The 2019 draft class was peppered with immensely talented playmakers at the collegiate level, whether it be Marquise Brown, Kelvin Harmon, or J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. On top of those mega-producers, we also had extremely athletic wideouts who blew away the combine like D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell, and Miles Boykin. Along with this, there were also monstrous receivers who showed both dominance in college and elite size-adjusted athleticism like N’Keal Harry, A.J. Brown, and Hakeem Butler. I could go all day long ranting and raving about these players, which we did in this draft guide already, so it’s time to take a look ahead into what we should expect out of this position next year and what exactly a 2020 first round pick is potentially worth.
Jerry Jeudy – University of Alabama
Rotoworld Bio: 6’1-192
CFB Reference Bio: 6’1-192
Jeudy is many people’s WR1 heading into 2020 and I don’t disagree. The guy averaged nearly 100 yards and one tuddy per game as a 19-year old Sophomore for Alabama. He led the Crimson Tide in receiving by 22 receptions, three touchdowns, and nearly 500 yards. There were also just two games all season where Jeudy fell below 75 receiving yards without scoring a touchdown, once coming against an elite collegiate defense in Mississippi State and the other in a blowout win against the 7-7 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns. The numbers are certainly impressive, but what’s more intriguing is simply watching this guy play.
The first thing you’ll notice about JJ is his speed. He absolutely burns.
I think it’s fair to say he’ll test somewhere in the low 4.3s come next March, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he rivals the speed of a guy like Marquise Goodwin. In that clip alone you can see Jerry’s top end speed on full display, burning a DB who topped out in the 100th percentile for his 40-time. JJ obviously had a jump on Woods due to Zedrick having to turn and run to track him down, but the fact that he couldn’t close the gap between himself and Jeudy shows how dangerous he can be in the open field.
Unlike many speedsters, though, Jerry also has an ability to break tackles and sometimes invites contact. He isn’t afraid of going over the middle or challenging a DB when the opportunity arises, which isn’t always the best decision for a sub-200 pound receiver. Though there is risk of injury in those situations, his ability to run through weak challenges opens up the ability for him to break long plays other receivers with his skillset would be unable to.
Speed isn’t the only part of his game, though. He has incredible hands and an innate ability to track the ball in the air, aiding him in those deep bombs from Tua. His route running allows him to create separation with ease, and having this ability at such a young age will certainly bode well for him at the next level. The kid still has a year to hone in on his craft before making his passion an occupation, and even if he repeats what he did this past season, I still think he’d have an extremely strong case for being the #1 wideout in 2020.
Comparing him to receivers who came out this season, I think I’d rank him above N’Keal Harry, who I currently have as my WR1 for 2019. I just think Jeudy has such a polished game for a guy with his speed, a combination which I believe would even outshine Harry’s elite versatility. Of course, this would be pre-draft, because if Jeudy had been in this class and drafted to the Bills while Harry ended up on the Pats, I’d probably have a lot harder of a time arguing for him being the 1.01.
As for his NFL comparison, it’s hard not to see Stefon Diggs in his game. The route-running, the hands, the ability to create after the catch; it’s all there,.Both guys are basically the same size (Diggs – 6’0-195), but from what I’ve seen, Jeudy edges him out in flat-out speed. If he can become a Diggs-esque player in the NFL, a scenario which, to me, seems entirely possible, he will return value no matter where he’s taken in your 2020 rookie draft.
Laviska Shenault Jr. – University of Colorado
Rotoworld Bio: 6’2-220
CFB Reference Bio: 6’2-220
If you look up Swiss Army Knife in the dictionary, you’ll find its definition. Anyways, Laviska Shenault Jr. may be one of the most versatile wide receivers my two eyes have ever seen. Not only can he play inside or on the perimeter, he also took snaps as an in-line blocker, in the backfield, and as the QB in wildcat formations. No matter where Shenault found himself in the offense, he provided immense value.
Standing at 6’2 220, he has the frame of a prototypical X receiver but doesn’t carry the baggage of a diva. When he’s asked to block, he gets physical like Olivia Newton-John, and the sheer strength he shows in that area translates well into his RAC ability where he consistently breaks through arm tackles and has the ability to drive a pile of defensive backs.
Typically, these “gadget” type of wideouts don’t have the receiving chops on par with a traditional WR (see Cordarelle Patterson and Tavon Austin), but this isn’t an issue with Shenault. Laviska makes beautiful catches in contested situations where he attacks the ball and highpoints it with his hands rather than letting the ball come to him. Below is a perfect example of his ability to make difficult catches with his hands in high traffic areas.
His vast skillset is what allowed him to amass 11 total scores in just nine games, averaging a 9.6/112/0.67 receiving line as a Sophomore. He led the team in both receptions and receiving yards by a large margin (34 and 375, respectively) and accounted for 31.6% of his team’s passing scores and 23.8% of their tugs on the ground. What a disrespectful thing to do. Like, let your boys get some play. Whatever, that’s just Viska being Viska.
On top of his versatility and raw talent, he also seems to be quite the athlete. He (obviously) hasn’t tested at the combine yet, but I’d imagine he’d look extremely similar to what we saw out of A.J. Brown this season. Both are thiccccer receivers but show mobility comparable to those 20 pounds lighter than them, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Shenault actually puts up a better 40-time than Brown. Watching him play, he doesn’t look too fast (like how Tyreek Hill looks fast, if that makes sense), but he has no trouble outrunning people
Paired with his speed is his agility, shown in his RAC highlights where Shenault instantly changes direction and leaves would-be tacklers’ ankles in a cemetery. You don’t typically see a 220 pound receiver with that kind of wiggle, which is why I don’t have an exact NFL comparison for him. Based on everything I previously stated, it may sound disrespectful, but I see a lot of Jarvis Landry in his game. Juice had an AWFUL combine performance, but stories of him testing despite battling a hamstring injury seem feasible due to the disparity between his metrics and on-field performance. Both he and Shenault are gritty receivers who can both run through and around tackles, make incredible catches, and can play anywhere on the field. Shenault is likely a bit more versatile and athletic (not to mention has about three inches and 20 lbs on JL), but their on-field toughness and capability to win in tight windows is enough for me to draw the comp. Laviska’s ceiling should rival that of Landry’s because of his additional size and athleticism, but even if he falls a bit short, a perennial WR2 is nothing to scoff at.
Now that I think of it, he is extremely similar to N’Keal Harry. Both are 6’2 (though Harry has eight pounds on him), make incredible catches, excel in RAC, are used in the screen game, and showed dominance at a young age. We will see just how well this package will translate in the NFL as Harry suits up for New England this season, which should allow a window into Shenault’s potential upside.
Come next April, Shenault has a very good chance of becoming a Day 1 pick. We saw just how much the 49ers valued versatility this past year selecting both Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd in the top three rounds, and with Laviska’s ability to play anywhere he’s asked and still produce, combined with his athleticism, I wouldn’t be surprised if a WR-needy team were to pull a trigger with a top 32 selection. If this is the case and lands on a roster like the Packers, where he’d immediately become the #2 option tethered to ARod, the landing spot and draft capital alone would be reason enough to take him in the first round of 2020 rookie drafts. Even if these stars don’t align, he’d still be well worth a top-12 pick, similar to A.J. Brown’s development in dynasty leagues post-NFL Draft, due to his no-miss skillset paired with a unique frame and elite production at a young age.
Tyler Johnson – University of Minnesota
Rotoworld Bio: 6’2-200
CFB Reference Bio: 6’2-200
Watching Johnson play, you won’t be blown away by anything flashy. Instead, what you will notice is a technically sound, no-nonsense receiver with desirable size and ample athleticism.
Though he is athletic, TJ isn’t necessarily a burner, nor is he a jump ball threat. Both of these skills are at his disposal, but his ability to create at any level of the field would make me limiting Johnson to just one ability amiss. He is most well known for his route-running ability, but unlike Riley Ridley, has the athleticism and production to back up such a subjective trait. His quick feet at the line and elite acceleration help him to create space off the snap and his nuance at the position helps him sell routes, leaving defenders lost. Again, route-running is a subjective art, and although almost everything I’ve seen has suggested he’s elite in this area, I won’t lean solely on this point to make a case for Johnson as a top five receiver in 2020.
As stated previously, the guy was productive, which can’t be said for Riley Ridley. Along with his counting stats (averaged a 6/90/0.92 receiving line last season), he graded out as one of the best receivers in college football
and his 3.35 yards per route run would have only trailed Andy Isabella (4.55), Emanuel Hall (4.14), Darrius Shepard (4.02), Marquise Brown (3.56), and Parris Campbell (3.47) in the 2019 class. Decent players to surround yourself with, I guess. He also dominated in some pretty big games last season, torching Ohio State for 119 yards on eight receptions, passed the century mark and scored against the Iowa Hawkeyes, and put up 8/88/1 against Northwestern, all while playing with a tandem of QBs who couldn’t get their shit sorted. The team as a whole passed for 20 tugs, and TJ was on the receiving end on 12 of them (60%) while also amssing 1,169 of the team’s 2,714 yards through the air (43.1%). Again, solid to say the least.
As for his NFL comp, I saw a lot of Robert Woods and Keenan Allen in his game, Neither Rob or Keen are the most athletic players on the field, but their polish and understanding of the game allow them to get open whenever they want. Whether it be precise routes, finding space in an opponent’s zone, or beating the corner off the snap, both men excel in creating space and making shit happen when the ball is in their hands. TyJohn is the same way, though he may be a bit faster than the two aforementioned men. His route-running is excellent for a collegiate player and has shown he can win vertically, over the middle, or even when used in the screen game.
What may have stood out to me the most, though, is his acceleration. It takes approximately half a millisecond for Johnson to kick into gear, and it shows. A simple slant route can be taken to the house, as seen in the game film below (skip to 2:20 if interested). His combination of athleticism, size, production, and polish will certainly make him a hot commodity heading into 2020, one which should be on the safer side (high floor) when evaluating potential fantasy production.
Tylan Wallace – Oklahoma State University
Rotoworld Bio: 6’0-185
CFB Reference Bio: 6’0-185
Tylan Wallace was one of the most impressive receivers in all of college football last season, topping 1,400 receiving yards on the year and finding the endzone at an average nearing once per game. On a game-to-game basis, Wallace also showed dominance, falling short of 80 yards just three times while topping the century mark seven times, including two games (against Texas and Oklahoma) where TDub hit Jay Ajayi territory (200 yards for y’all with a short memory). On its own, these numbers are impressive, but in context, it’s all the more unbelievable.
Wallace accumulated the most receiving yards of all returning college football players, and did so as a true Sophomore. On top of his young breakout age, he was also sharing the field with a few other talented players in Justice Hill, Tyron Johnson, and Chuba Hubbard (all-time name), and was catching passes from first-year-starter, Taylor Cornelius. When you can produce to this extreme of an extent while still having target competition, especially early on in your career, it’s a hell of a good sign.
What makes him so effective is his combination of speed, quickness, hands, and concentration. Watching him play, you can just see how fast he is. Tylan routinely beats defenses deep, no matter the coverage, due to his ability to sell double moves or just by outpacing an opposing DB. Being fast is great and all, but if you can’t catch the ball (*cough* Breshad Perriman *cough*), what’s the use? Luckily, TW doesn’t have this issue.
For a guy with his stature to amass that many contested catches is pretty impressive and shows he isn’t just a one-trick pony. Watch any of Oklahoma State’s games from 2018 and I guarantee you’ll see Wallace haul in a deep ball with or without defenders draped all over him. He’s like a center fielder on the perimeter, effortlessly tracking the ball and making difficult plays look like layups. Tylan has the ability to go up and get it if necessary, or simply run under the ball for a basket catch. However he needs to get it done, he has the ability to do so. He was even used a lot in the redzone, scoring six of his 12 receiving tugs from inside the 20. Though Wallace likely won’t be a redzone monster at the next level due to his (lack of) size, it’s good to know he can be used in multiple facets of the game.
What I didn’t see in Wallace’s game is much RAC, but the way he was utilized, there wasn’t much room for it. He wasn’t manufactured touches in the screen game all that often, and on the receptions he did command in the short/intermediate parts of the field, he was thrown to in congested areas. Again, this is likely a product of Oklahoma State’s offense, but I can’t leave out a negative which you wouldn’t expect from a player with this caliber speed.
For his NFL comparison, I see a lot of Will Fuller. Obviously, the speed stands out, but as he has developed in the NFL, Fuller has improved his hands and ability to win on all levels. Sure, he’s primarily a deep threat, one which Deshaun Watson loves and opposing defenses despise, but he can win over the middle and is used in the screen game. Tylan is much of the same, a burner who can be used on slants/out routes, but I think (as evident by his contested catches) his hands are much more refined than Fuller’s when he entered the league. Heading into his junior season, if TW again shows out, I wouldn’t be surprised if he lands in the first round come 2020, especially after the likely occurrence of a strong combine performance.
Jalen Reagor – Texas Christian University
Rotoworld Bio: 5’11-195
CFB Reference Bio: 5’11-195
If there was an award for a player who’s the most fun to watch, Reagor would win in a landslide. How many guys can leap 40 inches for a reception, reverse field on a screen and take it to the house, burn a DB with a flawless double move, AND break tackles like a running back? Not many, let me tell ya.
His numbers don’t tell the full story, as he was in an offense that doesn’t score all too often. For perspective, the Crimson Tide averaged 45.6 points/game and the Oklahoma Sooners led the nation with 48.4 while the Horned Frogs put up 23.7, the 107th best mark (of 130 teams). Even in 2017 when TCU finished 11-3 and ranked 9th in the nation, they still only scored 33.6 points/game, 29th of 130 teams. Despite these lowly numbers, Reagor headed the receiving core in both of his seasons, edging out John Diarse as a true Freshman by just one yard (but five scores) before hitting the century mark in 2018 with the team’s number two (KaVontae Turpin) barely surpassing 400 yards (410). Jalen’s early dominance separates him from the pack, and it’s even more impressive when looking at the situation he was in.
Last season, TCU ran through THREE different quarterbacks, none of which hit double digit touchdowns and topped out at a 60.8% completion percentage. Reagor made the most of his situation, dropping only five of 76 catchable passes (per PFF), coming out to a 6.6% drop rate. Not too shabby.
As for his skillset, it’s unreal. I feel blasphemous for saying this, but he reminds me of Odell Beckham Jr. They’re basically the exact same size (OBJ had three pounds on Jalen) and bring an electricity to the field not many can replicate. Reagor hasn’t (officially) tested yet, but it’s been said he has run a 4.32 and by watching his incredible catches, I’d be shocked if he doesn’t top a 40 inch vertical. On top of this, in highschool, he won a gold medal in the long jump, topping the nation with 26 feet. As we all know, Odell set the combine ablaze in 2014, but I wouldn’t be surprised if JR topped him in nearly every single category.
On the field, the way he creates after the catch and makes spectacular grabs is the reason why I see the parallel between their games. According to PFF, Jalen broke 11 tackles last season, which may not seem like a ton, but that’s almost once per game, and for comparison, OBJ had the 6th most broken tackles among receivers in 2018 with (just) 17. If you don’t believe me, just watch this:
He can also get himself open with elite quickness and footwork seen below, not to mention the athletic grab to top it off.
Simply put, Reagor is an elite playmaker who has shown he can win prior to the catch with precise route running, at the catchpoint with great hands and the athleticism necessary to outjump a defender, and after the catch with shifty moves and field vision (also seen by his career average of 30.4 yards per kick return). When he gets picked inside the top 15 in the 2020 NFL Draft, defensive coordinators will need to start getting prepared for the destruction that will inevitably ensue. Nobody’s safe.
He also throws up the “deuces” similar to Tyreek Hill, so if Hill is #goneforever, we’ll only need to go one season without seeing that celebration.