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Introducing the 2020 Rookie Wide Receiver Class


With an exciting and quite deep rookie class incoming, the wide receiver position is no exception.

Not only is this class very talented at the top, but the wide receiver position is very deep and will have plenty of late-round talent. Alabama leads the way this year at the wide receiver position and there are many analysts with two or three Crimson Tide wide receivers in their top five at the position. I'm not quite there yet, but there is undoubtedly some great talent in this class and the Alabama wide receivers are a major part of that.

Let's dive into the receivers that might make an impact this year and beyond in the NFL. When you're done, take a look at running back or quarterback.

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Jerry Jeudy, Alabama

6'1", 192 pounds
Speaking of Alabama wide receivers, the first name up in this 2020 class is none other than Jerry Jeudy. Jeudy is an extremely well-rounded wide receiver and there really aren't many major flaws in his game. His route running is excellent and he has the speed and agility to make him an immediate impact in the NFL as a receiver. Depending on where Jeudy ends up after the NFL Draft, he could definitely end up being my top rookie in this class.

The only concern that I have with Jeudy at the moment is his smaller frame. At 6'1", 192 pounds, Jeudy doesn't have the frame to be a big, physical wide receiver. However, his route running and ability to start and stop so quickly is where he thrives. He isn't known as the most physical pass-catcher out there but Jeudy can burn defensive backs and leave them in the dust with his superb route running and quickness. Jeudy's best season was in 2018 where he totaled 1,315 receiving yards and caught 14 TDs. This year he saw a bit of a dip in production, but that can partly be chalked up to Tua Tagovailoa missing a majority of the season, but he still finished the season with 1,163 yards and 10 TDs. The level of his route running is similar to Amari Cooper's when he came out in the NFL Draft. That is to say, it's elite.

 

CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma

6'2", 190 pounds (Looks bigger, keep an eye on his weight at the NFL Combine)
After Jeudy, the next name up is CeeDee Lamb out of Oklahoma. Between Jeudy and Lamb, these two receivers really are in a tier of their own as the most talented and elite prospects at the wide receiver position in this class. Lamb is a much different player than Jeudy, and profiles much more like an NFL WR1. Lamb is a big, physical wide receiver with great body control and great hands. He doesn't have the speed that Jeudy does, but he is a very good route runner. Lamb also has great hands, while Jeudy tends to catch with his body a bit more. Both of these wide receivers are very talented and have excellent traits. Overall they're in a tier of their own in my opinion.

 

Henry Ruggs, Alabama

6'0", 185 pounds
Ruggs may very well be the fastest wide receiver in this class but he is not just a speed guy. He has a unique combination of physicality and speed that he uses to beat opposing defensive backs. Route running isn't his specialty, but he tends to get open thanks to his speed. Often times you'll see Ruggs make some quick slant and crossing routes across the middle, where he isn't afraid to take on contact in the middle of the field. With that ability to take on contact, combined with his general physicality, he could end up being a nice wide receiver in the NFL.

The production for Ruggs throughout his college career isn't overly impressive, but being on a team like Alabama with so much talent, that isn't too surprising. With someone like Jeudy ahead of him on the depth chart, losing their quarterback, and having a solid running back in Najee Harris, the total production was low over the last two seasons. In 2018, he finished with 46 catches for 741 yards and 11 touchdowns. In 2019, he finished with 40 catches for 746 yards and seven touchdowns.

 

Tee Higgins, Clemson

6'4", 215 pounds
As one of the biggest and more physical wide receivers in this class, Tee Higgins out of Clemson will be a fun prospect to keep an eye on. One of the first things you'll see from Higgins' college film is that he plays almost exclusively on the outside. It's rare to see any formations where he plays out of the slot. For someone of his size, he's very athletic and has good speed. Higgins is someone that will immediately be a red zone threat in the NFL. In college, he put up 12 TDs in 2018 and 13 TDs in 2019. There really aren't a ton of defensive backs out there who can cover someone of Higgins' size, which should be a huge advantage for him in the NFL. He also has a massive catch radius, which again when combined with his athleticism, will be tough for opposing defensive backs to defend against.

Some concerns come with his versatility as a route runner and he makes some drops on routine, short passes. Higgins has a lot of upside from a fantasy perspective between his upside with touchdowns and just being bigger and more athletic than many defenders on the field.

 

Laviska Shenault, Colorado

6'2", 220 pounds
Many mock drafts have Shenault going very high, some in the first round. Of course, there are other mockers who don't have him nearly that high. When you watch him play, he really looks almost like a running back in a wide receiver's body. Shenault is very physical and is tough to take down when he has the ball in his hands. His vision and physicality give him a lot of yards after the catch. He's not afraid to take on contact and does a good job of grinding for those extra yards when he can.

As someone who can be used in many different ways on the field, Shenault has some very intriguing upside, depending on where he gets drafted and how that offense wants to utilize him. His explosiveness is exciting to watch and allows him to be one of those players who is a threat to break off a big play at any time. The route tree isn't great, and as someone who is used as more of a gadget player, I'm not quite as high on Shenault as many are. In 2018 and 2019, Shenault dealt with multiple different injuries, which is something that clearly looks concerning.

 

Tyler Johnson, Minnesota

6'2", 200 pounds
Tyler Johnson out of Minnesota is another big, physical wide receiver. Johnson uses his physicality to his advantage and is tough to bring down after the catch. If you're into advanced metrics with your rookie prospects, his Dominator Rating is a superb 45%. That puts him in the 90th percentile. In short, Dominator Rating shows how much a player contributes to their team's offensive production.

One thing that stands out with Johnson is that his route running ability isn't the greatest, but he can work on it. He doesn't have the quick and sudden ability to make moves that get him separation from defenders. However, his ability to go up and get contested catches is an area that he thrives in. Between his size, physicality, and toughness he is someone that could immediately make an impact in the red zone.

 

Other Players to Watch

Jalen Reagor - TCU
5'11", 195 pounds
Crazy speed and big highlights make him look much better than he might be, despite the awful quarterback play from TCU. Physical and high points the ball very well.

Collin Johnson - Texas
6'6", 220 pounds
Huge catch radius and stretches the field. Physical and athletic for someone of his size.

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