If you watched the NFL Draft this year, you probably spent a lot of time watching or talking about the wide receivers. This year’s group was special, no doubt. But have you seen next year’s group? Many analysts have already tabbed the 2021 wide receivers as better than their 2020 counterparts. It’s hard to ignore the talent around the country, and there should be more excitement for next year’s group. Oh, and the season hasn’t even begun yet.
We won’t get to watch Justyn Ross because of season ending surgery, but there’s still a ton of talent left. LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase stunned everyone by returning, as did Alabama’s DeVonta Smith. There’s a ton of speed to watch at this position too. Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle, Louisville’s Tutu Atwell, and North Carolina’s tandem of Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome (among others) can fly. Other talented wide receivers are back from injury, including Purdue’s Rondale Moore and Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace. If your NFL team needs a wide receiver (or multiple wide receivers), this group can help you out. You just need to be patient.
NOTE: Click on the players name to read their player profile.
Top CFB Wide Receivers
Former 5-star recruit gets a chance to show what he can do in the Tigers offense. Marshall caught 46 passes for 671 yards and 13 touchdowns as LSU’s third option of their wide receivers last year, so just imagine what he can do with more touches. Throw in all of the attention Ja’Marr Chase demands and he has a great chance of having a career year.
Coxie’s looking for his third consecutive 1,000 yard season. Replacing Anthony Miller didn’t seem possible for the Tigers, but the newest Memphis weapon did it his own way. Now he’s one of the best wide receivers in the country just like his predecessor.
If not for a suggestion from a coach, Newsome might not be able to catch a football consistently. North Carolina’s offense is expected to take off this year, and Newsome will play a huge role in the slot (and will be one of the best wide receivers from that spot). After a year in which he surpassed 1,000 yards, it seems like he’s due for an even bigger year.
Rodgers took a back seat to Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins last year while he returned from injury, but this year will be different. Higgins is off to the NFL, and Ross had season ending surgery, so Rodgers becomes the veteran in the room. Now that he’s fully healthy, Clemson should unleash him in a multitude of ways.
Scary Terry lives up to the billing, and becoming a more refined receiver will raise his draft stock. Terry gets to work in Mike Norvell’s system, which has proven to be one of the best in college football. He averaged 19.8 yards per catch last year, and those numbers could get even better in the new offense.
Rondale Moore’s injury turned out to be a blessing in disguise in a way. We might not know the name David Bell if not for Moore’s injury, and now both return to give the Boilermakers a dangerous tandem. Bell’s an athletic catcher who could blow up as a sophomore with teams focusing so much on Moore in the slot.
Brown averaged an astonishing 20.3 yards per catch last year, and there’s good reason to believe he can be even better in 2020. He caught just 51 passes last year, but he obviously made them count. He’s the definition of a deep threat, and defenses need to decide if they want to take away Brown over the top or Dazz Newsome underneath. Either option opens the field up to the other wide receiver, so it seems like a lose-lose situation.
Arguably the best route runner in college football, Moore pays attention to the details of the position. A celebration put him in the spotlight at the end of the year, but he’ll remind people why he’s so good. He just needs a quarterback to hit him more consistently. It’s almost scary how open Moore can get because of his footwork, but even scarier how much his quarterbacks missed on their passes even with him so wide open.
The speedster gets some help back with the return of Keith Corbin, and a 1,000 yard season is on the table this year. Stevenson was the only Cougar to catch more than 30 passes, and still managed to average 17.4 yards per catch. His production was hit or miss however, because some teams found ways to take him out of the passing game. That’s where Corbin comes in to help stretch the field.
Trips to the beach with his family sharpened his skills, and now it’s not a surprise that Vaughns is an intriguing NFL prospect. Along with Amon-Ra St. Brown and Drake London, Vaughns makes the Trojans passing game one of the most lethal in the country.
Fans are comparing Pickens to former Bulldogs star A.J. Green, and those compliments aren’t thrown around lightly. It’s easy to see why the comparisons continue to flow in, as he plays the game similar to Green. His performance in the Sugar Bowl against Baylor launched the hype this offseason, and he’ll get a chance to prove everyone right.
Maybe the most athletic pass catcher in the country, Wilson didn’t waste any time making incredible plays. While teams might focus on Chris Olave more this year, that could open the field up for Wilson, who only caught 30 passes for 432 yards last year. If he can step up (which he did in the College Football Playoff), the Buckeyes have a star that could even overtake Olave as the go-to weapon.
A great frame that NFL teams will love, Collins just needs a quarterback that can exploit his strengths more. While he only caught 37 passes last year, he turned those into 729 yards (19.7 ypc), so it’s evident that he can take the top off a defense. Michigan’s quarterback situation continues to be a topic of conversation, and a great player can help a guy like Collins even more.
Williams is the best jump ball catcher in college football. A big reason for Bo Nix’s success was the fact that he could throw up nearly anything in Williams’ direction, and his wide receiver would come down with it. Strong at the catch point is the best way to describe his game, and some development from Nix opens up the Tigers offense a ton. That means Williams could become a more well-rounded wide receiver.
Just like his linebacker brother Chazz, Sage Surratt brings a physical style of play to the game. He’ll need to find chemistry with new quarterback Sam Hartman, but Surratt gives him plenty of room to get on the same page. Throwing to Surratt is a luxury that not many quarterbacks enjoy, and when he’s healthy he demands double teams. He produced over 1,000 yards in just nine games last year before an injury ended his season.
If you’re looking for a speedy wide receiver that can do things similar to what De’Anthony Thomas did for Oregon, Atwell is your guy. Louisville’s offense features a plethora of speed, but no one’s faster than their slot receiver. His 18.4 yards per catch show how dangers he can be, and the Cardinals will find ways to get him the ball more this year. Luckily for him, he’s not the only dangerous threat in the offense, so teams can’t throw too many bodies his way without getting burned.
The youngest of the St. Brown brothers has the potential to be the best wide receiver. In a crowded group of receivers, he still produced over 1,000 yards with his 77 catches. The Trojans lost just one guy in that group, but it’s what makes them one of the most potent offenses in the country. St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns make life for Kedon Slovis easier, and it puts USC in the conference championship picture.
An injury cut his season short, but Wallace was on a blistering pace. Oklahoma State’s glad he’s back to improve on his 903 yards, and his presence puts the Cowboys in the playoff conversation. He’s not the biggest deep threat in college football, but he’s a proven winner who knows how to beat his man an make an impact on the game.
The Buckeyes are lucky that Olave’s even on their roster, as they found him on accident in high school. Now he’s a Top 10 wide receiver. Ohio State’s been producing some electric route runners to the NFL, and many believe Olave’s not only next, but the best yet. His attention to detail sets him apart, and it’s a big reason for his 840 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.
He won’t participate in the 2020 season, but we wanted to give Ross the respect he deserves as a wide receiver. When healthy, Ross competes for the spot as best wide receiver in the country. Trevor Lawrence and the offense will miss his incredible catch radius, but his absence leaves the door open for someone else to step up. If he ends up coming back to Clemson (depending on his recovery), the Tigers will be even more dangerous.
Can Waddle become the complete package? The Crimson Tide utilized his speed plenty last year, and there’s no one faster than him. But the focus shifts on the other aspects of the position. Waddle has the natural talent to be a great NFL prospect, and now he gets a chance to show the attention to detail of his position. He’ll also give scouts something to watch as a returner, so that gives him another aspect of his game to love. If all else fails, he always has his speed that he can fall back to, and that’s still good enough to beat even the best defender.
Tyler Johnson got a ton of love, but the spotlight changes to Bateman with Johnson in the NFL. The Georgia native averaged 20.3 yards per catch last year, and now gets a chance to prove he can be the top dog in the room. The Gophers and Bateman surprised everyone last year with their performance, so the level of difficulty increases now that teams know what they’re getting when they face this offense.
A scary injury ended his season against Minnesota, but Rondale Moore is back and hopefully better than ever. The emergence of David Bell relieves some of the pressure off Moore, and could even open the field up for him. Still, teams know what he can do, so he will need to find ways to get open. Jeff Brohm likes using Moore all over the field and in various different ways as a runner and pass catcher, so touches won’t be tough to come by this year.
If not for two wide receivers on his own team and Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith would have been the best wide receiver in the country. Fortunately for him, two of them are gone, meaning he’s now the go-to guy for Alabama. He caught 68 passes for 1,256 yards (for a whopping 18.5 ypc) and 14 touchdowns, and he will improve on those numbers now that Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III are gone.
Chase caught 84 passes last year and still managed to average 21.2 yards on those catches. He also scored 20 touchdowns. Everything about his season last year was insane, but he inherits a new challenge in 2020. While he shocked many by returning to school, he now must work with a new quarterback while also finding ways to get open against tighter coverage. He’ll have help, and his skillset makes it tough to contain him all game, so it’s not like he’s going anywhere even if he’s held in check better.
Jhamon Ausbon, Texas A&M: Quartney Davis and Kendrick Rogers are gone, making Ausbon the undisputed leader. He caught 66 passes for 872 yards last year, and should improve those numbers in 2020.
Kadarius Toney, Florida: The comparisons to Percy Harvin flow, and it’s easy to see why. On one hand, Toney is a versatile playmaker for the Gators, but he’s also dealt with a number of injuries. So, unfortunately, the comparisons are almost too accurate.
Reggie Roberson, SMU: James Proche is gone, leaving Roberson with the responsibility of go-to target for Shane Buechele. When healthy, he’s one of the toughest players to cover in the country.
Tre Nixon, UCF: Former Ole Miss transfer gets his chance to shine. Fancy footwork and top end speed fits the UCF offense well, and will be a big reason he thrives this year.
Whop Philyor, Indiana: A fierce competitor who’s going to let defenders know when he wins a route, even if he doesn’t get the ball. Philyor’s a big reason the Hoosiers offense took off last year.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Iowa: Speed to burn. Smith-Marsette showed the coaching staff that he’s taking his role seriously, and him putting it together is not what any defense wants to see.
Tre Turner, Virginia Tech: Speaking of speed, Turner’s got plenty of it as well. Adding weight to his frame will help him with durability, but the Hokies for now have a guy that can stretch the defense.
Andrew Parchment, Kansas: If you’re not a fan of Pooka Williams (something’s wrong with you if that’s the case), but you’re dying to watch a Jayhawks skill plyer, Parchment’s the guy. He caught 65 passes for 831 yards and seven touchdowns last year.
Khalil Shakir, Boise State: Athletic pass catcher who can make up for a quarterback’s mistake throwing the ball.
Brennan Eagles, Texas: Next great of the Longhorns wide receivers? Sam Ehlinger needs someone to emerge, and it seems like Eagles can be the guy.
Charleston Rambo, Oklahoma: Sooners also need weapons to emerge, and Rambo gave us a little preview of what is to come with his 743 yards last year.
TJ Vasher, Texas Tech: Long, athletic catcher gets his quarterback in Alan Bowman back, and that’s a combination worth watching.
Johnny Johnson III, Oregon: Not the most physically gifted receiver, but it’s the little things he does that make him great.
Ronnie Bell, Michigan: While teams put most of their attention on Nico Collins, Ronnie Bell can be a dude on the opposite side for the Wolverines.
Warren Jackson, Colorado State: Big receiver for the Rams caught 77 passes for 1,119 yards and can cover a lot of ground with his long strides.
Wan’Dale Robinson, Nebraska: Cornhuskers will use him everywhere, and he should get more touches with JD Spielman transferring.
Tre Walker, San Jose State: Spartans were a surprise team last year, and Walker eclipsed 1,100 yards as their top pass catcher.
Tarique Milton, Iowa State: Averaged 20.6 yards per catch, showing why teams need to respect his speed deep.
Jared Smart, Hawaii: Most overlooked player even on his own team last year, Smart caught 87 passes for 1,129 yards in an offense that had a lot of dudes at receiver.
Frank Darby, Arizona State: He becomes the top receiver on the team, and he’s shown that he can be a deep threat (19.9 ypc).
OTHERS TO WATCH
Dez Fitzpatrick, Louisville
Keith Corbin, Houston
Drake London, USC
Dillon Stoner, Oklahoma State
CJ Johnson, East Carolina
Chris Autman-Bell, Minnesota
Jadan Blue, Temple
Branden Mack, Temple
Mycah Pittman, Oregon
Tarik Black, Texas
Skyy Moore, Western Michigan
Marlon Williams, UCF