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2023 NFL Draft: Wide receiver rankings with pro comparisons

Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One Venture X - Ohio State v Utah Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

With the NFL Draft process well underway, there is a much clearer picture of the 2023 class than there was even a month ago. With exhibition games and the Combine now in the past, it is easier to build a full profile of this year’s prospects. This wide receiver class lacks the star power of years passed, but it has some intriguing players who could contribute early in the right situation.

1) Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State

Jaxon Smith-Njigba wins with a tremendous combination of route running, soft hands and great awareness of a defense. He can attack soft zones in the middle of the field and is a tremendous runner after the catch. His agility and sharp route makes him hard to cover in the slot.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba can take a leap by improving against more physical coverage. Smith-Njigba has a good build and should be able to win more as an outside receiver. All the physical tools are there for him to be a complete receiver, but right now he is a very good slot option.

Pro Comparison: Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers

2) Josh Downs, North Carolina

Josh Downs wins with speed and toughness. Josh Downs had close to two hundred catches since 2021, each of which was earned. Downs has no problems getting open against man coverage with great speed and route running and he has no problem going into traffic to make a play.

Josh Downs can take a leap by proving size won’t hold him back. At 5’9” and 170 pounds, Downs has a lot to prove in the NFL. He certainly plays bigger than he is, but NFL defenses will pose a new challenge in terms of physicality.

Pro Comparison: Jahan Dotson, Washington Commanders

3) Jordan Addison, USC

Jordan Addison wins with route running. He might be the best pure route runner in this class in terms of sharpness, technique and experience with more complex route trees. Addison is great at getting open and can generate a lot of yardage after the catch.

Jordan Addison can take a leap by playing stronger. He does not have a prototypical build and NFL corners will try to outmuscle him. Not everything can be finesse in the NFL and Addison will need to get more physical as a receiver.

Pro Comparison: Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks

4) Zay Flowers, Boston College

Zay Flowers wins with speed, toughness and great hands. Zay Flowers was extremely productive at Boston College despite being the only viable threat in that offense. He is a do-it-all receiver.

Zay Flowers can take a leap by proving he can win against NFL coverage. Like a lot of players in this class, Flowers is on the smaller side. He has the skill-set to be a difference maker in the NFL, but it will take great technique and toughness to overcome his size.

Pro Comparison: KJ Hamler, Denver Broncos

5) Tyler Scott, Cincinatti

Tyler Scott wins with speed and ball skills down the field. Scott was overshadowed by Alec Pierce in the Bearcats offense for a few years and finally got a chance to thrive in 2022. Scott does a great job releasing off the line against tight coverage and can track the ball deep down the field. He is also excellent after the catch.

Tyler Scott can take a leap with a more polished game. Scott finds a lot of his production on deep balls, which is hardly a bad thing. For a player of his size, he will need to show ability to separate at the short and intermediate levels as well.

Pro Comparison: T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts

6) Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee

Jalin Hyatt wins with incredible deep speed. Jalin Hyatt was a dominant home run threat in the Tennessee offense and his ability to burn down field keyed so much of the offense. He might be a “one trick pony” but it is a really good trick.

Jalin Hyatt can take a leap by rounding out his game. Hyatt has the size and athleticism to be a significant piece of any NFL offense, but he has a lot of room to grow as a route-runner and as a natural pass catcher. The Tennessee offense created so much space that Hyatt both helped create and also benefited from on his own. He will need to show he can operate in tighter, more physical situations as a receiver.

Pro Comparison: Will Fuller, Houston Texans

7) Quentin Johnston, TCU

Quentin Johnston wins with strength and surprising speed after the catch. Quentin Johnston looks like a true number one NFL wide receiver. He is tall with long arms and a lot of great weight on his frame. With the ball in his hands, he runs strong and fast, making it difficult to bring him down after the catch. He is an explosive athlete who flashes the ability to win above the rim.

Quentin Johnston can take a leap by playing more his size before the catch. Despite being such a big receiver, Johnston wins a lot more with finesse than he does with physicality. More physical coverage takes him out of the game and he loses at the catch point far more than a player with his talent should. Johnston has some o the highest upside of any receiver in this class, but there is a lot more to be desired in the form of consistency.

Pro Comparison: Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles

The Rest

8) Kayshon Boutte, LSU

9) Marvin Mims, Oklahoma

10) AT Perry, Wake Forest

11) Rashee Rice, SMU

12) Jayden Reed, Michigan State

13) Nathaniel Dell, Houston

14) Xavier Hutchinson, Iowa State

15) Parker Washington, Penn State

16) Cedric Tillman, Tennessee

17) Trey Palmer, Nebraska

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