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2019 NFL Draft Watchlist: Wide Receivers, Part 2

The NFL Draft is a distinctly undemocratic process, where players are picked not by popular vote, but by the elite general managers and owners of NFL teams in their ivory tower war rooms. We of the unwashed masses don’t always know what goes into the making of a draft pick, what secret flaws and hidden skills they have.

That’s why I decided to let you, the people, vote to determine the order we would analyze the records of the top candidates (read: prospects) for the 2019 NFL Draft here on Fantrax.

We have already gone through our running backs, so we are here to run down the top wide receivers for dynasty or developmental (devy) fantasy football players. Going forward, there will be individual evaluations of players, but this article is a quick “get to know you” for the potential class as a whole.

Measurables projections are courtesy of, and an asterisk (*) after the name means they are an underclassman and may decide not to declare for this draft class.

Which wide receivers should you be watching heading into the 2019 NFL Draft?


Previous Articles

2019 NFL Draft Watchlist: Running Backs, Part 1

2019 NFL Draft Watchlist: Running Backs, Part 2

2019 NFL Draft Watchlist: Wide Receivers, Part 1


2019 NFL Draft Watchlist

6. Kelvin Harmon, North Carolina State*
6’2”, 213 pounds
Age at 2019 Draft: ~21 yr.
Projected 40-yard dash: 4.54

North Carolina State’s Kelvin Harmon’s above-average size and decent speed combine to make him just a reasonable, not stunning, athletic prospect. His projected Speed Score of 100.3 slots him 15th in the wide receiver class and compares closest to former NFL guys like Arrelious Benn, Cecil Shorts, or Marvin Jones. Across his two years at N.C. State, Harmon has posted 96 career catches for 1,479 yards (15.4 average) and 9 touchdowns (9.38 percent rate). While he hasn’t yet blossomed into a true top wide receiver, Harmon has begun to show flashes of that potential in his production.

Harmon goes from a compelling prospect to an elite one when we consider his intangibles, the ones metrics can’t measure. Despite inconsistent hands that lead to body-catching and drops, Harmon has insane body control that sees him contorting to shield the ball from defenders and winning constantly at the catch point in the most bizarre ways. He runs clean routes with excellent burst and fight off the line, but those tools haven’t yet translated to production. When they do, watch out.


7. Michael Pittman Jr., USC*
6’3”, 213 pounds
Age at 2019 Draft: 20 yr., 7 mo.
Projected 40-yard dash: 4.54

USC wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. not only has impeccable bloodlines – being the son of a former NFL player – he has compelling traits that give him big-time upside in the pros. At a 101.2 projected Speed Score, he compares favorably to JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marvin McNutt. With top-tier size and raw strength, Pittman is a great candidate for jump balls and red-zone looks that he wins by literally beating up defenders. That said, he still needs to clean up his route-running and work on his footwork in order to go from a situational talent to truly elite. If he can do that, his separation from defenders will improve and he’ll truly be unbeatable in contested-catch situations.

Like his comp McNutt’s pro career, Pittman has to this point failed to produce with his tools. He improved from his freshman 2016 to his sophomore season last year, going from 0.67 catches per game to 2.56. Despite the minuscule sample size, Pittman dropped a strong 17.6 yards per reception and 8.70 percent touchdown rate last year. He can become a big-time wideout in the pros, but he has to fix the little things to get there.


8. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford
6’2”, 222 pounds
Age at 2019 Draft: ~23 yr.
Projected 40-yard dash: 4.59

Rising senior J.J. Arcega-Whiteside dominated Stanford’s receiving production this past year. Despite totaling only 72 catches for 1,160 receiving yards (16.1 average) and 14 touchdowns (19.44 percent rate) over the past two years, Arcega-Whiteside’s 39.1 percent share of the team’s yardage production last season was eighth-highest among 460 receivers last year. He won most of those yards due to his precise route-running skills, but his size and strength are quite impressive. Arcega-Whiteside’s skills on 50-50 balls are his real calling card, and he makes the most of his abilities in contested situations.

The two big knocks on Arcega-Whiteside are his lack of speed and age. He’ll be a bit on the older side when the 2019 NFL Draft rolls around, and his projected 100.0 Speed Score is a bit lacking. Arcega-Whiteside’s athletic profile is oddly reminiscent of DeAndre Smelter, whose big frame and lacking speed limited his pro impact. That said, JJAW’s polish could set him apart from the pack.


9. Collin Johnson, Texas*
6’5”, 220 pounds
Age at 2019 Draft: ~21 yr.
Projected 40-yard dash: 4.59

Collin Johnson is a prototypical possession receiver and red-zone threat, a power forward-sized target for quarterbacks in close. His size and strength allow him to bully defensive backs, and his awareness and vision allow Johnson to pinpoint the ball at its highest point in the air. His length allows him to keep cornerbacks at a distance and extend the ball away from them. The big issue is that he has lacking catching skills, and sometimes needs to trap passes with his body. That said, his 99.1 projected Speed Score puts him in the range of former prospects Matt Trannon and P.K. Sam. Who? That’s exactly right; there’s not great historical company for huge receivers with lacking speed.

For all of his size, Johnson hasn’t put a ton of production on his ledger: across two years, 82 catches for 1,080 receiving yards (13.2 average) and 5 touchdowns (6.10 percent rate). That touchdown rate ranks among the bottom quarter of NCAA receivers last year, a pretty ugly rate for a red-zone specialist. Johnson will need to increase his athleticism in order to make waves in the pros, but – as they say – you can’t teach “big.”


10. Ahmmon Richards, Miami (FL)*
6’1”, 190 pounds
Age at 2019 Draft: 19 yr., 11 mo.
Projected 40-yard dash: 4.52

Miami’s Ahmmon Richards – as a smaller, not-so-swift wideout – doesn’t come in so stunningly in the metric department. His projected 91.0 Speed Score puts him as a reasonable comp to Kenbrell Thompkins, a lackluster physical profile for an upside receiver. Even worse, Richards has had issues with durability to this point in his career, playing in just 20 games through his first two years of college.

Still, where Richards wins is not with his athletic prowess; he uses slippery quickness to create separation and get off the line without getting jammed. Once in his routes, Richards’ crisp feet slice through defenders and find the tiniest seams to get to his targets. His production is pretty solid considering his contextual factors: Richards has totaled 73 catches across his two years, earning 1,373 receiving yards (18.8 average) and 6 touchdowns (8.22 percent rate). Add in the fact that he won’t even be 20 years old by the time the 2019 Draft rolls around, and that presents an interesting conundrum for NFL teams to decipher.


… And 10 More to Watch

  • Dez Fitzpatrick, Louisville – 6’1”, 200 pounds; 4.44 40-yard dash; 102.9 Speed Score
  • Chase Claypool, Notre Dame – 6’3”, 228 pounds; 4.59 40-yard dash; 102.7 Speed Score
  • Juwan Johnson, Penn State – 6’3”, 226 pounds; 4.59 40-yard dash; 101.8 Speed Score
  • Hakeem Butler, Iowa State – 6’5”, 219 pounds; 4.59 40-yard dash; 98.7 Speed Score
  • Anthony Johnson, Buffalo – 6’1”, 207 pounds; 4.54 40-yard dash; 97.4 Speed Score
  • Nick Westbrook, Indiana – 6’2”, 215 pounds; 4.59 40-yard dash; 96.9 Speed Score
  • Quintez Cephus, Wisconsin – 6’0”, 205 pounds; 4.56 40-yard dash; 94.8 Speed Score
  • Bryan Edwards, South Carolina – 6’2”, 205 pounds; 4.60 40-yard dash; 91.6 Speed Score
  • DaMarkus Lodge, Mississippi – 6’1”, 199 pounds; 4.57 40-yard dash; 91.2 Speed Score
  • Tyler Johnson, Minnesota – 6’1”, 190 pounds; 4.54 40-yard dash; 89.4 Speed Score


Look for more on the 2019 NFL Draft in the coming weeks.

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