2023 NFL Draft Big Board: Wide receiver
Only 10 months ago, ESPN’s Todd McShay projected Smith-Njigba to be the fourth overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft.
“It’s very possible he is a better prospect than Garrett Wilson or Chris Olave,” he wrote.
At the time, Smith-Njigba was fresh off a 1,606-yard season, which included a record 347 receiving yards during the Rose Bowl. The wideout missed the majority of his junior season with a hamstring injury, but there is very little reason to doubt the 21-year-old receiver.
At the NFL combine, he led all prospects with a 6.57-second three-cone drill, and his 3.93-second 20-yard shuttle was the fastest since 2017.
In 2021, Addison posted 100 receptions for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns at Pittsburgh. Following the season, he transferred to USC. In his lone year with Trojans, Addison was good, but he did not replicate his previous production. He had 59 receptions for 875 yards and eight touchdowns.
Addison is an excellent route runner. With a combination of great footwork and quickness, he routinely creates separation.
Addison should be an immediate impact player in the NFL.
Evaluating Johnston was an interesting experience. On tape, the explosiveness is obviously there. He has an unreal combination of size and speed, and he is not afraid of contact.
However, his inconsistency to make contested catches is a real concern. At 6-foot-3, any team drafting Johnston would likely view him as an outside receiver and red-zone target.
Johnston did put up 1,069 receiving yards last season. However, he was also put in an ideal position to succeed, playing with Heisman runner-up Max Duggan in a top-10 scoring offense.
Regardless, the flashes are there. He creates separation, and he did show off his hands with a few highlight grabs. At the combine, he recorded a 40.5-inch vertical.
A team will draft Johnston in the first round, and understandably, the upside is there. In a deep wide receiver class, I personally would feel better waiting for later options.
Disclaimer: I have been on the Trey Palmer hype train for months:
Despite subpar quarterback play at Nebraska, Palmer had a historic season for the Cornhuskers. He broke program records for single-season receiving yards (1,043) and single-game receiving yards (243).
With the defense keyed in on him, he continually got open.
I had Palmer slotted as a great Day 2 pick. Then, he ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash at the combine, which led all wide receivers.
This ranking may seem high, right now, but Palmer has all the tools to be a star wide receiver in the NFL.
This was a tough call. Jalin Hyatt and Zay Flowers are both intriguing prospects, but I went with Dell here.
At Houston, Dell was unguardable. In 2022, he led the FBS in receiving yards (1,398) and receiving touchdowns (17).
In the 2021 AAC Championship Game, he put on a show against Sauce Gardner and Cincinnati. Dell had nine receptions for 152 yards and a touchdown.
Honorable mentions: Jalin Hyatt, Zay Flowers, Charlie Jones