Battle for WR3
CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy. Those are the names of the consensus top two wide receivers in this draft class. There are, of course, a few outliers but mostly anybody you ask will tell you Lamb and Jeudy are at the top of this WR class. Once you ask them who falls after them in the 3rd spot however, things get more interesting. A good amount will tell you speed demon Henry Ruggs III is WR3. After a dominate combine performance, some are now saying Baylor’s Denzel Mims falls in that spot. There are countless opinions on who deserves to be the third receiver taken in this class. To add more fuel to the fire, I’m going to make a case for each of them here. Let’s dig in.
My Personal Choice: Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
There is so much to like when watching Ruggs. Obviously the first thing you think about is his speed and deservedly so. However, he is so much more than that as a receiver. The John Ross comparison simply doesn’t work with Ruggs. He’s so much stronger then he appears at 6’0”, 190 lbs. While Ruggs is a real threat in contested catch situations, he could be so much better in the area if he used more physicality. I believe he has the strength to be physical but oftentimes doesn’t exhibit that on the field.
Another major plus to Ruggs’ game is his release ability. He’s aggressive with his hands in this area and it works really well for him; the more experience and coaching he gets in this part of his game will only make him more of a threat. His hands are elite in my eyes, he doesn’t have many issues with route running, and of course, his speed is simply hard to find. Yes, Ruggs is a burner BUT he is also a very well rounded, his speed is not his only asset.
The Riser: Denzel Mims, Baylor
Heading into Combine week there was just about nobody considering Mims as a top 3 receiver in this draft class. Mims made sure that narrative changed completely. I was excited to see him perform in Indy but in no way was I expecting a 4.38 at 207 lbs. In addition to his blazing 40, Mims put up a 6.66 in the 3 cone drill, which is quite frankly absurd. Add in a 38.5” vertical and a great performance in receiver drills and you have officially boosted your draft stock to the moon.
Mims is also yet another case of a receiver being so much more than a fast 40 time. He very quickly earned a Dez Bryant comparison from me. His combination of size and speed, his massive catch radius, his above the rim ability, the guy just moves and plays exactly like Dez. He has some of the longest strides you will see when running routes and really uses his size to his advantage all over the field. Possibly my favorite part of his game is his blocking.
Yes, his blocking.
He’s talked about that area of his game a lot and it stands out on the field. He plays with great technique, and once again he uses his size to his advantage. Mims has a real shot at being taken in the first round and if one team feels they really need a bigger receiver like him, he could be the 3rd receiver off the board in April.
The Underrated: Jalen Reagor, TCU
If this man played at Alabama or LSU he would be getting talked about as a clear cut first round talent. Reagor was hurt by bad quarterbacking more than any receiver in the country in my eyes. The key word to describe Reagor is explosive. He showcased his explosiveness on the field in Fort Worth and in Indianapolis a couple weeks ago. A 42” vertical and an 11.5’ broad jump is crazy. It isn’t a 4.25 and won’t get the talk that that 40 time would but it’s arguably just as impressive.
You want a Deebo Samuel type of player? Here is your guy. He’s super fluid, smooth if you will. He can be used in all sorts of ways just like how Kyle Shanahan used Samuel last season. His incredibly strong lower body gives him the explosion to compete in above the rim plays despite only being 5’11”. His long speed got him separation consistently at TCU: he was always open deep downfield, a huge home-run threat at all times. Reagor, just like every prospect (excluding Joe Burrow), has some flaws that I worry about. His hands aren’t the best and he frequently used his body more than his hands to make catches. I’d describe his route running as untapped potential. He ran a very simple route tree with the Horned Frogs and it will be a learning curve at the next level but I think he has a chance to become a solid route runner. He struggles with physical corners sometimes and can’t separate off the line against press all that well but I still think these are things he can work out over time.
It’s a copycat league, and teams that see the success that some organizations are having with versatile receivers will find that Reagor matches that build. It wouldn’t shock me in the least to see him go higher then the consensus is right now.
Honorable mentions: Justin Jefferson, LSU; Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado; Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State.