Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, Jaylen Waddle, and DeVonta Smith might have been the best wide receiver group we have ever seen in college football.
Each of these four pass catchers were either already selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft or are currently projected to be sure-fire first round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The real question is… How do they stack up against one another as prospects?
Let’s rank these four wideouts using my scouting notes from 2020 and 2021:
4. Henry Ruggs III
Ruggs was the first receiver off of the board in 2020 and the Raiders made it simple. 4.27 speed, NBA level hops, and explosivity are unteachable. I was not a Ruggs truther in 2020, but I acknowledge why he was so appealing in the first round. He could win early in the route, but failed to win consistently in other areas. Ruggs had a tough time playing through contact. Looking backwards, I like the other three receivers more as prospects.
3. Jaylen Waddle
Waddle is a guy who has all of the traits to become an elite NFL wide receiver. He has yet to fully match talent with technique. The change of direction skills are ridiculous. The scary thing is, Waddle wins more reps with his release and head/shoulder movement than he does sinking his hips. If he can apply the movement skills he displays in the open field to his route running, we are looking at one of the better receivers in the NFL. I think it will take 2-3 years for Waddle to reach his full potential.
2. Jerry Jeudy
The top two are extremely close but Jeudy ultimately ends up second on this list. Much like Waddle, the stop and go ability of Jeudy was ridiculous. Body control and route running combined to make an elite separator. The hands were a bit of a concern. I had CeeDee Lamb as WR1 and Laviska Shenault decimal points ahead of Jeudy in 2020 but I was still all in him being a top 20 pick.
1. DeVonta Smith
The Heisman is one of, if not the best route runner I have scouted coming out of college. He plays stronger than his slight frame would suggest, and shows the ability to highpoint the football with great body control and focus. The nuance in his game reminds me of Antonio Brown. Body type is the only concern, but he has proved he is an exception to the rule.
Again, it is crucial to note, these four receivers all have first round prowess. All of these guys are SPECIAL.
The top two are very close, but I think Smith is a bit more polished than Jeudy was coming out of college. Waddle has a ceiling just as high as Jeudy and Smith but has yet to develop his game to their level. I was never a huge Ruggs fan but the athletic profile was undeniable.
How do you rank these receivers? Let me know @MOBrienNFL on Twitter and Instagram and make sure to follow @capitalsportsmn on Instagram.