Davis Mattek’s Top Five Rookie Wide Receivers In The 2019 NFL Draft
There is not an exact science in evaluating wide receivers coming out of college. As a community, we have gotten collectively better at determining what does and does not matter in a college wide receiver’s profile, but like all positions, there will never a 100 percent hit rate. Wide receivers are, however, my favorite position to project at the next level going back to my early days in the Fantasy Football industry.
Probably the largest lesson to learn when looking at wide receivers and how they will project in the NFL is how much of their team’s college production they were able to generate. This number is broken down into something called Dominator Rating, which figure that illustrates the percentage of a team’s receiving production that any given player accrues. A player’s Dominator Rating is his percentage of receiving touchdowns added to the percentage of his team’s receiving yards, divided by two. In general, we want to have our eyes on players who outshone their teammates in college, because it gives us an idea of them rising above their circumstances.
- D.K Metcalf, Ole Miss
Metcalf is the mystery, wrapped in an enigma inside of a Russian nesting doll of this draft class. He has the perfect NFL X-receiver size, standing 6’4” and 230 pounds. However, he was basically injured through his entire college career. He played two games as a freshman before injuring his foot and being given a medical redshirt; he also injured his neck in the 2018 season and played in only seven games. Metcalf is the sort of player that would have not been on my radar three years ago but probably the biggest lesson I have personally learned is that if there is enough smoke coming from NFL scouts and in mock drafts suggesting a wide receiver will be selected highly despite an underwhelming profile, there is likely fire. I fully reserve the right to move Metcalf down at least five spots if he tests poorly or if it seems that NFL teams are souring on him.
- N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
The Arizona State product is probably the most agreed upon prospect of this WR class. Hardly any self-styled scout has a bad word to say about him. Harry is 6’4”, weighs 213 pounds which is a pretty elite frame, scored almost 50 percent of his team’s receiving touchdowns in his final college season and accrued 35 percent of the Sun Devils’ receiving yardage in 2018. I could actually see Harry being the top drafted wide receiver in this class if he is able to run a 40-yard dash in faster than 4.45 seconds and test well in other athletic categories. A big-bodied wide receiver like Harry who can move fluidly enough to play all three wide receiver positions is a big draw to current NFL coaches.
- Greg Dortch, Wake Forest
If Dortch magically hits a growth spurt in the next two months, there is a chance that he ends up much higher in my rankings than he is now. Unfortunately, that just isn’t the way life works. Dortch is 5’9” and 170 pounds. That is extremely small for a wide receiver, even a slot wide receiver. It is likely that after the combine, Dortch falls outside of even the Top Five of rookie WR rankings if he is a minus in any measurable category. However, he was one of the most productive players in college football at Wake Forest and he deserves to be mentioned here. He had Dominator Rating seasons of 41 percent and 36 percent while recording the 10th most receptions in college football in 2018. There are reports that he has a disappointingly slow 40-time, but until he runs one at the combine, I am comfortable believing that his game translates pretty well to the short-passing, high-tempo NFL game.
- Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
Samuel never topped 1,000 yards receiving at South Carolina and was not used on punt returns in college, which is always something we want to monitor with wide receiver prospects. However, Samuel did lead the Gamecocks in receiving yards two of his four seasons in college (he played only three games as a junior and five games as a freshman) and seems to be the most “pro-ready” wide receiver of the group. He posted 10 catches for 210 yards and three touchdowns against the National Champion Clemson Tigers, which is certainly a positive signal. Generally, when looking at players like Samuel at the next level, you find players who can play boundary wide receiver and in the slot like Adam Thielen. Samuel is a little shorter than Thielen, but his ability to win at the next level will be similar. Precise route-running, sure hands in contested spots and fluidity in the open field are the trademarks of what makes Samuel a legit Top Five wide receiver in this class.
- Marquise Brown, Oklahoma University
‘Hollywood’ Brown may not even make in some experts’ wide receiver rankings for this class. The fact is that he would be one of the smallest wide receivers ever drafted into the NFL, standing 5’10” and weighing less than 170 pounds. There is no denying that his frame does put him at a disadvantage. However, pretty much every other form of analysis leads to him looking like a legit prospect. He is only 21 years old and won’t turn 22 until after he’s drafted; the younger a player is at draft time, the higher their eventual ceiling. Brown had two full playing time seasons, went over 1,000 yards in both seasons and scored 17 touchdowns despite playing in an offense that prioritized spreading the ball around. The bottom line is that you are a believer that Brown can put on weight and maintain his speed, he is a clear NFL starter and if you don’t, he shouldn’t have a draftable grade.
Featured Image by Robert Timmons.