2023 NFL Draft Wide Receiver Superlatives

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2023 NFL Draft Wide Receiver Superlatives


2023 NFL Draft Wide Receiver Superlatives


Best Route Runner: Jordan Addison

Addison’s route running ability, particularly on deep routes, allowed him to be one of college football’s best receivers over the past two years and win the Biletnikoff Award in 2021. He has excellent body control and cutting ability to separate from defensive backs down the field. 

Even though he does not have elite speed, his crisp routes allow him to maintain his momentum and beat “faster” corners. Addison also has polished footwork allowing him to beat defenders off the line with sudden routes and movements. Honorable Mention: Michael Wilson

Best After the Catch: Quentin Johnston

Traditionally, a player with Johnston’s frame should be a dominant contested catch threat and struggle after the catch. Johnston reverses that archetype. His best plays came after the catch on routes like slants and crossers. He averaged nearly nine yards after the catch, per catch, which was top-ten among draft-eligible receivers in 2022. His speed and size combination makes him nearly impossible to tackle in the open field. 

Johnston forced more missed tackles per catch than any other Power Five receiver in the last eight years. He profiles very similarly to Brandon Aiyuk who has thrived in a YAC-heavy role with the 49ers. Johnston has the upside to be a prototypical big-bodied X-receiver, but for now, he is most dangerous running after the catch. Honorable Mention: Jonathan Mingo

Best Vertical Threat: Jalin Hyatt

All Jalin Hyatt did at Tennessee in 2022 was dominate down the field. He is one of the fastest receivers in the class, running a 4.40 40-yard dash at the combine. He also recorded a 40-inch vertical jump. He tracks the ball well despite constantly being 20-30+ yards down the field and positions himself to continue the play after the catch. 

Hyatt ran a limited route tree at Tennessee but excelled on the vertical routes he was asked to run. There are concerns about how he will handle press coverage, but he undeniably has a knack for getting open vertically and making splash plays. Honorable Mention: Marvin Mims

Best Hands: Charlie Jones

One of the more underrated receivers in this draft cycle, Charlie Jones was the definition of consistency in his last year at Purdue. He had just three drops all season long compared to 110 catches, the most in the NCAA. Similar to Hunter Renfrow, he is a smaller and older slot prospect but is a savvy route runner with reliable hands. 

Jones tracks the ball and high-points well for a player his size and rarely loses control once it’s in his gloves. He should have no trouble gaining the trust of his quarterback and finding the field early, regardless of his draft spot. Honorable Mention: Justin Shorter

Best at the Catch Point: Josh Downs

Despite being just 5’9 and slightly over 170 pounds, Josh Downs led the draft class in contested catch percentage in 2022 (75%). Using every bit of his 38.5-inch vertical, he is confident at the catch point and wins jump balls that a player his size should not be able to. 

Downs was at his best in the red zone due to his box-out ability and quick routes. Although he will likely be reserved for the slot at the next level, he is sure to translate as a red-zone threat and deep ball target. Honorable Mention: Bryce Ford-Wheaton

Best Slot: Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Running 89% of his routes out of the slot in 2021, Smith-Njigba had the most productive season in Ohio State history. Whether he was placed there because of physical limitations or the surrounding talent (two 2022 first-round picks in Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave), it is where he thrives. He lacks the vertical speed desired for a first-round outside receiver, but he is a technician in the slot. 

Smith-Njigba posted elite agility numbers at the combine and is incredibly crafty in the middle of the field. He has strong ball skills that will allow him to become a quarterback’s best friend and has perennial 100+ catch potential. Honorable Mention: Demario Douglas

Best Blocker: Rashee Rice

Along with being one of the highest-graded wide receivers in college football last year, Rice was also one of Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded blockers (74.9 run blocking grade on 320 snaps). His willingness to attack defensive backs is apparent on tape. 

He uses his 6’1, 204-pound frame to eliminate defenders from the play, blocking them downfield away from the play. His blocking can help him find the field early in the NFL as a projected day-two pick. Honorable Mention: Joseph Ngata

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