I went through and scouted many NFL Draft wide receiver prospects for this cycle. Each player I studied in-depth and really explored their potential abilities. However, the grades more so reflect where each prospect is now based on their current ability. In the event of a tie, I insert my opinions on who I would prefer over others based on upside and their chances of improving in those abilities.

I decided to break this into three parts based on the three basic types of wide receivers; the “X,” or the number one receiver, the “Z,” or the number two receiver, and the slot receiver.

A little bit about my grades and how to read them:

87 and over is considered a first-round grade. After that, anyone from 86-80 is considered a day two grade. 79 and under is considered a day three grade.

The X receiver is the boundary playmaker that is typically the number one option for the quarterback. With this position, the idea is to have a dominant boundary receiver who can take attention away from the other receivers in the formation. This opens up a lot of space underneath.

Here are my overall grades and rankings for the X wide receiver position:

  1. Ja’Marr Chase, LSU (88)
  2. DeVonta Smith, Alabama (87)
  3. Brennan Eagles, Texas (84)
  4. TJ Vasher, Texas Tech (81)
  5. Dez Fitzpatrick, Louisville (80)
  6. Josh Imatorbhebhe, Illinois (80)
  7. Josh Palmer, Tennessee (79)
  8. Cornell Powell, Clemson (78)
  9. Seth Williams, Auburn (77)
  10. Michael Strachan, Charleston (75)
  11. Adrian Hardy, Louisiana Tech (74)

Here are my notes on the “X” wide receiver rankings:

  • DeVonta Smith does project as a number one receiver despite his lack of size. His athletic ability and reliable hands will make him a valuable target on the outside. That being said, he projects more as a possession receiver. There aren’t too many offenses that will utilize him in that kind of role. I think he will end up playing more of the “Z” receiver, but I’m going on record saying that he projects as a number one target.
  • Dez Fitzpatrick received the nod over Josh Imatorbhebhe in this instance because of his production and reliability. I thought that Fitzpatrick, despite not being as athletically gifted as Imatorbhebhe, showed better body control, especially working along the sideline, and still produced with significantly less talent at the quarterback position. Imatorbhebhe is still raw in his techniques, and the gaudy numbers that he put up at his Pro Day don’t exactly shine on tape.
  • If there is a sleeper in this group, look no further than Michael Strachan, out of a Division-II school in Charleston, West Virginia. Strachan was a high school track star with his 6’4″ 220-pound frame. He’s still a raw prospect, really needing to finetune some of his route-running and release techniques, but the ability is there to develop into a big-time playmaker if he gets the chance to shine.
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    By John Vogel

    NFL Draft Analyst. Dad.

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