The 2021 NFL Draft is over and teams are getting comfortable with their new draft picks. The next class of players is getting prepared now for another year of college football. Each position will be analyzed in the coming days. Here is the 2022 NFL Draft prospect watchlist: Wide receivers.
David Bell, Purdue Boilermakers
With Rondale Moore being injured over the last two seasons, Bell has provided a consistent presence in the lineup for the Boilermakers. He broke out in his freshman season with 86 receptions for 1,035 yards and seven touchdowns. In his second season with the team, Bell produced 53 catches for 625 yards and eight touchdowns in just six games played.
He has a solid body for an NFL wide receiver at 6-foot-2 and 188 pounds. Bell is a solid route runner, who excels at finding soft spots against zone coverage. His hands are solid and he can be considered a possession receiver for the next level. He isn’t a huge threat to run after the catch and he doesn’t have elite speed, but he has been productive despite that. With two years already in the books for great production, Bell looks like he could be selected early in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Treylon Burks, Arkansas Razorbacks
Burks has made an impact for the Razorbacks and has improved in each season with the team. In 2019 as a freshman, Burks finished the year with 29 receptions for 475 yards. He caught 51 passes for 820 yards and seven touchdowns in 2020. He may not be a household name, but with some of the amazing plays he has made, he should be.
His stature is among the best in the class, as he is listed at 6-foot-3 and 232 pounds. Burks is a built like a tank for a receiver and has a good catch radius, but he also has solid quickness for his size. Because of his size and quickness, he is tough to tackle after the catch. His long speed will come into question, but more importantly Burks has proven to be able to separate. With another good season, Burks could end up being the first wide receiver drafted.
John Metchie, Alabama Crimson Tide
With Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith now in the pros, Metchie is the main target of the Alabama offense. Competing with all of those players meant that he only got a few opportunities. He finished the season with four receptions for 23 yards. With Jeudy and Ruggs off to the NFL and Waddle getting hurt in 2020, Metchie stepped up with 55 receptions for 916 yards and six touchdowns. His play helped the Crimson Tide to an undefeated season and National Championship victory.
Metchie has solid measurements at 6-foot and 195 pounds, which allow him to play both in the slot and outside. He has solid route running, as he creates good separation with crisp cuts. Metchie can beat people deep, but also is decent at running after the catch. His hands need to get better in 2021, as he struggled to catch contested passes and balls thrown outside of his frame, even when they hit his hands. The production will likely be there for Metchie
Chris Olave, Ohio State Buckeyes
Many believed that Olave would enter his name in the 2021 NFL Draft, but he decided to return for one more year with the Buckeyes. He saw limited playing time as a freshman, but produced with 12 catches for 197 yards and three touchdowns. His role increased in 2019 with Olave totaling 48 receptions for 840 yards and 12 touchdowns. For the 2020 season, Olave caught 50 passes for 729 yards and seven touchdowns as the Buckeyes made it all the way to the National Championship Game.
Olave is 6-foot-1 and 188 pounds, which gives him decent height for a receiver, but he will need to continue to add strength to his frame. At times, Olave can be thrown off of his routes by contact and teams at the next level may try to press him to slow him down. The extra strength could also help him become a better blocker, if his effort improves as well. The main calling card for Olave is his ability to beat defenses deep. He has good speed and knows how to create separation by changing speeds. His solid route running and ability to run after the catch will make him appealing to NFL teams. He was likely going to be a first round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and could easily be a first rounder in the 2022 NFL Draft.
George Pickens, Georgia Bulldogs
Pickens tore his ACL in late March and may not be able to play in the 2021 season. If he is able to take the field, he is fully capable of being selected early in the 2022 NFL Draft. As a freshman for the Bulldogs, Pickens had 49 receptions for 727 yards and eight touchdowns. He followed that up with 36 receptions for 513 yards and six touchdowns in eight games played in 2020. Pickens has been the number one receiver for the Bulldogs and helped them win the Peach Bowl following the 2020 season.
At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Pickens is a big-bodied outside receiver who has a large catch radius. He specializes in high-pointing the football, which helps him win downfield battles and be a threat in the red zone. Pickens will not offer great run after the catch value, as he isn’t elusive in the open field. He can also improve his route running to make his routes more crisp. In all, Pickens has the athletic traits and ball skills to be a great pro receiver if he recovers well from his injury.
Justyn Ross, Clemson Tigers
Ross has had an interesting college career so far. As a freshman, he hauled in 46 passes for 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns. His numbers dipped a little bit when he was a sophomore, as he had 66 receptions for 865 yards and eight touchdowns. Ross had been a big part of Clemson’s success, but had to sit out the 2020 season due to a spinal injury.
At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, Ross has a great frame for a wide receiver. He has decent releases at the line of scrimmage and has good body control for a player of his size. Ross can be targeted for big plays and in the red zone to help offenses get in the end zone. He had several acrobatic catches over his two seasons with Clemson. Pre-injury, Ross didn’t offer much elusiveness as a runner with the ball in his hands and he can fine-tune his route running, but the biggest question mark will be his health. He needs to hold up over the 2021 season and be cleared by NFL doctors.
Garrett Wilson, Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State has had some talented receivers over the last few years, but Wilson may end up being the highest-drafted of them all. He debuted for the Buckeyes in 2019 with 30 catches for 432 yards and five touchdowns. His numbers improved as a sophomore, as he totaled 43 catches for 723 yards and six touchdowns in five fewer games. Wilson helped the Buckeyes reach the National Championship Game.
He stands at 6-foot and 193 pounds, which is decent for an NFL wide receiver. Wilson has shown the ability to line up inside or out, making him a versatile weapon. He has solid quickness and can run decent routes. His ability to be a deep threat, but also run after the catch well makes him dangerous. He does need to catch balls that are outside his frame more consistently and put up more of an effort as a blocker. His topend speed may come into question as well, but Wilson could be the first receiver selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Other Draft Prospects
Jahan Dotson, Penn State Nittany Lions- Dotson can make some pretty unbelievable catches and has solid speed. Penn State needs a bounce back season and Dotson could help them get back on track.
Ty Fryfogle, Indiana Hoosiers- After being more of a possession receiver for the first three seasons on campus, Fryfogle demonstrated his ability to be a deep threat in 2020. He could be in store for a big 2020 if Michael Penix comes back healthy.
Jadon Haselwood, Oklahoma Sooners- After suffering a leg injury, Haselwood was only able to play in three games during the 2020 season. He played well as a freshman and needs to regain his form for Oklahoma in 2021.
Frank Ladson Jr., Clemson Tigers- Ladson has had some good games, but now is going to have more of the work in the offense. If he can get rid of his focus drops and prove to be productive, he could move up the list of eligible receivers.
Drake London, USC Trojans- London is a 6-foot-5 receiver who now will be the main target for Kedon Slovis with Amon-Ra St. Brown gone to the NFL. Producing in the Trojans’ offense will not be that hard for London.
Make sure to check out our brand new NFL Draft page for more content!