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NFL Combine Prospect Preview: Wide Receiver

The NFL Combine officially kicks off on February 24. Here’s the first of our Prospect Previews, detailing the top WRs to watch for the Falcons as they take the field in Indianapolis.

NFL Combine - Day 3 Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The NFL Combine officially kicks off on February 24, and all eyes will be on Indianapolis to see which draft prospects are able help or hurt their stock with their performance. Going first will be the Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers, and Tight Ends, who will participate in on-field workouts starting on Thursday, Februrary 27.

To prepare everyone for the flurry of activity that is the NFL Combine, I am back to once again provide you with my Combine Prospect Previews—brief summaries of some of my favorite prospects in each position group. These are players who I believe the Falcons will be most interested in come draft day. Hopefully, these names will give you a little bit of guidance about who to watch when the players hit the field.

If you missed any of the other prospect previews, you can find them below:

WR | TE | RB | C/G | EDGE | DT | LB | CB | S

I’ll be skipping the QB group, because I think we can all agree that the Falcons won’t be interested in any of the top—or even depth—options. Instead, I’ll be kicking things off with the WR group, which is considered to be arguably the strongest position in the 2020 draft class. For added context, I’ll be incorporating player rankings from The Draft Network. This way you can have a general idea of where a current consensus of scouts ranks a particular player. Enjoy!

Quintez Cephus, Wisconsin

6’1, 207 | 59 receptions, 901 yards, 15.3 avg, 7 TD

TDN Prospect Rank: 176 (6th Round)

Cephus is a controversial prospect due to a sexual assault charge a few years back—he was, however, acquitted of all charges in court. It’ll be up to the Falcons to do their own due diligence on whatever transpired, but all I can go off is the legal ruling. That being said, I previously sent Cephus to the Falcons in the 7th round of my inaugural offseason mock draft. Here’s how I described his game:

Cephus is a very talented receiver and far better than anyone else you could normally find this late. Cephus has good size at 6’1, 207 and a diverse skillset as both an outside and slot receiver. He’s a good athlete and has showcased an ability to make plays deep and beat press coverage off the line. There are some rough edges to his route running and I’m not sure that his 40-time will be all that impressive, but Cephus has the upside of a very good WR3 in the NFL.

Chase Claypool, Notre Dame

6’4, 229 | 66 receptions, 1037 yards, 15.7 avg, 13 TD

TDN Prospect Rank: 178 (6th Round)

If the Falcons are looking for a big-bodied receiver with physicality in spades and who can be had late in the draft, Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool could fit the bill. And when I say big, I mean big—6’4, 229. Despite that size, Claypool carries his weight well and is a surprisingly smooth, nuanced route runner. He’s totally unafraid to go up and get the ball in contested situations and has shown off strong, consistent hands.

While Claypool isn’t likely to test as a particularly impressive athlete at the Combine, he’s got enough quickness and long speed to be productive in the NFL—though I wouldn’t expect him to be a player who consistently creates much separation. I like Claypool as a long-term WR4 who can be a matchup weapon against smaller CBs in the red zone and on deep routes. With the Falcons’ plethora of needs, finding someone like Claypool late on Day 3 could be the most cost-effective way of improving their WR depth.

Gabriel Davis, UCF

6’3, 212 | 72 receptions, 1241 yards, 17.2 avg, 12 TD

TDN Prospect Rank: 166 (6th Round)

A player who I’ve gotten to watch closely over the past few years due to my UCF fandom, Gabriel Davis presents a rather difficult NFL projection. On the one hand, Davis has been undeniably productive in college: through three seasons at UCF, Davis has averaged at least 14.5 YPR per season. In 2019, that number topped out at an absolutely ridiculous 17.2 YPR on 72 receptions. He’s a tremendous athlete with fantastic long speed, which is dangerous when paired with his size at 6’3, 212.

However, Davis’ athleticism has caused him to develop a lot of bad habits as a receiver. His footwork and overall route running can be pretty sloppy. Davis’ hands can also be maddeningly inconsistent, as he’ll make a spectacular catch on one play and then drop an easy ball on the next. I expect Davis to have a bit of a rough transition to the NFL, but I think he has the long-term upside of a WR3. A good WR coach can fix his route running and catching technique, and in a few years I think he’ll outplay his current late-Day 3 draft stock. However, a great Combine could lift Davis into early-Day 3 or even Day 2 consideration.

Quartney Davis, Texas A&M

6’1, 199 | 54 receptions, 616 yards, 11.4 avg, 4 TD

TDN Prospect Rank: 110 (4th Round)

Another player that I’ve previously picked for the Falcons in a mock draft, Texas A&M’s Quartney Davis could also be a potential Mohamed Sanu replacement due to his size and athleticism. Here’s how I described Davis’ skillset:

One of those who fell in this mock was Texas A&M’s Quartney Davis, who’s got good size at 6’2, 200 but moves like a much smaller player. Davis is a smooth route runner who can pull off just about every route in the book, and he’s got some surprising athleticism to go along with it. He’s versatile and can line up both inside and outside, making him an ideal depth player for an NFL offense. Davis has dealt with his fair share of injuries in college, which has hurt his production and draft stock, but he’s a low-risk/high-reward addition.

Bryan Edwards, South Carolina

6’3, 215 | 71 receptions, 816 yards, 11.5 avg, 6 TD

TDN Prospect Rank: 95 (3rd Round)

One of the players who reminds me the most of Sanu in the 2020 WR class, Bryan Edwards is your prototypical “big slot” receiver who wins by being bigger and stronger than the nickel CB he’s lined up against. While he appears to be only an average athlete, Edwards is a very capable ball carrier with strong vision and ability to navigate traffic. His size and physicality make him very difficult to bring down when he gets moving.

There are a lot of tertiary traits that I really like about Edwards: he’s a very capable blocker who loves to hit, and also a strong special teams player. But as a receiver, I feel like his current TDN ranking is a little high. Edwards struggled when lined up on the outside against bigger, more physical CBs. In the NFL, teams won’t hesitate to send their bigger guys to match up with him. I think Edwards can be a go-to possession receiver working out of the slot, and his physicality and YAC ability makes him well-suited for short-yardage targets. But how he tests out as an athlete will determine if he’s worth a late-Day 2 selection for me.

Van Jefferson, Florida

6’2, 197 | 49 receptions, 657 yards, 13.4 avg, 6 TD

TDN Prospect Rank: 84 (3rd Round)

A Senior Bowl standout who has seen his stock rise considerably since Mobile, Florida’s Van Jefferson is an elite technician at the WR position. He’s an incredibly smooth and fluid route runner with excellent footwork and a diverse route tree. Jefferson has fantastic hands and a strong catch radius for his size—whether working downfield or in a contested situation, he’s able to make the play.

Jefferson also plays with an edge, and is a physical player despite his relatively slim frame (6’2, 197). I would say that Jefferson’s weakness is his lack of high-end athletic ability—I’m not sure he has the upside of anything more than a very good WR3 in the NFL. His age is also a concern for some: he’ll be 24 during his rookie season. Unlike a lot of WR prospects, however, Jefferson can come in and give you high-level WR3 production immediately. His floor is tremendously high, and I think Jefferson is one of the safest prospects in the draft. For a team like the Falcons—who already have their WR1 and WR2 in place—Jefferson could be a perfect fit if he falls into the 4th round.

Tyler Johnson, Minnesota

6’2, 205 | 86 receptions, 1318 yards, 15.3 avg, 13 TD

TDN Prospect Rank: 109 (4th Round)

Another potential “big slot” receiver who can replicate what Sanu did for the Falcons, Tyler Johnson is one of my top WR picks for the Falcons early on Day 3. Johnson was incredibly productive at Minnesota in 2019, piling up over 1300 yards (15.3 avg) and 13 TDs. At 6’2, 205, Johnson pairs good size with quality athleticism and well-developed technical ability. He’s a savvy route runner with a diverse route tree, and he’s got very smooth feet and change-of-direction ability.

Johnson can win in a variety of ways. He’s got strong hands and can make catches both downfield and in contested situations, but he’s also got enough juice and agility to make plays in space. His biggest weakness is beating press coverage from bigger, stronger CBs, which is why his best NFL projection likely keeps him in the slot. Johnson simply isn’t overly physical and is fairly mediocre as a blocker, too. I like Johnson’s value as an early-Day 3 receiver who can come in and add value to an offense immediately. He could be a candidate for Atlanta’s fourth-round selection (which, coincidentally, is pick 109).

Denzel Mims, Baylor

6’3, 206 | 66 receptions, 1020 yards, 15.5 avg, 12 TD

TDN Prospect Rank: 79 (3rd Round)

The highest-ranked receiver on this prospect preview, Baylor’s Denzel Mims is another Senior Bowl standout who would be a big-time addition to the Falcons’ WR corps. A big-bodied (6’3, 206), well-rounded receiver with exceptional deep speed and explosiveness, Mims has the long-term potential of a strong WR2 in the NFL. Mims is at his best going deep downfield and using his long arms and strong hands to dominate CBs at the catch point.

Despite not being the most fluid route runner and having merely average agility, Mims is good enough to offer something at all levels of the field. His size and burst give him surprisingly good YAC ability, and he’s physical enough to make plays in contested situations. He’s got the most upside of anyone on this list due to his athletic ability, but he’s also much more likely to get drafted on Day 2. I can’t see the Falcons spending a Day 2 (or higher) pick on a WR at this point, so the best chance for Mims to wind up in Atlanta is if he falls into the 4th round.

Michael Pittman Jr., USC

6’4, 219 | 101 receptions, 1275 yards, 12.6 avg, 11 TD

TDN Prospect Rank: 105 (4th Round)

I previously selected Pittman for the Falcons in the 5th round of my Senior Bowl mock draft as an option to replace Mohamed Sanu. As you can see, that’s a little lower than his current prospect ranking on TDN, but it’s well within the realm of possibility. Here’s how I described Pittman’s skillset:

Pittman has tremendous size at 6’4, 219, and used that size to his advantage in college. He’s got huge hands and a giant catch radius that can simply be too much for smaller DBs to handle. Pittman is a physical receiver who tracks the ball very well downfield, although his deep speed is merely average. He’s not particularly explosive and isn’t going to create a ton of separation, but his size and hands make him an ideal player in contested situations. Pittman lacks the athleticism to be a high-end starter, but as a tertiary situational and matchup option on a team like Atlanta, he could be an exceptional value this late in the draft.

Binjimen Victor, Ohio State

6’4, 199 | 35 receptions, 573 yards, 16.4 avg, 6 TD

TDN Prospect Rank: 175 (6th Round)

A WR prospect out of Ohio State who has—surprisingly—not gotten very much hype heading into the Combine is Binjimen Victor. The reasons for that are rather obvious: Victor wasn’t the primary receiving option, and had good but not eye-popping production. Still, for a player who is currently projected to go in the late-6th round, Victor has a lot to offer to NFL teams.

Victor is a smooth route runner with solid overall athletic ability and an impressive frame to build on (6’4, 199). He’s a developmental option at this point, but he’s got a lot of the ingredients to be a long-term WR4 for a team who can play well both from the slot and on the outside. I love his hands and his ability to make plays in traffic, and he tracks the ball very well downfield. Victor is surprisingly good after the catch, as well, and has the attitude and length to develop into a strong blocker in time. At only 199 pounds, Victor clearly needs to bulk up and add to his frame. With some added physicality, I think Victor has a good chance to develop into a quality contributor and special teams player in the NFL.

What are your thoughts on this class of WRs at the 2020 NFL Combine? Any prospects in particular who you’ll be watching? Who would you like to see the Falcons add in the upcoming NFL Draft?