The 2017 NFL Draft will begin on April 27, and there’s a nice blend of dynamic wide receivers from premier programs as well as smaller schools.
There players who participated in the 2016 College Football Playoff — Clemson’s Mike Williams, Washington’s John Ross, Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel. Group of 5 standouts are considered elite prospects as well, notably Western Michigan’s Corey Davis and East Carolina’s Zay Jones.
Williams, Ross and Samuel are expected to be selected early in the draft.
There’s many talented juniors and redshirt juniors in the draft, including Alabama’s ArDarius Stewart, Penn State’s Chris Godwin and Southern Cal’s JuJu Smith-Schuster, all of whom rate among the best at the position, according to CBS Sports.
Here’s an assortment of predraft rankings to provide insight into which wide receivers are considered the best available.
Brandt only has 4 wide receivers among his top 150 NFL draft prospects.
Mike Williams will be the first wideout taken in the 2017 NFL Draft, according to observers. At 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, Williams had an impressive junior season at Clemson. He finished eighth among Power 5 players with 90.7 receiving yards per game and had 98 receptions for 1,361 yards and 11 TDs.
Of the 5 services above, only CBS Sports doesn’t have Williams among its top-2 wide receiver prospects. ESPN and Bleacher Report are high on Williams; both see him as the No. 12 overall prospect in the draft class.
John Ross wasn’t able to show his talents as Williams did in the College Football Playoff. Blanketed by the Alabama defense, Ross had 5 catches for 28 yards in the Peach Bowl. However, Ross finished the season with 81 catches for 1,150 yards and a whopping 17 TDs, tied with Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook for the most among Power 5 players.
Four of the rankings have Ross in the 17-24 range, but Brandt has him as a top-10 pick. A speedy and savvy route-runner at 5-foot-11, 173 pounds, Ross broke an NFL combine record with a 4.22-second time in the 40-yard dash.
A couple players from smaller FBS schools, Western Michigan’s Corey Davis and East Carolina’s Zay Jones, are also getting lots of love. Davis is regarded as a first-round prospect, with Jones a likely second-round pick.
Also appearing in many experts’ 2-round mocks are Southern Cal’s JuJu Smith-Schuster and Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel. Smith-Schuster capped his college career with 7 catches for 133 yards and a TD against Penn State in the Rose Bowl. Samuel played receiver and running back, and he was the only player in the nation with at least 700 rushing and 700 receiving yards last season.
From Connolly’s Big Board:
How about drafting a Mike Evans clone? Well, Williams is that guy. Like Evans, Williams is a vertical threat who doesn’t win with speed. Instead, he wins with nuance, a large catching radius, beating defenders on 50-50 balls and excellent route-running.
Williams is not as crisp in-and-out of breaks as Western Michigan product Corey Davis, but he makes up for it with his frame: allowing him to body defenders out of position. That upper body power allows him to dominate against press coverage. He owned college defensive backs at the line of scrimmage, effortlessly brushing away their attempts to jam him.
He also creates late separation, the hallmark of great receivers. Whether it’s subtle movements or contorting his body to create a throwing lane for his quarterback, Williams does it.
It’s anyone’s guess as to which receiver will hear his name called first, but there’s a chance this could mark the second consecutive draft without a receiver being taken in the top 10. That hasn’t happened since 1989-90.
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