2018 NFL Draft: Previewing the Wide Receivers

NFL Draft
Sep 2, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Calvin Ridley (3) celebrates his 53 yard touchdown against the Florida State Seminoles in the second quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

In today’s NFL, the passing attack is absolutely crucial to a team’s success. As the importance of having a star quarterback grows, wide receivers have also become more and more valuable.

There are plenty of teams that could use an upgrade at the position. Teams like the Jets, 49ers, Bears and Bills come to mind almost immediately. And that’s just scratching the surface! Luckily for them, the 2018 NFL Draft appears to have a handful of talented prospects.

Whether you want big, physical targets or flashy and speedy prospects, this class has just about everything. Without further delay, let’s take a look at some of this year’s best wide receivers.

Most Potential: Simmie Cobbs Jr., Indiana

I’m going to be honest here: I’m a self-professed Simmie Cobbs Jr. fanboy.

When you turn on the tape, it’s hard not to fall in love with the Indiana wideout. Coaches will be drooling over the opportunity to use him and his 6’4″, 220-pound frame as a red-zone target. He’s physical on 50/50 balls, and has great hands. His route running has improved over the years, as well. Cobbs is also a good athlete, especially for his size.

Bleacher Report compared him to Mike Evans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Surprisingly, this isn’t much of an exaggeration. They’re both big, athletic and physical targets with great hands. Although Evans was more productive in college, the similar physical attributes are there. Cobbs has the potential to be a weapon that teams have to game plan for.

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Wild Card: Deon Cain, Clemson

A lot of people see Deon Cain as a top-five wide receiver in this class. While there’s no denying that he is talented, I just don’t see what others appear to see in him.

At 6’1″ and 210 pounds, Cain has a solid, pro-ready frame. He is physical on jump balls and almost always has a chance to grab any pass. He’s a very good athlete and has good hands, but his route running could use some refinement. His straight-line speed is good enough to beat defensive backs at a collegiate level, though. His production at Clemson over the past three years has been solid, but not spectacular. Granted, he’s had to fight with the likes of Mike Williams and Artavis Scott for touches. However, he hasn’t exactly been a world beater in the 2017 season so far.

Cain appears to be the next player to come out of the wide receiver factory that is Clemson. Will he be drafted as early as the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins and the aforementioned Williams? Don’t bet on it. He could have a solid NFL career ahead of him, though.

Sleeper: Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame

There are a slim amount of NFL Draft analysts who have been giving Notre Dame’s Equanimeous St. Brown the attention he deserves. That should change over time.

St. Brown has the potential to be a player with a somewhat similar skill set to the Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald. While he might not have as long and illustrious of a career as the 10-time Pro Bowler, St. Brown shares a few of skills with him. He’s a long and lanky receiver (6’5″, 203 pounds) with strong hands, great body control and explosiveness. He’s dangerous in the open field, and he’s also a solid route runner.

St. Brown could end up being a second-round pick, but I see him as more than that. In my mind, he’s a player with the physical tools to be a late first-rounder.

Top 10 Wide Receivers

  1. Calvin Ridley, Alabama
  2. Simmie Cobbs Jr., Indiana
  3. Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame
  4. Dante Pettis, Washington
  5. Courtland Sutton, SMU
  6. Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
  7. James Washington, Oklahoma State
  8. Auden Tate, Florida State
  9. Deon Cain, Clemson
  10. Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
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