Browns, NFL Draft

An early glance at the wide receiver class in the 2018 NFL Draft

The Cleveland Browns lost their ninth game of the season on Sunday, falling to the Detroit Lions, 38-24. With the Browns season winding into despair, WFNY has alleviated some of the pain by taking an early look at the 2018 NFL Draft.

The Browns will need some major help from the upcoming draft to catapult out of this losing hole. One of the bigger positions of need is at wide receiver. So for this week, WFNY will take a look at the receivers in the 2018 NFL Draft. This week, Joe Gilbert and Jake Burns are joined by Michael Bode to take a look at their top five wide receiver and the rest of the receivers class in the upcoming draft.

Let’s take a look!

2018 NFL Draft Early Glance Series: Running back

Joe Gilbert’s Top 5 WRsJake Burns’ Top 5 WRsMichael Bode’s Top 5 WRs
1. Courtland Sutton, SMU1. Courtland Sutton, SMU1. Calvin Ridley, Alabama
2. Calvin Ridley, Alabama2. Calvin Ridley, Alabama2. Dante Pettis, Washington
3. Anthony Miller, Memphis3. Anthony Miller, Memphis3. Deontay Burnett, USC
4. Christian Kirk, Texas A&M4. Dante Pettis, Washington4. Courtland Sutton, SMU
5. Auden Tate, Florida St5. James Washington, Oklahoma St5. James Washington, Oklahoma St

 

Best of the Rest: D.J. Moore (Maryland), D.J. Chark (LSU), Michael Gallup (Colorado State), Simmie Cobbs Jr. (Indiana), Deon Cain (Clemson), Paris Campbell (Ohio State)

Which wide receiver do you feel stronger about than most people?

Joe: I love Anthony Miller of Memphis. Miller is considered one of the better receivers in the draft, but I am even higher on him than most (except Jake), believing he is the third best receiver in the class. He has everything you want in a receiver, except for size. He catches everything, runs good routes and can make plays after the catch. I believe he is right there with my top two receivers in the class, Courtland Sutton of SMU and Calvin Ridley of Alabama.

Bode: Well, I thought Auden Tate until Joe included him in his Top 5. His blend of size, routes, and ability to hand catch even in tight coverage has made him the most desirable red zone target in this class. The issues with the Seminoles in 2017, especially at quarterback, has diminished Tate’s profile nationally thus far, but the scouts (and mock drafts) will catch up once they take a closer look at his film.

Jake: I really like D.J. Moore from Maryland more than most. He is electric in the slot, and can be trusted to line up as a whole field perimeter receiver as well. He has an NFL route tree in his repertoire and he can make all the catches: hand catches over the middle, high point, acrobatic, all of it. He is also a solid return man, and he is just a difference maker in a tough conference for a team that has little talent around him. He will have a long NFL career in the mold of Stefon Diggs.

Who is your No. 1 wide receiver in the class and why do you believe he is the best receiver?

Joe: My No. 1 wide receiver in the class is Courtland Sutton of SMU. He is a physical freak at 6-foot-4, 216 pounds. For a man his size, he moves so well. He is a solid route runner with the ability to separate using his routes and athleticism. His size allows him to have great ball skills, outreaching almost any defensive back. What makes him even more unique is ability to make defenders miss after the catch and run away from defenders with speed. He has such a high ceiling.

Bode: While I understand Ridley’s age is a detriment to his potential, he has all of the tools and has been perfecting his craft against much of the top competition throughout his career. The past two seasons, opposing teams who are looking to knock off the mighty Alabama had to first look at taking away their No. 1 option. The issue is that Ridley’s mix of athleticism, football knowledge, and precise route-running ability leaves him capable of creating space even when facing the tightest coverage.

Jake: I think this draft is extremely deep overall, but it doesn’t have a clear cut elite talent such as a Julio Jones. The only name that has that potential is Courtland Sutton. I think Sutton is overlooked as that “elite” talent due to playing at SMU, but he has every tool a big time wide receiver needs: size, speed, hands, agility, footwork. He is constantly fighting safety help over top and nickle or linebacker pressure on his inside. He also can bounce around from the slot to the valued “X” position. I feel about as strongly as possible about his skill set.

What are your thoughts on the overall wide receiver class? How would you rate the class?

Joe: This wide receiver class is really deep. I had a hard time narrowing my list to five receivers. I believe it is better than last season’s crop of receivers with more top talent and depth than 2017. I think Sutton and Ridley are better than my No. 1 Corey Davis was last year. The depth of this year’s class will allow team’s to get receivers in the third and fourth who can contribute in their rookie season.

Bode: I love this receiver class. It is lacking an obvious top overall player who blows everyone away, but there are just so many starting caliber guys. Tate, Miller, Cobbs, Kirk, and Cain are a strong Top 5, but they would be my Second 5. Some of those players will be scheme dependent, but there are high production possibilities for teams who play to their strengths.

Jake: Although this class lacks a consensus top five pick, it is loaded with talent that can come in and be NFL ready on Sundays. It is stocked with guys who can do whatever NFL coaches want them to do, whether it be inside as a quick slot, or an outside one on one type as well. There are just so many quality names for whatever you’re looking for your wide receiver to do. If guys like D.J. Chark, Michael Gallup, and Deon Cain can’t make your top five, it is loaded.

Who has the best single skill set and what is that skill set?

Joe: This was hard to decide. There are so many skill sets in this class that are elite level. But, I will go with Calvin Ridley’s route running. He is so smooth. He uses good body movements to fake defenders of his intentions. He loses very little speed when he changes directions, allowing him to easily gain separation from the coverage. His feet are quick to help him change directions on a dime. Ridley is almost flawless in his routes.

Bode: I agree with Joe that Ridley has beautiful routes, but I believe Pettis has the best. He uses his head, shoulders, and hips to feign defenders before effortlessly moving in another. Many players hone these skills once they have the ball in their hands, but he is one of the few to use the skills learned on his record-setting punt returns while he is running plays.

Jake: While I agree about both Ridley and Pettis, I really enjoy James Washington’s ability to track down any deep ball regardless of trajectory like few who have come out of college. Washington doesn’t have a prototypical wide receiver body–it’s more stocky like a running back– but he is electric on vertical routes and that will certainly translate to the NFL.

Who is a sleeper wide receiver who you are keeping an eye on?

Joe: I think Paris Campbell of Ohio State is a sleeper receiver to keep an eye on. He is a raw wide receiver with still a lot to learn about the position. He came out of St. Vincent-St. Mary as a running back. He is so dynamic with the ball in his hands. His speed is elite as he was a track star in high school. He can make people miss with his agility, speed and strength. His route running is not bad for such a young receiver. His biggest weakness is his concentration catching the ball. If he can keep improving as a receiver, he could be a big playmaker in the draft.

Bode: Somehow, lost in the shuffle of this deep class has been Simmie Cobbs Jr. He has not matched his break-out performance against the Buckeyes, nor has he had the yardage he put up through the 2015 season. Cobbs has similar size and strength to Tate, though he doesn’t quite have the same separation ability. To compensate, he utilizes outstanding body awareness and positioning to be able to gather the ball in tight quarters.

Jake: I think Colorado State’s Michael Gallup has a real chance to be dynamic at the next level. Playing where he does, he won’t draw that national attention necessary but he really has it all. He is taller and longer than most wide receivers, runs crisp routes, uses his hands at all times, and can be elite at high pointing that jump ball. He will keep rising on draft boards.

What is the impact of this wide receiver class to the Browns?

Joe: The Browns need receivers, plural. I would like them to take two receivers with their first five picks in the 2018 NFL Draft. That means two receivers in the first two rounds. The Browns will likely have a young quarterback under center, so he will need talent around him to make plays. The Browns should be very focused on this receiver class.

Bode: Any of the Top 10 players in the 2018 receiver class would have no issues cracking the Browns pass-catcher rotation. Given the dire need at the position, perhaps the Browns will opt to double-down in the second round on receivers since quarterback and free safety likely occupy their first-round thoughts.

Jake: As Joe and Bode mentioned the Browns need two wide receivers in this class. A guy on the outside and someone who can be that dynamic slot for JET motion action and quick hitters. They could use a guy in the first round, but my guess is they wait until round two for a name like Anthony Miller or Auden Tate. Regardless of where they take them, the Browns desperately need the picks to be successful.

Courtland Sutton Highlights

Calvin Ridley Highlights

Anthony Miller Highlights

Dante Pettis Highlights

James Washington Highlights

Deontay Burnett Highlights

Christian Kirk Highlights

Auden Tate Highlights

D.J. Moore Highlights

D.J. Chark Highlights

Michael Gallup Highlights

Simmie Cobbs Jr. Highlights

  • tigersbrowns2

    some real nice players here … you look at the current unit of Britt , Louis , Higgins , Coates & Treggs … MEH … nothing special. but we may not need as many WR’s as you think.

    by week 13 of this year it will be : Gordon , Coleman , Britt , Louis & whoever … then think if Terrelle Pryor’s head deflates a little bit & he realizes he should’ve stayed with Browns & then actually decides to come back … THEN , it would be Gordon , Coleman , Pryor to go along with Njoku , Devalve & D.Johnson. Just by adding Pryor back to-the -mix , our WR corps looks substantially better.

    or even if you draft one of the studs above to go with Gordon & Coleman …

    you feelin’ me ??

  • tigersbrowns2

    … if Gordon is in great shape & plays hard , this should help Coleman … heck , even if you keep Britt next year & have Gordon , Coleman & Britt , where Britt is the 3rd guy . that’s not too shabby either.

  • BenRM

    BenRM’s Analytics-driven WR Criteria:
    – No cases of the “dropsies”
    – Taller than 6’0″
    – No crippling drug addiction issues
    – Doesn’t have beef with LeBron
    – Bones that aren’t as breakable as a hummingbird’s
    – No past DUI manslaughters
    – Not a converted QB
    – Runs with shoes on

  • mgbode

    The list is empty now.

  • mgbode

    Pretty obviousthat Gordon wants out as quickly as possible IMO. Not counting on him.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi MG … i’m rooting for him to do real well the last 5 games … the Browns control his rights for next year , so we should get something for him , whether he wants out or the FO has already given-up on him .

    i’d prefer he stay & excel …

  • Harv

    Tiger, you’re insane. Lovable, but truly certifiable.

  • tigersbrowns2

    that’s why I’m here …*smile* … i don’t know about anyone else , but i am truly looking forward to these last 5 games , where Kizer has some decent athletes at WR to work with.

  • RGB

    Ridley, Ridley, Ridley.
    He is Antonio Brown Junior.
    I literally don’t care about any of the other WRs.

  • RGB
  • scripty

    If we consider the Bama defensive players to be widely suspect in injury histories, should we have concerns on Ridley?

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  • BenRM

    well crap.

  • NOPER

    Gotta say I’m partial to size this year. If Glass Hands ever stops breaking he’s got the athleticism to fill the speed man. Duke handles the slot well as yet another shifty speed guy. That leaves us with a need for a big man that can make contested catches. For me it’s between Cobbs and Arden. Cobbs looks like the better athlete that has a better chance of making things happen after that catch making him my top as it stands. Arden making contested catches against quality like the’s been is impressive even if he can’t seem to make much happen afterwards.

  • NOPER

    Much as I disagree with ya Tiger gotta love ya for being earnest. While I do view Coleman and Gordon as our best hopes of putting together a WR corps well I’ve got beef with the group.

    Britt is an overpaid joke that’s showing to be a locker room problem.
    Gordon hasn’t played a snap in years and has only been in training for a few months. I really just hope he stays sober and has enough cash left to start a life outside football.
    Pryor hoo boy. I’ll admit I thought he was better than he is. Dude put up numbers on pure volume and it’s showing in Washington. He’s been all but benched.
    Louis I theoretically love. He’s athletic but has a big case of dropitis.

  • mgbode

    We should always worry about Bama players and how they were treated physically while under the thumb of Nick Saban. I suspect there is some extra scrutinization of medical reports on these players at the combine.

  • mgbode

    If you want size, Tate is the best of the bunch.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi NOPER … i wasn’t too keen on Gordon coming back. but , since he’s here , he should be giving it his all … whether he wants to stay or if he’s auditioning for other teams. apparently , he’s in the best shape of his life & he’s focused … but , we’ve been down that road before.

    as always , i’m hoping for the best.

  • NOPER

    Oh yeah I hope Gordon can get back to form after all the crap he’s been through whether he stays in Cleveland or not. After so many years I just doubt he can. I’m just hoping in what seems more realistic to me.

  • tsm

    Agree. Also, I think Nick maxes out their abilities so there is not a lot left to improve on when the get to the pros. You draft one on current production, not projections.

  • NOPER

    No doubt he’s up there that’s why I mention him. It’s just I can see Cobbs being able to do more after the catch while Tate turns what should be a 50/50 ball into a catch on a regular basis and well not getting much farther than that. Kind of a Aquan Boldin in that year in Detriot. Of course I may be wrong in my evaluation of him.

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