Every NFL Draft class has a theme. There are always positions that are deep, and positions not so deep. You ask yourself going into the draft every year, ‘if my team needs position "x" to fill a need this year, do we have to take them in the first round? Or if we miss out on the top guys, is there good value at the position in later rounds?’
Of course, outliers exist. A JaMarcus Russell can be taken first and a Tom Brady can be taken 199th. There’s no exact science to the draft. That’s what makes it so fun. The good thing is that a players draft position does not determine his career; he does. However, every year we are overloaded with hundreds of analysts offering us their pre-draft rankings, ratings, and grades to give us an idea of what to expect in the upcoming draft. So what are the strengths and weakness in the 2019 class? Let’s break down the wide receivers.
Top Prospect: N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
Biggest Riser: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford
Sleeper Potential: Dillon Mitchell, Oregon
Bust Potential: Parris Campbell, Ohio State
Players With A First Round Grade: 5
Wide Receiver is among the deepest of positions in this 2019 class. I have five players with first-round grades!
Let’s start with the top guy in this class, and it’s not D.K. Metcalf. Welcome, N’Keal Harry, to the number one spot. Harry has not only excellent size and measurables but the best hands in the class. If a contested ball comes his way, he’s likely the player coming down with it. This doesn’t take away from Metcalf, who falls in at number 2. However, there are questions about Metcalf’s hands and athletic testing.
The biggest riser of the group is Arcega-Whiteside. He comes from athletic bloodlines, as both of his parents played professional basketball in Spain. He tested well at the combine, showing off positive athleticism with a 4.49, 40-yard dash time, a 7.15 three-cone drill time, and a 4.32 short shuttle time.
Mitchell is the big sleeper in this group. He’s a slippery player who projects as a bigger slot receiver. Excellent in space, Mitchell can find the soft spot in the zone and was Justin Herbert’s favorite target to go to when needing a first down.
On the other side, Campbell’s tape didn’t impress me. He has great straight-line speed, good size, but doesn’t run a crisp route and can be a bit of a one-trick pony. In the right system he can put up numbers, ala Mike Wallace (while in Pittsburgh), but I wouldn’t advise spending a Top 50 pick on him.
Overall, the depth of this class is impressive. Going through my draft grades, I have 12 guys with grades that put them as draftable inside the first two days:
And the talent doesn’t end there.
Wide receiver is a position the Pittsburgh Steelers spent some money on this off-season; bringing in Donte Moncrief to compete with second-year man James Washington. In the slot, you have Eli Rogers and Ryan Switzer. The numbers are there at the position, but does the talent match?
Several of those guys are relative unknowns for various reasons. Can Washington take the step in year two? What can Moncrief do with a Hall Of Fame quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger? Can Switzer be the trusted slot man over Rogers?
Behind the top guys, Pittsburgh is running with Trey Griffey, Tevin Jones, Ka’Raun White, and Dionte Spencer.
The depth at the position shouldn’t stop the Steelers from drafting a wideout, and they’ve definitely shown interest in the position. However, if the right guy isn’t there when they pick early, they won’t have to force a pick. With the depth of this class, they can wait until later Day 2 or early Day 3 to take their guy.
2019's Top 10 Receiver Prospects (in order 1-10)
N’Keal Harry, D.K. Metcalf, Hakeem Butler, A.J. Brown, Kelvin Harmon, Deebo Samuel, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Marquise Brown, Riley Ridley, Terry McLaurin