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