An Early Look at the 2020 NFL Draft Class: Wide Receivers
In the days leading up to the 2019 NFL season, we’ll take a sneak peek at the college prospects that could be primed for success this year. Today, we look at a group of five receivers, all of whom have a legitimate chance to be first-round picks this year. As the NFL continues to evolve into a passing dominant league, expect these receivers to be in high demand in the 2020 draft.
Here’s a look at the top draft-eligible wide receivers for the 2020 NFL Draft:
Laviska Shenault (Colorado)
6-2, 220 lbs
Shenault may not be the household name that his Alabama and Clemson counterparts are, but for my money, he’s the most talented and dominating receiver in the 2020 NFL draft class. He’s big, strong, explosive and shows great hands and body control. He was absolutely dominating in his 2018 sophomore season but still flies under the radar as he plays on a sub .500 PAC 12 team. Shenault played in only nine games last season and still managed to record 86 receptions, 1011 yards, and 6 TDs. Only twice did he fail to record at least nine catches in a game. He also added five rushing TDs, usually from the Wildcat package.
Shenault looks like a bigger version of Sammy Watkins. With a productive junior season, expect to see him be a top 20 pick next year and quite possibly the first receiver off the board. He has legitimate superstar potential.
Jerry Jeudy (Alabama)
6-1, 195 lbs
The reigning Biletnikoff winner as the best receiver in college football, Jeudy looks to join Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, and Calvin Ridley (and hopefully Robert Foster!) as the next great Crimson Tide receiver. He’s more Cooper than he is Jones, but he was virtually unguardable in 2018. An explosive athlete with decent size, he’s a home run threat every time he touches the ball. As a sophomore, he caught 68 balls for over 1,300 yards and 14 TDs while playing in one of the most explosive offenses in college football history. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Jeudy win the Biletnikoff Award (given to college football’s top receiver) a second time.
The only reason Jeudy is #2 on my list is because of the sheer dominance of the team he plays on. Alabama legitimately has four future first-round picks at WR and a potential #1 overall pick in QB Tua Tagovailoa. Being surrounded by such a wealth of talent is a major advantage and often leaves Jeudy in one on one situations, which he wins the majority of the time. Still, he’s a first-round lock.
Henry Ruggs III (Alabama)
6-1, 190 lbs
If not for his teammate Jerry Jeudy, we might be talking about Ruggs as the next great Alabama receiver. Ruggs is a superb athlete and might even be a bit faster and more explosive than his counterpart. As the #2 receiver for Alabama, he recorded 46 receptions for 741 yards and 11 TDs in 2018. On any other team in the nation, he’s the #1 option and likely putting up gigantic numbers on his way to being a first-round pick.
Ruggs does benefit from the same advantages that I mentioned for Jerry Jeudy, but he’s too fast and too talented not to be a high NFL draft pick. It’s hard to see him going any lower than the 2nd round.
Tyler Johnson (Minnesota)
6-2, 205 lbs
Here’s another guy who flies under the radar because of where he plays. As a junior, he tallied 78 receptions, 1,169 yards and 12 scores for an average Minnesota team. Even more impressive when you consider the unsettled QB situation the Gophers had all season and the fact that Johnson was the only real playmaker in the passing game. He was always the focus of every defensive game plan and still produced elite numbers while catching passes from average-at-best quarterbacks.
Johnson isn’t the fastest receiver around but he has good size and is very polished as a route runner. He uses his body well and is a natural pass catcher. If he played on Alabama or Clemson, we’d be talking about him as a surefire first-round draft pick. The 2nd round seems more likely but somebody is going to find a steal in Tyler Johnson.
Jalen Reagor (TCU)
5-11, 195 lbs
Reagor is another guy who may fly under the radar a bit. He burst onto the scene as a true freshman when he had 576 yards and 8 touchdowns for a really good TCU squad. Last season, TCU suffered through an uncharacteristically bad season, but Reagor still produced solid numbers: 72 catches, 1,061 yards, 9 TDs. This all came while catching passes from 5 different quarterbacks.
Reagor might not look like a prototypical #1 receiver for an NFL squad but there is a growing trend of elite receivers under 6 feet (Odell Beckham Jr., T.Y. Hilton, Tyreke Hill, and Brandin Cooks to name a few). Reagor possesses elite top-end speed and is sudden and shifty with the ball in his hands. He might be the most dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands in the entire 2020 draft class. High praise indeed.
Buffalo could be in the market for a receiver early in the 2020 draft. There are some exciting young players like Zay Jones and Robert Foster but no proven #1 receiver. With a strong defense, a rebuilt offensive line, and a stud young QB, the Bills will be looking to add offensive playmakers. Jeudy and Shenault are likely going to cost a first-round pick, but getting a guy like Ruggs in the second round or an explosive playmaker like Reagor would be a welcome addition.