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Scouting Through Stats: What WROPS can teach us about the receivers in the 2020 Draft

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Tape doesn’t lie, but neither do numbers. Take a look at the receivers in the 2020 draft under the WROPS microscope.

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

Wide receivers require a lot of scouting. A good quarterback or scheme can blow up a player’s college stats, and a bad QB can completely undermine otherwise talented players in terms of production. That said, scouting the soft skills is always a tricky business and is as subjective as anything in football. You can’t ignore scouting, but you can’t totally rely on it either.

I like to work on more solid footing, and so this year I’ve taken WROPS and applied it to everyone in Division 1 with at least 30 receptions. WROPS relies on catch percentage, and for NCAA numbers I relied on Rotowire’s reasonably priced and easily sortable numbers. WROPS takes and weights catch percentage and yards per reception into a single number, designed to mimic baseball’s OPS statistic. WROPS can be broken into WROBP (catch percentage) and WRSLG (yards per reception). Combining the two identifies receivers who catch a high percentage of balls and do a lot of damage with the balls they catch. You can read more about it here.

WROPS 2019

Name WROBP WRSLG WROPS
Name WROBP WRSLG WROPS
Geraud Sanders 0.321 0.821 1.142
CeeDee Lamb 0.396 0.706 1.102
Ja'Marr Chase 0.405 0.686 1.091
Tee Higgins 0.420 0.657 1.077
DeVonta Smith 0.448 0.610 1.058
Antonio Gibson 0.407 0.638 1.045
Simi Fehoko 0.267 0.778 1.045
Tarique Milton 0.362 0.681 1.043
Rashod Bateman 0.367 0.670 1.038
Henry Ruggs III 0.414 0.615 1.029
Kendall Parham 0.328 0.692 1.020
Reggie Roberson 0.403 0.616 1.019
Dyami Brown 0.340 0.669 1.009
Chatarius Atwell 0.391 0.608 0.999
Marquez Callaway 0.300 0.699 0.999
Tamorrion Terry 0.343 0.653 0.996
Austin Watkins 0.364 0.632 0.996
Brandon Aiyuk 0.379 0.605 0.984
JD Spielman 0.377 0.605 0.982
Charleston Rambo 0.410 0.570 0.980
Nico Collins 0.326 0.650 0.977
Quez Watkins 0.369 0.607 0.977
Omar Bayless 0.387 0.587 0.974
Frank Darby 0.315 0.656 0.971
Bryce Mitchell 0.328 0.640 0.968
Justin Jefferson 0.502 0.464 0.966
Austin Maloney 0.325 0.639 0.964
Chris Olave 0.387 0.572 0.959
Isaiah Hamilton 0.403 0.551 0.954
Kylen Granson 0.397 0.553 0.950
Josh Imatorbhebhe 0.314 0.634 0.948
John Hightower 0.336 0.610 0.946
Isiah Cox 0.377 0.561 0.938
Tyquan Thornton 0.365 0.573 0.938
Arthur Jackson 0.412 0.525 0.937
Griffin Hebert 0.346 0.591 0.937
Binjimen Victor 0.396 0.540 0.936
Tyler Johnson 0.426 0.506 0.932
Tylan Wallace 0.370 0.562 0.932
Corey Sutton 0.447 0.484 0.931
Quian Williams 0.511 0.419 0.931
Isaiah McKoy 0.415 0.514 0.929
Alec Pierce 0.347 0.582 0.928
Yo'Heinz Tyler 0.312 0.616 0.928
Jauan Jennings 0.385 0.542 0.927
Dez Fitzpatrick 0.323 0.599 0.922
Devin Duvernay 0.489 0.431 0.921
Victor Tucker 0.343 0.577 0.920
Jerry Jeudy 0.420 0.498 0.918
JoJo Ward 0.342 0.576 0.918
Antonio Gandy-Golden 0.334 0.583 0.917
Marlon Williams 0.450 0.464 0.914
Thaddeus Moss 0.494 0.420 0.914
Damonte Coxie 0.359 0.554 0.913
Drake London 0.433 0.480 0.913
Brandon Arconado 0.442 0.469 0.911
Trey McBride 0.500 0.411 0.911
Reggie Todd 0.330 0.578 0.909
Keylon Stokes 0.354 0.554 0.908
Ja'Marcus Bradley 0.409 0.498 0.907
Hunter Bryant 0.380 0.524 0.904
Terrace Marshall Jr. 0.423 0.480 0.903
Marquez Stevenson 0.325 0.576 0.901
Jamarye Joiner 0.364 0.536 0.900
Harrison Bryant 0.390 0.510 0.900
Dante Wright 0.433 0.466 0.899
Erik Ezukanma 0.376 0.522 0.898
Kenny Gainwell 0.502 0.395 0.896
Scotty Washington 0.323 0.572 0.895
Gabriel Davis 0.325 0.569 0.894
Jordan Kress 0.267 0.625 0.891
KJ Hamler 0.357 0.533 0.890
Dazz Newsome 0.424 0.467 0.890
C.J. Johnson 0.334 0.555 0.889
Ihmir Smith-Marsette 0.347 0.542 0.889
Sage Surratt 0.388 0.501 0.889
Hasise Dubois 0.421 0.467 0.888
Tre Walker 0.402 0.485 0.887
Jalen Tolbert 0.249 0.637 0.886
JaCorey Sullivan 0.417 0.468 0.885
Stephon Robinson Jr. 0.351 0.533 0.884
Amon-Ra St. Brown 0.436 0.447 0.882
Trishton Jackson 0.370 0.512 0.882
Quintez Cephus 0.377 0.504 0.881
Antwan Davis 0.430 0.448 0.878
Kendall Hinton 0.425 0.453 0.878
Tre Turner 0.340 0.537 0.877
Whop Philyor 0.404 0.472 0.876
Skyy Moore 0.356 0.519 0.875
Dalton Schoen 0.358 0.516 0.874
Siaosi Mariner 0.357 0.517 0.874
Danzel McKinley-Lewis 0.309 0.564 0.872
Tyrone Scott 0.292 0.580 0.872
Tre Nixon 0.313 0.559 0.872
George Pickens 0.382 0.490 0.871
R.J. Turner 0.391 0.480 0.871
Jalen McCleskey 0.352 0.518 0.871
Brevin Jordan 0.404 0.467 0.871
Juwan Johnson 0.353 0.514 0.867
Jimmy Marshall 0.382 0.484 0.866
Johnny Johnson III 0.380 0.484 0.864
Ronnie Bell 0.343 0.521 0.864
Van Jefferson 0.420 0.442 0.862
Tyrone Tracy 0.322 0.540 0.862
Michael Pittman Jr. 0.446 0.417 0.862
Peyton Hendershot 0.466 0.395 0.860
Laviska Shenault 0.410 0.450 0.860
Kedarian Jones 0.344 0.515 0.859
Matt Bushman 0.376 0.483 0.859
Ty Fryfogle 0.415 0.443 0.858
Devin Asiasi 0.377 0.481 0.858
Dalton Rigdon 0.385 0.472 0.857
Isaiah Hodgins 0.406 0.449 0.856
Ahmarean Brown 0.233 0.622 0.856
Jacob Cowing 0.270 0.585 0.855
Michael Lawrence 0.400 0.454 0.854
Talon Shumway 0.423 0.431 0.853
Chase Claypool 0.333 0.518 0.851
Mathew Sexton 0.358 0.493 0.851
Nick Westbrook 0.400 0.449 0.849
Jhamon Ausbon 0.413 0.436 0.848
Denzel Mims 0.338 0.510 0.848
Cole Tucker 0.386 0.461 0.848
Tony Brown 0.431 0.417 0.847
Collin Johnson 0.362 0.485 0.847
Khalil Shakir 0.390 0.457 0.846
Easop Winston Jr. 0.468 0.377 0.844
Warren Jackson 0.364 0.480 0.843
Deangelo Antoine 0.426 0.417 0.843
Mitchell Brinkman 0.408 0.432 0.840
Romeo Doubs 0.352 0.487 0.839
Cameron Dollar 0.357 0.482 0.839
Travell Harris 0.462 0.376 0.839
Tavaris Harrison 0.314 0.523 0.837
CT Thomas 0.417 0.420 0.837
Cody White 0.374 0.461 0.835
Damon Hazelton 0.274 0.561 0.835
Brycen Hopkins 0.385 0.449 0.834
Kobay White 0.311 0.523 0.834
Brennan Eagles 0.295 0.538 0.834
Jared Smart 0.405 0.428 0.833
Kawaan Baker 0.292 0.541 0.833
Randal Grimes 0.311 0.522 0.833
Caleb Repp 0.415 0.417 0.832
Deshaunte Jones 0.451 0.381 0.832
Kaylon Geiger 0.457 0.374 0.832
Osirus Mitchell 0.341 0.489 0.830
Justin Garrett 0.462 0.368 0.829
Freddie Swain 0.380 0.449 0.829
Tim Jones 0.421 0.408 0.829
Charlie Kolar 0.378 0.451 0.829
Markis McCray 0.421 0.407 0.828
Armani Levias 0.431 0.397 0.828
Jonathan Nance 0.338 0.488 0.826
Bailey Gaither 0.309 0.515 0.824
Thomas Hennigan 0.402 0.418 0.820
Tyler Snead 0.440 0.380 0.819
Lucky Jackson 0.421 0.398 0.819
Luke Whittemore 0.400 0.418 0.818
K.J. Hill 0.450 0.368 0.818
Terrell Jana 0.421 0.397 0.818
Jarrin Pierce 0.376 0.442 0.818
Darnell Mooney 0.327 0.490 0.817
Khalil McClain 0.403 0.412 0.815
Branden Mack 0.308 0.506 0.813
Zakhari Franklin 0.386 0.426 0.813
Treylon Burks 0.272 0.541 0.812
Cole Kmet 0.416 0.395 0.811
T.J. Simmons 0.382 0.429 0.811
Jonathan Adams 0.358 0.453 0.811
Tyler Vaughns 0.404 0.407 0.810
Myron Mitchell 0.272 0.538 0.810
Anthony Schwartz 0.456 0.354 0.810
Riley Miller 0.339 0.470 0.809
Jack Sorenson 0.383 0.426 0.809
Demetric Felton 0.452 0.356 0.808
Sam Crawford 0.373 0.435 0.807
Kyle Pitts 0.410 0.397 0.807
Deven Thompkins 0.364 0.442 0.806
Mike Carrigan 0.377 0.427 0.805
Dezmon Patmon 0.370 0.434 0.804
Beau Corrales 0.329 0.474 0.803
Dontay Demus 0.300 0.503 0.803
Brad Rozner 0.340 0.462 0.802
Justyn Ross 0.373 0.427 0.800
Pat Freiermuth 0.410 0.389 0.799
Chris Finke 0.432 0.367 0.799
Jaylond Adams 0.465 0.332 0.797
Nikko Remigio 0.351 0.446 0.796
Davontavean Martin 0.363 0.433 0.796
Darrell Stewart 0.327 0.469 0.796
Michael Wilson 0.400 0.396 0.796
Micah Simon 0.397 0.399 0.796
Justin Hall 0.426 0.370 0.796
Josh Palmer 0.352 0.444 0.795
David Bell 0.394 0.397 0.791
DJ Stubbs 0.376 0.414 0.790
Antonio Nunn 0.327 0.463 0.789
Jason-Matthew Sharsh 0.442 0.346 0.789
Taj Harris 0.288 0.499 0.787
Dillon Stoner 0.405 0.380 0.785
Elijah Cooks 0.383 0.402 0.785
KD Nixon 0.344 0.438 0.783
Brian Casteel 0.491 0.291 0.782
Blake Proehl 0.372 0.409 0.782
Cameron Ross 0.383 0.398 0.781
La'Michael Pettway 0.375 0.406 0.781
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 0.517 0.263 0.781
Seth Williams 0.316 0.464 0.780
Andrew Parchment 0.358 0.422 0.780
Jeremy Singleton 0.294 0.484 0.778
Cee Jay Powell 0.403 0.375 0.778
Zane Pope 0.409 0.369 0.777
Tyrice Richie 0.349 0.428 0.777
Donovan Peoples-Jones 0.352 0.425 0.777
Kirk Merritt 0.396 0.380 0.776
Tony Gaiter 0.349 0.427 0.776
Kyle Williams 0.422 0.353 0.775
Brandon Smith 0.383 0.392 0.774
Wan'Dale Robinson 0.400 0.374 0.774
Aaron Fuller 0.381 0.393 0.773
Jordan Nathan 0.431 0.342 0.773
Tayvian Cunningham 0.412 0.361 0.773
Kyle Philips 0.396 0.375 0.770
Jeremiah Knight 0.310 0.458 0.768
Carlos Strickland 0.340 0.427 0.768
Jahcour Pearson 0.418 0.349 0.767
Jonathan Hodoh 0.374 0.393 0.767
Gunner Romney 0.365 0.401 0.766
Keenen Johnson 0.358 0.407 0.766
Ty Lee 0.397 0.369 0.766
Spencer Tears 0.234 0.531 0.765
Sam Pinckney 0.343 0.422 0.765
Renard Bell 0.410 0.354 0.764
Kalil Pimpleton 0.403 0.360 0.763
Elijah Moore 0.344 0.419 0.762
Devin Carter 0.291 0.470 0.761
Jadan Blue 0.390 0.371 0.761
Max Borghi 0.532 0.229 0.761
Kavious Price 0.411 0.349 0.761
Quintin Morris 0.371 0.389 0.760
Kobe Smith 0.366 0.393 0.759
Keith Mixon 0.429 0.330 0.759
Bryan Edwards 0.377 0.379 0.756
Josiah Deguara 0.330 0.426 0.756
James Proche 0.392 0.364 0.756
Aleva Hifo 0.376 0.380 0.756
John Mitchell 0.330 0.424 0.754
Nate Stewart 0.281 0.472 0.753
Connor Wedington 0.425 0.327 0.752
Mike Harley 0.330 0.421 0.752
Ardell Brown 0.300 0.450 0.750
Tre'Shon Wolf 0.329 0.420 0.749
Shermar Thornton 0.315 0.432 0.748
Stephen Guidry 0.321 0.426 0.747
Jalen Reagor 0.277 0.469 0.746
Cedric Byrd 0.377 0.369 0.746
Adrian Hardy 0.323 0.420 0.743
Malik Williams 0.384 0.359 0.743
Rashad Medaris 0.273 0.467 0.740
Taye Barber 0.316 0.423 0.740
Jalon Calhoun 0.438 0.301 0.739
Ronnie Rivers 0.469 0.270 0.739
Maurice Ffrench 0.447 0.292 0.739
Giovanni Ricci 0.322 0.415 0.738
Desmond Phillips 0.393 0.345 0.737
R.J. Sneed 0.394 0.343 0.737
Zak Simon 0.369 0.366 0.735
Tabari Hines 0.376 0.359 0.735
Aaron Young 0.316 0.418 0.734
Eno Benjamin 0.458 0.273 0.731
Noah Togiai 0.426 0.304 0.730
Jaivon Heiligh 0.373 0.357 0.730
Jaylon Redd 0.423 0.307 0.729
Colby Parkinson 0.324 0.405 0.729
Daylon Charlot 0.314 0.413 0.727
Tony Nicholson 0.371 0.354 0.725
Cornelius McCoy 0.368 0.357 0.725
Jaelon Darden 0.404 0.320 0.723
Mike Woods 0.300 0.423 0.723
Kyle Markway 0.351 0.372 0.722
Quin Jernighan 0.369 0.352 0.721
Cheyenne O'Grady 0.347 0.372 0.719
Austin Trammell 0.319 0.399 0.718
Taysir Mack 0.332 0.386 0.717
Trey Knox 0.263 0.454 0.716
K.J. Osborn 0.353 0.361 0.714
T.J. Vasher 0.304 0.405 0.708
Hutch White 0.402 0.304 0.706
Kalija Lipscomb 0.344 0.359 0.703
Shi Smith 0.327 0.375 0.702
Quartney Davis 0.324 0.376 0.700
Zachari Jackson 0.269 0.431 0.700
D.J. Matthews 0.372 0.325 0.698
Kendrick Rogers 0.310 0.386 0.696
Cam Johnson 0.346 0.348 0.694
Demetris Robertson 0.327 0.366 0.694
Dylan Drummond 0.398 0.296 0.693
Dimitri Stanley 0.335 0.355 0.690
Joe Reed 0.398 0.291 0.689
Jaylen Erwin 0.337 0.350 0.686
Amad Anderson 0.321 0.365 0.686
Sam James 0.360 0.324 0.684
Akilian Butler 0.311 0.372 0.684
Jeremiah Haydel 0.349 0.334 0.683
Josh Johnson 0.311 0.371 0.682
Jacquez Sloan 0.392 0.288 0.681
Andre Baccellia 0.322 0.357 0.680
Noah Gray 0.425 0.254 0.679
Smoke Harris 0.434 0.244 0.678
John Raine 0.380 0.298 0.678
Xavier Gaines 0.300 0.374 0.674
Jackson Anthrop 0.370 0.303 0.673
Isaiah Wright 0.362 0.310 0.672
Eli Stove 0.383 0.286 0.669
Riley Lees 0.387 0.278 0.666
Dominic Christian 0.362 0.303 0.665
Nico Ragaini 0.349 0.315 0.664
Lamical Perine 0.436 0.216 0.653
OJ Clark 0.387 0.260 0.647
Emeka Emezie 0.305 0.339 0.645
Sean Riley 0.393 0.252 0.645
Jason Huntley 0.471 0.158 0.629
Sam Emilus 0.289 0.334 0.623
Thayer Thomas 0.251 0.356 0.607
OC Johnson 0.358 0.243 0.601
Ricky Smalling 0.282 0.309 0.592
Julian Hicks 0.320 0.219 0.539

I’ve taken another step with my NCAA numbers in also building WROPS+. WROPS+ applies only to receivers who participated in the NFL Combine, and is built with an average of a their WROPS score and Kent Lee Platte’s (@Mathbomb) Relative Athletic Score (RAS). You can be confident that a receiver with a high WROPS+ was both productive in his most recent college season, AND scored well in his athletic testing. WROPS, WROPS+, and its constituent parts can be useful in different ways, so let’s take a look at some of our top prospects and see what we can see.

WROPS+ 2019

Name RAS WROPS WROPS+
Name RAS WROPS WROPS+
Henry Ruggs III 9.65 1.029 0.997
Antonio Gibson 9.45 1.045 0.995
Justin Jefferson 9.83 0.966 0.974
CeeDee Lamb 7.67 1.102 0.935
John Hightower 9.05 0.946 0.926
Chase Claypool 10 0.851 0.926
Brandon Aiyuk 8.65 0.984 0.924
Denzel Mims 9.78 0.848 0.913
Marquez Callaway 8.02 0.999 0.900
Michael Pittman Jr. 9.22 0.862 0.892
Donovan Peoples-Jones 9.84 0.777 0.880
Devin Duvernay 8.26 0.921 0.873
Quez Watkins 7.39 0.977 0.858
Dezmon Patmon 8.73 0.804 0.838
Joe Reed 9.64 0.689 0.827
Freddie Swain 8.16 0.829 0.822
Trishton Jackson 7.4 0.882 0.811
Gabriel Davis 7.2 0.894 0.807
Antonio Gandy-Golden 6.77 0.917 0.797
Laviska Shenault Jr. 7.22 0.860 0.791
Isaiah Hodgins 7.11 0.856 0.783
Jerry Jeudy 6.39 0.918 0.779
Juwan Johnson 6.8 0.867 0.773
Darnell Mooney 7.18 0.817 0.768
K.J. Osborn 8.13 0.714 0.763
Quartney Davis 8.22 0.700 0.761
Binjimen Victor 5.84 0.936 0.760
Kendrick Rogers 8.05 0.696 0.751
Jalen Reagor 7.5 0.746 0.748
Stephen Guidry 6.69 0.747 0.708
Omar Bayless 4.29 0.974 0.702
Quintez Cephus 4.69 0.881 0.675
Kalija Lipscomb 6.09 0.703 0.656
K.J. Hill 3.8 0.818 0.599
Cody White 3.55 0.835 0.595
Jauan Jennings 2.62 0.927 0.594
James Proche 4.01 0.756 0.578
Chris Finke 3.18 0.799 0.558
Tony Brown 2.52 0.847 0.550
Aaron Fuller 2.9 0.773 0.532

The Top Tier: Ruggs, Jefferson, and Lamb

  • Ruggs: WROPS - 1.029 (10th of 329), WROPS+ - .997 (1st of 40)
  • Jefferson: WROPS - .966 (26th), WROPS+ - .974 (3rd)
  • Lamb: WROPS - 1.102 (2nd), WROPS+ - .935 (4th)

These three are not the only elite prospects in this draft, but they are the only three that, for me, tick every box. CeeDee Lamb finished 9th in WROPS in 2018 and 2nd in 2019 (and really, we should consider him first as Air Force’s Geraud Saunders snuck in with a very small sample size and a gaudy 25 yards per reception). Lamb is a darling of the scouts, one of the most productive college receivers there is, and a good athlete. His RAS falls below some of his contemporaries, but it’s still very good, and given his chops as a pass-catching monster with advanced skills, he is as safe a bet as you’ll find at the next level.

Jefferson is one of my personal favorites and should he fall to 30, he is an obvious target for Green Bay. After finishing a respectable 55th in WROPS in 2018, he moved up to 26th this season. That may not sound like much, but he also put together an insane combine that has him 3rd overall in WROPS+. There are no obvious holes to his game.

Ruggs is slightly more controversial, but this seems silly to me and I suspect folks are overthinking it. Alabama was loaded at receiver and quarterback, and I’ve seen some scouts bring up the fact that Ruggs was not even the 2nd choice for Nick Saban on offense, let alone the first. Pish posh. The only knock on Ruggs is that he isn’t a prototypical outside guy like teammates Jerry Jeudy, but that’s mostly because Alabama possessed a bunch of those guys allowing Ruggs to work his magic inside. Yes, he’s small which will push many to think of him as a slot player, but he’s the fastest receiver in this draft, he may have the best hands in the draft, and he happens to possess outstanding route-running skills. Saban used Ruggs where he did to get the most out of him because while Ruggs could have played Jeudy’s position, Jeudy probably could not have excelled in Ruggs’ spot. Odell Beckham is the obvious comp. His production + athleticism as captured by WROPS+ is unparalleled.

The Scouting Darlings: Jeudy and Reagor

  • Jeudy: WROPS - .918 (49th), WROPS+ - .779 (22nd)
  • Reagor: WROPS - .746 (256th), WROPS+ - .748 (29th)

Poor Jalen Reagor. He’s played with varying degrees of terrible quarterbacks for most of his career, but in his final season Max Duggan was likely the worst, ranking 121st of 129 QBS in QBOPS. Reagor’s WROBP of .277 is primarily to blame for his poor numbers, and it’s easy enough to see how college target tracking and an awful QB could tank your catch percentage. Reagor’s best college season was as a freshman when he posted a .917, and followed up in 2018 with an .806.

Many scouts will go to bat for Reagor, which is fine as he has plenty of excuses for poor production, but I’m concerned enough with the hands that I would avoid him. For a guy that is supposed to be a YAC monster, his catch percentage should, if anything, be artificially high, and while his .277 WROBP may not be representative, he’s never once posted a good score. On film I do see why people like him with the ball in his hands, I just think there are better options out there for a guy who likely can’t excel on the outside.

Jerry Jeudy is a different story. He’s been scouted to death his entire college career and I won’t be arguing that my stats (or Kent’s) should knock him down much, if at all. Moreover, while his 2019 WROPS was merely good, his 2018 effort was easily in the top 10, ahead of Lamb and in the ballpark with Terry McLaurin and DK Metcalf. (And solidly ahead of A.J. and Hollywood Brown.) Jeudy is as polished as they come, and he’s produced when called upon to do so. I actually think attempting to feature him last season may have done him a disservice on his rate stats, and I would have no issues making him the first receiver taken, though I personally would put him behind the tier above. We should not ignore a lackluster combine completely.

The Freak and The Bust: Gibson and Shenault

  • Antonio Gibson: WROPS - 1.045 (6th), WROPS+ - .995 (2nd)
  • Laviska Shenault: WROPS - .860, WROPS+ - .791 (20th)

I don’t get the appeal of Shenault. He’s bigger than Reagor, and was asked to do many similar things, but he doesn’t pop on tape as much. His hands seem better (as his WROBP will testify), but for a tank slot he didn’t create much separation and beefed up his yards per catch with a lot of contested deep balls. He should be applauded for winning those battles of course, but it won’t be as easy to do so at the next level, and a sub-par combine bolstered the idea that he lacks breakaway speed and shiftiness. Scouts are dreaming of a Boldin or Deebo but I just don’t see it.

Shenault will also likely go too high for the risk involved, so why not sit back and let Antonio Gibson come to you? Gibson is the oddest player in this draft as a true hybrid WR/RB in college. He is slated to play RB at the next level. That should not stop come creative team from getting the most out of his receiving chops, as no one was more dangerous with the ball in his hands last year. Gibson ran a 4.39 at 228 pounds and while he is in no way a polished route runner, his inside/slot game was well developed enough for him to standout production-wise among the receivers. Far faster than any linebacker, college or pro, and much much bigger than any DB, with soft hands, this is your next Deebo, and he should be available late.

The other elites: Aiyuk, Mims, Pittman, Duvernay

  • Aiyuk: WROPS - .984 (18th), WROPS+ - .924 (7th)
  • Mims: .848 (121st), WROPS+ - .913 (8th)
  • Pittman: .862 (105th), WROPS+ .892 (10th)
  • Duvernay: .921 (47th), WROPS+ .873 (12th)

Any one of these guys has the potential to be as good as my top tier. This draft really is that deep at receiver.

Aiyuk probably belongs a tier up as he possesses one of the best combos of explosion and sure-handedness in the draft, but a slight lack of polish and a slightly underwhelming combine put a bit of doubt into my head. That said, I would happily take him in the late first round.

Outside of Chase Claypool, perhaps no one bolstered their case at the combine more than Denzel Mims. Mims was outstanding, putting up a 9.78 RAS and ascending in mock drafts everywhere. The question for me is why he didn’t produce more in college given his considerable gifts, especially with the ball in his hands. His catch percentage would be forgivable with another 50 points of slugging. Super athletes with average production always raise red flags for me. That said, his upside is real.

I actually wish Michael Pittman were a little shorter. His profile screams slot receiver as a .400/.400 guy, but his size will tempt many at the next level to put him outside. He’s a big slot and if used correctly, he’ll be fine. His measurables make him a likely Packer pick.

Devin Duvernay is Golden Tate. Seriously, he’s like an exact physical match to an absurd degree. If you would be happy with Golden Tate on a rookie deal, take him. He has some of the best hands in the draft and the talent to work outside.

The promising but raw: Claypool, Hightower, Peoples-Jones

  • Claypool: WROPS - .851 (118th), WROPS+ - .926 (5th TIE)
  • Hightower: WROPS - .946 (32nd), WROPS+ - .926 (5th TIE)
  • People-Jones: WROPS - .777 (215), WROPS+ - .880 (11th)

Chase Claypool is a monster. Some of his closest mockdraftable comps include Andre Johnson (monster), TJ Hockenson (tight end!) and notably, Allen Lazard. He also posted a rare 10 RAS score at the combine (thanks to rounding, as he still came in a tick behind Calvin Johnson overall), and his athletic ability is not in doubt. His production, on the other hand, is, and for a guy who was a man among boys, it’s odd that he didn’t put up a better WROPS, and especially, a better WRSLG. .518 is fine, but his talent and size warrants a .600+.

I love John Hightower in this draft. His build is a bit thin, but he’s among the best big-play threats available, and after the first wave of outside guys he should be in the next tier. I’ve seen him mocked anywhere from the 3rd to the 5th round and I have no idea why. In my admittedly limited tape watching, his soft skills jump off the screen. He has soft hands, makes sharp cuts, and his production + athleticism are right there with Claypool. I’m not sure if I’d consider him a sleeper exactly, but he is my bet to exceed his draft position.

That brings us to poor Donovan Peoples-Jones, the Michigan product who can push Jalen Reagor for the title of “playing WR in the worst possible offense.” I tend to discount guys like this not because I necessarily think they’re bad, but because there is too much uncertainty around their college production. All of that said, DPJ was only the 3rd best receiver on his team, and the other two (Ronnie Bell and Nico Collins) were much more explosive. DPJ’s 9.84 RAS elevated his draft status, but the lack of production with those tools tells us he’s a project at best.

Conclusion

Stats like WROPS and RAS are not intended to provide the final say on any prospect, they are merely designed to increase your odds. The Packers have been doing this since at least the Thompson era with their minimum athletic score thresholds, and my colleague Peter Bukoswksi recently wrote a nice piece identifying their likely targets. I agree with his assessment and would wager heavily on Pittman, but with Claypool a close second, though I will be rooting for Jefferson and Hightower.

When an athletic player has under-performed, I want to see a reason as to why, and when a less athletic performer has over-performed, I want a consensus among scouts about the level of his talent (as we have with Jeudy). Some of the no-names who score high on WROPS due so because they didn’t face any good, let alone elite defenses, or they played in a pass-friendly scheme. Stats like WROPS help to raise these questions, and scouts help to answer them, or in some instances, fail to.