1. Corey Davis, Ten
Drafted: 1st round, 5th overall
Scouting Report: Davis is the top small-school prospect in the draft and for good reason. He’s the all-time leader in Division I receiving yards, dominating lesser competition in the MAC with a ridiculous 332/5285/52 in four seasons. He went to Western Michigan as just a two-star recruit but stepped into the lineup immediately, earning MAC Freshman of the Year honors in 2013. He capped his career by winning the MAC Offensive Player of the Year award and capturing All-American honors in 2016. He has great size at 6’3”, 209 pounds and he’s a little more explosive than fellow top WR Mike Williams. But Davis is slightly smaller and doesn’t play as big – he loses out on some contested catches. Davis is a polished route runner coming into the league, and he knows how to create separation with his quickness and his hands. He’s excellent at high-pointing passes and shows complete concentration around the sidelines, which helped him to dominate in the red zone. Davis lined up all over the field, including out of the slot, and he ran a full route tree. He can create some extra yardage after the catch with a just a little bit of space, but he’s not explosive enough to create game-breaking plays. He’s not going to be known as a vertical threat, but he can work CBs to get them on his hip and he’s excellent at tracking deep passes. Davis was heavily used in the Broncos offense, and he had more focus drops as his career went along. We think he compares the most to Keenan Allen because of their route running and size, and he might be a slightly more dynamic athlete.
Fantasy Analysis: Davis joins a rising Titans offense with young, franchise QB Marcus Mariota. It shouldn’t take Davis long to become the top receiver in this offense, jumping ahead of WR Rishard Matthews and syphoning some targets away from TE Delanie Walker. Davis did undergo minor ankle surgery after injuring himself while training last January. He described the injury as a high ankle sprain with two torn ligaments. His ankle injury combined with Mariota’s recovery from a broken leg suffered late last season does put a bit of a damper on his Davis’ outlook for 2017 since they will have limited time to work together this summer. The jump in competition could also be a small issue at the start of Davis’ career, but he’s a polished enough product to start right away on the outside with the potential to be a fantasy WR3 as a rookie. He’s the best overall WR prospect in this year’s class, and he eventually could develop into a fringe WR1 fantasy option playing with the ascending Mariota.
2. Zay Jones, Buf
Drafted: 2nd round round, 37th overall
Scouting Report: Most would be shocked to know that Jones owns the FBS records for catches in a single season (158 in 2016) and for a career (399). He posted 158/1746/8 receiving and earned All-American honors in 2016, and he finished his career with 399/4279/23. He comes from a football family, as his dad won three Super Bowl as a LB with the Cowboys in 90’s, and his uncle Jeff Blake played QB for 14 years. No player helped himself more in the pre-draft process than Jones. Prior to the pre-draft process, he was thought of as just a product of the pass-heavy East Carolina scheme, which also helped Justin Hardy put up gaudy numbers. Jones has proven to be much more athletic than his former teammate. Zay eased concerns about his speed and quickness at the Combine, posting a 4.45 in the 40-yard dash and elite times in the 20-yard (4.01) and 60-yard (11.17) shuttle runs. He also had one of the top broad jumps at 11’1” and a solid 36½” vertical. He consistently beat defenders with his speed over the top during the Senior Bowl week. He’s dangerous in the short to intermediate areas out of the slot, but he can also work on the outside. His athleticism doesn’t always show up on tape, but he was forced to run a high number of screens and short passes in the East Carolina offense. He’s a savvy route runner and was asked to create quite a bit after the catch in college. He averaged just 11.1 yards per catch last season because he caught so many passes at the line of scrimmage. Jones wasn’t used a ton downfield in ECU’s offense, but he won in contested-catch situations and was good at high-pointing passes over defenders. He does have a pretty thin at 6’2”, 201 pounds, and he struggles to get off press coverage at times. Jones has the ability to work on the outside, but he’s probably better off working as the big slot in an offense, a lot like Jordan Matthews.
Fantasy Analysis: Jones wasn’t expected to be one of the elite athletes at WR in this year’s class, but he locked himself in as a Day 2 draft pick because of his pre-draft performances. He landed in an ideal spot to make an immediate impact as the #2 WR behind Sammy Watkins, bringing more athleticism to Robert Woods’ old spot out of the slot and as a Z receiver. Jones could also become the #1 guy in this offense quickly after the Bills declined to pick up Watkins’ fifth-year team option for 2018. Of course, this Bills offense isn’t a high-volume passing attack with Tyrod Taylor in charge, but Jones should see enough targets to be a fringe WR3 in PPR formats as a rookie. And given Watkins’ lengthy injury history, Jones has some upside if he becomes the #1 target for a stretch of time next season.
3. Mike Williams, LAC
Drafted: 1st round, 7th overall
Scouting Report: Williams is the next in line of recent great Clemson WRs, following in the steps of DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, and Martavis Bryant. Williams suffered a serious neck injury in the 2015 season opener, fracturing his neck when his helmet hit the goal post on a TD catch.
He missed the rest of that campaign, but he came back with a vengeance in 2016, posting 98/1361/11 receiving and scoring 11 TDs in his final 12 games. His 1361 receiving yards last season ranked him behind just Hopkins (1405) and Watkins (1464) for a season. He initially burst onto the scene as a sophomore in 2014, averaging 18.1 yard per catch while posting 57/1030/6. Williams is a huge target at 6’3”, 218 pounds, and he can create enough separation and dominate with his size at all three levels of the passing game. He isn’t afraid to go over the middle and uses his huge frame to shield away defenders on slants. Williams plays like he’s 240 pounds because he can’t be knocked off the ball and it’s tough for one defensive back to bring him down. He also goes up and get passes and has great body control, so he’ll be great with a QB who isn’t afraid to pull the trigger with him. Williams ran in the 4.5 range at his Pro Day, which is exactly what most wanted to see at his size. He’s in good company with other big WRs who ran slower times who went on to succeed – Michael Thomas (4.57), Alshon Jeffery (4.48), Dez Bryant (4.52), Jordy Nelson (4.51). Williams had a slightly disappointing 32½” vertical and a solid broad jump (10’1”). He tracks the ball well downfield, which makes him a vertical threat despite his average speed. Williams isn’t the most dynamic athlete at his size, and he could use a little more polish as a route runner. His neck injury from two years ago is also a little scary for the future. He has good hands and makes plenty of difficult catches with his huge catch radius, but he does have some focus drops and fumbles. We see a little bit of Plaxico Burress in Williams because of his pure length – he had the longest arms of the WR class at 33-3/8’ – and his ability to work at all levels of the field.
Fantasy Analysis: The Chargers surprised most by taking Williams with the #7 overall pick. He’ll have a tough path to fantasy stardom as a rookie because the Chargers have seven capable receivers for Philip Rivers to distribute passes to between Williams, Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, Dontrelle Inman, Hunter Henry, and Antonio Gates. The Chargers will give Williams every chance to start right away on the outside as an X receiver, but we’ll need to see how the roles shake out in training camp. If he can secure a significant role, he could be a fantasy WR3/4 playing with Rivers in 2017. Williams should be a high volume receiver early in his career, and he has the chance to become a #1 WR in the Chargers offense with the ability to be a low-end fantasy WR1. Still, the presence of other young talented receivers in Allen, Tyrell Williams, and Henry does damper Williams’ dynasty outlook a bit.
4. John Ross, Cin
Drafted: 1st round, 9th overall
Scouting Report: Ross is an absolute burner who comes into the league with some durability questions. He set the Combine ablaze by smashing Chris Johnson’s 40-time record. He became the new 40-yard dash champion with his historic 4.22 run to best Johnson’s old 4.24 time. He also put up great numbers in the vertical (37”) and broad jumps (11’1”). Ross has been compared to DeSean Jackson because of his size (5’10”, 188 pounds) and speed, and the two even struck up a relationship last summer when they worked out together in Los Angeles. Ross missed the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL, but he came back with a vengeance to lead all Power-5 conference receivers with 17 TDs in 2016. Over his three seasons of action at Washington, Ross scored on an absolutely remarkable 17.9% of his touches – 24 TDs on 134 touches. He only started at WR as a junior last season, but he dominated with 81/1150/17 receiving. He’s also an impact kick returner, and the Washington coaches actually converted Ross to CB in the middle of the 2014 season after the team dismissed Marcus Peters, which says a lot about his athleticism. Ross not only kills defenders with his speed but by setting them up with double moves. He tracks deep passes well, and he runs so fast that he often times has to slow down for passes thrown behind him. He’s a film rat, who shows a lot of savvy as a route runner and can beat press coverage off the line of scrimmage. Ross is surprisingly effective down in the red zone despite his size, showing great eye-hand coordination on difficult catches. He’s not the best in contested-catch situations because of his size, but he runs by so many defenders that it hasn’t been a huge issue. He’ll need to continue to improve his underneath and intermediate routes at the next level, but he’s dangerous in those spots with the ball in his hands. Ross needed shoulder surgery after the Combine to repair a damaged labrum, and he’s already had surgery to both of his knees. He also has a very slight frame at have some major durability questions.
Fantasy Analysis: Ross didn’t land in a great spot to make a huge fantasy impact right away. WR A.J. Green is a target hound, averaging double-digit looks a game in 2016, and TE Tyler Eifert is also heavily used when he’s actually healthy. QB Andy Dalton also has never been known as a prolific downfield thrower, which Ross’ speed is obviously his biggest strength. On the bright side, Ross should get plenty of one-on-one opportunities playing across from one of the league’s best WRs in Green. While they aren’t nearly as a talented, slot WR Tyler Boyd and outside WR Brandon LaFell are still around to potentially steal some snaps. Ross will make an instant impact for the Bengals offense next season as a vertical threat, which will likely put him in the WR4 conversation. He’s likely always to be better for non-PPR formats because he’s more of a big-play receiver than a volume receiver, and his upside will be similar to D-Jax’s upside in his best seasons.
5. ArDarius Stewart, NYJ
Drafted: 3rd round, 79th overall
Scouting Report: Stewart had a few things working against him in 2016, playing in a run-heavy offense with a dual-threat freshman QB (Jalen Hurts) across from the potential first WR selected in the 2018 draft (Calvin Ridley). He still managed to put together an impressive campaign, finishing with 54/864/8 receiving despite missing two games with a sprained knee and another for a team suspension. He tested pretty middle of the road at the Combine, which wasn’t a big surprise since he isn’t a truly dynamic athlete. He ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash and had a leap of 10’4” broad jump, slightly above average marks Stewart looks like he could play running back at 5’11”, 204 pounds and he plays like one too, doing his best work with the ball in his hands by racking yards after the catch. He averaged a healthy 16.0 yards per catch last season, and he’s one of best in this year’s class once he gets the ball in his hands. He is more of straight-line runner than elusive, and he has room to grow with his breaks in and out of routes, but he showed a knack for finding holes in zone coverage. The Crimson Tide counted on him for big plays, serving as an occasional deep threat with just enough speed acceleration to separate from defenders. He uses his thick frame and strength to get open, and his body control helps him in contested-catch situations although he’s not going to win many jump balls. Stewart played all over the field at Alabama, but we think he projects best out of the slot for the future. We see a little bit of Jarvis Landry in Stewart because of his size and aggressive mentality after the catch.
Fantasy Analysis: Stewart comes to the league as a pretty complete player, which isn’t surprising for an Alabama prospect playing in Nick Saban’s NFL factory. He is 23 years old, so he might not have the ceiling that some of the other 2017 WR prospects have, but he should be able to make an immediate impact in a Jets offense that is lacking at receiver. Eric Decker is their top weapon and coming off major hip and shoulder surgeries, and the other top WRs include underwhelming options in Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson. He projects best out of the slot, but the Jets could certainly ask him to line up outside since they have multiple options to play inside. Stewart is unlikely to ever be a true fantasy stud, but he should step into a fairly large role with the Jets and have some fantasy moments as a fantasy bench piece during his rookie.
6. Curtis Samuel, Car
Drafted: 2nd round, 40th overall
Scouting Report: Samuel would’ve been the talk of the WR group at the Combine most years, but he got completely overshadowed by John Ross’ record-breaking 40-time (4.22). Samuel’s performance was nothing to sniff at, running a blistering 4.31. He also performed well in the bench press (18 reps) and in the vertical jump (37”), but he surprisingly disappointed in the agility drills in the 20-yard shuttle (4.33) and 3-cone drill (7.09). At 5’11”, 196 pounds, Samuel was used as a chess piece to create mismatches by Ohio State HC Urban Meyer, a lot like how Meyer used Percy Harvin at Florida. Samuel was the only player in the country with 700+ rushing yards and 800+ receiving yards last season, which helped him earn All-American honors as an all-purpose player. He finished with 97/771/8 rushing and 74/865/7 receiving, while posting 17 plays of 20+ yards. Samuel is the only Buckeye to have both 1000+ receiving and rushing yards for his career. He’s obviously dangerous with the ball in his hands, and he can flat out fly when he gets into the open field. He’s still learning how to play WR and needs work as a route runner, but he flashed explosiveness in and out of his breaks. He does have durability concerns because of his size, and he had foot surgery in January 2016. He also struggles against press coverage because of his size. He’s not a natural receiver and his hands can be shaky at times for a WR, and he doesn’t have the vision of a RB.
Fantasy Analysis: Samuel projects best at WR, but he could also see plenty of snaps in this Panthers backfield because of his versatility and ability to work as a RB. The Panthers and OC Mike Shula seem to being shifting this aerial game to more of a short-passing attack by drafting dynamic “offensive weapons” Christian McCaffrey and Samuel in the first two rounds. Samuel has already been told he’ll be used primarily in the slot, while also seeing snaps in the backfield with McCaffrey. We worry that Samuel could be a Dexter McCluster type, who is completely frustrating for fantasy because of inconsistent and uninspired usage. The best-case scenario is that he’s used like Tyreek Hill in the future, getting creative carries and targets every game, with some potential as a returner too. Samuel has plenty of big-play ability, and he could sneak into the fantasy radar if he gets enough productive touches per game as a rookie.
7. Carlos Henderson, Den
Drafted: 3rd round, 82nd overall
Scouting Report: Henderson had just 65 catches and was mostly just a returner in his first two college seasons before he exploded as a redshirt junior in 2016. He did it all for Louisiana Tech, winning both Offensive and Special Teams Player of the Year honors for Conference USA. He finished with 82/1535 receiving last season, and he totaled 23 TDs (19 receiving, 2 rushing, 2 kick returns) despite missing two games with an ankle injury. Henderson looked fast on tape last season, but he played against lesser competition coming out of Louisiana Tech. His speed translated to the turf in Indy, clocking a 4.46 40-time at the Combine. He also had great results in the vertical (36”) and broad jump (10’11”), which shows he has some explosive traits. However, he struggled in the 3-cone drill (7.18), 20-yard (4.35), and 60-yard shuttle runs (11.79). His numbers from the Combine suggest that he’s more of a straight-line athlete on the outside than a quick, slot type. However, he measured in at just 5’11”, 199 pounds and played a lot out of the slot in college, so it will be interesting to see how he transitions to the league. He’ll likely be able to play inside and outside, and he’s a talented returner, so his versatility will make him appealing. His agility numbers were surprising because he was elusive after the catch in college. He might be the best in the class with the ball in his hands, finding tiny cracks and exploding through them, which isn’t a shock because he’s a dynamic returner. Henderson wins in some contested-catch situations, and he plays bigger than his size as a receiver and as a runner, but he bigger defenders can still knock him off the ball. The biggest knock on Henderson is his route running. He can be a little stiff out of breaks, and he needs a ton of refinement after running a limited route tree at Louisiana Tech. He reminds us a bit of Cordarrelle Patterson coming out of Tennessee because of his dynamic ability as a runner and his one season of big-time college production.
Fantasy Analysis: Henderson is a bit of a boom-or-bust type because he only had one season of production playing at a smaller school. He should at least be able to make an immediate impact as a returner for the Broncos, and they’ve desperately been seeking a legit #3 WR for years to pair with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Henderson actually reminds us a lot of a young DT with playmaking ability with the ball in his hands. He isn’t a finished product as a route runner, and he’s not going to command targets in this offense as a rookie. Still, the Broncos need to help out their young QBs Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian, and they’ll look to get Henderson a few touches a game to get his explosive ability on the field. He’ll likely start his career on the fringes of fantasy relevance, but he could develop into a dynamic option in short time.
8. Cooper Kupp, LAR
Drafted: 3rd round, 69th overall
Scouting Report: Kupp was never on the radar for Division I schools, getting just two looks out of high school from Eastern Washington and Idaho State. He posted an astounding 428/6464/73 receiving against lesser competition in the FCS, setting records for that level in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving TDs. He won every major FCS award, including the Walter Payton Award as the best player in 2015. Kupp also ripped Chiefs top CB Marcus Peters for 2 TDs on his way to 8/145/3 against Washington back 2014. Kupp performed extremely well at the Senior Bowl, but he couldn’t keep the momentum going at the Combine. He had an absolutely dreadful performance in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.62. And his 31” vertical was better than only 7% of the position, according to mockdraftable.com. His broad jump wasn’t much better at 9’8”, and he showed very little explosiveness during the drills. Kupp impressed down in Mobile with his reliable hands, and he ran past some defenders with his jump in competition. He also caught just about everything on tape and gives great effort in every aspect. Kupp made plenty plays after the catch and showed better play speed than his 40-time suggests. He does need some work as a route runner, struggling to create separation with his quickness out of breaks. He also ran a limited route tree at Eastern Washington. He will be 24 years old during his rookie season, and he has an average build at 6’2”, 204 pounds. He operated primary as a big slot in college and has some similarities to Tyler Boyd, but Kupp has the size to potentially work outside some at the next level. He’s physical after the catch like an outside WR.
Fantasy Analysis: The Rams must think Kupp can play on the outside as a Z receiver or they apparently just love their interior WRs with Tavon Austin, Robert Woods, and Pharoh Cooper already in Los Angeles. Kupp was just a marginal athlete at the Combine, and the Rams are hoping that he plays more like his college tape and is more quick than fast. He’s also an older prospect – he’ll be 24 years old this season – so the Rams will be counting on him to quickly transition from playing against FCS corners to NFL corners. The Rams aren’t overly talented at WR, but he’ll still be competing against a bunch of mouths out of the slot with a shaky QB in Jared Goff. He’ll likely be waiver wire material as a rookie, but he could could develop into a #3 WR once he makes the transition to the next level.
9. Kenny Golladay, Det
Drafted: 3rd round, 96th overall
Scouting Report: Golladay took an interesting route to the NFL, starting his college career at FCS North Dakota before moving closer to his Chicago home and transferring to Northern Illinois. He posted 160/2285/18 receiving (14.3 YPR) in two seasons against MAC competition. Golladay sat out a year when he transferred and he’s a 24-year-old prospect, so he might not have the ceiling that other draftees have. He is a QB’s best friend because he’s really long at 6’4”, 218 pounds and offers a huge catch radius. He also catches just about every pass thrown his way, with just a couple drops to his name the last two years. He was a height/weight/speed prospect coming out of the Combine, after running a 4.5 40-time and jumping 35½” in the vertical and 10’0” in the broad. He does need to work on his route running, and he needs to improve his sideline awareness, which is pretty important since he’ll be working the boundaries of the field most of his career at his size. Golladay should be a good vertical threat and a red-zone option at the next level because of his size and speed.
Fantasy Analysis: Golladay was a little off our radar before the draft, but he landed in an ideal situation with the Lions to potentially make an immediate impact, especially if Anquan Boldin doesn’t return to Detroit for the 2017 season. Golladay brings some much needed length to the outside, and he could play right away on the outside, opposite of Marvin Jones with the Lions potentially kicking Golden Tate back into the slot. The problem is that he’ll also have to contend with TE Eric Ebron and RB Theo Riddick for targets, and he’d likely be the #5 option for QB Matthew Stafford. Golladay probably needs a year of development before he makes a true mark for fantasy, but he could be a waiver wire option as a rookie.
10. Taywan Taylor, Ten
Drafted: 3rd round, 72nd overall
Scouting Report: Taylor didn’t have much of a national profile coming into 2016 playing at Western Kentucky, but he broke onto the scene when he posted 9/121 receiving against Alabama in 2016. His performance against the Crimson Tide was the start to a great season, as he finished with a remarkable 98/1730/17 receiving in 2016, which pushed his career numbers to 253/4234/41. Taylor had an up-and-down Combine performance. Checking in at 5’11” and 203 pounds, he ran a solid 4.50 in the 40-yard dash, which was slightly slower than he looked on tape, albeit against lesser competition in Conference USA. Taylor had the best time in the 3-cone drill at 6.53, and he had an excellent broad jump (11”) and a solid vertical (33½”). His broad jump and 3-cone drill actually ranked him among the top 4% at the position, according to mockdraftable.com. It’s not surprising then that he was explosive as both a route runner and with the ball in his hands. He approaches route running like an art form, manipulating defenders with a number of different moves. He was allowed to freelance quite a bit in Western Kentucky’s offense, which he obviously won’t be able to do at the next level. Taylor is competitive with the ball in the air, and he has great feet and concentration along the sideline. He is a touch small, and he needs to get better against press coverage. He also is a bit tentative at times going over the middle. He’s best built to operate out of the slot, but he worked all over the field with success in college. We see a little bit of Antonio Brown in Taylor because of their size and explosiveness as route-runners and after the catch.
Fantasy Analysis: Taywan has a future in the league but it’s yet to be determined if he can play all over the field or if he’ll be limited to the slot. At the very least, he should become a good slot receiver with the potential for more. The Titans already have Corey Davis, Rishard Matthews, and Tajae Sharpe as options on the outside, so Taylor slots in as an inside receiver to start his career with Marcus Mariota. He might not make an immediate fantasy impact as a rookie in this run-heavy offense, which doesn’t lean on 3-WR sets. Still, Taylor has the potential to become the #2 WR behind Davis early in his career, and he could become a solid PPR option relatively soon.
11. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pit
Drafted: 2nd round, 62nd overall
Scouting Report: Smith-Schuster is a big, physical receiver at 6’1”, 215 pounds, who has been compared quite a bit to Anquan Boldin leading up to the draft. As a five-star recruit, JuJu started as soon as he stepped foot on campus in 2014. He then earned second-team All-American honors as a sophomore with 89/1454/10 receiving despite playing through a broken hand. He struggled through a back injury last season, averaging an unremarkable 13.1 yards per catch (70/914/10). Smith-Schuster helped himself with his performance at the Combine, looking healthier and more athletic than he showed during the 2016 season. He ran a better 40-time than most expected at 4.54. He also posted a solid number in the broad jump (10”) and a slightly disappointing vertical (32½”). He looked much healthier in the drills at the Combine, looking smooth as a receiver. Smith-Schuster has absolutely massive hands at 10½”, and he uses them to make some tough catches away from his body. He’s not going to run away from defenders after the catch, but he picks up extra yardage by running like an RB with the ball in his hands. He can make the occasional play downfield because he’s excellent at tracking deep passes to make some difficult catches. Smith-Schuster has trouble separating and reaching top speed, so he’s unlikely to ever be a big-play threat, but he also has a floor of being at least a big slot receiver. He’s going to have to be good at shielding defenders away and making contested catches because of his lack of separation. He also needs to become a more consistent route runner to better free himself from defenders, but at least he isn’t afraid to make plays in traffic. There are some concerns that he could be a follower and not a leader off the field, but he landed in a good organization. He still flashed plenty of times throughout his three seasons at USC to show he can be a volume receiver at the next level. We like the Boldin comparisons, but we think he might be slightly more athletic and more of a Michael Crabtree type.
Fantasy Analysis: The Steelers, once loaded with WR depth, became extremely thin at the position thanks to Martavis Bryant’ season long suspension and Sammie Coates’ disappearing act in the middle of last season. The Steelers got some insurance by drafting one our favorite rookie WRs in Smith-Schuster at #62 overall. Smith-Schuster is a big, physical receiver who should be able to play on the outside right away as a possession receiver. No offense to marginal slot WR Eli Rogers, but the Steelers will also likely try to develop JuJu as a big slot receiver because they would love to use 3-WR sets with Smith-Schuster, Brown, and Bryant. Smith-Schuster’s future is a bit tied to Bryant and Coates, but he’s an extremely young prospect who won’t turn 21 until the end of November. He’ll likely be a fantasy bench option as a rookie, but he should have a long career as a #2 WR on the outside.
12. Chad Hansen, NYJ
Drafted: 4th round, 141st overall
Scouting Report: Hansen came out of pretty much nowhere in 2016 to become a quick riser in this year’s WR class. There wasn’t much tape on him before last season, but he posted 92/1249/11 receiving in 2016 despite missing two games with an ankle injury. He finished third in the NCAA with 9.2 catches per game and fourth with with 124.9 yards per game. His only scholarship offer came from Idaho State, where he played only one season before transferring to Cal. He did little in his first season with the Golden Bears in 2015 (19/249/1) before exploding last season. Hansen has a nice combination of size (6’2”, 202 pounds) and speed to run away from defenders, which teams are looking for in perimeter receivers. He ran a respectable 4.53 in the 40-yard dash at the Combine, and he actually performed better in the agility drills with a 6.74 in the 3-cone drill and a 4.13 in the 20-yard shuttle. Hansen creates after the catch with his speed and physicality, which makes him effective on WR screens. He also wins more often than not in contested-catch situations, and he tracks the ball well to make tough catches look easy. Hansen isn’t a polished route runner, with deliberate breaks in and out of cuts. He also ran a limited route tree from one side of the formation, and he needs to get better as an intermediate receiver. He can be outmuscled at the line of scrimmage in press coverage, which is surprising because of his size. He does have strong hands, but he lets some passes get into his body. He definitely has some similarities to Jordy Nelson coming out of college because of their athleticism and big-play ability.
Fantasy Analysis: We’re not sure Hansen can be a true #1 outside WR, but he brings some deep speed and depth to the Jets on the outside. He’s still a bit raw coming into the league as just a one-year contributor in college, but he fell into a great spot to potentially see the field as a rookie. He’ll have a chance to make an immediate impact in a Jets offense that is lacking at receiver. Eric Decker is their top weapon and coming off major hip and shoulder surgeries, and the other top WRs include underwhelming options in Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson. We can’t expect Hansen to be fantasy relevant as a rookie, but he could have the chance to play relatively early. And he could develop into a #2 outside WR in the near future.
13. Josh Reynolds, LAR
Drafted: 4th round, 117th overall
Scouting Report: Reynolds didn’t receive any football offers out of high school, but the Aggies offered him a partial scholarship as a hurdler for the track team. He decided to go to junior college for football, and the Texas A&M football eventually came calling a year later. Reynolds immediately stepped into Mike Evans’ spot on the outside, posting 153/2611/30 receiving in three seasons as a starter. He averaged 17.1 yards per catch for his career and he’s coming off 61/1039/12 in his final season. It’s not surprising that Reynolds tore it up at the Combine with his track background, posting impressive broad (10’4”) and vertical jumps (37”). He had an average 40-time at 4.52, which wasn’t too surprising considering his length, but he pleasantly surprised with his 20-yard (4.13) and 60-yard (11.32) shuttle runs. Reynolds didn’t show that quickness too much on tape in his route running, and he might never develop into much of an underneath receiver because of his long stride. However, he is a dangerous vertical threat because of his length, easily gliding past smaller defenders and tracking deep passes well. He’s also a threat along the sideline and at the goal line because of his huge catch radius. He knows how to high point the ball and pulls off some acrobatic catches, but he does have some careless drops on tape. Reynolds will need to beef up his thin frame a bit or he could get outmuscled by NFL defenders, which could be a struggle for him. He’s still competitive with the ball in the air and will go over the middle, despite wiry build.
Fantasy Analysis: The Rams apparently love their interior WRs with Tavon Austin, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Pharoh Cooper. Reynolds is the only true outside WR on this roster with his length and vertical ability, so he has an uncluttered path to be the starting X receiver in Week One if all goes well. He has gliding vertical speed and a long frame in the red zone, and he should be able to help in those areas early in his career. If QB Jared Goff can take a step forward in his development in Year Two, Reynolds has the potential to be fantasy bench piece for non-PPR formats as a rookie. He has the potential to evolve into a #2 WR down the road if he develops his route running and puts a little extra weight onto his thin frame.
14. Dede Westbrook, Jac
Drafted: 4th round, 110th overall
Scouting Report: Dede is a play-making WR who snuck in as a Heisman finalist last year because of his nation-leading 26 catches of 20+ yards. He started his career at community college before coming to Oklahoma in 2015. He made an immediate impact for the Sooners, posting 46/743/4 receiving while playing next to Sterling Shepard. Westbrook capped his career by winning the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top WR with 80/1524/17 in 2016. He’s got a tiny frame at 6’0”, 178 pounds, but he’s got legit deep speed, running at 4.34 at his pro day. His speed definitely translated to the field, easily taking slant routes and turning them into TDs. He played mostly on the outside at Oklahoma, and he’s good route runner on top of being fast. Westbrook slipped a lot of defenders in college on double moves, and he easily ran away defenders once he got behind them. He also doesn’t drop passes and demonstrates good body control along the sidelines. Westbrook is a polarizing prospect because of some off-the-field questions and some terrible interviews at the Combine. He was arrested twice for domestic violence situations but never convicted before he arrived at Oklahoma. He also missed his senior year in high school because of a ruptured small intestine. Westbrook has a very slight build, so there are plenty of durability questions with him. He isn’t going to beat out many defenders for contested catches, and he struggled against press coverage when he saw it because of his size. He failed to show quickness at his pro day with a terrible 7.24 seconds in the three-cone drill, which is a concern since he might have to play out of the slot at times. Westbrook has similar size and speed to Will Fuller, and he has the tools to make an immediate impact as a vertical threat. Westbrook’s play strength will need to improve if he wants to remain on the outside.
Fantasy Analysis: It’s going to be tough for Westbrook to crack the top three in this Jaguar WR corps with Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee, and Allen Hurns ahead of him. DeDe will likely be used as a situational deep threat next season, but he could have some relevance if oft-injured WRs Lee and Hurns have trouble staying on the field. The Jaguars do want to be a ground-and-pound squad with Leonard Fournette, likely with QB Blake Bortles taking shots down field off the run action, which would obviously fit Westbrook’s strength as a vertical threat. If he can eventually crack the top three here, Westbrook has game-breaking potential to be on the fantasy fringes in non-PPR formats.
15. Amara Darboh, Sea
Drafted: 3rd round, 106th overall
Scouting Report: Darboh has a pretty remarkable story, coming from Sierra Leone with his sister after his parents were killed during the country’s civil war. He came to America at 7 years old, and he earned U.S. citizenship in 2015. He finished 2016 at Michigan with 58/862/7 receiving and had 151/2062/14 in three seasons in which he compiled stats. Darboh redshirted in 2013 after he broke his foot during preseason camp. Darboh tested well above average in every test he participated in at the Combine, running a 4.46 in the 40-yard dash, leaping 36” in the vertical, and posting 10’4” in the broad jump. However, Darboh’s athleticism at the Combine didn’t always show up on his college tape. It took him time to build up speed, and he doesn’t have the quickest feet as a route runner. He is a long-armed, big-bodied receiver, who made a lot of catches in contested situations because of his lack of separation. He’s reliable at the catch point, using strength and body control to shield away smaller defenders. Those traits also came in handy down as a weapon down by the red zone. Darboh is very competitive, which shows up when he goes into traffic and when he mixes it up as a run blocker. He showed shaky hands at times the last two seasons, and he’s not the type of receiver who is going to bail out his QB out by making acrobatic catches. He’s also not going to create much after the catch with his feet, although he will muscle out of weak tackles. He is in the mold of long, possession WRs like Brandon LaFell, Mohamed Sanu, and Rueben Randle.
Fantasy Analysis: Darboh is above average in just about every area, but it’s tough to find an area in which he’s exceptional other than being big and competitive. Of course, the Seahawks love their uber-competitive WRs like Doug Baldwin and previously Golden Tate. It’s going to be competitive for Darboh to get targets in this offense, but Paul Richardson has never been able to stay healthy for long stretches of time and Tyler Lockett is coming back from a gruesome broken league suffered late last season. We don’t really see Darboh ever being the top option in this Seahawks/any passing game and his ceiling for fantasy might be as a WR3, but he could easily develop into a long-time #2 outside WR.
16. Chris Godwin, TB
Drafted: 3rd round, 84th overall
Scouting Report: Godwin is arguably the best at winning in contested-catch situations among in this year’s WR class. He was extremely productive in 2016, posting 59/982/11 receiving, including an impressive 9/187/2 in his final game against USC in the Rose Bowl. He came to Penn State as the Delaware Gatorade High School Player of the Year in 2013, and he broke out as a sophomore in 2015, posting 69/1101/5. Godwin saved his best performances for the biggest games, combining for 22/460/3 in Penn State’s three bowl games. Most draft observers expected him to run in the 4.5s in the 40-yard dash, so most were stunned when he ran a 4.42 and had the best 20-yard shuttle at 4.00. He also had an impressive 36-inch vertical, and he tied for the most reps (19) in the bench press at the position. Godwin tore it up in drills too, running an impressive gauntlet drill. One of the biggest concerns with Godwin was some tightness in his hips transitioning out of breaks, but the quickness he showed in the 20-yard shuttle shows he can improve. Godwin, who checks in at 6’1”, 209 pounds, is an absolute force in jump-ball situations in the red zone and downfield. He not only wins will the ball in the air, but he’s a physical runner after after the catch – although he’s not the most elusive YAC guy. He averaged an explosive 16.3 yards per catch the last two seasons, but he does need to refine his route running as an underneath receiver to become a complete wideout. He also struggled to consistently win against man coverage. He has elite ball skills and the ability to track the deep ball, and running faster than expected at the Combine has raised his status as one of the better intermediate/deep threats in this draft. He also is one of the best blockers in this class, which is an added bonus. We see a little Pierre Garcon in him, and they have strikingly similar measurables coming out of college.
Fantasy Analysis: Godwin was one of the top playmakers at WR in this year’s draft because of his flair for making nearly every contest catch. He joins a Buccaneers offense that is now teeming with playmakers at receiver with Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and O.J. Howard. The Bucs don’t have much depth behind Evans and D-Jax, and Godwin could have an immediate role stretching the field for Jameis Winston. Godwin might not be consistent for fantasy right away, but he could have some moments as waiver wire fodder during his rookie season. He also has some upside for the future if he can develop into a more complete WR.
17. Chad Williams, Ari
Drafted: 3rd round, 98th overall
Scouting Report: Williams dominated at small school Grambling the last three years, posting 199/2921/26 receiving in 2014-16. He earned second-team FCS All-American honors last season for recording 90/1337/11. Williams had some off-the field concerns after being charged with firearm and marijuana possession in the spring of 2016. He didn’t receive a Combine invite because of the charges, but he ran a 4.43 at his pro day, and added jumps of 35½” in the vertical and 10’3” in the broad. He has good size (6’1”, 204 pounds) and excellent speed, which made him a dangerous deep threat. Williams has good ball skills and plays bigger than his size, which helps him win in contested-catch situations. He also uses his body well to shield away defenders, but he needs a ton of work as a route runner. We heard him described as the worst route runner in this year’s class. He played at a low level in college, but he did post 13/152 against Arizona in 2016 (to be honest, the Arizona defense was slightly above FCS level). He’s a major developmental prospect, and he’s facing a big jump in competition, but the ability is certainly in him.
Fantasy Analysis: Cardinals HC Bruce Arians loves the vertical passing game, and he isn’t afraid to pull the trigger on prospects that the rest of the league isn’t taking seriously. Most recently, he pulled the trigger on little-known John Brown out of Pittsburg State in the third round in 2014 and J.J. Nelson out of UAB in the fifth round in 2015. Most draft experts had Williams pegged as a UDFA prospect, but he fits a need on the outside with his size and speed with Michael Floyd out of the picture. It might be asking a lot for Williams to make major contributions in 2017, but at least the receivers ahead of him have major questions. John Brown is coming off the season from hell, Jaron Brown is coming off a torn ACL, and Nelson is just a role player. Williams seems to be a great fit for Arians attack, but he’s a major developmental prospect with plenty of upside for the future.
18. Mack Hollins, Phi
Drafted: 4th round, 118th overall
Scouting Report: Hollins comes to the league as a big-play machine, averaging more than 20+ yards per reception during his college career. He finished his career with 81/1667/20 receiving (20.6 YPR) over four seasons. Hollins is a height/weight/speed prospect at 6’4”, 221 pounds, and 4.53 speed. He hits top speed relatively quick for such a big guy, which makes him a dangerous deep threat against much smaller DBs. Hollins is a former basketball and lacrosse athlete, and he captained the North Carolina special teams unit all four years. He’ll likely have a NFL career because of his ability to cover punts and kicks. He does have some durability concerns coming into the league. He broke his collarbone and need surgery in 2016, and he never played more than 50% of the Tar Heels’ offensive snaps in any season. He’ll also 24 years old during his rookie season, so he might not have the ceiling that many other WR prospects have. Still, he is a bit raw as a route runner, so there could be some room for growth in that area. Our guy Greg Cosell actually saw Hollins as a bigger, longer Torrey Smith, who he will start the season behind.
Fantasy Analysis: The Eagles went out of their way to address WR this off-season, the biggest weakness of their roster in 2016. They added Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency, and they drafted speedsters Hollins and Shelton Gibson. Hollins will be in a battle with Gibson, Nelson Agholor, and Dorial Green-Beckham for the #4 WR job out of camp. Smith signed a three-year deal during the off-season, but the Eagles are only on the hook for 2017. Hollins could be on the non-PPR radar early in his career because he’ll be a deep threat with his speed and a red-zone option with his size. Hollins will at least be a special teams demon on the punt and kick cover teams, which will likely secure a roster spot for him in 2017, but it will be asking a lot for him to make a fantasy impact as a rookie.
19. Josh Malone, Cin
Drafted: 4th round, 128th overall
Scouting Report: Malone is a former five-star recruit and was “Mr. Football” in the state of Tennessee before heading to Knoxville. He played early as a freshman, becoming a starter half way through 2014 and collecting 104/1608/14 receiving over three seasons. He broke out in his final season, notching 50/912/11 with QB Josh Dobbs in 2016. Malone ran an impressive 4.40 40-time at the Combine, but he shockingly showed a lack of athleticism with just 30½” vertical and a 10’1” broad jump. He has ideal size for an outside receiver at 6’3”, 208 pounds, and he uses it to his advantage with a large catch radius. He’s primarily a field stretcher at this point with his speed, and he averaged 15.5 YPR at Tennessee. Malone has the profile that many teams would look for at WR, but was a Day Three pick because of sloppy routes, bad drops, and inconsistent overall play. He also got outmuscled in college against press coverage and in contested-catch situations. Malone will be just 21 years old as a rookie, and he’s seen as a developmental prospect
Fantasy Analysis: Malone will have a tough time cracking the Bengals lineup in 2017, likely entering the 2017 season as the #5 WR in Cincinnati. He’ll start the year behind A.J. Green, John Ross, and Brandon LaFell at outside WR, and they also have Tyler Boyd in the slot. Still, the Bengals selected Malone in the fourth round after taking Ross in the first round, so they must have a plan to get Malone involved at some point early in his career. LaFell did sign a two-year contract over the off-season, but the Bengals don’t owe him a dime for 2018, so Malone could be relevant relatively soon. Malone could reel off a couple big plays as a rookie, but he’s likely to stay off the fantasy radar in 2017.
20. Malachi Dupre, GB
Drafted: 7th round, 247th overall
Scouting Report: Dupre is just dripping with athletic ability, but he rarely got to showcase his abilities at LSU. The Tigers offense revolved around RB Leonard Fournette, and they were a complete mess at quarterback while Dupre was on campus. Despite the limitations of this passing game, he led the Tigers in receiving the last two seasons with a combined 84/1291/9. Before he got to LSU, Dupre was the Louisiana high school state champion in the long, triple, and high jumps. He’s long and lanky at 6’2”, 196 pounds, and he’s obviously a good leaper, but he didn’t always show a second gear as a downfield threat at LSU. To no one’s surprise, Dupre tore it up at the Combine with his broad jump of 11’3” and his 39.5” vertical. He tracks deep passes well, and he obviously has the ability to win in contested-catch situations because of his leaping ability. However, he needs to get more aggressive with the ball in the air. He’s a smooth athlete and can lull defenders with his long gait and double moves, but he does struggle to separate at times because he’s not a burner. He also needs to refine his route running, getting in and out of his breaks quicker. He does have strong hands and good body control, and he has a wide catch because of his length and leaping ability. He worked from the slot some at LSU, but he’ll stick mostly to the outside in the future. He does need to add more strength to beat man coverage on the outside. We see a lot of Justin Hunter in Dupre because of his long, wiry frame and raw athleticism.
Fantasy Analysis: Dupre is a boom-or-bust prospect coming into the league, but the good news for him is that he landed with the Packers, an organization that will be patient with the young WR. There’s a good chance Dupre spends most of the 2017 season on the practice squad because of the Packers depth at the position. If everything goes right, he could develop into a dangerous outside WR with his length and leaping ability. If he doesn’t reach his potential, he likely just be a depth guy for most of his career.
WR Dynasty/Keeper Rankings
- Corey Davis (Ten, 22) – The Titans drafted Davis, the most polished rookie WR, to be the man on the outside with Marcus Mariota for years to come, including this season as a rookie.
- Mike Williams (LAC, 22) – Williams is a big, physical X receiver who could quickly develop into Philip Rivers’ favorite target on the outside, especially on slant routes.
- John Ross (Cin, 22) – Ross broke the Combine 40-time record with a 4.22, and it might take long for him to become one of the most dangerous vertical threats in the league.
- Zay Jones (Buf, 22) – Jones is a Jordan Matthews type as a big slot/Z receiver. With Sammy Watkins’ future in Buffalo in doubt, Jones could become the #1 guy quickly.
- ArDarius Stewart (NYJ, 23) – Stewart plays like an RB out of the slot. He might never be a true fantasy stud, but he could easily become a PPR threat in this weak Jets offense.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster (Pit, 20) – JuJu has a little Michael Crabtree in him. Smith-Schuster is a physical, possession receiver who should be able to play early in his career.
- Josh Reynolds (LAR, 22) – Reynolds has gliding vertical speed and a long frame in the red zone. He should help in those areas early in his career, which makes him an interesting non-PPR option.
- Taywan Taylor (Ten, 23) – Taylor should become a good slot receiver with the potential for more. He could become a solid PPR option relatively early in his career.
- Curtis Samuel (Car, 20) – Samuel has plenty of big-play ability. The best-case scenario is that he’s used like Tyreek Hill, getting creative carries and targets every week.
- Cooper Kupp (LAR, 23) – Kupp projects best as a big slot. It could take him a little time to adjust from FCS corners to NFL corners, but he could develop into a #3 WR once he makes the transition.
- Carlos Henderson (Den, 22) – Henderson is dynamic with the ball in his hands. He should be able to make an immediate impact as a returner, and the Broncos will look to get the explosive playmaker some touches every week.
- Chris Godwin (TB, 21) – Godwin is excellent in contested-catch situations. He needs to develop into a more complete WR, but Jameis Winston will give him some chances downfield.
- Chad Williams (Ari, 22) – Williams is a big-time athlete who needs a lot of overall work as a receiver. He brings some much-needed size to the Cardinals WR corps.
- Kenny Golladay (Det, 24) – Golladay brings some length to the Lions on the outside. He has strong hands but could take a little time to develop.
- Amara Darboh (Sea, 23) – Darboh is big and competitive and above average in just about every area. He could easily develop into a long-time #2 outside WR.
- Dede Westbrook (Jac, 23) – Westbrook has the tools to make an immediate impact as a vertical threat. He has game-breaking potential to be on the fantasy fringes in non-PPR formats.
- Chad Hansen (NYJ, 22) – Hansen is still a bit raw as just a one-year contributor in college, but he has plus athleticism to develop into a deep threat.
- Mack Hollins (Phi, 23) – Hollins brings some size (6’4”, 221 pounds) and gliding vertical speed to Philly, and he’ll also contribute on special teams immediately to secure a roster spot.
- Josh Malone (Cin, 21) – Malone, a former five-star recruit, is an athletic freak. He’s a developmental prospect because of his sloppy routes, bad drops, and inconsistent overall play.
- Malachi Dupre (GB, 21) – The Packers will need to be patient while Dupre develops. If everything goes right, he could develop into a dangerous outside WR with his length and leaping ability.
- Isaiah Ford (Mia, 21) – Ford doesn’t jump out in any aspect. It’s unlikely that he’s ever the featured receiver, and his destiny may be as a complementary receiver.
- Shelton Gibson (Phi, 22) – Gibson showed vertical ability at WVU, averaging 22+ YPR in his final season. He did disappoint at the Combine, and he has limited route work.
- Trent Taylor (SF, 23) – Taylor is strictly a slot receiver at the next level, but he does have the quickness necessary to become a short-area target.
- Noah Brown (Dal, 21) – Browns needs to refine his game and is unlikely to make a big impact early, but he could develop into an imposing outside WR if given time.
- Jehu Chesson (KC, 23) – Chesson’s play slipped during his time at Michigan. He’ll need to turn it around and become a possession receiver for the Chiefs.
- DeAngelo Yancey (GB, 22) – Yancey brings some downfield ability with above average size and speed, but he’ll need to improve his hands and route running.
- Stacy Coley (Min, 22) – Coley has the potential to be a #3 WR and an impact returner, and he could turn out to be a better real-life player than a fantasy option.
- Ryan Switzer (Dal, 22) – The Cowboys drafted a Cole Beasley clone. Switzer will only play out of the slot, but he also brings some return ability.
- Robert Davis (Was, 22) – Davis led the WRs in SPARQ score at the combine. He’s raw, but he has a high ceiling because of his size and athleticism.
- David Moore (Sea, 22) – Moore is an off-the-radar prospect from Division II East Central, but he’s a freak athlete with great size who the Seahawks will try to develop.
- Travin Dural (NO, 23) – Dural battled injuries and poor QB play in college. He brings some size and speed as a complementary option.