Kayshon Boutte warding off tense competitors at WR1
The golden age of broad receiver prospects continues with the 2023 NFL Draft class. Very like the 2022 class, the 2023 group initiatives to have an enormous quantity of depth. And whereas the highest prospects gained’t fairly be on the stage of Ja’Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle from 2019, there’s nonetheless lots to be enthusiastic about.
Prime 10 WRs within the 2023 NFL Draft
10. Jermaine Burton, Alabama
Jermaine Burton is the preferred breakout WR prediction for the 2022 school soccer season. It’s not onerous to see why. Burton is coming from Georgia to enter a vastly superior passing assault at Alabama. He’s a former four-star recruit with a robust 6’0″, 200-pound body. And he additionally has an enormous inheritance of targets coming his method after each Jameson Williams and John Metchie III left for the 2022 NFL Draft.
In case you’re in search of a climate prediction, the possibilities of a Burton breakout are excessive — near 80 or 90% on the floor. However till he emerges, we are able to’t rank a receiver who’s by no means eclipsed 30 catches any greater than this. The instruments are all there, nevertheless. Burton is explosive and agile as a route runner, with sturdy arms and steely aggressive instincts on the catch level. He has the expertise to position a lot greater on the following iteration of this record.
9. Zay Flowers, Boston School
The Boston School soccer program has followers inside the PFN Draft division — however that’s not an accident. The Eagles have quietly produced a lot of high quality prospects over the previous a number of years. And early on within the 2023 NFL Draft cycle, they’ve a few early-round hopefuls main the passing recreation in Phil Jurkovec and Zay Flowers. Jurkovec has appeared very reliant on Flowers. Flowers merely has a talent set that instructions fixed targets.
Flowers gained’t blow anybody away along with his measurement. He’s round 5’10”, with a lighter-than-preferred body at 177 kilos. However Flowers’ recreation isn’t in any respect contingent on his measurement. As a substitute, the Boston School WR dominates as a separator with explosiveness, lateral quickness, and fluid hips. He has the twitchy athleticism to be a continuing menace towards protection defenders, and he has the pace to take the highest off the protection as effectively. A dual-sided RAC and deep menace, Flowers owns a coveted NFL talent set.
8. Cedric Tillman, Tennessee
Analytic profiles gained’t be type to Cedric Tillman. The Tennessee WR joined the Volunteers in 2018. And from 2018 to 2020, he solely caught eight whole passes. He was a digital afterthought coming into the 2021 marketing campaign. However as Hendon Hooker emerged, so did Tillman. Tillman regularly turned Hooker’s favourite goal. He closed out the 12 months on a dominant tear, placing up 28 catches for 556 yards and 7 scores in his last 4 video games.
Ultimately, Tillman generated 1,081 yards and 12 touchdowns on 64 catches in his breakout season. And with Velus Jones Jr. off to the NFL, Tillman is perhaps in line for a good greater workload in 2022. At 6’3″, 215 kilos, he has large measurement, size, and play energy. And Tillman compounds that measurement with high-level catching instincts and hand energy. However maybe most enjoyable from Tillman is the development he confirmed as a route runner in 2021. He’s a legit athlete, with sufficient burst and agility to separate independently.
7. A.T. Perry, Wake Forest
Wake Forest was seen as among the best groups within the nation at one level in 2021. The engine behind the dominance of the Demon Deacons was the passing assault. It was led by Sam Hartman at quarterback, however Hartman wouldn’t have been in a position to put up the stats he did with out broad receiver A.T. Perry. Perry emerged as a school soccer star in 2021. Now, he returns as a authentic 2023 NFL Draft prospect.
Perry is a singular prospect with an extremely lengthy and lanky body. For his measurement, he’s a springy athlete who strikes like a gazelle within the open area. His body is a bit mild, however he can nonetheless work via contact on the catch level and make some insane highlight-reel performs along with his elite catching instincts. Popping out of Wake Forest’s elongated mesh system, he’ll have to broaden his route tree on the subsequent stage. However Perry has expertise price watching, as he confirmed when he amassed 71 catches, 1,293 yards, and 15 scores in 2021.
6. Parker Washington, Penn State
Shedding first-round decide Jahan Dotson can be a blow for Penn State in 2022, however it’s not like they aren’t ready to enlist a successor. The truth is, the Nittany Lions might have already got the suitable receiver to take the torch from Dotson. That receiver is Parker Washington. Washington put up 64 catches for 820 yards and 4 touchdowns alongside Dotson in 2021. Now, with Dotson gone, Washington profiles as a featured weapon for James Franklin’s squad.
Washington is a special kind of receiver than Dotson. Whereas Dotson was the sunshine, explosive three-level menace, Washington is listed at 5’10”, 212 kilos. His body is noticeably dense on tape, making him a formidable RAC menace with legit contact steadiness and play energy. However don’t let that measurement idiot you. Washington nonetheless has the vertical athleticism and physique management to make eye-catching grabs in tight conditions. 2022 might be the 12 months he broadcasts himself on the 2023 NFL Draft stage.
5. Josh Downs, North Carolina
We now discover ourselves within the prime 5. And the fifth receiver on this record — Josh Downs — is perhaps nearer to the 1-4 group than he’s to the 6-10 vary. Because the fifth receiver, Downs is the prospect that bridges each halves. However particularly within the trendy NFL, Downs has the expertise to area early-round capital, particularly with one other sturdy marketing campaign. Final 12 months, in Sam Howell’s farewell season, Downs put up 101 catches for 1,335 yards and eight touchdowns.
Downs dominated the goal share at North Carolina as a real sophomore and is primed to do it once more in 2022. What makes Downs such an thrilling prospect is his model of athleticism. Though he’s undersized at round 5’10” and 180 kilos, he has elite explosiveness, twitch, and agility in open area. With these expertise, he’s a harmful RAC menace in brief ranges. Nonetheless, he can even take the highest off the protection and haul in robust catches with spectacular physique management and instincts.
4. Jordan Addison, USC
The highest 4 receivers on this record are all extremely shut collectively. Sadly, somebody was going to take residence the fourth spot, however it may as effectively be 1D. Jordan Addison, like all these in entrance of him, is a possible first-round prospect with high-end bodily instruments. It was these instruments that led him to amass 100 catches, 1,593 yards, and 17 touchdowns in 2021, incomes the Biletnikoff Award.
Addison lacks a visual physicality component in his recreation, which bumps him down a bit. Even so, the 6’0″, 175-pound receiver has an attractive talent set. He’s explosive and intensely agile, and he can stretch the sector along with his pace. His crisp, snappy agility interprets extremely effectively after the catch, however Addison can even make performs on the catch level. He naturally contorts to the proper place and has large vertical athleticism.
3. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
You’re in all probability shocked to see Jaxon Smith-Njigba at No. 3 on our early prime 10 2023 NFL Draft broad receivers record. This rating isn’t a slight towards Smith-Njigba, however fairly a nod to the elite bodily expertise of the 2 receivers in entrance of him. The reality is, the highest 4 receivers on this record are all worthy first-round candidates. And whereas Smith-Njigba’s final athletic ceiling could also be a query mark, his potential to make a distinction definitely can’t be disputed.
Final season, with first-round picks Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave in the identical WR room, Smith-Njigba led the best way with 95 catches for 1,606 yards and 9 touchdowns. Whereas Smith-Njigba isn’t as explosive or as quick as different receivers, he comes with a really translatable talent set at WR. He’s a pure separator with nice throttle management and cylindrical twitch. Moreover, he brings uncommon catching instincts. His response quickness and focus are rivaled by few.
2. Quentin Johnston, TCU
This rating is most definitely a projection, however it’s a projection we’re comfy making at this level. There are a number of well-sized receivers on this record, however the most effective of the bunch is TCU’s Quentin Johnston, who possesses maybe the best ceiling in your complete 2023 NFL Draft broad receiver class. Johnston hasn’t achieved the identical statistical breakout others on this record have, however he did quietly account for 22% of his staff’s passing manufacturing in 2021.
Johnston brings an infinite wingspan inside a wiry 6’4″, 201-pound body. And for his measurement, he’s extremely explosive off the road. His long-strider acceleration is a sight to behold, however he additionally has the fleet-footed capability and lateral twitch to separate and make defenders miss. And on the catch level, his ball monitoring, hand energy, and contortion potential are all excellent. Johnston nonetheless has room for refinement as a route runner, however the bedrock traits — hip sink, stopping potential, and quick toes — are all there.
1. Kayshon Boutte, LSU
When scouting expertise at broad receiver, you’re in search of a three-level menace. Somebody who can separate earlier than the catch, convert on the catch level, and create further yards after the catch. Receivers who can do every of these three issues at a excessive stage are at all times coveted prospects. And within the 2023 NFL Draft, few receivers venture to verify these three bins higher than LSU’s Kayshon Boutte.
Boutte missed round half of the 2021 season with an ankle harm. However he’s since had surgical procedure and now returns as one of the vital enthralling abilities on the CFB stage. At round 6’0″, 200 kilos, Boutte has a dense, compact body, which serves him effectively after the catch. However the bulk of Boutte’s recreation rests upon a basis of high-end explosiveness, twitch, and recreation pace. And he’s additionally a pure contortionist on the catch level who persistently showcases an incredible sense of timing.
Honorable mentions: Jordan Whittington, Texas; Rakim Jarrett, Maryland; Dontayvion Wicks, Virginia; Jacob Cowing, Arizona; Jayden Reed, Michigan State; Dontay Demus Jr., Maryland; Marvin Mims, Oklahoma