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NFL Draft 2023: Wide Receiver risers and fallers

WRAPS has already done good work

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The draft is upon us, and with every analyst out in the field updating their mocks drafts and rankings, there have been some major updates to the consensus board. I track the Pro Football Network Consensus Board every time I make a major update to the WROPS data set, and so I thought it might be useful to take a look at which receivers have momentum going into the draft, and who has tumbled a bit. If you’re curious about someone I didn’t mention, you can see the entire WROPS Draft Sheet here, with the “consensus move” in Column AC.

The Risers

The risers absolutely warm my heart, as the two biggest risers in the draft were the subject of my WROPS Underrated post: Matt Landers and Jonathan Mingo. Landers had more room to rise, shooting up the board from a consensus 288 all the way to 206. If accurate, that moves Landers from a UDFA all the way to the 6th, which is life-changing. Landers actually still seems too low to me as he led all receivers in WRAPS and put up an absolutely stellar RAS to go with it. Last year the top WRAPS honor went to Christian Watson, the only receiver with over a 20, just like Landers. Justin Jefferson also once claimed said honor. If any late round pick will surprise as a future star, it’s Landers.

Mingo’s rise, from 80 to 48, is almost as meteoric considering he now sits solidly in round 2. The 80 never made any sense as Mingo is the total package of an incredibly productive receiver (despite being miscast a bit in college!) who just pops on tape like few others. His athletic profile is off-the-charts good, and if one were designing the ideal receiver for the Shanahan-LaFleur scheme, this is what it would be.

The other big riser has been Grant Dubose of Charlotte. I haven’t watched a second of his tape, but people started to make noise about DuBose as a Packer target (possibly because of an outstanding 3-cone time) earlier this week. My numbers don’t love him, but he’s moved from 271 on the consensus to 237, which is, while not huge, certainly worth noticing.

Rounding out the big risers we have Tre Tucker of Cincinnati (up 32 spots from 242 to 210) and Michael Wilson of Stanford (from 141 to 114), who enjoyed a hugely significant increase from the 4th into a borderline 3rd-rounder. I’m a Wilson fan as, outside of Iowa, there wasn’t a worse offense for a skill position player to play in this year than Stanford. His struggles really were everyone else’s fault.

I’d also mention that my other favorite from the underrated column, Antoine Green of North Carolina, went from off the board completely to 268.

The Fallers

As for the fallers, the underrated column did take one hit in the form of Dontayvion Wicks, who had the second biggest drop of 29 spots from 135 to 164. Wicks had one of the biggest production declines I’ve ever seen from 2021, when he put up elite numbers, to 2022 where he was one of the worst receivers in football. I thought he was worth a wager based on the ceiling he demonstrated in 2021, but sometimes declines like this come with extra baggage, and sometimes that baggage emerges in the interview process, and word gets around. The only receiver to fall further was Maryland’s Rakim Jarrett, from 137 to 173. Jarrett has a subpar WROPS (.369/.389/.758), but did post a very good 8.42 RAS. That said, he’s a bit undersized, and for a player that had a 4th round consensus spot, there has been almost no hype for him.

The last faller is Stanford’s Elijah Higgins, which I find quite surprising. Everything I wrote about Michael Wilson applies to Higgins as well, and I honestly might prefer Higgins. His 8.92 RAS wasn’t quite as good as Wilson’s 9.54, but he’s a big body who caught almost everything Tanner McKee threw at him (no small feat). Scouts generally prefer Wilson as demonstrated by his superior PFF grade, but it’s easy to see Higgins fitting in as something of an NFL Big Slot. All of that said, he’s plummeted from an already marginal 187 to 212th on the board.

The other big fallers include Xavier Hutchinson of Iowa State, Ronnie Bell of Michigan, and one of the receivers I highlighted in the overrated column, Kayshon Boutte of LSU, who is down to 104th from a high of 86th.

We won’t know how any of these receivers truly perform for many years, but I am pleased with how well WRAPS has worked towards unearthing the diamonds in the rough in this draft, and how consensus has moved to match (outside of Wicks, who was admittedly a more speculative case.) One of the reasons I enjoy running these metrics is that they raise questions that can help to cut through some preexisting biases, which is what good metrics should always do. With Matt Landers, the simple question is how someone who was that productive in college, and that athletic, might not even be worthy of a draft pick. Sometimes there is a valid reason, but in this case, the answer seems to be that oh, wait, he is in fact worthy of a draft pick.