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Turner: Dez is gone. Let's rank the ten best receivers in this year's draft

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  • Turner: Dez is gone. Let's rank the ten best receivers in this year's draft

    Dez is gone. Let's rank the ten best receivers in this year's draft
    By Kevin Turner Apr 16, 2018

    Over the past few months, I’ve studied nearly 200 players in preparation for this year’s draft. Here at The Athletic, we’ve given you full access to our comprehensive draft grades and rankings by creating The Athletic Draft Board.

    The board is really fascinating because it combines the grades of multiple staff writers from The Athletic. The evaluation of players is obviously an inexact science and it allows for many agreements, disagreements, and debates.

    In this piece, I’m stepping outside the realm of our awesome staff and giving you my personal positional rankings for the wide receiver position.

    After the release of Dez Bryant, it’s even more likely that the Cowboys draft a wide receiver in the first three rounds. With that in mind, here are my top ten receivers in the coming draft, complete with some player comps.

    #1: Calvin Ridley (Alabama)

    Ridley’s advanced route-running skills and ability to get open are really special. While he may not have the highest ceiling of all the WR prospects in the draft, I find him to be the safest and most likely to contribute right away. The Ravens at #16 and the Cowboys at #19 make the most sense for him. Ridley took an official visit to the Cowboys facility in Frisco.

    Round Grade: 1

    Player Comp: I liked the comp of Reggie Wayne from the NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks.

    View image on Twitter
    View image on Twitter

    #2: Christian Kirk (Texas A&M)

    Kirk profiles as a slot receiver, but has been trying to sell teams on the idea that he's versatile enough to line up outside as well. Anytime he gets the ball in his hand it’s going to be trouble for the defense, as he has big-time chunk play ability thanks to his speed and ability to make people miss after the catch. I see him going late in the first or early in the second round. Kirk also visited the Cowboys.

    Round Grade: 2

    Player Comp: Randall Cobb

    #3: Michael Gallup (Colorado State)

    Gallup simply doesn’t have a weakness to his game. That’s a compliment but also alludes to the fact that he also lacks an elite trait. Despite having below-average height and average speed for the position, he is tough at the catch point, using his hands to snatch the ball, and also showing the ability to get open at short, intermediate, and deep levels. I personally don’t think he gets enough credit for being as polished as he is.

    Round Grade: 2

    Player Comp: A shorter Corey Davis, who was the first WR selected in last year’s draft.

    #4: D.J. Moore (Maryland)

    Everyone following this draft has noticed the buzz around this prospect. It started when he measured in at 6'0 at the combine after being listed at 5'10 in college. My buddy Dane Brugler from compared him to Steve Smith and you can definitely see that when watching him play. He’s fearless when going over the middle of the field, makes contested catches, and plays with excellent speed and quickness. He did have some drops and his tiny hands are a bit of a cause for concern, as well as how he’ll deal with press coverage at the next level, but the first-round buzz around Moore is totally warranted. Moore also visited Frisco.

    Round Grade: 2

    Player Comp: Steve Smith

    #5: Anthony Miller (Memphis)

    Miller is my #1 hope for the Cowboys at pick 50. I think he would fit perfectly in this system as the team revamps its WR group. He had 37 touchdown catches in 3 years at Memphis, chalking up back to back seasons with 95 and 96 catches. I was so impressed with the variety of ways he’s able to get open and how he's a threat at all levels of the field. He has the speed to take a screen to the house but also has the toughness to go get a “YOLO” ball. Miller is 5’11, so teams will probably be skeptical about playing him on the outside. His medicals will be interesting to check on too, as he suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot during his last college game.

    Round Grade: 2

    Player Comp: I like the comp of Doug Baldwin, which I first saw from’s Matt Harmon.

    #6: Courtland Sutton (SMU)

    The word “physical” perfectly describes Courtland Sutton’s game. He won't create a lot of separation, but he will serve as an immediate red zone threat and make big catches in 1 on 1 situations. He has really long strides, so while he’s not terribly fast, he is able to build up deep speed when running down the field. He has a lot of work to do on the technical aspects of the position. Sutton is not refined at getting off the line of scrimmage, and he needs to tighten up his breaks in and out of routes. All of that being said, the potential here is off the charts.

    Round Grade: 2

    Player Comp: Dez Bryant

    #7: James Washington (Oklahoma State)

    Washington had double-digit touchdowns in his final three seasons of college football. He’s very strong, plays with balance, and has great hands, all the while being the best deep-ball tracker in this draft. My concerns about Washington are that he hasn’t proven he can consistently beat press coverage, and the fact that he didn’t have to run a full route tree at Oklahoma State. At 5’11 with a 40 time of 4.54, there will be teams who have concerns about whether he can hold down the “X” position outside like he did at Oklahoma State.

    Round Grade: 2

    #8: Equanimeous St. Brown (Notre Dame)

    At 6’4.5 with a sub 4.5 40 time, St. Brown gives you the ideal height and speed for the position. At Notre Dame, he flashed big-play ability from the outside and from the slot. His speed makes him dangerous every single time he touches the ball. His route running is all over the place, and he suffered from poor quarterback play last season. He’s not afraid to go over the middle, and despite having a thin frame, he’s pretty good at not getting pushed around down the field.

    Round Grade: 3

    Player Comp: DeVante Parker

    #9: D.J. Chark (LSU)

    Chark’s primary asset: he’s a burner. He's 6'3 and ran a 4.34-second 40 at the combine, and that alone will be enough to garner him late first/early second-round conversation. He’s an explosive player with a huge vertical making him a great downfield target who can take the top off the defense. I found Chark to be a little inconsistent. There were some drops on tape, and he didn’t run a ton of routes. He also struggled to get off press coverage. His college production isn’t really anything to write home about either, as he only had 66 total receptions in four years at LSU. He did provide punt return value for the Tigers. He’s a speedy prospect with a knack for the deep ball, as 36% of his college catches went for more than 25 yards.

    Round Grade: 3

    #10: Dante Pettis (Washington)

    The son of former Texas Rangers outfielder Gary Pettis is 6 feet tall and ran a 4.47 40 at his pro day. Pettis was a dynamic punt returner as well as a solid receiver for the Huskies. After 15 touchdowns in 2016, he only had seven last season – with six of those scores coming against Fresno State and Oregon State, neither of which was very good. He can play outside or in the slot, but I think he will have his biggest immediate impact in the return game. I would highly recommend you check out the profile The Athletic’s Ted Nguyen did on Pettis.

    Round Grade: 3


    #11: Deontay Burnett (USC)

    #12: Jaleel Scott (New Mexico State)

    #13: Keke Coutee (Texas Tech)

    #14: Javon Wims (Georgia)

    #15: Simmie Cobbs (Indiana)

    #16: Tre’quan Smith (Central Florida)

    #17: Antonio Callaway (Florida)

    #18: J’mon Moore (Missouri)

    #19: Deon Cain (Clemson)

    #20: Daesean Hamilton (Penn State)
    2016 DCC LOTY Fantasy Football Champion

  • #2
    These are honest grades


    • #3
      Originally posted by ravidubey View Post
      These are honest grades
      I don't necessarily agree with his order but 7 guys projected in the first two rounds sounds about right. He only has 1 first round grade but he clearly isn't as high on DJ Moore as most. Although in his paragraph he mentions that the first round buzz is totally warranted so clearly he see's why he should go in the first round even though it lists a second round grade. DeSean Hamilton as the 20th best receiver seems a bit crazy to me.


      • #4
        If DJ Moore can be half as successful as Steve Smith (the good one), then sign me up for him in the 2nd round (not that he’d make it that far).
        No Pat McQuistan = No Super Bowl. It's that simple.


        • #5
          I still like Kirk and here's the thing. You've already signed a guy to play outside if you don't think Kirk can do it, but I think he's the kind of threat at slot that Beas would never be. This guy could break a TD at any time from the slot or either side.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Cowboysrock55 View Post
            Although in his paragraph he mentions that the first round buzz is totally warranted so clearly he see's why he should go in the first round even though it lists a second round grade
            1st round based on demand vs talent is not what I want for our team. Sure if Ridley falls to 19 then you at least consider him, but you know you are passing on a more talented player on defense or in Hernandez.

            Meanwhile it sounds like if you just wait, a similar talent will drop to you (or near you) in the 2nd.

            There are no AJ Greens or Dez Bryants in this class. Don’t force it, IMO