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Nick Whalen
Post-Draft WR Rankings

Nick Whalen provides his Post-Draft WR Rankings. Some rankings may surprise you!

May 6th

Whew, what an NFL Draft! I had many jaw dropping reactions in the first round and it continued throughout the entire three days. Which is exactly why I love it! One important thing to remember is NFL teams are picking players to fit certain roles on their teams. They aren’t picking players to put up statistics or for fantasy football purposes. This is why our rankings and expectations rarely match what happens in the draft both before and after the event. Therefore, I’m going to be transparent with my post draft rankings as I adjust to account for what NFL teams said about prospects.

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Pre-Draft WR Rankings

#Name | College Team
1Hakeem Butler | Iowa State
2AJ Brown | Mississippi
3N’Keal Harry | Arizona State
4DK Metcalf | Mississippi
5Preston Williams | Colorado State
6Deebo Samuel | South Carolina
7Miles Boykin | Notre Dame
8Emanuel Hall | Missouri
9Kelvin Harmon | North Carolina State
10Marquise Brown | Oklahoma
11Greg Dortch | Wake Forest
12Andy Isabella | Massachusetts
13Jalen Hurd | Baylor
14JJ Arcega-Whiteside | Stanford
15Stanley Morgan Jr | Nebraska
16Anthony Ratliff-Williams | North Carolina
17KeeSean Johnson | Fresno State
18Mecole Hardman | Georgia
19Parris Campbell | Ohio State
20Terry McLaurin | Ohio State
21Riley Ridley | Georgia

Post-Draft WR Rankings

#Name | NFL Team
1N’Keal Harry | New England
2AJ Brown | Tennessee
3Deebo Samuel | San Francisco
4Hakeem Butler | Arizona
5DK Metcalf | Seattle
6Andy Isabella | Arizona
7Mecole Hardman | Kansas City
8Parris Campbell | Indianapolis
9JJ Arcega-Whiteside | Philadelphia
10Miles Boykin | Baltimore
11Jalen Hurd | San Francisco
12Marquise Brown | Brown
13Preston Williams | Miami
14Kelvin Harmon | Washington
15Dionte Johnson | Pittsburgh
16Terry McLaurin | Washington
17Emanuel Hall | Chicago
18Gary Jennings | Seattle
19Riley Ridley | Chicago
20Greg Dortch | NY Jets
21Stanley Morgan Jr | Cincinnati
22KeeSean Johnson | Arizona
22Cody Thompson | Kansas City
23Travis Fulgham | Detroit

Tier 1

Harry, Brown, Deebo create the top tier. All players show a great ability after the reception and can line up all over the field. I’m only thrilled with Deebo’s landing spot, but all of these players carry some risk.

Tier 2

Only a slight tier down is Butler through JJAW. This group is all over the place from great to poor landing spots, speed to size and everything in between. This group will get drafted from the middle of the 1st to early second in most rookie drafts.

Tier 3

Small group of Boykin, Hurd, and Hollywood Brown. Boykin and Brown are stuck in a poor situation for a few years. Hurd is in a great situation, but needs to develop more as a WR. If you want floor, chase draft capital of Brown. If you want ceiling, chase Hurd.

Tier 4

WR13 through WR18 are long shots to being FF relevant, but they’re the best hope from the remainder of this position. Drafting players beyond this point should be followed with a Hail Mary.

1) N’Keal Harry – New England – Round 1 Pick 32

Harry rises up by default in my rankings because of how the draft played out for others. He’s a raw player before the reception, but good afterward. We’d have to imagine New England is going to manufacture touches for him early in his career to maximize the rest of Tom Brady’s career and play to Harry’s strengths. Brady doesn’t excel throwing the football outside of the numbers down the field, so hopefully that’s not Harry’s role. New England hasn’t hit on WR’s in the draft in the past, but that doesn’t matter. How Harry develops his releases and route running will be huge with his career. I also have some concerns about his potential after Brady and Belichick retire, which could be as early as prior to the 2020 season.

2) AJ Brown – Tennessee – Round 2 Pick 51

Brown lands in a situation with Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor, and newly signed, Adam Humphries, as competition at the WR position. Solid competition for targets hurts Browns value for at least 2019. Now add in the fact of starting QB, Marcus Mariota, hasn’t developed into his potential, been injured, and Tennessee threw the football the 2nd least in the NFL last season. These factors will let Brown slide down in drafts, but his talent is too good to pass up. I could see Brown and Davis thriving together for over 120 targets each in the future as the Titans lack a great TE or receiving back, which helps. If you draft Brown, be patient. If you don’t, start knocking on impatient owners doors.

3) Deebo Samuel – San Francisco – Round 2 Pick 36

11) Jalen Hurd – San Francisco – Round 3 Pick 67

The 49ers decided to double dip by taking two receivers on the second day of the draft. Deebo Samuel may have been a slight surprise to some by getting drafted early in the second round, but not to many draftniks. Samuel was my WR6 pre-draft and I’m a big fan. If he was healthy in college, he would be much higher in my ranks. He runs good routes, athletic, strong hands, and tough after the reception.

The biggest surprise here was Jalen Hurd going in round three! Hurd graded out strongly for me, WR13, despite playing WR for only one season. He showed good WR techniques, aggressiveness, and athleticism. The 49ers are a great landing spot because they have a good offensive minded head coach. Most view Jimmy Garoppolo as a very good quarterback, but i’m still hesitant. The current roster has no stud WR’s in the way for targets and the main competition is George Kittle.

If you’re looking for immediate production, this is how I believe the targets will get distributed. I believe Samuel will be second in line behind Kittle. Pettis will likely be third and battling with the running backs. Hurd will take a little bit longer to develop and may not see as much action in 2019. Last year’s second round pick, Dante Pettis, has been a community favorite this offseason, but his traits aren’t as good as Samuel and I expect his value to drop.

Long term, Samuel and Hurd have greater FF potential than Pettis as well.

4) Hakeem Butler – Arizona – Round 4 Pick 103

6) Andy Isabella – Arizona – Round 2 Pick 62

22) KeeSean Johnson – Arizona – Round 6 Pick 174

Similar to the 49ers in the draft, the Arizona Cardinals addressed the WR position often in the draft. New head coach, Kliff Kingsbury, is doing his own thing by drafting Kyler Murray at QB and trading away Josh Rosen. Similarly, he decided to draft three WR’s with Christian Kirk still on the roster. To me, this is a negative sign for Kirk and his potential. They needed more WR’s with Larry Fitzgerald almost at the end of the line and the rest of the WR’s not showing potential. But it’s different when 2 premium picks and another late pick are spent at the same position that a premium pick was just spent last season on Kirk. If you look at this in terms of individual skill sets:

-Hakeem Butler is a huge target, who will start on the outside and should get more red zone looks.

-Andy Isabella is very quick and fast. He’s likely to play in the slot and I’m less confident in his ability to play on the outside.

-Christian Kirk is likely to play in the slot, but he’s not as fast or quick as Isabella.

-KeeSean Johnson is a player I liked off of film. Shows a good overall skill set for the WR position and can be versatile in an offense. He can play both outside and in the slot.

-Larry Fitzgerald’s speed is gone, but his work ethic and smarts remain. He’ll be in the slot in 2019.

Due to all of the slot WR’s, it will be interesting to see how this plays out in training camp. Will Kingsbury move one of them to the outside? Will Butler and Johnson start on the outside? Who wins the slot job? This will likely be one of those FF situations where it will be WR by committee for the near future until one of these players emerge. Therefore, be patient with this young WR group because with Kyler Murray and Kingsbury the ceiling is very high, but it’s going to take some time. I would bet on both Butler and Isabella over Kirk long term.

5) DK Metcalf – Seattle – Round 2 Pick 64

18) Gary Jennings – Seattle – Round 4 Pick 120

DK Metcalf fell further in the draft than most had anticipated and finally Seattle grabbed him. The news just prior to the draft is Doug Baldwin may have played his last football, which leaves a large hole in the Seattle passing attack. This explains why Seattle drafted both Metcalf and Gary Jennings. Metcalf will likely start immediately due to draft capital and need at the position. He is the only WR with size and will likely be a red zone threat. This early playing time will help him get experience as he works on his route running and craft. Russell Wilson just signed an extension, so he’s guaranteed to have a good quarterback the next four years. Wilson will give Metcalf good opportunities, but it will be up to the Seattle coaching staff if they will be last in the NFL in passing attempts again like they were in 2018.

Jennings is interesting because he’s a versatile player, who’s more NFL ready than Metcalf. He will battle with David Moore, Jaron Brown, and Amara Darboh for playing time. Jennings is well rounded, can play in the slot, but also has solid athleticism.

7) Mecole Hardman – Kansas City – Round 2 Pick 56

23) Cody Thompson – Kansas City – UDFA

The Kansas City Chiefs have dealt with domestic violence issues twice in less than a year and it’s severely affecting a great offense. They cut Kareem Hunt and it’s still up in the air with what they will do with Tyreek Hill. At a minimum, i’d expect the NFL to suspend Hill for at least 8 games, which leaves a void in the passing attack. 2018 NFL MVP QB Patrick Mahomes makes this a great situation and you want to chase any WR in this offense.

The seriousness of the Hill situation was supported with the Chiefs drafting Mecole Hardman in the second round. He has blazing speed, similar to Hill, and also still raw. It makes sense for the Chiefs to draft him and just put him in Tyreek’s spot in the lineup. However, I wouldn’t expect the same target share or results. The targets left by Hill, if he does get suspended or released, will likely get divided among Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins, and Damien Williams with the new starting WR getting fewer than expected.

The interesting play here is Cody Thompson. He’s a player i’ve liked and he just landed in a prime situation. If you have deep benches, grab him as a solid lottery ticket.

8) Parris Campbell – Indianapolis – Round 2 Pick 59

I wasn’t surprised that Campbell was selected in the second round, but I was that the Colts were the team to pick him. I’m not a fan of Campbell’s game because he was manufactured so many touches at Ohio State and didn’t win down the field, despite his blazing speed. I bumped him up my rankings purely based on landing spot. Andrew Luck at quarterback gives a bump to all skill position players similarly to how Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers all did years ago. TY Hilton and the tight end group are the only proven assets, as i’m not a Devin Funchess truther. However, my expectations for Campbell having a big impact are low.

9) JJ Arcega-Whiteside – Philadelphia – Round 2 Pick 57

This pick by the Eagles is for developmental purposes. The current Eagles WR room is full with Alshon Jeffery, Desean Jackson and Nelson Agholor. Which means the JJAW won’t see many returns on his investment for the 2019 season.  However, Agholor is an unrestricted free agent after the season. Jackson doesn’t have a realistic contract to cut until after the 2020 or 2021 season. Jeffery’s contract carried almost a $7 million cap hit if they release him after the 2019 season. The more realistic scenario is after the 2020 season with a number of almost $3 million.

Zach Ertz is likely to be in town through the 2021 season. If the Eagles move on from Jeffery after the 2019 season, then JJAW could step into his role. Otherwise, waiting three years for a FF impact is going to be difficult in dynasty. It’s already going to be tough with the best tight end combination in the NFL for the next three years at a minimum. I’m much more cautious on JJAW’s dynasty prospects than many others.

10) Miles Boykin – Baltimore – Round 3 Pick 93

12) Marquise Brown – Baltimore – Round 1 Pick 25

The first WR taken in the NFL Draft is normally a bonus for FF because it means high draft capital. However, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown landed in the worst situation in the NFL because the Ravens didn’t throw to WR’s often last year and Lamar Jackson’s ability as a passer is poor. More specifically, Jackson is inaccurate deep down the field, which is Brown’s strength. It’s difficult to see this combination producing good FF results. I feel better about Miles Boykin operating in the short to intermediate area with Jackson throwing timing based patterns. But overall, this is a situation i’m looking to avoid on my FF teams.

13) Preston Williams – Miami – UDFA

I wasn’t surprised to see Preston Williams go undrafted. He has an off the field concern and didn’t test great at his pro day. However, i’m a big fan of his film and I like this landing spot. The biggest competition in Miami is Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, and Brice Butler. None of those players are proven studs, nor are they signed to big long term deals. This leaves Miami as a perfect destination for a lottery ticket such as Williams. He has good size, body control, hands, and route running. Now that Miami traded for Josh Rosen to be their starting quarterback, he’s going to need a young WR to get rapport with for years to come.

14) Kelvin Harmon – Washington – Round 6 Pick 206

16) Terry McLaurin – Washington – Round 3 Pick 76

Washington had a fantastic draft with many value picks. Grabbing a future starting quarterback, Dwayne Haskins, in the middle of the first round is a big step in the right direction. They also grabbed one of his running mates in college to be a receiver in Terry McLaurin. He’s a speedster who can help stretch defenses, but this isn’t Haskins’ forte and it caps the upside of McLaurin.

Kelvin Harmon fell like a rock in this draft and we were left to wonder “why?” He landed in a spot without any proven studs, which is a good thing. Josh Doctson and Paul Richardson are complimentary players, who don’t hog too many targets. Jordan Reed is the starting TE and he’s had a laundry list of injuries in the past. Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson haven’t proven to be great pass catchers out of the backfield, as that role is assigned to Chris Thompson. This team needs a player to step up at WR! Will it be McLauren or Harmon? Doubtful, but the opportunity may be there.

15) Dionte Johnson – Pittsburgh – Round 3 Pick 66

Drafting a WR on day two wasn’t out of the norm for the Steelers, as they’ve drafted many in the past, such as: Juju Smith-Schuester, James Washington, and Sammie Coates. But Dionte Johnson wasn’t a name expected to go on day two of the draft. He’s a speedy player, who could compliment Juju well from an offensive standpoint. However, the FF upside still goes through Juju with Washington running second. Eli Rogers, Ryan Switzer, Done Moncrief are all vying for targets as well. The immediate return on Johnson may not be there, unless Washington and others stumble. The upside here though as Antonio Brown left a lot of targets and Pittsburgh threw the football more than any other team in the NFL in 2018.

17) Emanuel Hall – Chicago – UDFA

19) Riley Ridley – Chicago – Round 4 Pick 126

As a Bears fan, I didn’t like their draft. Ironically, I wanted them to draft Emanuel Hall in the 3rd round, 4th round, 5th round, etc. When they finally got him in free agency, it was the first excitement I had with their draft. Hall represents a different talent they don’t have on offense. Taylor Gabriel is a speedy player, but he can’t match Hall’s size and speed combination. Riley Ridley reminds me of a poorer version of Anthony Miller, second round pick last season. Therefore, it’s difficult to understand this selection. Allen Robinson is the top WR with Miller working his way toward that title and Gabriel as a complimentary player. Ridley playing the role of another possession WR doesn’t scream FF value. He moved up to 19th on my rankings simply because he was selected in the 4th round of the draft.

20) Greg Dortch – NY Jets – UDFA

If you’ve followed me for some time, you know Greg Dortch is one of my favorites! Just a fun player to watch and scout. He has great short area quickness and moves. Simply a playmaker with the football in his hand. The Jets are in need of playmakers to support 2nd year QB Sam Darnold. The current WR grouping of Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, Jamison Crowder, Josh Bellamy, and Deontay Burnett lacks any type of WR needing to have 150 targets. It’s small, but Dortch has an opportunity with the Jets and a promising, young QB.

21) Stanley Morgan Jr – Cincinnati – UDFA

24) Travis Fulgham – Detroit – Round 6 Pick 184

Morgan is a player I liked on film, but he just went undrafted and to a crowded WR group with some good players. He’s nothing more than a flier at this point. Fulgham is on a team with opportunity at WR, but it may require a wait time to see any type of returns.

Insight by
Nick Whalen