The 2023 wide receiver draft class looks a bit worse from a depth standpoint compared to some of the classes from the recent past. That being said, there is some elite talent at the top of this group, including a couple of pass catchers who have the tools to be true alpha receivers in the NFL. Let’s then take an in-depth look at the top 10 players of this upcoming class. The wide receivers are ranked based on in which order I think they will get picked, but it will be highlighted what are my thoughts on them.
1. Quentin Johnston, TCU
6’4”, 212 lbs., Junior
TCU’s standout Quentin Johnston possesses everything needed to become a dominant NFL wide receiver: he’s got the size, the ability to produce against man coverage, great athleticism and technical refinement. Johnston is much more than a physical pass catcher who’s lethal above the rim, but he’s also a technically advanced receiver who wins at the line of scrimmage thanks to multiple well executed releases, as he displays top-tier footwork. But what makes him special is his ability after the catch, where he possesses rare flexibility, short-area quickness and burst for his size.
He’s also the best deep threat in the draft class as an offensive weapon able to stretch the field vertically with ease while making impact plays downfield. On contested catches, Johnston turns 50/50 balls into 80/20 balls given his combination of physicality, elevation and ball skills. He plays a lot like Raiders receiver Davante Adams while displaying the ability to dominate both as an X receiver and at jumbo slot. I expect him to be selected in the top half of the first-round.
Personal ranking: #1
2. Jordan Addison, USC
6’0”, 175 lbs., Junior
Despite not possessing the physical traits of a true primary receiver at the NFL level, I expect the league to be quite high on Jordan Addison. The past two drafts saw two receivers with very similar profiles to Addison's - DeVonta Smith and Garrett Wilson- get selected in the top half of the first round. Addison is a well-rounded, technically advanced wide receiver who wins thanks to his route running at all three levels of the field and elite ball skills. In the NFL, Addison would mainly operate from the slot or as the Z receiver as he’s phenomenal at working in the short and intermediate areas. He can manage high-volume workloads and he’s a consistently reliable receiver who’s a safe target for the quarterback.
His size and physicality though could limit him in some fashion at the next level, especially when dealing with bigger corners in press coverage: Addison though has been able to be fairly productive against man coverage. He's a playmaker who has some of the best body control and ball skills combination in the class: he mainly projects as an elite secondary receiver in the NFL, but I expect him to be selected in the first round.
Personal ranking: #4
3. Kayshon Boutte, LSU
6’0”, 205 lbs., Junior
Boutte entered the season with some question marks as he was recovering from an ankle injury and he didn’t look like himself early on. Despite that slow start, over the last couple of weeks he has shown some flashes that prove he’s back on track to being in form.
Throughout his career at LSU, Boutte has shown some serious Antonio Brown-caliber potential, as a true game-breaker able to turn a routine 5-yard catch into a 60-yard touchdown thanks to his insane combination of explosiveness, burst and long speed. Boutte has the tools to become an elite NFL primary receiver as he looks like the complete package: a versatile pass catcher with elite footwork, athleticism and game-breaking ability, while impacting the passing game at all three levels of the field. After the catch, Boutte is a lethal weapon who’s comfortably the best in the class in that specific category. I expect Boutte to be selected in the first round.
Personal ranking: #2
4. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
6’0”, 198 lbs., Junior
Despite the fact that he has only played in two games this season because of injuries, Smith-Njigba still has displayed enough as a sophomore to be considered a solid prospect at his position. Despite having average athleticism and speed, the former 5-star recruit excels due to his technical refinement and reliability. He mainly projects as a slot or Z receiver in the NFL who can be a high volume pass catcher.
The nation's leading receiver in 2021 is an on-point route runner who makes the difference in the short and intermediate areas of the field. He's a security blanket for his quarterback, possessing elite footwork and body control. While his production may have been inflated by his usage and talent around him, I think he could be an elite secondary receiver in the NFL. He plays a lot like Titans veteran receiver Robert Woods. I’m expecting him to be selected in the mid-to-late first round, with his floor being in the early second round.
Personal ranking: #3
5. Josh Downs, North Carolina
5’10”, 171 lbs., Junior
Even though he’s a natural speedster, Josh Downs is much more than that, as his impact on the field is extended at all three levels. Despite being a smaller receiver, Downs can make plays at the catch point, he’s aggressive and has elevation. With the ball in his hands, the former top-100 recruit is a lethal weapon who’s a major YAC creator and an explosive playmaker who can put together big plays. Downs can also get past defenses effortlessly and beat them downfield with his top-tier speed.
The UNC standout mainly projects as a slot, Z receiver, but offensive coordinators should be creative with him as should be moved around the formation to create mismatches and take advantage of his speed. Downs reminds me of former Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. I expect him to be selected late in round one or early in round two.
Personal ranking: #5
6. Rakim Jarrett, Maryland
6’0”, 190 lbs., Junior
Jarrett, at least to me, is still an underrated NFL prospect. He may not have dominant traits, but he’s still an overall complete pass catcher who can get the job done in so many ways. He’s an underrated athlete with solid explosiveness and long speed that allows him to score big plays, and he’s also a three-levels threat who’s reliable, while displaying great body control, versatility and ability to produce against man coverage.
Jarrett plays like former Maryland receiver D.J. Moore and has the tools to be a productive NFL receiver. His reliability will be much appreciated at the next level, as a pass catcher who can become a great secondary receiver. I expect Jarrett to be selected in the second round.
Personal ranking: #6
7. Marvin Mims, Oklahoma
5’11”, 179 lbs., Junior
Marvin Mims gained national attention as a true freshman when he put together a solid campaign while catching passes from Spencer Rattler. Now, the general feeling is that the attention around him as a prospect is little to none. But he's not someone who should be slept on; Mims is a lethal deep threat who can be a legit contributor in the NFL. He has speed, explosiveness and burst to be a consistent threat downfield at the next level but he also has the ball skills and elevation to make plays at the catch point.
The Sooners' top receiver over the past two seasons, he has the tools to be a great Z receiver, who excels when given a free release. Stylistically he’s similar to Texans veteran Brandin Cooks. He can be a reliable secondary receiver who would match perfectly with an above average deep ball thrower. I expect Mims to hear his name called in the second round or early in the third round.
Personal ranking: #7
8. Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee
6’0”, 180 lbs., Junior
Jalin Hyatt is by far the biggest riser thus far in the 2023 wide receiver draft class. A lethal deep threat, Hyatt is producing at an high level with Hendon Hooker, who’s one of the best quarterbacks in college football at stretching the field vertically. Hyatt emerges as a physical deep threat who looks like he can get past any defense on any target. He has top-tier speed, burst and explosiveness but he’s also elite at tracking the ball downfield while taking advantage of his great ball skills. Teams looking for a taller deep threat, could be all over him once the draft gets around. Despite he wasn’t on many radars prior to the season, Hyatt has legitimately showed why he’s a serious NFL prospect. He’s got the tools to become a very good Z receiver and offensive weapon at the next level and I expect him to be selected in the third round.
Personal ranking: #8
9. A.T. Perry, Wake Forest
6’5”, 206 lbs., Redshirt senior
Despite being one of the oldest prospect in the wide receiver draft class, I’m expecting NFL teams to be rather high on A.T. Perry given his skillset. Perry is far from a complete pass catcher, but he’s a big-bodied receiver who’s an impact player downfield. This type of skillset could attract quite a few franchises.
The long, lanky Perry is not much of a threat in the short and intermediate areas, but he’s a playmaker at the catch point and he’s got solid vertical speed that allows him to be a reliable deep threat. Perry projects as a number three receiver at the next level who has limits, such as stiffness, consistency after the catch and route running. I’m expecting him to be selected in the third round.
Personal ranking: #16
10. Zay Flowers, Boston College
5’10”, 172 lbs., Senior
A speedy pass catcher, Flowers fits what quite a few teams are looking for when searching for a secondary receiver: a lightning-quick, technically advanced receiver who can do damage in space while being explosive at the line of scrimmage. Flowers has the traits to be a valuable weapon in the NFL as he’s as reliable in the short and intermediate areas given his explosiveness at the top of his routes as he’s downfield, where he can take the top off defenses.
The veteran receiver is another prospect who could be overly productive with a creative coach who knows how to take advantage of his strengths. He could be a dangerous weapon in the Wan’Dale Robinson mold. I’m expecting him to be selected in the third round.