2019 NFL Draft Receiver Class | Deep Dive

The following is a special to NFL Draft Geek as former writer/analyst Kyle Howe has spend the pre-draft process breaking down the 2019 NFL Draft Receiver class. Listed below are his rankings which also include player comparisons along with his explanations.

NameSchoolVisual ScoreRAS
Score
Overall ScoreNFL Comparison
Terry McLaurinOhio State7.889.538.71Amari Cooper
AJ BrownOle Miss7.639.458.54JuJu Smith – Schuster
Miles BoykinNotre Dame7.139.948.54Kenny Golladay
DK MetcalfOle Miss7.259.658.45DeMaryius Thomas
N’Keal HarryArizona State7.759.058.4Anquan Boldin
Marquise BrownOklahoma7.25N/AN/AStefon Diggs
Parris CampbellOhio State6.889.778.33Tedd Ginn
Hakeem ButlerIowa State6.59.928.21Brandon Marshall
Deebo SamuelSouth Carolina78.947.97Cordarrelle Patterson
Darius SlaytonAuburn6.139.577.85Robby Anderson
JJ Arcega-
Whiteside
Stanford6.388.827.6Mohamed Sanu
Mecole HardmanGeorgia6.758.427.59Desean Jackson
Gary JenningsWest Virginia6.139.027.58Allen Robinson
Stanley MorganNebraska6.638.527.58Davante Adams
Andy IsabellaUMASS6.638.417.52Tavon Austin
Cody ThompsonToledo6.638.47.52Eric Decker
Olabisi JohnsonColorado State6.758.117.43Taywan Taylor
Johnnie DixonOhio State7.57.187.34Tyler Lockett
Emmanuel HallMissouri4.759.927.34Mike Wallace
Jalen HurdBaylor6.57.727.11Devin Funchess
David SillsWest Virginia6.57.216.86Chris Hogan
Anthony JohnsonBuffalo6.137.056.59Michael Crabtree
Jazz FergusonNorthwestern St.
(LA)
5.57.226.36Brandon Coleman
Dillon MitchellOregon4.887.86.34DJ Chark
Jamal CustisSyracuse5.636.466.05Martavis Bryant
Greg DortchWake Forest6.135.896.01Jamison Crowder
Keelan DossUC Davis6N/AN/ADante Pettis
Jakobi MeyersNC State5.256.315.78Chris Harper
Kelvin HarmonNC State6.54.895.7Equanimeous St. Brown
Diontae JohnsonToledo6.884.25.54Adam Humphries
Terry GodwinGeorgia6.634.395.51Anthony Miller
Riley RidleyGeorgia6.754.175.46Davante Parker
Jaylen SmithLouisville4.136.485.31Corey Fuller
Damarkus LodgeOle Miss6.254.115.18Jordan Matthews
KeeSean JohnsonFresno State5.633.114.5Laquon Treadwell
Hunter RenfrowClemson62.914.46Danny Amendola
Antoine WesleyTexas Tech5.383.264.32Justin Hunter
Lil’Jordan
Humphrey
Texas4.883.444.16Rod Streater
Jovon DuranteFlorida Atlantic62.074.04Jeremy Kerley
Tyre BradyMarshall5.132.853.99Kris Durham
Jamarius WaySouth Alabama4.752.353.55Kelvin Benjamin
Nyqwan MurrayFlorida State4.51.012.76Brandon Powell

Explanations

For years I grew up watching the likes of Charles Rogers, Mike Williams and Roy Williams bomb out of Detroit, and eventually the league, as my Detroit Lions couldn’t manage to draft a receiver to save the franchise, or their life (until Calvin Johnson). As I sat through the misery it ultimately piqued my interest in the NFL Draft, mostly because I wondered how we could always pick the ‘wrong’ guy. As I later realized through my years of draft work there is no perfect formula for predicting a player’s success at the next level. But there has to be a better way than just the eye test, right? That’s what I’m looking to accomplish.

The wide receiver position relies on athleticism as much as any other position in football. When looking at some of the game’s most recent elites: Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, Mike Evans and Odell Beckham, they all had exceptional athletic profiles. Because of this I wanted to somehow use their Combine/Pro Day testing as one of the final evaluating factors. Relative Athletic Scores (relativeathleticscores.com), do an exceptional job of capturing a prospect’s true athletic profile and how they stack up compared to the rest of their class. But grading a prospect on their Relative Athletic Score alone isn’t enough, so I considered what else should go into my grading criteria for wide receiver and came up with eight different categories I would grade each prospect on 1-10 (1 being lowest, 10 being highest). By using an average of those eight scores I could come up with a final ‘visual’ grade to then be averaged out with their Relative Athletic Score for overall grade. The eight categories I graded wide receivers on were: Hands, Route Running, Speed/Separation, Agility/Quickness, Release, Leaping Ability, Size/Strength, and Football IQ.

(Example: Terry McLaurin – Hands: 9, Route Running: 10, Speed/Separation: 10, Agility/Quickness: 10, Release: 7, Leaping Ability: 5, Size/Strength: 4, Football IQ: 9 – Visual Score: 7.88, RAS: 9.53, Overall Grade: 8.71)

*Prospects who did not participate in Combine or Pro Day only received a visual grade and an ‘Incomplete’ overall grade. These prospects were still ranked according to tape and their visual score should correlate with draft position.

Grading System

So what does this ‘overall grade’ mean in terms of draft position? The table below lists the grades and what pick each grade correlates with:

Grade Draft Grade
10 #1 overall prospect
9.9-9.8 Top 5
9.7-9.6 Top 10
9.5-9.4 Top 15
9.3-9.2 Top 20
9.1-9.0 Top 25
8.9-8.8 Top 30
8.7-8.6 Top 35
8.5-8.4 Top 40
8.3-8.2 Top 45
8.1-8.0 Top 50
7.9-7.8 Top 60
7.7-7.6 Top 70
7.5-7.4 Top 80
7.3-7.2 Top 90
7.1-7.0 Top 100
6.9-6.8 Top 110
6.7-6.6 Top 120
6.5-6.4 Top 130
6.3-6.2 Top 140
6.1-6.0 Top 150
5.9-5.8 Top 160
5.7-5.6 Top 170
5.5-5.4 Top 180
5.3-5.2 Top 190
5.1-5.0 Top 200
4.9-4.8 Top 210
4.7-4.6 Top 220
4.5-4.4 Top 230
4.3-4.2 Top 240
4.1-4.0 Top 250
3.9-0 Undrafted FA

With anything data-driven there is bound to be at least one outlier, and these rankings are no different. There were a few prospects whose visual grade was not even within 3 to 4 points of their RAS, while several others saw visual grades 2 to 3 points higher than their RAS. These are the prospects one should consider to be outliers, and it’s what makes a prospect Antonio Brown, or Stephen Hill. In a hardball, results-driven environment that is the NFL, talent evaluators would go back to the drawing board in such cases to re-evaluate such discrepancies. In this case though, the rankings are left as is after the final visual and RAS scores have been calculated, however I would argue the visual score is the more important of the two and should be relied on most heavily in the overall evaluation process (assuming one has the eye to evaluate talent). While this will be it for this year I hope to look back on the success of this grading system and utilize it in a similar way to evaluate other positions down the road. Stay tuned.

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