NFL Draft: Top 10 wide receivers in 2017 class
John Ross has become an en vogue top-rated receiver for the 2017 NFL Draft after his 4.22 40-yard dash at the Combine. The Washington product, though, deserves to be the first receiver drafted for more reasons than his record-breaking sprint.
In our wide receiver ranking for the 2017 NFL Draft, find out what makes Ross so special, how the rest of the “Big Three" receiver prospects rank and why Virginia Tech’s Isaiah Ford is the best receiver who’s not talked about enough.
The following 2017 NFL Draft wide receiver prospect ranking is included in Optimum Scouting’s 2017 NFL Draft Guide, which is available for purchase here. The draft guide includes 300-plus scouting reports as well as position-specific analytics for prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft.
1 Curtis Samuel, Ohio State
Samuel is an elite athlete with explosive traits. When/if he takes hand-offs, he lacks the bulk or power to mash it up between the tackles, but he can run the outside zone and shows enough toughness to absorb big hits from linebackers. As a receiver in college, he was not asked to run a great variety of routes. But with his burst, quickness and body control, Samuel carries the traits to execute NFL patterns with development.
Samuel can really stick his foot into the ground and explode out of breaks. Slants, angle routes and option routes are his specialty at this stage. Overall, Samuel has game-breaking speed, but he's raw. He can have an instant impact as an explosive return man, but his success might be dependent on the creativity of his coordinator. He's the epitome of an offensive weapon with no true every-down position.
2 Chris Godwin, Penn State
Godwin possesses a good combination of size, speed and quickness, which he utilizes to get separation for his quarterback. He doesn't have elite speed, but he has enough to be a vertical threat as well as work the middle of the field on drag routes and slants. He gets off the line well in most situations, using his hands to fight off defensive backs.
Godwin needs to look the ball into his hands better, but he is very good at making adjustments to the ball in the air. He can be dangerous after the catch. He has the ability to play outside the numbers, as well, but Godwin might struggle against more physical corners in the NFL.
3 Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M
Reynolds is an impressive athlete with a lanky frame who has long strides and leaping ability. Incredible at tracking the ball and with the skills to rip it out of the air, he's a solid route runner and has good explosion at his break to separate. He’s very good at contested catches, and he’ll be a red-zone target/deep threat in the NFL.
Reynolds lacks the strength to block effectively on the edge and needs to fill out more. He also struggles to get off jams at the line of scrimmage. Reynolds said at the Senior Bowl his biggest weakness is concentration and consistency. If he can improve on both, he could be a scary outside threat in the NFL for years.
4 Amara Darboh, Michigan
Darboh is a prototypical No. 2 possession receiver, a big body who makes up for his lack of top-tier athleticism by being a tough player who can take a hit and hold onto the ball. He has big hands (9 7/8") and uses them well. He must learn to rely on those hands, though, as he falls back on body catching too often.
Darboh can run sharp, precise routes but gets sloppy at times. His struggles in his personal life have been well documented, and his going through such adversity will have him prepared for the rigors of being an NFL player. He looks more like a supporting player, not necessarily one who will win games for an NFL team.
5 Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky
Taylor has all the physical tools to be a consistent playmaker in the NFL. He likely will find his niche as a slot receiver due to his incredible shiftiness and burst off the line, but he also can line up outside and has enough speed and route savviness to take the top off defenses. His combination of footwork and acceleration will test any corner. He’s an impeccable route runner who can stop on a dime and instantly accelerate, easily causing separation.
Once Taylor gets the ball in his hands, he is an elusive threat, able to bend and contort his body away from tacklers to pick up extra yards. He’s a master of racking up the YAC. Despite his slightly below-average hand size (8 7/8"), he catches the football with ease. He looks to be a plug-and-play receiver who can contribute immediately.
6 Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech
Henderson has come a long way from being an under-recruited, 170-pound receiver four years ago. He plays a physical brand of football and has the frame for that style to translate to the NFL. The route tree he ran in college was barren, so there's work to be done as far as learning to win on short to intermediate routes with more than just speed and physicality.
The deep tracking speed is available, but Henderson leaves too many high-point opportunities on the field, allowing lesser athletes to break up chunk plays.
7 Isaiah Ford, Virginia Tech
With high character and a good work ethic, Ford mentally is ready for the NFL. But as a sub-6-2 receiver without great vertical speed, he doesn't have the elite downfield acceleration or consistent big-play ability to generate first-round buzz. As a wide-area, elusive receiver, Ford relies on controlled steps throughout his movement and patience/decisiveness to separate as a receiver and gain yards as a runner. He plays with great hand timing to attack the ball, finishing away from his frame with control and rarely having concentration drops.
Ford compares favorably to Stefon Diggs because of his ability to separate. He also will be effective in both vertical and yards-after-catch offenses in the NFL.
8 Corey Davis, Western Michigan
Davis by all accounts is an exemplary person and incredibly hard worker. On the field, he’s one of the most pro-ready receivers to come out of college in recent drafts. While Davis could get more consistent in some facets of his game, particularly at the catch point, it really comes down to nitpicking.
Davis has the potential to be a No. 1 target in an NFL offense. He looks like an instant-impact star who should have a long NFL career.
9 Mike Williams, Clemson
Williams is an outstanding prospect who has the ability to instantly upgrade an NFL offense. He’s a red-zone threat who excels at high-pointing the ball and dominating on contested catches. He’s a little too reliant on his physicality and needs to learn to run crisper routes and win with savvy. Once he fine-tunes his game, he will be a potent member of any passing attack.
Williams also can aid in the running game as a blocker on the edge. While he does not possess elite speed, his "game speed" is as good as anybody in the draft. Once he gets the ball in his hands, he is tough to take down. He does need to work on his acceleration, but his intangibles are as impressive as those of any receiver in the draft.
10 John Ross, Washington
Ross’ 40 at the Combine will be etched in history regardless of how his NFL career plays out, but he should have a long one. His complete-receiver value goes beyond his straight-line speed. His ease of movement is apparent on film, as he's able to play controlled and adjust at the catch point.
Ross is not just a perimeter or downfield, route-running speed threat; he's a legitimate short-area and mid-field receiver who can work after the catch with patience and lateral quickness. Ross has showcased a multitude of downfield routes, and some of his best plays in college came off double moves, downfield posts, digs and deep comebacks. His big-play ability, including his return upside immediately as a rookie, makes him a top-20 prospect in the mold of Odell Beckham Jr.