CollegeFootballNews.com Preview 2017: Top 20 Wide Receivers
Who are the best wide receivers coming into the college football season? Here are the projected 20 top guys
Preview 2017: Top 20 Wide Receivers
Who are the best wide receivers coming into the 2017 college football season? This is a projection of the top COLLEGE players, and not necessarily the best pro prospects. Talent, of course, matters, but this is about looking ahead at who will be the top 20 this year.
20. Allenzae Staggers, Sr. Southern Miss
When we last saw the 6-1, 190-pound top target for the Golden Eagles, he was destroying Louisiana-Lafayette in the New Orleans Bowl with 11 catches for 230 yards and a score. Steady throughout last season he caught 62 passes for 1,157 yards and seven TDs, averaging close to 19 yards per grab. He’s also a dangerous punt returner, too.
19. Auden Tate, Jr. Florida State
Look … out. The 6-5, 225-pound matchup nightmare has NFL size and upside, but now he needs the ball more. He only caught 25 passes for 409 yards and six scores, but the talent is there to be one of the nation’s breakout stars.
18. Nick Westbrook, Jr. Indiana
One of the nation’s most dangerous combinations of size and deep skills, the 6-3, 215-pounder rose up and rocked with a team-leading 54 catches for 995 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 18.4 yards per grab.
17. Corey Willis, Sr. Central Michigan
The CMU offense should be fantastic if Michigan QB Shane Morris is great right away. The 5-10, 175-pound Willis led the team with 71 catches for 1,087 yards and nine scores.
16. Cedrick Wilson, Sr. Boise State
With leading receiver Thomas Sperbeck gone, Wilson should explode as Brett Rypien’s top target. Wilson was the team’s most dangerous receiver and now, look out after averaging over 20 yards per catch with 1,129 yards and 11 scores.
15. Linell Bonner, Sr. Houston
Can he start scoring touchdowns under the new coaching staff? He’s an ultra-reliable 98-catch receiver, but he only caught three touchdown passes after scoring five times as a freshman. When he’s on – 17 catches against Memphis, 13 against Tulsa – he grabs everything.
14. J’Mon Moore, Sr. Missouri
The top target among a fantastic group of young Tiger receivers for QB Drew Lock, the 6-3, 205-pound deep threat has the size and the home run hitting skills catching 62 passes for 1,012 yards and eight scores.
13. N’Keal Harry, Soph. Arizona State
The sky’s the limit. All the freakish 6-4, 220-pounder needs is consistent quarterback play after coming up with 58 catches for 659 yards and five scores – and rushing for two touchdowns – as a freshman.
12. Cody Thompson, Sr. Toledo
The Rockets will have one of the nation’s most dangerous passing games, and Thompson will be the unstoppable star coming off a 64-catch, 1,269-yard, 11-score season averaging almost 20 yards per catch.
11. Michael Gallup, Sr. Colorado State
One of the nation’s hottest receivers at the end of last season, expect more of that. Gallup ended with five straight 100-yard games with six scores in his last two games. Get ready to watch him blow up for one of the Mountain West’s most dangerous teams.
10. Deon Cain, Jr. Clemson
The Next Superstar Clemson Receiver Up has to be the main man with Mike Williams, Artavis Scott and Jordan Leggett gone. CFP star Hunter Renfrow is back, but Cain should shine after averaging over 19 yards per catch on 38 grabs for 724 yards and nine scores.
9. Equanimeous St. Brown, Jr. Notre Dame
More steady than sensational, he’s still an elite pro prospect with his 6-5, 205-pound size and next level skills. He led the Irish with 58 catches for 961 yards and nine scores – averaging 16.6 yards per grab – but he doesn’t have DeShone Kizer throwing to him now.
8. Richie James, Soph. MTSU
The Middle Tennessee offense will be among the best in the nation – the passing game will push the 4,500-yard mark – and the 5-9, 180-pound James will be the unstoppable main man after catching 105 passes for 1,625 yards and 12 scores, running for four scores, and even hitting 6-of-7 throws.
7. Allen Lazard, Sr. Iowa State
It was a massive shocker that he chose to come back for his final year as the star of the Cyclone offense. While 6-5, 223-pound all-star target’s 69 catches for 1,018 yards and seven scores might seem tame by Big 12 standards, he was dominant late in the year. It’ll all continue.
6. Calvin Ridley, Jr. Alabama
He didn’t do enough down the field averaging just 10.7 yards per catch, but he was still terrific making 72 catches for 769 yards and seven scores. While he’s a pass catching machine with 161 grabs in two years, now he has to be more dangerous.
5. Antonio Callaway, Jr. Florida
Can he stay out of trouble and stay on the field? While the overall numbers might not be there, he’s still going to be among the most dangerous players in college football – especially with Malik Zaire throwing to him now. He only caught 54 passes for 721 yards and three scores and ran for a touchdown, and he’s still an elite return man.
4. Dante Pettis, Sr. Washington
John Ross got the national attention as one of college football’s premier deep threats, but Pettis averaged more yards per catch – 15.5 to 14.2 – on 53 grabs for 822 yards and 15 scores. Now this is his receiving corps.
3. Christian Kirk, Jr. Texas A&M
The Aggies have been loaded with terrific receivers over the last few years, but it’s Kirk who stood out from the pack doing a little of everything right. Even though he’s explosive, he was more of a midrange guy last year catching 83 passes for 928 yards and nine scores, and he was an unstoppable return man taking three punts for touchdowns.
2. Courtland Sutton, Jr. SMU
Are you ready for this year’s Corey Davis-like Group of Five receiver star who’ll be a top draft pick? Welcome to the 6-4, 215-pound Courtland Sutton, who started out with a nice first season averaging 17.6 yards per catch with nine scores. And then the fun started, ripping up the AAC with 76 catches for 1,246 yards and ten touchdowns, highlighted by a destruction of USF for 252 yards and two scores on 13 catches.
1. James Washington, Sr. Oklahoma State
Jalen McCleskey might have led the Cowboys in catches, and Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook might have been the Big 12’s star, but Washington still lived up to the hype, and then some, catching 71 passes for 1,380 yards and ten scores.
The ultimate deep threat, the 6-0, 205-pound speedster works amazingly well with Mason Rudolph, hitting the 100-yard mark six times with 296 yards and two scores in the loss to Pitt. Expect another year averaging close to 20 yards per catch, and another year when he takes over games in Big 12 shootouts.