NFL Draft Wide Receiver Rankings 2022: From The College Perspective

Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Draft Wide Receiver Rankings 2022: From The College Perspective


NFL Draft Wide Receiver Rankings 2022: From The College Perspective


Who are the wide receivers who’ll matter in the 2022 NFL Draft, and what’s the college perspective on all of the top prospects?

2022 NFL Draft Wide Receiver Rankings

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If wide receiver isn’t the deepest position in the 2022 NFL Draft, it’s right up there with offensive tackle and edge rusher.

There’s a little something for everyone with lots of speed, good size, and options to fit whatever is needed. Is there a need to invest in a good one in the early first round? No, even though Ja’Marr Chase screwed up everyone who wants an instant impact target.

However, several teams with multiple picks will go for it, and some teams will have to wait for the payoff with a few injured superstar prospects.

No, there isn’t a Chase in this group, but there are plenty of No. 1 targets and instant impact prospects to choose from.

2022 Top Quarterback Prospects: From The College Perspective

Alec Pierce, Cincinnati

Size: 6-3, 211

The Good: There’s a tremendous combination of size, strength, and deep speed that can work in any offense. A big-time all-around athlete, he’s got the traits to muscle his way for contested catches.

He averaged 17 yards per catch last season with a 144-yard day against Notre Dame, 86 yards and a touchdown against Indiana, and with five touchdown grabs down the stretch of the regular season. However …

The Not-So-Good: What’s his role going to be? He’s got 4.4 speed, but he’s not going to blow past NFL corners on the outside. He’s tough, but he’s not exactly shifty enough to be a volume catcher – he only made more than three grabs six times last season.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: He won’t be anyone’s No. 1 target, but he’s got too many all-around skills and positive traits to keep him off the field. He’ll be a piece-of-the-puzzle target who’ll always find a gig.

NFL Draft Projection: Fourth Round

Wan’Dale Robinson, Kentucky

Size: 5-8, 178

The Good: Good for Nebraska, he broke out in his one year at Kentucky with 104 catches for 1,334 yards and seven scores. He’s got the ability to be a jack-of-all-trades with the craftiness to always find his way open as a slot receiver and the quickness to avoid the big shot. The deep speed is there to work in a variety of ways, but …

The Not-So-Good: He’s not big, he’s not all that physical, and he’s not quite the blazer you might like for a player with no bulk. While he was mega-productive last year for Kentucky, he had too many games when he couldn’t seem to shake free and do anything big. There were too many catches that went nowhere, but …

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: Welcome to an instant starter as a No. 3 wide receiver who can run routes, get in the open in the middle of the field, and be reliable to be where the quarterback needs him to be. Many will try to make him out to be what he’s not – he’s not quite fast enough be much of a runner – but he’ll make a whole lot of grabs.

NFL Draft Projection: Third Round

Calvin Austin, Memphis

Size: 5-8, 170

The Good: He’s an NFL-caliber skill guy from Memphis – he can move. Way small, he makes up for it with his explosiveness and 4.3 speed averaging over 16 yards per catch and occasionally getting the ball as a runner.

He can be a volume catcher if needed, but that’s not why you called. He plays big, he comes up with big plays, and …

The Not-So-Good: He’s not big. Forget about any sort of physical side to his game, because there isn’t any. He’ll be bullied by any strong NFL defensive back, there’s not enough of a catch radius, and he’ll need to get the ball on the move – again, he’s not breaking through anyone.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: Use him as a return man. Use him in the slot. Use him as a runner. Use him and all that speed and upside in a variety of ways and he’ll grow into a gamebreaker. He’ll do anything you need, and that includes being among the vapor trail speedsters in this draft.

NFL Draft Projection: Third Round

George Pickens, Georgia

Size: 6-3, 195

The Good: A superstar recruit, he looked like he was about to blow up into an elite college receiver before suffering a torn ACL last offseason. On the plus side, he was able to get back on the field, and he’ll be more than a year out from the injury once he hits an NFL camp.

His speed is there to go along with the great frame and deep ability. Not just a downfield threat, he’s got the hands and route running upside to use in a variety of ways.

The Not-So-Good: There was a bit more sizzle than steak when he was healthy. The knee injury kept him from progressing into what looked to be a breakout year, but he was way too inconsistent before that.

It wasn’t necessarily his fault – he worked fine in the function of the offense – but he didn’t have a 100-yard game as a freshman until the bowl win over Baylor, and he didn’t get rolling in the shortened 2020 until the final two games – his only 100-yard efforts of the season.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: He’s not exactly a boom-or-bust prospect. It’s more like he’s a wait-and-see guy. There’s enough pop, explosion, talent, and want-to to turn himself into something special, but for such a well-known prospect he’s still bit of a projection.

NFL Draft Projection: Third Round

David Bell, Purdue

Size: 6-1, 212

The Good: Ultra-productive, you have to look past the negatives and get to the basics – can he play or not? He caught 232 passes for almost 3,000 yards and 21 touchdowns in his three years, was amazing from Day One, was arguably the best receiver in college football last year, and he’s got the hands, the route running ability, and the want-to of a go-to receiver. However …

The Not-So-Good: Slooowwwwwww. The 4.65 40 is a problem, the 6-1, 212-pound body type isn’t ideal, and he’s missing the NFL-caliber tools and quickness. While he’s tough and strong, he’s not a Deebo Samuel-type of blaster with the ball in his hands. Again, the raw wheels aren’t there to beat up NFL defensive backs with any sort of athleticism. However …

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: Bell will be an interesting test case because the scouting community will dump all over him as a prospect. However, some NFL football coach out there is going to fall in love.

Yeah, the Purdue offense was a part of it, but you don’t crank up 240 yards against the 2021 Iowa secondary and come up with 18 100-yard days in 29 games on a Big Ten team if you can’t ball. He’ll be a possession target, but he’ll be a good one.

NFL Draft Projection: Fourth Round

Skyy Moore, Western Michigan

Size: 5-10, 195

The Good: He’s a fun playmaker who can make a whole lot of catches in a whole lot of ways. While he only averaged 13.5 yards per grab last season, he’s dangerous enough to take over when he gets the ball in his hands. Best of all, he’s still getting better. He went from very good to dominant – especially when it came time to get into the end zone – with the upside to do even more.

The Not-So-Good: While he’s fast enough and quick enough, he’s not necessarily a blazer for his size and might have to live life as a midrange inside receiver. Yeah, he caught 11 passes for 124 yards and a score against Pitt – but who didn’t? – with most of his production coming against the MAC. And yes, he became more of a scorer, but eight of his ten touchdowns last season came in three games.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: He’s going to be a bit overloved as the Best Kept Secret type of receiver that everyone wants, but it might take a top 50 pick to get him – that’s a bit high in this class. Make no mistake about it, he’s really, really good, and he’s going to be productive for a long time, but he’s missing that extra gear to be a No. 1 NFL go-to guy.

NFL Draft Projection: Second Round

John Metchie, Alabama

Size: 5-11, 187

The Good: When he’s healthy and all things are okay with his knee, he’s going to be as reliable a No. 2 target as any in this draft. Obviously coached well, he’s another sharp Alabama route runner who makes up for his lack of blazing wheels – at least compared to other former superstar Tide targets – by always getting open with precise cuts and a power game that belies his lack of bulk.

The Not-So-Good: It’s going to take some time. He’s pushing to be back earlier, but he just suffered his torn ACL in early December – the payoff could be a little while. Even at 100% he’s not quite the jaw-dropping athlete to stand out among this group of receivers and might have a hard-ceiling as a No. 2 target. However …

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: He’ll be a great value get if he slides after the third round. A midrange receiver, he’ll be a quarterback’s best friend with his ultra-reliable route running and versatility to produce no matter where he lines up. Again, though, it might take a year to get there.

NFL Draft Projection: Fourth Round

Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama

Size: 6-1, 194

The Good: He’s got a great blend of size, speed, and big play ability averaging close to 18 yards per catch with 22 touchdowns over the last three seasons. Not to dog the Sun Belt, but Tolbert wasn’t just strong against the conference teams. He lit up Tennessee last year to go along with huge games against Coastal Carolina, Louisiana, and Appalachian State.

Fluid, has another gear, and he can fly on the outside – he’s going to be an NFL deep threat.

The Not-So-Good: He’s not the most physical target around, but that’s not why you’re getting him. He’ll get bullied a bit, and he’s not exactly built to be too much of a slot target – that’s not his game. And yes, he was great in the big games and cranked up the consistent big plays, but he scored in streaks – six of his eight touchdowns last year came in a four game stretch.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: He’s going to go just after the top 100 picks, and he’ll turn into a safe, solid No. 3 receiver who can fit into any game plan. He’s not going to dominate at the next level, but he’ll catch a lot of passes and make a whole bunch of plays for the next several years.

NFL Draft Projection: Third Round

Christian Watson, North Dakota State

Size: 6-4, 208

The Good: All the NFL measurables are there. He’s 6-4 runs a shade over a 4.3, and he can jump out of the stadium. Not just a deep threat, he’s able to go inside or out, he’s strong enough to fight for balls, and he’ll get anything you throw up in the air at him.

He averaged close to 19 yards per catch last season, but again, he’ll be more than that at the next level.

The Not-So-Good: Most of the concerns should be worked out with a little more time. He’s not the cleanest of route runners, and he’ll need to get more of the subtleties down – he won’t be able to get by on sheer athleticism and talent quite as much.

He wasn’t much of a volume catcher at North Dakota State – he only came up with more than four grabs twice – and only hit the 100-yard mark two times last season.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: Don’t start assuming he’s the next Calvin Johnson or anything quite yet, but the combination of talent, upside, work ethic, and jaw-dropping athleticism is more than enough to take a chance that he’s going to be special.

NFL Draft Projection: Second Round

Treylon Burks, Arkansas

Size: 6-2, 225

The Good: There’s a whole lot of good stuff to his game. He’s not tall and lanky – he’s built more like an H-Back – but he he’s smooth as glass with his style of play. Combine that with his size, and he’s going to give a whole lot of NFL defensive backs a whole lot of bad days.

There were times when he was shut down, but he did just fine averaging over 16 yards per catch despite being the focus of every SEC secondary. He ripped up Alabama for 179 yards and two scores, hit Texas A&M for 167 yards, and he was used at times over his three years as a ball-carrier, too.

The Not-So-Good: There’s no questioning his NFL athleticism, but he’s not quite the bulldog he might need to be at the next level considering his body type. He’s also missing the true hyperdrive speed as a true 4.5 runner in a class loaded with blazers.

And yeah, he crushed some strong secondaries over the last few years – he wore Missouri as a hat – but he was also erased at times. Georgia and LSU were able to limit him last year.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: A different type of target in this draft, he’s going to make a whole lot of plays as a versatile receiver who can do anything needed. There’s No. 1 ability there to his game if you go by your eyes and not the NFL combine workout.

NFL Draft Projection: First Round

Jahan Dotson, Penn State

Size: 5-11, 178

The Good: Dangerous, he was able to take over games at times last year. He ripped Maryland apart, was terrific against Ohio State, and he pulled off strong performances against Wisconsin and Michigan State.

He’ll be pegged as a deep threat, but he was a volume target last year who can make plays on the inside or be used as a home run hitter in an offense that can utilize his athleticism and speed.

The Not-So-Good: Yeah, he’s a fast, quick, ultra-smooth target, but in this class he’s not quite explosive enough for his size. There’s nothing slow about how he plays, but a 4.43 isn’t special in this year’s crop of targets.

He’s not quite freakishly fast enough to be a devastating deep threat, and he’s not bulky enough to be a sure-thing go-to guy on the inside, but …

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: He’ll be a pro’s pro with the potential to become a true No. 1 go-to guy. He might be a wee bit overdrafted – at least among this strong group of receivers – and he’s not going to be the take-the-top-off guy some talking heads are making him out to be, but he fits as a playmaking target who’ll be as dependable as they come no matter how he’s used.

NFL Draft Projection: Second Round

Jameson Williams, Alabama

Size: 6-1, 179

The Good: Fast, fast, fast, fast, FAST. He started out at Ohio State before moving over to Alabama where he blew up last season with 79 catches for almost 1,600 yards and 15 scores before tearing his ACL in the national title game.

He crushed Georgia for 184 yards and two scores in the SEC Championship, blew up for three scored against Arkansas, and blazed his way to close to 20 yards per grab with big play after big play after big play.

Yeah, he might need a little while to get back to 100%, but the payoff is enormous. If nothing else, he should be one of the NFL’s premier deep threats.

The Not-So-Good: Is he a one-trick guy? He caught plenty of passes at Alabama, but he’s not a physical route runner and he’s not going to do too much when battling with the stronger NFL corners. It’s not a bad thing to be a snap-and-go receiver – and that’s not fair; he can do more – but he only came up with one year of production.

He couldn’t do much to crack the lineup at Ohio State with just 15 catches for 266 yards and three scores in his two seasons.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: Who doesn’t want a guy who could average over 20 yards per catch and change a game or five with one play? It might take a full year to get him going, but he’s got the upside to be the premier deep threat in the NFL – and maybe even more.

NFL Draft Projection: First Round

Drake London, USC

Size: 6-4, 219

The Good: Just throw the ball at him and he’ll go and get it.

There’s more than enough functional speed to go along with his size, tracking ability, and hands. It starts with a great catching radius, continues with the want-to for the ball, and throw in the effort on every play to try making something happen.

He suffered an ankle injury late last season, but he still made 88 catches for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns in just eight games. He ripped Utah to shreds with 16 catches for 162 yards, and he powered through Notre Dame for 171 yards on 15 grabs.

Make him a volume catcher, make him an automatic producer around the goal line, and make him your No. 1 receiver. He’ll go and get the ball, but …

The Not-So-Good: Don’t watch film of him after looking at, say, Chris Olave.

There isn’t anything all that smooth about his game, the deep speed isn’t there, and the yards after the catch probably won’t be there. He’ll make every play necessary on the short-to-midrange throws, but you’re going to need to surround him with speed and a whole lot of quickness.

The one other concern will be how his game translates. He was able to outmuscle guys in the Pac-12, but there won’t be a whole lot of separation in the NFL, and he won’t be quite as good at beating up defensive backs for the ball.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: He’s going to be a much tougher call than it might seem.

Of course he’s going to be good, but it might take a 20ish overall pick to get a guy who’ll be more of a tough guy, business-like target than anything spectacular. Basically, you’ll have to pass on some electrifying home run prospects to take the rock solid standup double – and you’re going to be happy you did.

The BOOM might not be there, but there’s little to no bust potential for a next-level, tone-setting volume-catching main man for your attack.

NFL Draft Projection: First Round

Chris Olave, Ohio State

Size: 6-0, 187

The Good: 4.39. Start with the raw speed and quickness and go from there.

Beautiful in his route running, he makes it all look like he’s giving minimum effort – in a positive way – all while flying past his guy to get open.

He’s got all of the NFL tools with his feet, hands, and experience as an ultra-productive go-to guy on a team full of ultra-productive go-to guys.

At worst, he’s a deep threat who needs at least one go route per game coming his way.

The Not-So-Good: There’s nothing even slightly physical about his game. Forget about him as a blocker, and physical NFL corners should be able to erase him with any sort of jam or bump.

There’s also the slight concern about the offense he’s coming from. He might have been a standout, but so were all of the other receivers around him. The attention was there from opposing defenses, but he wasn’t always the No. 1 concern. He was able to rip through defenses by simply being far more athletic, but …

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: Don’t overthink this. Draft him, put him on the field, and let him grow into either a high-end No. 2 or a go-to 1 depending on the guys around him. He moves like NFL receivers are supposed to.

NFL Draft Projection: First Round

Garrett Wilson, Ohio State

Size: 6-0, 183

The Good: There might be some things to work on, but most of them are overcome by his 4.38 speed and incredible burst.

The scary part is that he can take his game up a few notches. Once he gets his footwork down a little better and is just a tad more consistent as a route runner – he’s not quite Chris Olave when it comes to fluidity – he can get to a whole other level.

As is he’s more than fine. He’s got a rare ability to get in and out of jams in a blip with his ultra-quickness. Consistent even when he wasn’t getting the ball, he showed early in 2020 and late in the 2021 season that he can step up and be the No. 1 guy, but …

The Not-So-Good: He was part of an amazing group of receivers and rarely got pushed around. He’ll get beaten up at times as an inside target and he’s not going to push anyone around – but he’ll fight for plays. He was able to get away with his incredible explosion at the college level – that’s not going to fly all the time against the quicker NFL corners.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: First of all, how impressive is it that the – likely – two best wide receivers in this year’s draft still aren’t as strong as the guy who’s still at Ohio State? Jaxon Smith-Njigba will be one of the stars of next year’s class, but for now, Wilson should be the standout of the bunch with just a little bit of tweaking.

Yeah, he’s not as textbook with his mechanics as some coaches might like, but whatever – the guy still gets the job done. No, he’s not all that physical with his frame and size, but he’s a battler who’ll go and get everything thrown his way.

All of the nitpicky problems are fixable. He’ll step up and shine even brighter when he gets the ball thrown his way more.

NFL Draft Projection: Top 15 overall

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