank as a DI prospect. Now, this FCS All-American will likely excel at the pro level.
Next: Undrafted Targets
Priority FA Wide Receivers
Flynn Nagel, Northwestern — The Big 10’s leading receiver of 2019 isn’t very fast or physical. But he’s ideal for that NFL possession-offense role.
Trenton Irwin, Stanford — This Stanford product has been rated too slow for the pro game. But never discount a high-motor jock with an ax to grind.
Cody Thompson, Toledo — A bottom-of-the-roster talent with all the tools (a career 3,300 yards and 30 TDs) to contribute early on. A legitimate WR project.
Tyre Brady, Marshall — A menacing receiver who just needs to develop a blocking game. His red flag was flaming out of the University of Miami.
Xavier Ubosi, UAB — With good coaching, this Conference USA standout, star of this year’s Boca Raton Bowl, could develop into a top No. 2 receiver.
Next: Small School Wonders
Small College Dreamers
Ashton Dulin, Malone — His Ohio evangelical college’s first NFL Combine invitee dominated January’s NFLPA Bowl. Teams salivate over the upside.
Brody Oliver, Colorado School of Mines — The FCS’ most refined receiver thrived at the Shrine Game. Don’t be surprised if he’s a Day 3 pick.
Jazz Ferguson, Northwestern State — The former five-star LSU signee, and brother of likely first-rounder Jaylon Ferguson, seems ready to explode.
Deonte Harris, Assumption — An undersized game-changer equally adept in the slot and as a return man. Check out his devastating DII highlight reel.