Who are the 30 wide receivers ready to contribute as rookies in 2022?
Seaside Joe 1134: A comprehensive guide to the 2022 receivers class
It was on the Seaside Joe podcast that Rob Staton of Seahawks Draft Blog said that he’s heard that there could be “up to 30 receivers drafted this year who can contribute in year one.” That would be a long list of rookie receivers… and that is what I created for you today.
Last season, 21 receivers who were drafted ended the season with at least 80 yards or 10 games played, with Seattle’s Dee Eskridge frankly rounding out the bottom of that list. The bar for “receivers who can contribute” is low and includes special teams because that’s the ceiling for most day three picks anyway.
And I do want to caution people before reading this list to not expect “great depth” to equal “there’s going to be a Tyreek Hill, a Stefon Diggs, and a Doug Baldwin in this draft” because that’s unrealistic. Over the last 10 years, 46 receivers have been drafted after the fourth round. Out of 46, two have reached multiple Pro Bowls (Hill 6, Diggs 2) and both were fifth round picks.
In the category of great sixth round finds would be Darren Waller, who converted to tight end, as well as Russell Gage and Quincy Enunwa. The top seventh rounders would be David Moore and Rishard Matthews.
But that doesn’t mean that the top-ranked receiver prospect usually becomes the best out of his class or that you can’t find incredible value after the top two rounds.
In 2021, the Lions got 90 catches for 912 yards out of fourth rounder Amon-Ra St. Brown; In 2020, Justin Jefferson was the fifth receiver taken, Tee Higgins was seventh, Chase Claypool was 11th, Gabe Davis was 17th, and Darnell Mooney was 25th!; In 2019, Deebo Samuel was the third receiver off the board, followed by A.J. Brown behind him, DK Metcalf was the ninth, Terry McLaurin was 12th, and Hunter Renfrow was 17th.
(Maybe keep an eye on the 17th receiver in the class, since St. Brown was also 17th last year.)
Time to familiarize ourselves with over 30 names at receiver who could be drafted into the NFL in 2022. I will be linking highlights for every player, measurements (RAS by @MathBom on Twitter), and referencing their consensus big board rankings over at NFLMockDraftDatabase. I’ll also reference Dane Brugler’s “The Beast” draft guide for 2022.
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2022 NFL Draft - The Wide Receivers
Youngest: Makai Polk, Mississippi State (Next: Drake London, USC)
Oldest: Velus Jones Jr, Tennessee (Next: Dontario Drummond, Ole Miss)
Fastest: Tyquan Thornton, Baylor (Next: Velus Jones)
Slowest: David Bell, Devon Williams, Jeivon Heiligh, and Drummond (4.65)
Best RAS: Christian Watson, ND State (2nd all-time) (Next: Isaiah Weston, third)
Worst RAS: Justyn Ross, Clemson (Next: David Bell, Purdue)
Biggest Wingspan: Devon Williams, Oregon (Next: Kevin Austin Jr, Notre Dame)
Shortest Wing: Wan’Dale Robinson, Kentucky (Next: Kyle Philips, UCLA)
Biggest Hands: Skyy Moore, Western Michigan (Next: Christian Watson)
Smallest Hands: Thornton, Baylor (Next: George Pickens, Kyle Philips)
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Receivers are ordered by fastest 40-yard dash times, starting with players who were not able to run this year.
Romeo Doubs, Nevada
6’2, 201 lbs, did not test
Consensus ranking: 18 (Highlights)
Would be a good player to package for whatever team picks QB Carson Strong. Played outside receiver and had over 2,100 yards and 20 TDs over the last two seasons. Dealing with knee injury.
Drake London, USC
6’4, 219 lbs, did not test
Consensus ranking: 2 (Highlights)
Absolutely ridiculous production, including six games of 130+ yards out of eight tries last season. Then broke his ankle against Arizona, when he had 81 yards and two touchdowns that day. But lately have seen more people sour on him as a player who only wins 50/50 balls, doesn’t get separation, and will struggle to make those same catches against NFL defenses. He may also turn out to be the biggest mistake for the teams who pass up on him, it’s a tougher call with London than it seemed recently.
What’s your grade on London?
John Metchie, Alabama
5’11, 187 lbs, did not test
Consensus ranking: 10 (Highlights)
Said to have an impressive work ethic, played both outside and in the slot with Alabama, and posted over 2,000 yards in the last two seasons. Tore his ACL in December and that may cause him to fall to the third or fourth round.
Jameson Williams, Alabama
6’2, 179 lbs, did not test
Consensus ranking: 3 (Highlights)
My favorite receiver in the draft. Williams also tore his ACL and will miss virtually his entire first offseason because of it. That’s unfortunate, but there’s something specal about the way he moves on a football field and I believe probabilities of a full recovery from his knee injury are in his favor.
Tyquan Thornton, Baylor
6’2, 181 lbs, 4.28 40-yard dash, 36.5” vertical, 130” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 20 (Highlights) RAS: 61 out of 2613
The upside is the speed. The downside is that the list of successful, active NFL receivers of Thornton’s wire thin frame is short (Lamb, Ridley, Robby Anderson).
Velus Jones, Tennessee
6’, 204 lbs, 4.31 40-yard dash, 33” vertical, 121” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 19 (Highlights) RAS: 249 out of 2613
Spent four years at USC, then two at Tennessee thanks to the extra year of eligibility. Mainly used on kickoffs until 62 catches for 807 yards and a super senior. Jones could be an undrafted free agent.
Calvin Austin, Memphis
5’8, 170 lbs, 4.32 40-yard dash, 39” vertical, 135” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 14 (Highlights) RAS: 151 out of 2613
Averaged almost 100 receiving yards per game over the last two seasons, but there aren’t many receivers in the NFL of his stature. Hollywood Brown, Beasley, Rondale Moore, Eskridge, and Berrios fit the build. There’s a ceiling there, but Austin’s all-around athleticism is unique. Wanted so badly to play for Memphis that he took a scholarship from the track and field program and was a preferred walk-on for the football team.
Danny Gray, SMU
6’, 186 lbs, 4.33 40-yard dash, 34” vertical, 126” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 21 (Highlights) RAS: 287 out of 2613
In a recent podcast appearance, Greg Cosell said he couldn’t see Gray contributing at the NFL level this season other than small doses and certain packages. He should be a day three pick.
Bo Melton, Rutgers
5’11, 189 lbs, 4.34 40-yard dash, 38” vertical, 121” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 22 (Highlights) RAS: 320 out of 2613
Not a ton of production but there’s only so much a receiver can do at Rutgers; Melton had over 600 yards in each of the last two seasons. Brugler gives him a 4th-5th round grade.
Christian Watson, North Dakota State
6’4, 208 lbs, 4.36 40-yard dash, 38.5” vertical, 136” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 7 (Highlights) RAS: 2 out of 2613
Only Calvin Johnson had a better Relative Athletic Score. Late bloomer in high school, didn’t make the top-500 receivers of the 2017 recruiting class. Eventually caught on, averaged over 20 yards per catch over the last three seasons, but has an immense problem with drops and is unrefined as a route runner. Team that drafts Watson must have a long-term vision, low expectations early on.
Should Seahawks pick Watson in round two?
Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
6’, 183 lbs, 4.38 40-yard dash, 36” vertical, 123” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 1 (Highlights) RAS: 603 out of 2613
Wilson is zoning in on being the consensus best receiver prospect in this draft and a top-10 pick. Considered more “good at everything” than “great at anything” but this may be an oversimplification, if not flat out wrong; Wilson being the complete package as a receiver is in itself an elite skill. Not to oversell Wilson either, as there are those years when Corey Davis, Mike Williams, and John Ross dominate the top of the draft and I wonder if the lack of a clear consensus like there was with Ja’Marr Chase is a bit of a red flag for the top of the class.
If Wilson is Jerry Jeudy, that’s fine. “Is there a Justin Jefferson waiting behind him?” is the question teams must worry about for a player who is only an above average athlete.
Chris Olave, Ohio State
6’, 186 lbs, 4.39 40-yard dash, 32” vertical, 124” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 4 (Highlights) RAS: 364 out of 2613
When I was watching Wilson, Olave, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba highlights this week, all I could see was C.J. Stroud. Maybe a team should draft Wilson or Olave just to get a head start on Stroud. Considered a strong number two and a deep threat despite good but not elite speed. Not a star recruit despite going to Ohio State, had to earn his way here after making it to Columbus.
Wilson or Olave?
Alec Pierce, Cincinnati
6’3, 211 lbs, 4.41 40-yard dash, 40.5” vertical, 129” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 13 (Highlights) RAS: 53 out of 2613
Cosell highlighted that Pierce wins by having an excellent stride and “eating space” on the field similar to how Randy Moss moved—though he is in no way comparing him to Moss. Just how he moves. Productive for the last three years playing with Desmond Ridder. Unique athletic package is intriguing but is this a red herring: similar WR measurements would be Javon Walker, Stephen Hill, Chris Conley, Miles Boykin, and Terrace Marshall.
Skyy Moore, Western Michigan
5’10, 195 lbs, 4.41 40-yard dash, 34.”5 vertical, 125” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 9 (Highlights) RAS: 658 out of 2613
Cosell wouldn’t be surprised to see Moore as a starting slot receiver in the NFL next season. College teammates with Eskridge. Had 95 catches for 1,291 yards and 10 TDs in 2021. Brugler sees Moore is a mid-second round pick but he “might have trouble creating sizable passing windows” in the NFL.
Isaiah Weston, Northern Iowa
6’4, 214 lbs, 4.42 40-yard dash, 40” vertical, 135” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 33 (Highlights) RAS: 3 out of 2613
Again, rare to see a 6’4 player who has these athletic traits. He’s a total shot in the dark coming out of Northern Iowa. Late pick or UDFA but he was in rare company at the combine. Only Megatron and Watson have had a higher RAS.
Think Seaside Joe is doing good work?
Jahan Dotson, Penn State
5’11, 178 lbs, 4.43 40-yard dash, 36” vertical, 121” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 6 (Highlights) RAS: 1040 out of 2613
Gas prices are up and so is Dotson’s stock, as it seems there are no shortage of fans singing his praises on Twitter. Understandably so, he’s been one of the most consistently productive college football players over the last two seasons, working with Sean Clifford at QB. Nothing outstanding about his athletic measurements, but Brugler notes that his “catch radius” is insane for his size.
Kevin Austin Jr, Notre Dame
6’2, 200 lbs, 4.43 40-yard dash, 39” vertical, 132” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 31 (Highlights) RAS: 19 out of 2613
Not for nothin’, but Austin’s got almost the same size and measurables as Ja’Marr Chase, but with a much faster three-cone time. Are they similar prospects? Nope. Parris Campbell had a better combine at the same size as Chase, two years earlier. Chase is also basically Chris Owusu in 2012 or Mike Wallace in 2009. Suspended for the 2019 season for violating team rules, only had one season where he really played, and he’s had multiple foot surgeries. May not get drafted despite freakish athleticism.
Khalil Shakir, Boise State
6’, 196 lbs, 4.43 40-yard dash, 38.5” vertical, 124” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 16 (Highlights) RAS: 521 out of 2613
Right now, Seahawks fans are screaming for Christian Watson maybe. But the draft, you’ll be begging for Shakir. Brugler says he profiles best in the slot, but Cosell sees Shakir as a guy who could play outside too. Cosell says that versatility is becoming a key for NFL receivers and that few players are really “only” slot guys at this point. Need to play multiple receiver positions, Shakir might be able to do that. But too many drops.
Dotson, Shakir, or Austin?
Wan’Dale Robinson, Kentucky
5’8, 178 lbs, 4.44 40-yard dash, 34.5” vertical, 118” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 12 (Highlights) RAS: 1029 out of 2613
For his size, his lack of athleticism is a concern. College coordinator Liam Coen is now OC for the LA Rams, a potential fit. Robinson had 104 catches for 1,334 yards last season. He could fall in that range between day two and day three.
George Pickens, Georgia
6’3, 195 lbs, 4.47 40-yard dash, 33” vertical, 125” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 8 (Highlights) RAS: 176 out of 2613
Similar to Derek Stingley, Pickens is a former five-star recruit looking to parlay his high school prestige and production as a true freshman into being a high NFL draft pick despite having little on tape over the last year. Pickens missed virtually all of 2021 with a torn ACL, but he was productive as a freshman (727 yards, 8 TDs) and teams will be sold on his ceiling.
Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama
6’1, 194 lbs, 4.49 40-yard dash, 36” vertical, 123” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 15 (Highlights) RAS: 380 out of 2613
Think of all those receivers jumping for joy over getting scholarships from the likes of every Power 5 school from Alabama to Washington State. But then come draft time, here we see Northern Iowa, Western Michigan, North Dakota State, and South Alabama. Even having been born and raised in Mobile, Tolbert didn’t draw interest from Nick Saban as a two-star recruit He posted over 2,500 yards over the past two seasons. Projected as mid-day two pick.
Is Tolbert or Pickens a better pick?
Jalen Nailor, Michigan State
5’11, 186 lbs, 4.5 40-yard dash, 38” vertical, 128” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 34 (Highlights) RAS: 491 out of 2613
Averaged over 19 YPC the last two seasons, including 221 yards vs Rutgers in 2021. Missed four games with a hand injury.
Reggie Roberson, SMU
5’11, 192 lbs, 4.53 40-yard dash, 30” vertical, 114” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 32 (Highlights) RAS: N/A
Foot injury cost him most of 2020, then Roberson tore his ACL last October.
Erik Ezukanma, Texas Tech
6’2, 209 lbs, 4.54 40-yard dash, 36.5” vertical, 126” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 24 (Highlights) RAS: N/A
Noted for a “basic route tree” in college by Brugler, Ezukanma doesn’t carry a high ceiling unless he develops in a key number of areas. He’s projected as a fifth round pick.
Treylon Burks, Arkansas
6’2, 225 lbs, 4.55 40-yard dash, 33” vertical, 122” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 5 (Highlights) RAS: 1111 out of 2613
I’m not an expert, but watching Burks last season felt similar to watching my favorite 2021 receiver, Rashod Bateman. Feels like a man among boys out there. Depending on who you talk to, Burks will be a top-10 pick or a second rounder. Eight catches for 179 yards against Alabama last season. Trust me, the name “Deebo Samuel” will be used a lot for comps this year, but maybe never more often than with Burks. He also might be the worst “athlete” in the top-30 of the class… which we could have said about Anquan Boldin once… but is also not something we can ignore.
Do you want to see Burks on the Seahawks if he slips?
Charleston Rambo, Miami
6’1, 177 lbs, 4.57 40-yard dash, 33.5” vertical, 118” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 29 (Highlights) RAS: 1116 out of 2613
Transferred to Miami in 2021, caught 79 passes for 1,172 yards. Brugler compares him to Cedrick Wilson on the high end. You’ll hear “lean frame” a lot with this class.
Jerreth Sterns, Western Kentucky
5’7, 178 lbs, 4.58 40-yard dash, 40” vertical, 119” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 28 (Highlights) RAS: 1232 out of 2728
Despite catching 150 passes for 1,902 yards last season, it’s difficult to imagine Sterns landing a gig as one of the top-four receivers on an NFL team.
Kyle Philips, UCLA
5’11, 189 lbs, 4.58 40-yard dash, 33.5” vertical, 124” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 23 (Highlights) RAS: 461 out of 2613
I’ve seen a lot of Braxton Barrios lately, having studied Zach Wilson at the end of last season. Philips will get those comps for obvious reasons. It’s not just that he’s under 6’, 190, but small arms, wingspan, hands, frame, lean-muscled.
Makai Polk, Mississippi State
6’3, 196 lbs, 4.6 40-yard dash, 31” vertical, 120” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 25 (Highlights) RAS: 1030 out of 2613
Brugler sees “tools that can be developed” and has a day three grade on Polk, the youngest receiver in the draft. High school teammates with Kayvon Thibodeaux. Spent two years at Cal, transferred to a more high-powered offense with Mississippi State, caught 105 passes for 1,046 yards last season.
Dai’Jean Dixon, Nicholls
6’2, 205 lbs, 4.62 40-yard dash, 34” vertical, 125” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 26 (Highlights) RAS: 1099 out of 2613
Set school records for career catches, yards, and touchdowns.
Justyn Ross, Clemson
6’4, 205 lbs, 4.63 40-yard dash, 31.5” vertical, 116” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 17 (Highlights) RAS: 1945 out of 2613
Destined for NFL stardom after 110 catches for 1,865 yards over his first two seasons, Ross missed all of 2020 after spinal surgery. He had just 46 catches for 514 yards and one touchdown in 2021 and his pro day testing was not the optimistic sign of a pre-injury return that everyone was hopeful for. He could’ve been a top-10 pick two years ago, but he’s likely to go later on day three now. Should Seahawks take a flier?
Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina
6’4, 202 lbs, 4.65 40-yard dash, 36” vertical, 117” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 27 (Highlights) RAS: N/A
It’s always fun to watch Grayson McCall highlights.
Devon Williams, Oregon
6’5, 210 lbs, 4.65 40-yard dash, 33” vertical, 133” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 46 (Highlights) RAS: 748 out of 2613
Williams has arms over 34” and nearly an 82” wingspan, which is better than many NFL offensive tackles. His athleticism isn’t that bad, though his 4.65 is there with the “undraftable” guys and needs a lot of development to improve as a route runner. He may not get drafted.
Dontario Drummond, Ole Miss
6’1, 215 lbs, 4.65 40-yard dash, 34” vertical, 122” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 30 (Highlights) RAS: 921 out of 2613
Came in as a junior after DK Metcalf went to the NFL in 2019. Broke out for 1,028 yards in 2021. But lack of DK Metcalf athleticism could drop Drummond out of the draft.
David Bell, Purdue
6’1, 212 lbs, 4.65 40-yard dash, 33” vertical, 118” broad jump
Consensus ranking: 11 (Highlights) RAS: 1578 out of 2613
One of the most divisive prospects in the receiver class, all that Bell has done for three years at Purdue is produce. He’s an excellent college football player in the body of an underwhelming NFL athlete. Some receivers have overcome this lack of athleticism. Many have not. I thought for sure that Bell would be a first round pick when I was watching him last season, but a 4.65 is hard to sell—and he ran a 4.71 at his pro day. He could drop far, maybe fifth round or later.
Would love, love, LOVE to see the Burks slide to Seattle in the 2nd round. Or see Seattle trade back from #9 a couple times and grab him in the mid- to late-20s. Metcalf + Lockett + Burks + Eskridge would be a nightmare for opposing teams and a godsend for whoever the Seahawks roll with at QB in 2022 (and beyond).