[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.]
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|
|HENRY RUGGS III||ALABAMA||17||1||1716||98||24||17.5|
|LAVISHKA SHENAULT JR||COLORADO||28||1-2||1943||149||42||13|
|BRANDON AIYUK||ARIZONA STATE||49||2||1666||98||11||17|
|BRYAN EDWARDS||S. CAROLINA||60||2-3||3045||234||22||13|
|MICHAEL PITTMAN JR.||USC||72||3||2519||171||19||14.7|
|KJ HAMLER||PENN STATE||76||3||1658||98||13||16.9|
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.
|JR- OKLA||6'2 189 LBS||PROJ. RD: 1|
|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.
|JR-ALABAMA||6'1 192 LBS||PROJ. RD: 1|
|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|
|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|
|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.
|JR-TCU||5'11 195 LBS||PROJ. RD: 1-2|
|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.
|SR-LSU||6'3 192 LBS||PROJ. RD: 2|
|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.
|SR-ARZ STATE||6'0 201 LBS||PROJ. RD: 2|
|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.
|SOP-PENN ST||5'9 176 LBS||PROJ. RD: 2-3|
|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.
|SR-MINN||6'2 205 LBS||PROJ. RD: 2-3|
|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|
|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.
|JR-MICH||6'2 208 LBS||PROJ. RD: 3|
|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.
|SR-BAYLOR||6'3 206 LBS||PROJ. RD: 3-4|
|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|