2017 Draft: Wide Receiver Rankings

My understanding is that a majority of Raiders’ fans are content with the current wide receiver situation. While this position group isn’t necessarily “high” on the list of needs, you should always be in the market to get better. Draft talent (players), not positions.

Obviously, Amari Cooper is a special one, just waiting to completely take-off (he’s flashed plenty at this point, and we know what type of player he can be, but we need that consistency).

Michael Crabtree has revitalized his career in Oakland, and is as solid of a number two as you can ask for. Security blanket.

Seth Roberts has frustrated way too often with the dropped passes, but he’s also come up big just as frequently.

Oakland tacked on Cordarrelle Patterson via free agency, as well. I’m not sure what the future holds, or where his ceiling may lie at this point, but the offseason commentary will lead you to believe that Derek Carr and new offensive coordinator Todd Downing have several ideas. Temper expectations, and don’t hand over that WR3 title just yet.

Outside of Cooper and Crabtree, I’d like to think that roster spots are up for grabs.

This year’s class may lack some bonafide stars, but there are still plenty of players who will present some value in a quietly deep class. I especially like the run from about 4 to 14, as detailed below. We’ll see a few names in that bunch that’ll outplay their (eventual) draft positions.

Round One

1) Corey Davis, Western Michigan — The consensus. Jon Moore never lied. I enjoy the Brandon Marshall comparisons. Davis isn’t necessarily Adriel or Julio or Dez-level coming out, but he’s still really (really) good.

2) Curtis Samuel, Ohio State — Samuel didn’t run a 4.2, but he wasn’t exactly “slow” when he punched in a 4.3, either. He’s the best slot wideout in this class. Think Percy, minus the migraines.

3) John Ross, Washington — He’d be sitting at the WR2 spot if it wasn’t for the injuries. I’m not a doctor, but all that worries me. He’s DeSean on the field though, and the owner of a Combine-best 40 time. Ross is a lot more than just blazing speed, however. Ask Adoree’ what he thinks.

Round Two

4) Ishmael Zamora, Baylor — The Josh Gordon comparisons are real. Monster after the catch; just too big and fast. He’ll get knocked, like all Baylor wideouts, for his “limited route tree” and how often he “takes plays off”, etc. He’s as good at the catch-point as anybody in this class. Inexcusable video of him beating his dog will raise some character-based questions.

5) Chris Godwin, Pennsylvania State — Perhaps still a “surprise” to some, Godwin’s just a really good football player that doesn’t have many notable deficiencies to his game. Good size at 6’1″, but he plays even bigger when the ball’s in the air. Consistently out-muscles defenders and wins in the 50/50 game. Can win with subtle footwork.

6) Mike Williams, Clemson — He’ll go up and get it. Built at 6’4″ 220. He’s not the same level athlete as Zamora, but he wins in a similar manner. Biggest knocks are the lack of separation and the aforementioned, sub-par testing, keeping him just outside the top five. Should find early success. Don’t overthink it.

7) Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky — If you had Taylor in your top three or five, I wouldn’t argue with you. One of Feldman’s freaks. Superb blend of size and speed, Taylor’s an awesome route-runner who can win downfield. We know what he does out of the slot.


8) John “JuJu” Smith-Schuster, Southern California — The WR1 entering 2016. Smart player with solid vision. Plays very physical. Some separation issues, and concentration drops. Relies on said physicality, but gets out-muscled from time-to-time. USC shuffled through quarterbacks, can attribute some of that to the production questions.

9) Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech — Smaller school, so there will be competition questions. Strong hands, and does his best work after the catch. Per PFF, Henderson forced 48 missed tackles last season, almost twice as many as the next best receiver (26 MT’s forced). Good over the middle, can play deep, and even factors in on special teams. Got the Harmon stamp, too.

10) Isaiah Ford, Virginia Tech — Best player off the line in this group. Really good footwork and a complete technician working through routes. Smooth. Hands are solid, and he uses them well when working against defenders. Not a burner, nor is he as physical as others in this class. Size may become more of a factor working after the catch.

Round Three

11) Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma — Would be higher on this list if it wasn’t for the several character and off-field flags. Much like John Ross, his build isn’t very substantial, so you have to wonder how he’ll hold up at the next level. Excellent in his routes, and the speed is evident. He’ll flourish in the slot.

12) Zay Jones, East Carolina — Might have the best pair of hands in the class, coupled with record-setting college production. Can line up anywhere. Worry about him vs. more physical corners.

13) Ryan Switzer, North Carolina — Small stature will worry many, but Switzer was a large reason why we’re talking about his college quarterback as a top ten pick, or so. He just doesn’t drop passes, and is stronger than given credit for. I want my favorite team to draft him:

14) Josh Malone, TennesseePFF compares Malone’s prospect to that of Tyrell Williams, who had a notable campaign in 2016 for the Chargers. Josh has traits (height, weight, speed), and wins at multiple levels on the field. The speed isn’t always there, and you’d like to see him get more physical with the ball in the air.

15) Amara Darboh, Michigan — Really fluid, and worked a majority of concepts. Possesses the ideal height/weight/speed, and uses his frame win plenty of contested balls. Solid blocker. Tough player. Hands keep him just outside the top 15.

16) Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M — Flashes a lot, consistently in the red area. Deep threat. Think Jordan Matthews-ish. Route-running needs some refinement.


Round Four

17) ArDarius Stewart, Alabama — You’ll hear about his “competitiveness” the most, I think. That’s inline with what you’re expecting from an Alabama kid. Might be the most physical wideout in this class as well – at the catch-point, after the grab, or blocking. Hands are up-and-down, and he’s not as polished in his routes as others.

18) Chad Hansen, California, Berkeley — Much like Mike Will and JuJu in rounds prior, Hansen is a player I’m notably lower on than the consensus. There aren’t many big knocks on Hansen. He could be more physical, but that’s probably nitpick-y. Prefer upside of others.

19) Mack Hollins, North Carolina — Older prospect. Runs really fast with the height to go along with it. I’ve read Mike Wallace and (less-physical) Mike Evans comparisons.

20) KD Cannon, Baylor — Cannon will be hit with the same “but Baylor” concerns. Look for KD to still produce, especially deep. The route questions come into focus a bit more when you’re not built like, say, Ishmael Zamora.

21) Malachi Dupre, Louisiana State — Notable recruit who fell off the radar during poor season(s) of quarterback play in Baton Rouge. Dupre is a classic “upside” pick, sporting a next-level profile with his size and speed. Will need to refine his route running abilities, and work on using his size to his advantage.

22) Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington — We know about the production at school. He checks boxes as far as his hands are concerned, and work after the catch. Feet are awesome. Not as athletic as others. Can he live up to the numbers? Hype’s gotten a little out of control.

23) Kenny Golladay, Northern Illinois — Up there with the likes of Zay Jones, if we’re looking at mittens alone. They’re great. Solid blocker, due to physical build, but that same mentality (and stature) doesn’t always translate when the ball’s in the air.

24) Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech — Insert whatever undersized, white, slot receiver you want here. Hands are solid, and I think his play on the field puts him up there with someone like Switzer – might have better paws, even. Athletic. Really worry about the size at the end of the day, and the questions that come with that in the NFL.

25) Shelton Gibson, West Virginia — He was my bet for the winner of an island at the Combine, and fell surprisingly short. Regardless, Gibson’s a classic lid-popper, who will need to tidy up his hands at the next level.

Round Five

26) Austin Carr, Northwestern — Similar in style to Ryan Switzer, Carr’s production at school this previous season was awesome. He doesn’t catch the ball as well as Switzer (too many body-catches) and isn’t the same speed-wise, or athletically, hence the gap.

27) Stacey Coley, Miami — Vertical threat who will run out of the slot. Dynamic at times. “Coasting on his talent rather than putting in the work…”, and other character concerns?

28) Robert Davis, Georgia State — Freaky athlete, Combine-best testing. On tape, those numbers don’t pay off. Jeff Janis all over again?

29) Chad Williams, Grambling — Production was certainly there, albeit his level of competition needs to be accounted for. Physical hands-catcher. Doesn’t offer much in the open field, and after the catch. “Character” concerns.

30) Zach Pascal, Old Dominion — Consistently productive during his time at school. Good build with decent quickness in and out of routes, providing a good base going forward.

31) Amba-Etta Tawo, Syracuse — Broke out last season. Hands are sharp, plus decent quickness. Limited in his routes.

32) Gabe Marks, Washington State — Hands, feet, and route savvy. Will work out of the slot at the next level, and there will be some size/strength concerns, and questions about what he does after the catch. Most importantly, however, he’s the best on the mic:

Round Six

33) Fred Ross, Mississippi State — Somewhat underrated. Doesn’t standout in any one area but presents a solid, well-rounded game. Speed holds him back.

34) Travin Dural, Louisiana Tech — Good speed with better-than-good hands. Routes are lackluster, as well as his production (LSU quarterbacks stink, in his defense).

35) Damore’ea Stringfellow, Mississippi — Red zone target. Big body that can bully defenders. Hands are mediocre.

36) Jehu Chesson, Michigan — Can he be that 2015 player? After the knee injury, strung together a largely disappointing 2016. NFL-size with 4.4 wheels.

37) Jalen Robinette, Air Force — Big option that can jump and win. Completely raw route-wise, given the program he’s coming from. You can’t teach that size and speed, as they say.


38) Jerome Lane, Akron — Converted linebacker who made an impact immediately after switching to offense. Rawer than most, although his contributions were obvious. Upside gamble.

39) Noah Brown, Ohio State — Should’ve stayed in school. Raw prospect, but has the proper frame and play style.

40) Ricky Seals-Jones, Texas A&M — One of the more popular five star recruits at one point, Ricky didn’t quite live up to the billing at A&M. 6’5″ will intrigue some teams, while his hands will turn off a majority of others.

41) Keevan Lucas, Tulsa — Slot-only option. Didn’t test fast, but played fast. Productive. Knee injury is notable, but so is the comeback after that. Intangibles are there.

42) Isaiah McKenzie, Georgia — “The Human Joystick”. Big play potential. Size is an issue (not sure he touches 5’8″). Inflated numbers at Georgia?

Round Seven

43) Noel Thomas, Connecticut — Possession receiver who was solid on an otherwise terrible offense.

44) Johnathan “Bug” Howard, North Carolina — Looks similar to teammate Mack Hollins, minus the speed. Big difference there.

45) Victor Bolden, Oregon State — Another slot-only option.

46) Speedy Noil, Texas A&M — Remember this “home run” recruit for A&M? Athletic phenom; SPARQ champion. Couldn’t put it together at school. Character concerns.

Catch me on Twitter: @StillRyanFive