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NFL Draft 2020: Wide receiver class offers Cowboys dynamic options for passing arsenal

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Taking a peek at this year’s receivers class which is stocked with depth.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Southern California Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

[In this NFL Draft series, we will spotlight several positions of interest for the Dallas Cowboys. Scouring the landscape of draft gurus, we will put together mini scouting reports and weigh the pros and cons of many available prospects to find the right fit for the Dallas Cowboys come April 2020.]

Previously profiled:

SAFETIES

CORNERBACKS

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

This year’s receivers class is widely considered one of the deepest position groupings of all. The Cowboys will be looking to extend Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. That’s a pretty nice tandem at WR1 and WR2 but the Cowboys will also look at possibly retaining Randall Cobb, who has a big fan in head coach Mike McCarthy. Though it may seem like a good plan to begin there, we know plans change in the NFL. Also, the Cowboys are an offense that is evolving, it’s never a bad idea to add more talent to the depth chart.

Let’s first look at a chart of many of the top names in the class and see how they produced at the collegiate-level:

WIDE RECEIVERS SCHOOL CBS RK PROJ. RD REC YD REC TD Y/R
CEEDEE LAMB OKLAHOMA 7 1 3292 173 32 19
JERRY JEUDY ALABAMA 10 1 2742 159 26 17.2
TEE HIGGINS CLEMSON 14 1 2448 135 27 18.1
HENRY RUGGS III ALABAMA 17 1 1716 98 24 17.5
JALEN REAGOR TCU 27 1-2 2248 148 35 15.2
LAVISHKA SHENAULT JR COLORADO 28 1-2 1943 149 42 13
JUSTIN JEFFERSON LSU 48 2 2415 165 24 14.6
BRANDON AIYUK ARIZONA STATE 49 2 1666 98 11 17
BRYAN EDWARDS S. CAROLINA 60 2-3 3045 234 22 13
TYLER JOHNSON MINNESOTA 66 2-3 3305 213 33 15.5
MICHAEL PITTMAN JR. USC 72 3 2519 171 19 14.7
KJ HAMLER PENN STATE 76 3 1658 98 13 16.9
DONOVAN PEOPLES-JONES MICHIGAN 78 3 1327 103 14 12.9
DEVIN DUVERNAY TEXAS 81 3-4 2468 176 16 14
DENZEL MIMS BAYLOR 84 3-4 2925 186 28 15.7

CEEDEE LAMB, OKLAHOMA

13 GP, 62 REC, 1327 YDS, 21.4 Y/REC, 14 REC TD, 1 RUSH TD (2019)

CeeDee Lamb is a blue-chip talent and that makes it hard to see him around the Cowboys’ range at 17th overall. Lamb has all the traits NFL scouts look for in a first-round receiver and he fits the prototype for an X receiver. There are some concerns about disappearing in games when he’s not being fed the ball but CeeDee Lamb is the perfect fit for a team in need of an alpha receiver.

CEEDEE LAMB
JR- OKLA 6'2 189 LBS PROJ. RD: 1
Strengths Weaknesses
Elite ball-skills, tracks well, positions himself to pluck ball at catch point, technically sound to beat multiple defenders, sudden in & out of breaks, fluid in creating separation & finding space Definite fit at X but unsure about versatility, can be disengaged if not getting ball, needs to know when play is over & move on, average flexibility

JERRY JEUDY, ALABAMA

13 GP, 77 REC, 1163 YDS, 15.1 Y/REC, 10 TD (2019)

Jerry Jeudy gets favorable comparisons to current Cowboys WR1, Amari Cooper. Why? Well, he’s already pretty skilled in the art of route running, selling his routes, and creating separation. Jeudy doesn’t have too many concerns other than a few technical kinks to work on but the elite footwork, quickness, and dynamic playmaking make Jeudy an easy decision for most NFL teams.

JERRY JEUDY
JR-ALABAMA 6'1 192 LBS PROJ. RD: 1
Strengths Weaknesses
Great route runner, elite foot quickness, easily creates separation, consistent hands, dynamic in the open field, great catchability in traffic, crafty, & twitchy Slight frame, questionable play strength, had some focus drops, needs work on disengaging & getting back in position

HENRY RUGGS III, ALABAMA

12 GP, 40 REC, 746 YDS, 18.7 Y/REC, 7 REC TD, 1 RUSH TD, 23.8 Y/ KICK RET (2019)

Jeudy’s counterpart, Henry Ruggs III, is the speed demon that can take the top off a defense in a flash. Ruggs’ production was not nearly as impressive as some guys on this list but you won’t find a more athletically-gifted mismatch than him. Ruggs is the type of receiver that you plug in to take your offense to a whole new level of explosiveness. Sure, he’s got to finely-tune his technique to win consistently in the NFL, but Henry Ruggs III is the stick of dynamite many offensive coordinators would love to deploy.

HENRY RUGGS III
JR-ALABAMA 6'0 190 LBS PROJ. RD: 1-2
Strengths Weaknesses
Insanely fast, stretches defense vertically, very gifted at making contested catches, great leaping ability in red zone, explosive ball-carrier, contortionist, hard to bring down Nuanced route running, wins mainly with athleticism but will need to work on technique to win consistently in NFL, needs work on handling press coverage, doesn't create great initial separation at LOS

LAVISHKA SHENAULT JR, COLORADO

11 GP, 56 REC, 764 YDS, 13.6 Y/REC, 4 REC TD, 2 RUSH TD, 54-YD KICK RET (2019)

Lavishka Shenault Jr. is a prospect for the near future. He’s going to have an early impact without question as a contributor but he’s going to be much better a year from now. The combination of his size, strength, and physicality will make Shenault hard to cover as he works to improve his route tree. Shenault looks the part of an NFL receiver with elite potential and his sure hands will earn him a role quickly in his rookie season.

LAVISHKA SHENAULT JR.
JR-COLORADO 6'2 220 LBS PROJ. RD: 1-2
Strengths Weaknesses
Great combo of size, speed, strength, power, & skilled RAC, top-end speed to make house-calls, natural playmaker, physical hands & stature Inexperienced route tree, played big slot WR, needs work on perimeter, doesn't always use his size to advantage, change of direction takes too much labor

JALEN REAGOR, TCU

12 GP, 43 REC, 611 YDS, 14.2 Y/REC, 5 TD, 20.8 Y/KICK RET (2019)

Jalen Reagor is another prospect with explosiveness to offer at the NFL level. He’s got the agility and top-end speed to break big gains after the catch. There is some special teams value he adds as well. Reagor will need to be protected some early on because he’s not going to make many contested catches and he does tend to make a lot of body catches. He needs space to work because the more physical DB’s will eat him alive until he learns to be more physical.

JALEN REAGOR
JR-TCU 5'11 195 LBS PROJ. RD: 1-2
Strengths Weaknesses
Super crafty, twitchy, routinely makes big plays downfield, great burst at top of routes, very creative in RAC, dynamic accelerator, makes good route adjustments, big-play threat Needs to expand route tree, tendencey to body-catch, not great in making contested catches, not consistent at plucking ball with hands, not physical enough

JUSTIN JEFFERSON, LSU

15 GP, 111 REC, 1540 YDS, 13.9 Y/REC, 18 TD (2019)

It’s hard to argue with Jefferson’s production at the position, the guy just lit up his competition. Jefferson is the most balanced prospect as he has excelled against zone and man coverage. He’s an elite finder of space and shows great control of his body at the catch point. Jefferson wins with his route savvy, which is a good thing because he’s not the best athlete. Jefferson has solid long speed but it’s a slow build and he struggles with overly athletic defenders.

JUSTIN JEFFERSON
SR-LSU 6'3 192 LBS PROJ. RD: 2
Strengths Weaknesses
Solid athleticism across the board, good suddeness off LOS, sufficient deep speed, crafty route runner, good instincts, master of finding space in zone, sets up defenders to win over man coverage, great control of his body, tough player Though long speed is good, play speed is often slower than desired, not a dynamic athlete, agility is adequate at best, needs to work on extending, not consistent separator

BRANDON AIYUK, ARIZONA STATE

12 GP, 65 REC, 1192 YDS, 18.3 Y/REC, 8 TD, 31.9 Y/KICK RET (2019)

Brandon Aiyuk is another truly gifted big-play artist with a second gear of speed that some just don’t possess. He will be a great piece to an offense that needs that extra dimension but will also need some work to reach his potential. As good as he is at taking advantage of open space, he’s doesn’t have the physicality or technique to hold up against press man coverage. Aiyuk’s hands are not the most trustworthy either and he doesn’t attack the ball in the air enough. The right team will know what to do with Brandon Aiyuk, while he’s growing in the technical sense.

BRANDON AIYUK
SR-ARZ STATE 6'0 201 LBS PROJ. RD: 2
Strengths Weaknesses
Big-play threat, great creator of space & separation, super-twitchy player, impressive second gear, plays loose, great competitive toughness in blocking, amazing YAC production Doesn't do well vs. press coverage, not natural hands-catcher, has lots of room to grow in technique, doesn't sell routes all too well, not going to make contested catches, waits on football instead of attacking & plucking it

K.J. HAMLER, PENN STATE

13 GP, 56 REC, 904 YDS, 16.1 Y/REC, 8 TD, 21.4 Y/KICK RET (2019)

Any NFL team looking for a dynamic underneath player will have Hamler rated highly. The short-area quickness and agility are top-notch, he makes slot defenders seem silly at times. He’s done a lot of work on his route tree to develop into the prospect he has become and Hamler is extremely explosive. The only drawback is that his lack of size and play strength will probably make him a slot-only player at the next level but he’ll be a pretty good one.

K.J. HAMLER
SOP-PENN ST 5'9 176 LBS PROJ. RD: 2-3
Strengths Weaknesses
Elite short-area quickness, great burst, elusive route runner, explosive footwork, can rev speed & stop on dime, easily gets separation on in-breaking routes, dynamic slot-player, great release Size may limit him to slot-only WR, not great at making catches in traffic, length & strength lacking, active blocker but not consistent in blocking assignments

TYLER JOHNSON, MINNESOTA

13 GP, 86 REC, 1318 YDS, 15.3 Y/REC, 13 TD (2019)

Tyler Johnson is another highly-productive receiver that is balanced all around. He has an excellent ability to contort his body to make the occasional circus catch. Johnson trusts his hands to make every catch and he’s not afraid to get physical at the catch point. Johnson is much more successful finding space in zone defenses and he’ll need to improve his footwork and route salesmanship at the pro level.

TYLER JOHNSON
SR-MINN 6'2 205 LBS PROJ. RD: 2-3
Strengths Weaknesses
Plays like natural WR, top-notch hands, smooth in all movement & agility, controls body well & contorts to make tough catches, wins consistently at catch-point, explosive on the move, stretches the field, not afraid of contact or making catch in traffic, can finish in tight spaces Needs to work on recognition & execution vs. press, needs to improve his release, footwork will look sloppy at times, needs to find consistency in route tree, sell his routes better, & trust his athleticism more

MICHAEL PITTMAN JR, USC

13 GP, 101 REC, 1275 YDS, 12.6 Y/REC, 11 TD, 26 Y/KICK RET (2019)

Michael Pittman Jr. is one of the more intriguing prospects for the Cowboys because he offers a valuable skill set. Not only was he hyper-productive but he’s a pretty good return man, something the Cowboys just don’t have. Pittman doesn’t mind being asked to deliver a block or two in the running game. He sometimes comes off a bit stiff and he’s not the most elusive guy but he’s certainly crafty player who seem sufficient in most areas.

MICHAEL PITTMAN JR.
SR-USC 6'4 219 LBS PROJ. RD: 2-3
Strengths Weaknesses
Great overall athleticism, physicality is evident, very tough & great run blocker, strong runner after catch, makes tough, contested catches regularly, sufficient route runner, tracks well, strong hands, smooth plucker of the football, competitive winner in red zone Not as versatile as desired, needs to develop technique, must improve skill vs. press man, some stiffness in frame, not very elusive, only gradual accelerator, lacks ideal looseness in frame

DONOVAN PEOPLES-JONES, MICHIGAN

11 GP, 34 REC, 438 YDS, 12.9 Y/REC, 6 TD, 7.2 Y/PUNT RET (2019)

Peoples-Jones has the clay to mold into a complete weapon in the pros but he does need quite a bit of work. His best traits are his abilities to work back to his quarterback and make something out of nothing. He was a better return-man in 2018 than he showed in 2019 but this season was a struggle for the Michigan offense. There are many NFL traits there to work with but it’ll take some labor to get there.

DONOVAN PEOPLES-JONES
JR-MICH 6'2 208 LBS PROJ. RD: 3
Strengths Weaknesses
Thick, stoutly-built frame, breaks lots of tackles, shows body control, turns bad balls into big gains, has strength to fend off defenders, long-strider, extends plays, works back to QB, great return specialist False steps too often, dips too much before breaking into his route, too many steps needed & slow accelerator, great underneath receiver but doesn't threaten defense vertically, doesn't free himself fast enough

DENZEL MIMS, BAYLOR

13 GP, 66 REC, 1020 YDS, 15.5 Y/REC, 12 TD (2019)

Denzel Mims really had a phenomenal season despite not having the most accurate passers to get him involved. Mims’ catch-radius is just insane and it’s all thanks to his lengthy frame. He has pad-level issues and will need technique refinement to not show his hand as a route runner but there is a lot to like here. Mims is a terrific athlete and could be a steal in this year’s class.

DENZEL MIMS
SR-BAYLOR 6'3 206 LBS PROJ. RD: 3-4
Strengths Weaknesses
Incredible catch-radius, burst is exceptional, picture-perfect extension & concentration at catch point, protects football, outstanding body control, works back to QB, bad ball catcher, excelled with average accuracy from QB, length for days, solid route runner, excellent athlete Needs to refine technique, pad-level issues cause him to make critical route errors at times, average upper-body strength, needs to work on lapses in effort