The 2022 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 2023 NFL Draft prospect watchlist: Wide Receivers.
Jordan Addison, TBA
In two years with Pittsburgh, Addison became a star. For his freshman season, Addison had 60 receptions for 666 yards and four touchdowns. He won the Biletnikoff Award as a sophomore with 100 receptions for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns. The Panthers went 11-3 in 2021, but Addison has entered the transfer portal.
Addison was able to demonstrate good speed at route-running at Pitt. He is a deep threat and he can also run after the catch on balls thrown underneath. At 6-foot and 170 pounds he is on the lighter side and does struggle with contested catches, along with catching balls that are off his frame. Addison is currently on the open market and with another good season, could be a first round pick.
Kayshon Boutte, LSU Tigers
The last two seasons haven’t been great for LSU, but Boutte has been a bright spot. As a freshman in 2020, he had 45 receptions for 735 yards and five touchdowns. He only played in six games during his sophomore season and registered 38 receptions for 509 yards and nine touchdowns. The Tigers are looking for a bounce-back season in 2022 with Boutte leading the way.
Boutte has produced despite lackluster quarterback play at LSU the last two seasons. He has good route-running ability and can create after the catch. His ability to win one on one matchups makes him dynamic. He did have some drops, some that will require more focus and others that were off his frame. If he can stay healthy and produce in 2022, Boutte could be the first wide receiver selected in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Dontay Demus, Maryland Terrapins
Demus has been in college for four seasons already, but has only played 10 games over the last two seasons. He has 106 receptions for 1,775 yards and 13 touchdowns in his career. In 2020, he had 24 receptions for 365 yards and four touchdowns over five games. For the 2021 season, Demus hauled in 28 passes for 507 yards and three touchdowns.
During the 2022 season, Demus will have to stay healthy. Demus is a bigger receiver who seems to have some decent speed. He can be a deep threat and finds soft spots against zone coverage as well. Demus does have some focus drops to clean up and isn’t the quickest at getting in and out of his breaks. He’ll need a big 2022 season to be a first-round pick.
Josh Downs, North Carolina Tar Heels
After not playing much as a freshman, Downs broke out as a sophomore. Downs finished the 2021 season with 101 receptions for 1,335 yards and eight touchdowns. He was Sam Howell‘s favorite target before he headed off to the NFL.
Downs specialized at playing in the slot during the 2021 season. He used his quickness and good route running to get open. His ability to run after the catch was also on display. He is a little undersized at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, but will fit in as a slot receiver. Playing on the outside will be a question.
Quentin Johnston, TCU Horned Frogs
Johnston has had two really good seasons in a row for TCU. In 2020, he caught 22 passes for 487 yards and two touchdowns. He upped his game in 2021 with 33 receptions for 634 yards and six touchdowns. The Horned Frogs have struggled the last few seasons despite Johnson’s good play.
At 6-foot-4, Johnston can create a matchup problem. He will need to add some weight to his frame to maximize that matchup problem. He isn’t the fastest or quickest, but he can run after the catch because of his toughness. His route-running will also need some work, but his body control and size could move him up draft boards.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State Buckeyes
Smith-Njigba didn’t see the field much in 2020, as the Ohio State wide receiver room was loaded. He had a great 2021 season where he made a name for himself. In 2021, Smith-Njigba had 95 catches for 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns as the Buckeyes won the Rose Bowl.
He stands at 6-foot and 197 pounds, giving him average height. Smith-Njigba is a good route-runner and can pick up yards after the catch. He had the luxury of playing with some other good receivers last year, but now he will be the focal point of defenses. His ability to catch passes off target will need to improve. Smith-Njigba is the frontrunner to sit atop the 2023 NFL Draft wide receivers.
Other Draft Prospects
Ronnie Bell, Michigan- Bell was hurt during the 2021 season, but has some good tape from prior years. He needs to re-establish himself and produce in 2022 to move up draft boards.
Jermaine Burton, Alabama- Burton decided that moving from Georgia to Alabama was the right move for him. He has had two solid seasons, but could produce more in Alabama’s more pass-friendly offense.
Julian Fleming, Ohio State- Fleming didn’t play much in 2021 with all the talent in the Ohio State receivers room. He is a bigger-bodied receiver who just needs more tape and reps to show his skills.
Zay Flowers, Boston College- Although he is a smaller receiver, Flowers can sneak behind defenses for big plays with his good speed. He will be back with his quarterbacks Phil Jurkovec, which means there is potential for mass production.
Rakim Jarrett, Maryland- Jarrett has shown the ability to make acrobatic catches. With him and Demus back on Maryland, their offense has some playmakers.
Marvin Mims, Oklahoma- Mims is an established deep threat, although he is a little undersized. He will be working with a new quarterback and head coach this season.
Ainias Smith, Texas A&M- Smith is a hybrid player, as he has played both wide receiver and running back. Teams will likely try to use him like Deebo Samuel, even though he is smaller. He has good quickness that can be useful in the slot.
Parker Washington, Penn State- Washington has had some focus drops, but he can also make crazy catches. He is set to take over the top receiver spot for the Nittany Lions with Jahan Dotson now in the pros.
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