We all love something. For me, it is watching football. I do it probably a bit too much. For you, it could be something as simple as spending time with family. But, we always wish that we could do that thing we love forever and that it would never end. That would a heck of a feeling, wouldn’t it?
Well, after the 2019 wide receiver class, I really wanted more top end talent rather than just simple great depth that we got in 2019. A bit greedy? Of course. But when you get a taste of what a truly great class can be, you just want more. I can say that the 2020 class has seemingly satisfied that hunger. The top end talent this year is incredible. And it’s not just a shallow class with fantastic top talent. This one has a ton of depth to it. I couldn’t ask for much more, and I doubt the NFL could ask for much more either
Thus, here are my top 5 WRs for the 2020 NFL Draft from my summer scouting.
1. Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
I mean, folks, did you really expect anyone other than Jeudy to show up here?
Listen, when you have a combination of dazzling athleticism, open field skills, and attentive, detailed route running like Jeudy actually has, there is going to be a very likely chance that Jeudy will land up right on top of this list, and he does for good reason.
Jeudy’s athleticism is more than straight-line speed. While there is a video of him out running Ole Miss Safety Zedrick Woods, who ran 4.29 at the combine, Jeudy’s athleticism is an incredible mixture of elite quickness, exceptional burst, and fluidity. That is evident in his ability to dismantle press with a variety of releases, quickness, and physicality. His frame is slight, but Jeudy is still plenty physical on the field.
That physicality is still not necessarily all enough when it comes to contested catches, which are a bit of a question mark for me still. It, however, is made up by the fact that he is not in those positions very often anyways. His ability to separate because of his expansive route tree, deception, and true technical ability are why Jeudy is so hyped up as a prospect. Oh, and I can’t forget his insane body control, either.
Jeudy should project into a versatile role but mainly work as an X receiver at the next level who can cook your favorite CB at the line or in the open filed whenever he wishes.
2. Laviska Shenault, Colorado
I have been on the Shenault train since last fall and for every reason that is good. Shenault was a great watch, especially in 2018. While Shenault doesn’t have every nuance in his route running, especially when he is finishing or separating at the top of his stems, his releases and ability to truly deceive Defensive Backs is one of his best traits.
Because Shenault understands that, he is an elite ball tracker and can truly play with a brand of physicality at the catch point and he is a receiver that can win at all three levels at the field.
He can be a great receiver for manufactured touches due to contact balance and field vision in the open field. Shenault’s athleticism is not super eye-popping like some other receivers in the class, but his agility and shiftiness in the open field make him far more dangerous than some of the other great athletes in the open field.
Shenault is the type of receiver with some rough edges to his game, but with every year you see improvement and subtleties added to his game. I expect nothing less this year. Watch out for Shenault because he is a playmaker.
3. Henry Ruggs, Alabama
Even with speed demons such as Jalen Reagor and Jerry Jeudy still in this draft, Henry Ruggs is by far and away the fastest guy in this draft. However, Ruggs is not built just purely off of a speed. His deep threat ability is obvious, yes, he does burn right by guys and understands how to stack them, but Ruggs is much more physical than you’d expect from a guy with his somewhat slighter frame.
It does not just stop that he is nasty with hand fighting and separating with physicality, but Ruggs is an extremely good contested catch guy who high points and maintains control of the ball through contact. All of that is with awareness of the sideline, too. Ruggs has fantastic body control on top of that physicality.
Now, I do not think Ruggs is truly a prolific route runner, especially not on the level of Jeudy and even some guys ranked below him quite honestly. But Ruggs absolutely explodes through his routes in a similar way to Mecole Hardman did as a deep threat. Ruggs has a unique brand to his game and I absolutely love it. His ceiling is quite honestly endless if he can add more nuances to his game, especially his route running.
4. Tyler Johnson, Minnesota
There is a fair chance that I have too big of a draft crush already on Tyler Johnson. I am currently okay with facing the reality of that. It is also curious that since I have loved Johnson’s game since November, but he is honestly not ranked higher. There are a few explanations to that.
One is that Johnson is not overly polished in a few portions of his game. Second is that Johnson really does not have the elite athleticism that some of these other guys have. It does matter, but technical ability can make up for it.
Johnson’s quickness, releases, and route running is what truly drew me in and what makes him a top prospect that is on the level of the best in the class. His IQ is through the roof and it is one of the main reasons why Johnson can end up so high on this list. He sets up routes by lulling the DB into a series of releases and footwork that he does and varies it when the time is right. It is not any shock to me that he was super productive doing that.
While Johnson separates doing all of that great stuff to set up his routes with his quickness, he can defeat press anyways. His ability to separate is very impressive nonetheless. Even when he doesn’t separate he really does a great job at going up and making contested catches. There are some concentration drops on his resume, but Johnson has the nuances and the tools to be a real gem of a WR.
5. Ceedee Lamb, Oklahoma
I might slightly be lower on Lamb than some people, and I totally understand why Lamb is sometimes even at WR1 for some, but Lamb does have some limitations to his game. While Lamb is a very good route runner, I am not always pleased by how he doesn’t end his stems as sharply as he runs the rest of his routes. There are some inconsistencies there. Lamb also is not as prolific in the open field as some of the guys above him, even if he is rather solid in that area. Still, I am a Ceedee Lamb truther.
Lamb’s release set is expansive and it shows on the field. It is rare you will see Lamb pull the same release on the same drive in this Oklahoma offense. He is not afraid to get dirty to separate either. Hiding Offensive Pass Interference is actually skill, and Lamb has some DeAndre Hopkins-esque ability to hide that. Thus, at the catch point, Lamb is an absolute monster. His physicality is at another level when it comes to making those catches in traffic and separating in his breaks. He’s an absolutely brutal blocker as well.
Lamb’s route running is very solid as well. The deceptiveness in his routes and more importantly, the foot speed is what makes him able to snap off routes so easily. He looks like he is running on smooth glass at times with how he effortlessly makes those breaks look so smooth.
Lamb might not be ‘prolific’ or even as dynamic as some of these guys in the draft, but man, he is absolutely just as savvy and technically refined as anyone.