Welcome to the first positional scouting report of the 2017 NFL offseason. As is always the case, players will be broken down from film study, with both the positives and negatives being listed, followed by an overview.
Everything is graded on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being elite, and 1 being terrible (yes, I’ve actually had to grade someone terrible in an area: Johnny Manziel). I also give a grade for potential. I grade potential separate because more often than not, a player never reaches his full potential; so potential should not be a heavy factor in grading a player, but has to be included.. Therefore it is it's own separate entity. The highest grade for potential is an A+, which would mean you could be a Tom Brady or Adrian Peterson caliber player. The lowest grade for potential is a C which just means your ceiling is average.
SKILLS GRADING SYSTEM
***ALL PLAYER COMPARISONS ARE BASED OFF OF SKILL SET AND BODY TYPES, NOT A PREDICTION OF CAREERS***
Western Michigan, 6’3” 215 lbs
Player Comparison: Julio Jones
Positives: Davis has extensive experience lining up all over the field. He playd X, Z, slot, and even the wing. His route tree is the most complete I've seen since Deandre Hopkins. He's a far superior athlete to Hopkins, however. He runs crisp and sudden routes, and explodes out of his breaks. He has very strong hands, and can make a wide range of catches outside of his frame. He displays no issues at all making contested catches. He has great size and strength and beats the jam at the LOS (line of scrimmage) using his long arms and impressive strength. His COD (change of direction) skills are far better than one would expect considering his size. He accelerates quickly, and pulls away from defenders with ease. Outstanding field awareness, as sideline catches are routine.
Negatives: Though he performed well when he faced stiffer competition against teams like Wisconsin and Tennessee, the huge question will be how did the talent he faced play a roll in his dominance, if it played a role at all? While he shows physicality often post catch, you'd like to see him show the same tenacity and fearless attitude going over the middle. At times he will sit a route short, rather than carry it to avoid defenders.
Overview: Davis is the most pro ready player in this years draft regardless of position. He fully understands route concepts and how to read defenses. He's a bit of a mix in style of play between, Terrell Owens and the aforementioned Julio Jones. He's easily the most complete receiver as he brings size, athleticism, ball skills, speed, rac ability and COD skills all in one package and all at a high level.
Northern Illinois, 6’5” 215 lbs
POTENTIAL: A -
Player Comparison: Danario Alexander
Positives: Golladay brings amazing and ideal size to the receiver room. He's a natural hands catcher, and can really climb the ladder and snatch it out the air. He has a long stride, but its his top end speed that comes as a bit of a surprise. Golladay uses his size, above average route running, and surprising speed, to absolutely eat up off man coverage. He shows regularly an understanding of his strengths and does a great job using them to his advantage in one on one situations. He's both a deep threat, and an underneath chain mover.
Negatives: Flashes great rac ability, but considering his size and physical gifts, it needs to come more frequently. Needs to show a more consistent understanding of zone coverage. Far too often does not sit his routes down when he should. Has to improve focus in crowds when the ball is in the air.
Overview: Golladay is like a Danario Alexander clone. Some Rams fans did not like Alexander, but its hard to blame that on his talent and ability. Alexander was a very good receiver who never even sniffed his true potential because of injuries. Therein lied the problem. However, Golladay has a much better track record with health. Golladay could shape up to be one of the steals of this years draft. If he goes to the right team, he could be the next rookie to step in at receiver and really put up consistent and good numbers.
Penn State, 6’1” 205 lbs
Player Comparison: James Jones
Positives: Very strong hands. Godwin, snatches the ball as well as anyone. He lacks true speed so he's forced to make a lot of contested catches. He wins the majority of those situations. Godwin, plays very smart, and usually beats defenders by simply setting them up, using their coverage and deficiencies against them, as opposed to physical ability. He may be the best receiver in this class at stacking defenders and controlling leverage. An above average route runner, with consistently high effort. He's one of those Mr. Reliable guys. A very smart player.
Negatives: there's a lot to be desired in the athletic ability department. He's not going to wow too many people. He has quickness, which helps a lot, but his speed, strength, and vertical jumping are far from strengths. He'll be restricted to slot duties and playing off the line as he struggles against the press.
Overview: Godwin has the makings of a future savvy veteran. The guy who just, no matter what, figures out a way to get the job done. He's a player that you often find is hard to root against. You'll love his clutch performances in big games, and the way he competes and steps up against better competition, but you'll also be left wanting more. He won't build himself a resumè of breaking off big play after big play, but his consistency is what drives his performance.
Clemson, 6’3” 225 lbs
Player Comparison: Plaxico Burress
Positives: No receiver in this draft class is better at high pointing the ball. He’s going to win the vast majority of all jump ball situations. Williams plays the ball in the air as well as anyone. He displays strong hands, and can pluck the ball out of the air with ease. He uses his size and strength to beat man coverage a lot. In some ways he’s like an NBA center. He will often box out the defender shielding him from ever making a play on the ball. His greatest attribute might be his toughness. He is fearless going over the middle, and always willing to take the blow, as well as deliver one, if it means making the catch.
Negatives: Lacks explosiveness. Not a very good route runner. Often times he looks lazy when coming out of his breaks. Relies on his size too much. Needs to sink his hips when making cuts, runs up right and shows the defender his intentions too much. Most good receivers have one of the following to rely on; either speed or good routes. He has neither which could serve as problematic against bigger stronger corners.
Overview: While Williams lacks good route running ability as well as speed and quickness, he makes up for it in some ways by being a bully on the field. What he lacks in speed, he makes up for in jumping ability. He’s a classic throw it up, and let me work. He is the ideal possession receiver. If he does improve as a route runner, due to his size, strength and tough guy style of play, he could develop into one of the better receivers in football. The worst thing a defensive coordinator can do, is leave corner on an island with him who cant match his strength and physicality, which most can't do.
Oklahoma, 5’11” 175 lbs
Player Comparison: Desean Jackson
Positives: Westbrook is a very fast player. He plays with a lot of speed and explosiveness. He goes from zero to 60 in a flash. His size can be a bit misleading, as he’s also stronger than one would expect. He breaks a lot of tackles, and arm tackles does no justice. He does a good job eating up cushion, and is a threat to take the top off on any given play. Also a very good return man, and has outstanding lateral quickness.
Negatives: Has only learned to run three routes; the post, a go, and screen. His routes are sloppy and very rarely does he create separation to get open. Short armed several passes over the middle or on post routes in the face of defenders. While he’s always willing to fight for extra yards, he’s far from physical. One of the worst blocking receivers in the draft. On several occasions prevented the RB from breaking a long run.
Overview: Westbrook is the classic big play receiver. He can go the distance at any moment. He’s a very athletic player, and at times plays much bigger than he is. His biggest downfall, is that it appears he only plays bigger when he has the ball, which gives the impression of a selfish attitude on the field. You would like to see that mentality and attitude more often. Still, his pure dominance can’t be denied. He’s a difficult player to contain, and at the very least he will open up the offense for his teammates to perform. Westbrook might be the most explosive — in terms of both speed and quickness, burst, and leaping ability combined — receiver in this class, and he’s the exact player you think of when a defensive coordinator says he kept me up all night.
East Carolina, 6’2” 205 lbs
Player Comparison: Michael Crabtree
Positives: Very reliable target. He catches everything that is thrown his way. He can make grabs that are way out of his frame routinely. Ridiculously consistent. Regularly shows an above average understanding of where to sit his routes against zone. A very solid route runner that creates separation with great burst out of his breaks, and double moves. Fearless over the middle, and one of the best blocking receivers in the draft.
Negatives: Jones has quickness, but that should not be confused with explosiveness. He has below average explosivness for the position and his size. He’s not the greatest in the RAC department. Struggles with breaking tackles. He’s a very smooth route runner, but at times struggles to beat the jam, and allows the defender to throw off his release and timing.
Overview: Jones is another Mr. Reliable type of receiver. He is a slightly better athlete than Godwin, however. Jones, depending on who you asks, has some of the best hands in the draft and is somewhere in the top two. He works tirelessly to get open on broken plays. It’s fair to wonder, if Jones will fall in the draft due to level of competition and slightly below average athleticism. Outside of those two areas, he’s solid and/or above average in all other areas. He could be quite the steal for a team.
Washington, 5’11” 190
Player Comparison: Tyreek Hill
Positives: Very Explosive player. Displays outstanding burst and quickness. When in the open field, there’s likely a less than 10% chance the first guy brings him down. His quickness gets him extra opportunities to pick up extra yards, and sometimes break loose altogether. A solid route runner, and has the best release from the line of anyone in the draft. Beats man coverage with a barrage of moves downfield, mixed with quickness, and speed. Another player that is ridiculously explosive in this years draft, and he might be the most versatile.
Negatives: Has to develop better ball skills. At times loses track of the ball in the air. Too many easy drops, and the ball hitting the ground from poor ball skills. Mostly displayed on routes 15 yards or more. He doesn’t do a good job making contested catches.
Overview: Ross is the ultimate gadget player, because he's not a bad route runner. He needs to work on being more consistent tracking and catching the ball, but he can hurt you in so many ways, he’s going to be a hot name to watch come draft time. He has the ability to handle 40 carries, 70 catches, and returns. His high level versatility is what sets him apart from other explosive players in this years draft.
USC, 6’2” 220
Player Comparison: Dez Bryant
Positives: A very physical receiver. Smith-Schuster is a true size, speed, specimen. While not a blazer, he routinely pulls away from defenders. Plays fearless, and aggressive with a chip on his shoulder. Might be one of the top five route runners in the draft. Another possession receiver, with good ball skills, Smith-Schuster dominates the intermediate pass game. Anything from 7-18 yards is his territory. A true chain mover. Consistently fights for extra yards. Has very impressive quickness and COD skills for a receiver his size.
Negatives: Has a scary injury history. Disappeared at times, leaving a lot to be desired about his consistency. Had the potential to be the unquestioned best receiver in college. His disappearing acts and inconsistency leads to doubts about his odds to reach his full potential at the next level.
Overview: Just from a talent perspective, Smith-Schuster is a top 15 pick. He really doesn’t have any true physical weaknesses in his game. He’s simply a solid and good player all around. His skill set and size is ideal for the NFL. However, injuries and lack of conistency and effort has often proven to be bigger down falls than having less talent. JuJu is the biggest boom or bust receiver in the entire draft, and in the top three boom or bust conversation regardless of position.
Eastern Washington, 6’1” 198 lbs
Player Comparison: Pierre Garcon
Positives: Very solid hands. Catches the ball well, and makes uncomfortable catches. A true dynamite receiver against the zone. Plays a ridiculously smart brand of football. Can stack corners, but is not adept at beating man coverage, however, will make tough contested catches regardless. Runs solid routes, and regularly fights for extra yards. He never goes down without a fight. He won’t ever be confused with a RAC monster, but he's definitely going to leave it all on the field every game. Not afraid to get physical. Plays with a chip on his shoulder. Very good blocker in the run game.
Negatives: Lacks quickness and COD ability. He doesn’t pull away from corners and safeties, as his acceleration is poor. Top end speed only average at best. Fights for extra yards, but not a YAC guy. Level of competition was poor. Classic spread offense allowed some easy windows and opportunites for receptions.
Overview: Already a fan favorite for many, Kupp is simply a solid receiver. His game is built on solid hands, decent route running, and high effort. He’s another Mr. Reliable. The draft is filled with them this year, however, Kupp would be considered one of the few upper echelon Mr. Reliable’s (if such at thing exists). He has decent size, and even though the athleticism isn’t there, his ball skills, hands and routes, are just good enough to play both slot and the outside. In fact, he might be better suited on the outside as a possession chain mover, as his quickness and COD skills might not be good enough to be an every down slot guy. However, he can win 50/50 balls, and has displayed the ability to stack the corner.
Below are my rankings of the top ten receivers of the 2017 NFL draft. Included are both the round I think they are deserving of being drafted in (represented by the first number), as well as the round I think they will ultimately be drafted in (represented by the second number)...