2020 NFL Draft: Two stats that showcase the incredible depth of the wide receiver class

Throughout last season, draft experts everywhere were practically gushing about the 2020 wide receiver class. Not only was there rare strength at the top of the class, but there was also incredible depth that would allow teams to find quality starters deep into the middle rounds. 

Three weeks ahead of the draft, our experts at CBSSports.com have nine receivers ranked among their top 50 players, and 18 ranked among their top 100. And if you head over to our mock draft page, you’ll see that at least six receivers come off the board in the first round of six of the seven mocks, with several of them actually including seven first-round wideouts. 

Since the league expanded to 32 teams back in 2002, there have been at least six receivers selected in the first round five different times: 2004 (7), 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2015. So, if a high volume of wideouts do come off the board on the first day of the draft this year, it won’t exactly be unprecedented. But when you consider that since 2010, a six-receiver first round has only happened once (2015) and that the past four years have seen only four, three, two, and two selected on the first day, this year’s class does seem unusually strong. 


Pro Football Focus/3SigmaAthlete

Using a combination of data from Pro Football Focus (Yards Per Route Run, or YRR) and 3SigmaAthlete.com (an approximation of Nike’s SPARQ metric, which measures an athlete’s Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction, and Quickness) allows us to highlight just what a special class this really is. 

Among the 21 receivers for whom there is available data for both measurements, more than half of them scored above-average in both categories. Those 11 players (highlighted in the green area above):

  • CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma)
  • Brandon Aiyuk (Arizona St)
  • Devin Duvernay (Texas)
  • Antonio Gandy-Golden (Liberty)
  • Isaiah Hodgins (Oregon St)
  • Justin Jefferson (LSU)
  • John Hightower (Boise St)
  • Chase Claypool (Notre Dame)
  • Henry Ruggs (Alabama)
  • Denzel Mims (Baylor)
  • Michael Pittman (USC)

Another four players rated above-average in production (YRR) and below-average in athleticism (highlighted in the blue area above):

  • Jerry Jeudy (Alabama)
  • Jauan Jennings (Tennessee)
  • Gabriel Davis (UCF)
  • Austin Mack (Ohio St)

And five of them had above-average athleticism metrics with below-average production (highlighted in the yellow area above):

  • Tyrie Cleveland (Florida)
  • Donovan Peoples-Jones (Michigan)
  • Kalija Lipscomb (Vanderbilt)
  • Quartney Davis (Texas A&M)
  • Jalen Reagor (TCU)

That leaves only one player out of 21 that checked in with below-average athleticism and below-average production during his final collegiate season: Ohio State’s K.J. Hill. 

There are nine additional receivers for whom there is available Yards Per Route Run data but no SPARQ grades because they did not participate in the NFL Draft Combine: Laviska Shenault (Colorado), Lynn Bowden Jr. (Kentucky), James Proche (SMU), Collin Johnson (Texas), Tyler Johnson (Minnesota), Van Jefferson (Florida), K.J. Hamler (Penn St), Tee Higgins (Clemson), and Bryan Edwards (South Carolina). All nine had above-average YRR numbers, which means they’d automatically go into the green or blue areas in the chart above. Finally, there are 22 wideouts for whom there is available SPARQ data but not YRR, with 13 of those players rating above-average in athleticism (green or yellow) and nine below-average (yellow or white). 

So, out of 52 receivers for whom there is some form of data or another available, there is only one that we know graded out as a below-average athlete with below-average production, and only nine more for whom that is even a possibility. That means 81 percent of the available receivers are guaranteed to be above-average athletes (between 29 and 38 players), above-average producers (between 24 and 37 players), or both (between 11 and 33 players). That’s pretty damn good. 

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