2019 NFL Draft prospect rankings: Wide receivers

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Here, theScore's Mike Alessandrini and Dan Wilkins break down the top prospects in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft with position-by-position rankings and an overall top 50 big board.

Top 50
QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | iOL
EDGE | DL | LB | CB | S

Wide receivers

1. Marquise Brown

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School: Oklahoma
Height: 5-9
Weight: 166 lbs

Strengths

  • Incredibly explosive
  • Absolute burner with speed that's nearly impossible to cover one-on-one
  • Polished route-running ability
  • Creates separation with impressive fakes at top of his routes
  • Tracks deep ball well and has savvy to lean into defender before separating for catch
  • Plays bigger than he is with ability in contested-catch situations
  • Breakaway speed and short-area quickness make him a nightmare after the catch
  • Active blocker in running game

Weaknesses

  • Lacks ideal height for a No. 1 receiver
  • Too many focus drops
  • Recovering from foot injury that forced him to miss pre-draft workouts

Bottom line

Brown's ability as a deep-ball receiver, winning with speed and ball-tracking ability despite his size limitations, has been compared to DeSean Jackson. But he's also capable of making plays at the short and intermediate levels of the field and taking those the distance; perhaps the better comparison is Tyreek Hill. "Hollywood," a cousin of Antonio Brown, gets the No. 1 spot on our receiver rankings because his skill set makes his size largely irrelevant. Players like this just don't come around very often.

2. D.K. Metcalf

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School: Ole Miss
Height: 6-4
Weight: 229 lbs

Strengths

  • Unique size and rare athleticism for his position
  • Elite speed for size that at times leave defenders helpless
  • Home-run threat on every play
  • Excellent burst off line of scrimmage
  • Able to high-point ball and make contested catches
  • Imposing presence on cornerbacks due to frame and skill set
  • Dangerous on vertical routes
  • A menace to tackle in open field

Weaknesses

  • Two season-ending injuries in college (foot in 2016, neck in 2018)
  • Needs to refine route running - ran mostly vertical tree in college
  • Average footwork gets him stuck versus cornerbacks at times
  • Should've been more productive given his high-level physical traits
  • A few focus drops show up on tape

Bottom line

Metcalf is one of the most physically imposing wide-receiver prospects we've ever seen, combining ridiculous speed and a monstrous frame. He's learning the nuances of the position after running a limited route tree at Ole Miss, but he'll still be an immediate matchup nightmare in the NFL. Metcalf's change-of-direction deficiencies are overblown, as he displays enough athletic ability there on tape. If cornerbacks don't get their hands on the wideout, he's a threat to score on every play. Metcalf is raw but has one of the highest ceilings in this entire draft.

3. Hakeem Butler

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School: Iowa State
Height: 6-5
Weight: 227 lbs

Strengths

  • Big-play machine who can line up anywhere
  • Size, physicality, and high-point ability make winning over a defender look easy
  • Tracks ball well and has the body control to make impressive adjustments
  • Advanced route-runner with a feel for nuance and positioning to create separation
  • Massive catch radius
  • Has long speed to stretch defenses vertically
  • Physicality shows up with bully-running mentality after catch
  • Active and physical blocker in running game

Weaknesses

  • Focus drops present an issue that needs to be corrected at next level
  • Not especially quick in and out of his breaks

Bottom line

Butler does it all. Drops are the only major knock on his game, but they're more a result of focus than an indicator of ability. And drops really aren't all that concerning considering the kinds of plays he makes on a regular basis. Butler is a size-speed freak who dominates at all levels of the field, and his physicality shows up in all phases of the offensive game. He's everything teams should be looking for in a No. 1 receiver.

4. A.J. Brown

Wesley Hitt / Getty Images Sport / Getty

School: Ole Miss
Height: 6-1
Weight: 226 lbs

Strengths

  • Very productive collegiate career
  • Soft hands - makes a number of tough catches look easy
  • Good size and physicality allow him to line up anywhere
  • Matchup nightmare as a slot receiver
  • Very elusive after catch
  • Solid, crafty route-runner who possesses great agility
  • Can easily separate versus off coverage

Weaknesses

  • Has been bested by top-tier press coverage
  • Doesn't possess great long speed or initial burst
  • Least productive games came against top competition

Bottom line

Brown is a solid early-round prospect who could find instant success in the NFL. He likely fits best in a big slot receiver role as a middle-of-the-field target. Brown may have some athletic limitations in the pros, but he's a refined route-runner that beats defenses in a variety of ways. He's a high-level chain mover that's dangerous with the ball in his hands and can be an occasional red-zone threat. With few weaknesses in his game, Brown's floor as a prospect is among the highest in this receiver class.

5. N'Keal Harry

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School: Arizona State
Height: 6-2
Weight: 228 lbs

Strengths

  • Big-bodied receiver who's very difficult to tackle in open field
  • Has excellent body control both after the catch and on contested targets
  • Easily overpowered smaller cornerbacks during routes
  • Very good short-area quickness for his size
  • Made a number of "wow" plays on tape
  • Excellent running slants
  • Technical route-runner that uses arm-over technique to separate
  • Legitimate red-zone threat

Weaknesses

  • Loses a bit of burst/speed in and out of breaks
  • Made a number of incredible catches, but also had a few disappointing drops
  • Doesn't beat press coverage as often as he should
  • Has reversed field and ran in opposite direction a number of times after the catch - may not work as effectively in the NFL

Bottom line

Harry is a physically imposing receiver who moves very well for his size. He's a scheme-versatile prospect who projects as a classic X receiver or in a big slot role. Concerns over his speed and athleticism were silenced after an excellent combine. Harry's route running - particularly his feet - needs a bit of fine tuning, but the first-team All-Pac-12 wideout has a number of high-level traits to develop into a potent offensive weapon.

6. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

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School: Stanford
Height: 6-2
Weight: 225 lbs

Strengths

  • Contested-catch machine, boxing out and high-pointing ball to make play after play
  • Fights through contact to maintain positioning and get hands on ball
  • Strong hands and massive catch radius
  • Great release at line with footwork to beat press
  • Can sink hips at top of his route and quickly get into a break
  • Savvy route-runner who sets up defenders and creates separation with nuanced fakes
  • Physicality and positioning draws plenty of flags from defenders trying to recover
  • Effective blocker in running game

Weaknesses

  • Lacks quickness coming out of his breaks
  • Doesn’t offer much in terms of playmaking ability after catch
  • Didn’t run an extensive route tree in college

Bottom line

Arcega-Whiteside is a fascinating prospect. The dominance in contested-catch situations is, of course, his calling card. When the ball goes up, it's his - he makes it look that easy. But he's also a better athlete than some would have expected, running a 4.49 40-time at his pro day, and he's demonstrated some nuance both with his release and in his routes that help to create separation. Arcega-Whiteside seems destined to be picked at some point on Day 2 and could end up proving to be a steal.

7. Terry McLaurin

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School: Ohio State
Height: 6-0
Weight: 208 lbs

Strengths

  • Excellent route runner with a combination of toughness and lightning-quick feet
  • In control of body and feet along sideline
  • Fantastic release off line of scrimmage
  • Tracks ball well and adjusts to throws
  • Excellent pre-draft process - shined at combine and Pro Day
  • Blazing speed (ran 40-yard dash in 4.35 seconds)
  • Ability to dominate press coverage
  • Plenty of special teams experience
  • Uses body well to shield defensive backs

Weaknesses

  • Wasn't top target in a balanced Buckeyes offense - career-high 701 yards in 2018
  • Burst/acceleration doesn't stand out
  • Below-average catch radius
  • Doesn't make defenders miss after catch

Bottom line

McLaurin is a fascinating prospect who has seen his draft stock soar in recent months. He wasn't overly productive at Ohio State but flashed excellent route-running abilities and is a legitimate deep threat. McLaurin isn't the biggest receiver, but high quick feet, deep speed, and ability to track the ball translates extremely well in the pros. He could find instant success as a Z receiver (lining up off the line of scrimmage) on a team that utilizes his skill set.

8. Deebo Samuel

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School: South Carolina
Height: 5-11
Weight: 214 lbs

Strengths

  • Versatile offensive weapon who can beat defenses in many ways
  • Elusive playmaker with the ball in his hands
  • Defenses must scheme against him in red zone
  • Quick and smooth route runner
  • Explosive and gets to top gear quickly
  • Short-area quickness helps him avoid jams at line of scrimmage
  • Not biggest receiver but his physicality is off charts
  • Excellent release versus press coverage

Weaknesses

  • Battled injuries in college
  • Not an experienced or productive deep threat
  • Likely not built for No. 1 receiver role
  • Doesn't win many contested catches

Bottom line

Samuel is a pro-ready NFL weapon that fits perfectly in the modern game. He's a space player with incredible versatility and proficient separation skills. When Samuel was healthy in college, few defensive backs could stop him. The All-American thrives in many important phases of the game. He may not possess elite size, deep speed, or jump-ball prowess, but he can be an excellent No. 2 receiver if offenses correctly scheme the ball into his hands.

9. Andy Isabella

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School: Massachusetts
Height: 5-9
Weight: 188 lbs

Strengths

  • Incredibly productive slot receiver who dominates middle of field
  • Quickness and advanced route running make him a nightmare to cover out of slot
  • Explosiveness shows up with quickness in and out of his breaks
  • Outstanding fakes at top of his route to create separation
  • Traits also translate to effectiveness in vertical game, where he tracks ball well
  • Extremely elusive after catch
  • Works back to quarterback when he breaks pocket to buy time
  • Willing blocker in running game

Weaknesses

  • Size will limit him to a slot role in the NFL
  • Small catch radius
  • Won’t offer much of anything in contested catch situations
  • Played mostly against low-level competition

Bottom line

Isabella has the potential to be a top playmaker in today's NFL. Size will never allow him to become that prototypical No. 1 target on the outside, but with three-receiver sets effectively having become the base personnel grouping, what team couldn't use a player capable of dominating the middle of the field? Isabella has a combination of athleticism, route running, and ability after the catch, and he also has the long speed to stretch the defense vertically.

10. Riley Ridley

Scott Cunningham / Getty Images Sport / Getty

School: Georgia
Height: 6-1
Weight: 199 lbs

Strengths

  • Advanced route-runner with subtle nuances that help him separate
  • Very good ball skills - makes many contested catches look easy
  • Excellent balance/body control on sideline targets
  • Good hands
  • Tough, competitive player who runs aggressively after the catch
  • Very good feel for soft spots in zone coverage
  • Dangerous when given free release off line of scrimmage

Weaknesses

  • Lacks long speed and isn't a deep threat
  • Feet are often slow which limits burst/acceleration
  • Struggles with release at times versus press coverage
  • Poor collegiate production - 559 yards in 2018 was career high

Bottom line

Ridley is one of the top route-runners in his class, which could lead to early NFL contributions. His body control and soft hands will likely make the former Bulldog a hot commodity on the draft's second day. Ridley doesn't come without limitations. He profiles as a solid possession receiver due to his lack of athleticism, breakaway speed, and elusiveness after the catch. He has every chance to be a mighty good secondary option, though.

11. Miles Boykin

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School: Notre Dame
Height: 6-4
Weight: 222 lbs

Strengths

  • Combines big frame with an elite and rare athletic profile
  • Freakish levels of explosiveness and short-area quickness for a player of his size
  • Polished and fluid route-runner who can line up at any receiver spot
  • Explosiveness to eat up cushion against off coverage and release moves to beat press
  • Creates separation with route nuance and quickness in and out of his breaks
  • Strong hands and a massive catch radius
  • Wins contested catch situations with size, body control, and ability to high-point
  • Complements threat in vertical game with ability to make plays on back-shoulder throws
  • Fantastic run-blocker either when taking his man or cracking down inside

Weaknesses

  • Lacks high-end production to match his traits
  • Athleticism never translated to any sort of consistent impact after catch
  • Play speed doesn’t always seem to match impressive timed speed

Bottom line

Production is a significant part of the equation when evaluating prospects, so it's understandable that Boykin is flying under the radar. But everything about his skill set screams high-ceiling receiver. He could end up leading the list of players who outperform their draft position. The Notre Dame product flashed plenty of big-play potential in his limited opportunities, and the athletic profile he put together at the combine - an elite combination of speed, explosiveness, and short-area quickness - is downright scary for his size.

12. Parris Campbell

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School: Ohio State
Height: 6-0
Weight: 205 lbs

Strengths

  • Offensive weapon who excels in space
  • High football IQ - understands matchups and consistently locates soft spots in zone coverage
  • Can separate with ease due to blazing speed
  • Versatile and productive as a slot receiver
  • Elusive and changes direction very well
  • Burner who stretches defenses
  • Unstoppable on drag routes
  • Able to make tacklers miss in open field

Weaknesses

  • Route-running precision has grown each year, but still needs fine-tuning
  • Loses separation ability when knocked off route
  • Limited route tree in college
  • Had a few too many drops over last two seasons
  • Doesn't make many catches in traffic
  • Inexperienced versus press coverage

Bottom line

Campbell is a Swiss Army knife offensive weapon with fluid athleticism and playmaking ability. The former Buckeye standout has the versatility to line up as a speedy Z receiver or intriguing slot weapon in the pros. He's not a player best suited for contact, and it'll be up to the league's brightest offensive minds to scheme the ball into his hands to receive his full value. They won't be sorry.

13. Kelvin Harmon

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School: NC State
Height: 6-3
Weight: 221 lbs

Strengths

  • Wins with size, physicality, and strong hands at the catch point
  • Tracks the deep ball well and makes subtle moves to separate before catch
  • Good body control and adjustments to make plays on back-shoulder throws
  • Fights through contact to continue route and get to ball

Weaknesses

  • Underwhelming athletic profile may cap big-play ability at next level
  • Lacks long speed to challenge defenses vertically
  • Doesn’t have quickness out of breaks to create separation
  • Lined up exclusively on right side of field

Bottom line

Harmon was getting plenty of buzz until some disappointing athletic scores quickly saw the hype fade. The lack of top-end speed limits his big-play upside, and he's not particularly quick in and out of his breaks, but he still offers value with his ability to physically dominate small defensive backs.

14. Emanuel Hall

Ed Zurga / Getty Images Sport / Getty

School: Missouri
Height: 6-2
Weight: 201 lbs

Strengths

  • Explosive athlete with impressive burst and long speed
  • Incredibly productive in the vertical passing game, averaging 22.5 yards per carry in 2018
  • Demonstrates body control to make adjustments in air
  • Rare athleticism allows him to pick up yards after catch

Weaknesses

  • Was mostly limited to a vertical route tree
  • Overall production less than ideal for a top receiver prospect
  • Needs to improve drop rate

Bottom line

At this stage in his development, Hall is something of a one-trick pony with his ability to take the top off the defense. He certainly has that trick mastered, though. Hall will enter the league as a deep-threat specialist with the athleticism and after-the-catch upside to develop into a more well-rounded threat on the outside.

15. DaMarkus Lodge

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School: Ole Miss
Height: 6-2
Weight: 202 lbs

Strengths

  • Good size and frame
  • Impressive first-step off line of scrimmage - can separate quickly
  • Excellent body control along sideline
  • Made a number of contested catches over last two seasons
  • Can contribute as a blocker in run game
  • Consistently beats zone coverage
  • Experienced in vertical route tree

Weaknesses

  • May not possess enough long speed to be consistent deep threat
  • Locked up by stout man-coverage cornerbacks
  • Drops are his biggest issue - 16 over last two seasons
  • Limited route tree at Ole Miss
  • Not an explosive athlete and not particularly agile

Bottom line

Lodge is a pro-ready receiver who possesses good size and a natural release off the snap. He has some athletic limitations, but consistently made splash plays with the Rebels. Though he struggles with drops and must improve his ability to separate, Lodge profiles as a high-floor X receiver who is best utilized along the boundary.

Other notable prospects

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Jalen Hurd (Baylor)
Mecole Hardman (Georgia)
Antoine Wesley (Texas Tech)
Stanley Morgan Jr. (Nebraska)
Hunter Renfrow (Clemson)

Top 50
QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | iOL
EDGE | DL | LB | CB | S

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2019 NFL Draft prospect rankings: Wide receivers
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