These rankings show who are the best of the 2017 WR class. It’s still a passing league and receivers are as valued as ever. Some of these players will be great for years to come and some will not be able to hack it in the NFL.So much of what makes a receiver great is what he does before the ball is ever delivered and caught. I do my best to focus on that as much as possible. I think this gets overlooked then tossed to the side since many of us can’t see that on the game film we are provided. There are many types on receivers on this list. I try to differentiate which ones truly understand the nuances of the position and which ones are solely using their top-notch athleticism to win.
I’m basing my ranks on what I believe the Wide Receiver’s overall talent to be, their potential to help an NFL team win, and which players can potentially provide optimum Fantasy output.
Note: I can, and will, change my rankings at any time.
1. Corey Davis – Western Michigan 6’2.6” 209
Everything you want in a WR is in this package. Absolute WR1 material. For the longest time I had Mike Williams #1 but Davis does dominate at the same spots as Williams but has more to his game. His injury this offseason is a total bummer. Davis was everything to this team and he would come through time and time again. His resume speaks for itself but his evaluation is not based on his numbers. Davis is elite and distances himself from Williams in his success in separation versus man coverage.
Scouting notes: Excellent at the high point. Great red-zone weapon. NFL approved talent with excellent footwork on the sideline and RZ. Large wingspan and very explosive athlete. Separation not an issue. Great YAC. Breaks arm tackles and not afraid of contact. Makes a great effort to come back to the ball when QB is in trouble. Out routes are sharp. Above average route runner/takes good angles. Plays all WR positions. A lot out of the slot. He really understands how to block. Does not over celebrate. Alpha male confidence. I would have liked to see him against top-notch competition. He didn’t really dominate vs. Wisconsin. 97/1500/19 in 2016. 90/1436/12 in 2015 Amazing career numbers. All time FBS leader in receiving yards with 5278. 2nd all time in FBS with Rec TDs with 52. Brother of WR Titus Davis.
2. Mike Williams – Clemson 6’3.5” 218
As I have mentioned in a few podcasts I’ve struggled with my ranking of Williams as far as if I would have him as my number one WR in this class. I determined after taking a deep look that the negatives that come with this player just place him one notch lower. Williams compares to Alshon Jeffery for me. He is the prototypical WR1.
Scouting notes: Amazing range. It seems that nothing is unable to catch for him. Great concentration. Great on back shoulder catches. Lethal on Post routes. Can also get super low even for a big man. Former basketball player. Jump ball master. Extremely tough after the catch. Sometimes manhandles DBs on the ground and in the air. He is super physical. Speed is average. Good at shielding defenders off the ball. They use him on screens. Could have left as a R-Soph. I saw him be 100% single-handedly responsible for two of Deshaun Watson’s interceptions in 2016. He has a knack for slipping and falling for some reason Maybe he’s lacking coordination? He had a serious neck injury in 2015. 98/1361/11 in 2016 showing that he is over the injury and mentally tough enough to succeed in the NFL.
3. Carlos Henderson – Louisiana Tech 5’11” 199
Henderson wins for my favorite tape of all these players. A guy who came out of nowhere to capture my heart. This player turned into a personal fave of mine and leap frogged a ton of receivers. I admit there is some boom/bust to this receiver but I know what I see which is a more athletic Jarvis Landry.
Scouting notes: Dominate at all levels of the field. Super tough to take down. Phenomenal balance. Does not go down on first contact. YAC is excellent. Pretty elusive in the open field. Good hands technique. High points extremely well. Can take a hit while catching. Uses a variety of hesitation moves to set up the route. Navigates through traffic well after a screen. Puts effort into blocking. KR skills (805/2 in 2016). C-USA Offensive & Special Teams POY. He looked a little stiff at the combine most likely leading to an unimpressive 7.18 in the 3-cone.
4. John Ross – Washington 5’10” 188
I didn’t coin the phrase “Fast and Fragile” (I think I heard Bucky Brooks say it) but that’s what Ross is. He couldn’t make it through an entire record-breaking 4.22 second 40 at the combine without injuring himself. However, that speed is real and will be a blast to watch in the league.
Scouting notes: Elite deep threat. Very sudden in the open field and off the line. YAC is outstanding for such a small receiver. He runs through arm tackles. Creative in space after catch. Impressive footwork at the edges. Knows how much space he has to operate in. Great concentration on over the shoulder catches. When the play breaks down I don’t see him helping his QB. He rarely run blocks. Is known to get out muscled in man coverage. Break out year in 2016 along with QB Jake Browning. Is he a one year wonder? Missed all of 2015 after microfracture surgery. Played w/ torn meniscus in 2014. KR skills. Seems like a good hard-working kid. 81/1150/17 in 2016. Known for having knee issues in both.
5. K.D. Cannon – Baylor 5’11” 182
I love that he dominated at a young age on the collegiate level. I think Cannon is getting over looked big time. His game doesn’t come without a few warts and he compares nicely to Will Fuller.
Scouting notes: Prolific Speedster. Deep threat. Adjusts really well to the ball. Gets separation easily through speed but routes need to be refined. Very tough receiver. Doesn’t get tackled easy. Primarily a hands catcher. Good hang time. Explosive after the catch. Makes the hard catch but will miss the easy one. Known for having drop issues. Double move master. Works sideline well. Willing blocker even though in the Briles system you don’t have to. 87/1215/13 during Baylor’s demise as a program in 2016. Ran a 10.58 100m in 2014. 1,030/8 as freshman in 2014. Had arthroscopic knee surgery in 2016. Additional bulk to frame is recommended.
6. Dede Westbrook – Oklahoma 6’0” 178
The more I dig in to Westbrook the more I find things that concern me. There is the physical build, the reports of his personality, and also his agility numbers. Straight line he is fast but his 3-cone of 7.24 and 20 shuttle of 4.34 are very bad for a WR. All and all I like his tape but his numbers come from a prolific offense that can mask over some deficiencies. On top of all that he is 23 which is on the older side for a prospect. Maybe he is the next Desean Jackson though?
Scouting notes: Very explosive playmaker. Speed to burn. Has some extra toughness to break arm tackles. Also can handle big hits. Can play slot or outside even though he was primarily playing right wide position. Extremely slight build but wiry strong. Rumor is that he only started lifting weights after being inspired by Sterling Shepard. More than just a deep threat. Good ball skills. Strong hands. KR skills. I’m amazed at his blocking ability being so tiny. Dude has heart and is ultra competitive. Reports are that his personality is rubbing scouts the wrong way. “Guarded” and “untruthful” have been used to describe him.
7. Taywan Taylor – Western Kentucky 5’11” 203
Scouting notes: Really good functional speed. A clear understanding of how to run routes. Runs a full tree & sets up his defender so well. 1 on 1 he is a nightmare. Burst after the catch is impressive. Good range. Elusive after the catch. Big legs give him solid balance. Vice grip hands. Adjusts to the throw well. 86/1467/17 in 2015. 98/1730/17 in 2016. 15th all time in FBS receiving yards with 4234. A fave of scout Josh Norris (compared to John Brown).
8. Chris Godwin – Penn St. 6’1” 209
I remember this player would shine when I watched Christian Hackenburg. I am very proud of how he has gotten better every year. An extremely solid WR. Compares to Donte Moncrief for me.
Scouting notes: Very impressive balance and YAC. Excellent hands technique and awareness on the field. High points well. Good RZ target. Great concentration on the catch. Always seems to be where he needs to be. Works the middle of the field well. Great double move. Has no problem with contact but he can be affected by a defender swiping at the ball. Aggressive blocker when he wants to be. 69/1101/5 in 2015. 59/982/11 in 2016. The lead dog for two years. 4.00 sec 20 Shuttle!
9. Chad Hansen – Cal 6’2” 202
Who? Before this year I had no idea about this receiver. Watching him…he is a bad, bad man.
Scouting notes: The total package with a huge chip on his shoulder. Has an extra gear once in space. Impressive burst off the line. The body control is outstanding. Functional speed is only ok. A nice RZ weapon. His sideline work is already at the professional level. Enough physicality to get space. Great use of his body to shield defenders. Once he gets the grab can take a solid hit. He is awesome on bubble screens. Has fantastic field vision and bypasses defenders well. Does not really break tackles. Comes back to help his QB. Decent run blocker but could be better. 9.2 rpg, 124.9 ypg, & 92/1249/11 in 2016. Originally at Idaho St was the only school to offer scholarship. Was a late bloomer physically. (10 1/8in hands) (4.13 20 Shuttle)
10. Curtis Samuel – Ohio St. 5’10” 196
It’s odd that I have this same player in my RB ranks as well but he actually became more valuable as a WR. There is a lot of projection here but he is a high level athlete, not even 21 yet, and the skills are very real. His role in an offense will be key.
Scouting notes: Playmaker with great speed. Former WR could be change of pace back or slot receiver. His route running is tight and impressive. A very tough cover for a DB. Very shifty but in total control when in space. Nice vision and feel for the game. Needs to bulk up a bit. Very tough as I saw him take some big hits. Manufactured touches for him. Might have been Buckeye’s best weapon in 2016. Inconsistent hands as he will make catches look easy at times but will let the ball bounce right out too often. Some instances could have been on the QB but still not acceptable. Getting Percy Harvin comps.
11. Josh Reynolds – Texas A&M 6’3” 194
Scouting notes: Huge upside here. Nice catch radius. Long athlete. Really hard for DBs to keep up with him. Good speed once his long stride gets going. Runs a quality slant route. Nice concentration and adjustments to the difficult catch. RZ target as well. Sometimes misses the easy catch. A solid and physical blocker and asked to run block a lot. Primarily plays the X. 61/1039/12 in 2016. No D1 offers. Went to Tyler JC first. A starter his whole TA&M career other than 2 games out of 38. I see shades of Mike Evans. (4.13 20 Shuttle)
12. Zay Jones – East Carolina 6’2” 201
I anticipated his combine numbers to be average but was pleasantly surprised. Combine this with his adequate size and this could be a WR1. My comp to him is Tajae Sharpe so beware.
Scouting notes: Hands catcher with A+ technique. Above average route runner. Great on flat and slant. Possession receiver. Can play outside or slot. 4 years of solid production. Historic numbers as far as receptions. Huge market share. 98/1099/5 in 2015. Doesn’t really do much after the catch. Doesn’t fight off defenders. He can get out muscled. Willing blocker but needs work. Is 12th all time in FBS Receiving yards with 4279. (4.01 20 Shuttle)
13. Malachi Dupre – LSU 6’2” 196
Scouting notes: So smooth. More of a deep threat. The tools are there, the production is not. Long and lean body type. Good speed once his big stride gets going. Good form on hands catching. Good at high pointing and adjusting in air. (which he had to do a lot of) I’m not too convinced he handles physicality very well. Ok blocker. He was the Louisiana state champ in triple jump, long jump, and high jump in high school. 41/593/3 in 2016. 43/698/6 in 2015.
14. Isaiah Ford – Virginia Tech 6’1” 194
I think most critics would point to Ford’s 4.61 40 as evidence that he is slow but the skill set that he has will allow him the chance to solidify himself in this league.
Scouting notes: Excellent concentration and body control. Reliable RZ target. Plays bigger than he is. Physical and competitive guy. Functional speed looks good. Route running looks strong. Works the sideline well. Seems like a blue-collar guy. Too many body catches and drops. Seems to me he leaves a lot on the field. 75/1164/11 in 2015. 79/1094/7 in 2016. Quarterback play a bit inconsistent.
15. JuJu Smith-Schuster – USC 6’1” 215
Just turned 20. Solid production. There is potential here as a possession guy.
Scouting notes: Dominating at a young age. Plays angry. Shows some ability to be physical and make a big catch. Has bad intentions after the catch. Can set up his next move before making the catch. They use him on jet sweeps. Functional speed looks sufficient but will not blow you away. Doesn’t separate fluidly. He blocks angry too but still is average. His tape is underwhelming. Not enough splash plays. Lined up on the outside and slot. 89/1454/10 in 2015. 70/914/10 in 2016. Back issues creeped up at end of 2016. (10 1/2in hands)
16. Bug Howard – UNC 6’4” 221
My sleeper pick for a potential WR1 or WR2. I’m hitching my wagon to Howard. I love the upside on this player.
Scouting notes: Total package that no one is talking about…yet. Great physicality and concentration on the ball. Such a good RZ weapon. High points fantastically! Makes it look so natural. Stupendous adjustment to the ball. Has the speed to be a downfield threat. Boxes out very well in end zone. Solid blocker/smothers smaller DBs. Great target for Mitchell Trubisky and not only in the red zone. Became full-time starter his Senior year. 53/827/8 in 2016. Might be a late bloomer. (10 3/8in hands) (4.14 20 Shuttle)
17. Ryan Switzer – UNC 5’9” 181
Scouting notes: Reliable hands, makes big time catches in big moments. Great in the open field! So good at using the defender’s momentum against them. Love the vision after the catch. Extremely impressed by route running. Not the fastest guy but can make a living in the NFL out of the slot. Finds the soft spots of the defense. Used on jet sweeps. Has PR and QB skills. He is super tough, but I see him limping around in these games. Can’t help but to be somewhat nervous about how his smallish frame will hold up in league. Three years of solid production but 2016 he was a full-time starter and a significant jump with Trubisky. 91/1112/6 in 2016. (4.00 20 Shuttle)
18. Kenny Golladay – No. Illinois 6’4” 218
The size and the athletic numbers you want with solid production. Not much to not like here. More WR2 potential than a lot of guys in this class. My comp for him is Dallas WR Terrence Williams.
Scouting notes: Good speed and length on the outside. Impressive catch radius. Nice RZ target. Shows more comfort on deep passes than intermediate. Not very creative after the catch. I don’t see a lot of YAC. Effective run-blocker. 73/1129/10 in 2015. 87/1156/8 in 2016. Shrine Game attendee. (4.15 20 Shuttle)
19. Cooper Kupp – Eastern Washington 6’2” 204
I’ve trashed this player after the mass hysteria of hype coming out of the Senior Bowl. When he enters the league he will be 24 years old and that is no bueno. I’ll call out the flaws but he is a good football player. Will it translate to the NFL? Steve Smith Sr. said Kupp is his #1 WR in this class. I hate to argue with the man but that is rich.
Scouting notes: Functional speed looks slow, although, sometimes he has deceptive speed. Plays bigger than he is. Really physical. Always open. The ball sticks to his hands. Great concentration on ball even though DBs are fouling him. Inside slants are always open. Excellent route running. Awesome at coming back to the ball. Always helps us QB out. Has knack for timing his jumps perfectly. Competition will be a question (Big Sky Conf/D1 FCS) as well as age. 114/1642/19 in 2015 (15/246/3 against Oregon alone) (4.08 20 Shuttle) (9 1/2in hands)
20. Stacy Coley – Miami 6’0” 195
Scouting notes: Very confident hands. Technique very sound. Always ready to set up the next move after the catch. Aggressive blocker. Route running looks sufficient. Shows a little strength after the catch to take a hit and get some YAC. Has a stiff arm. Good RZ weapon. Plays slot and the outside. Showed tons of toughness after hurting his knee in the Pitt game but playing the rest of it. Shrine Game attendee. Rumor is that he doesn’t have big work ethic. Potentially underrated. 63/754/9 in 2016.
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