2023 NFL Draft

Senior Bowl Director Jim Nagy Expects Top WRs to Fall On Draft Day

The wide receiver position has seemed to have taken off in the NFL over the last couple of seasons. It used to be commonplace for most receivers transitioning from the college to the professional to need at least a year or two to develop and slowly work themselves into the starting lineup. However, receivers have been coming out of the college ranks ready to hit the ground running in recent seasons, with the likes of Garrett Williams, Ja’Marr Chase, and Jaylen Waddle making notable impacts in their rookie seasons as they all surpassed the 1,000-yard mark.

This has led teams to prioritize the WR position in the draft, being able to select a Day One contributor on a cost-effective deal compared to the mega contracts several big name WRs have landed the last several seasons.

However, it appears like the 2023 WR draft class hasn’t been viewed in the same light as recent draft classes at the position. Senior Bowl Director Jim Nagy recently took to Twitter, stating that his league sources believe that many teams only see one receiver prospect worthy of a first-round grade this year: Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

Smith-Njigba was injured for most of the 2022 season, but he took college football by storm in 2021, catching 95 passes for 1,606 yards and nine TDs. He proved himself fully healthy at his Pro Day, showing impressive stop/start quickness as he excelled in the agility drills and other on-field work.

When you look at the rest of the WR class, it is mediocre compared to the classes we have seen in recent drafts. Many considered USC WR Jordan Addison to be WR1 heading into the process, but his draft stock has cooled as of late. He had a modest workout at the NFL Combine, posting acceptable, yet not eye-popping testing numbers (4.49 40, 34” vert) while coming in at just 5’11, 173lb. He has been a dominant player at the college level the last two seasons. But he lacks that prototypical WR1 makeup as Alex Kozora concluded, giving Addison a second-round grade in his pre-draft profile.

TCU WR Quentin Johnson is this draft’s version of a height/weight/speed specimen, standing 6’3, 208 lbs with a 40.5” vertical and an 11’2” broad jump. But his speed wasn’t as good as perceived going into the pre-draft process and there are concerns regarding his rawness as a route runner and having a notably high drop rate. Zay Flowers has seen his draft stock soar since the start of the process, adding nearly 13 pounds of muscle to his frame to complement his speed, burst, and elusiveness in the open field. Still, he is only 5’9, 182 lbs, making him a smaller receiver that may struggle to win outside of the slot at the next level.

This draft also has names like Jalin Hyatt, Josh Downs, and Rashee Rice. All have promising traits but don’t really possess a full package. Instead of reaching for an incomplete prospect in the first round, it appears like many teams may wait until Day Two to start the run on WRs in this draft. This could easily benefit the Steelers, who have shown interest in Addison and Flowers should they want to go that route early on Day Two. If not those names, more WR prospects should be there for the taking in the middle rounds, potentially giving Pittsburgh yet another great value selection at WR in the draft.

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