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12 Jul 2020

Home of the NFL Offseason

Senior Bowl Preview: Wide Receivers

The Liberty University football team plays UMass in Amherst, Massachusetts on November 3, 2018. (photo by Jessie Rogers)

The Senior Bowl is the premier NFL Draft event that takes place every season, and marks the official start of the NFL Draft cycle. It’s an all-star game where prospects come to boost their draft stock, meet with scouts and coaches, and showcase their own personal skills on a level above where they performed in college. The standouts from this event are going to obtain the interest of multiple NFL teams, and their draft stock will rise.

This is why this event is such an important one to cover. It’s been a staple of the NFL Draft for decades, and remains a trusted event in the NFL Draft cycle.

Here at Draft Rite, we intend to give you the most complete NFL Draft content possible. We will be covering the Senior Bowl this season from top to bottom, and hopefully with your support, we will continue to cover it for many years to come.

Let’s get into it, shall we?

The List

Here is the list of receivers that have (so far) accepted their invites to the game:

WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
WR Chase Claypool, Notre Dame
WR Devin Duvernay, Texas
WR Bryan Edwards, South Carolina
WR Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty
WR Collin Johnson, Texas
WR Kalija Lipscomb, Vanderbilt
WR Denzel Mims, Baylor
WR Michael Pittman Jr, USC

Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State

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This is a guy who might actually be better than the first round receiver that Arizona State produced last season, N’Keal Harry. He’s a JUCO product, now entering his second season in the Arizona State program. The Sun Devils have been breaking in a freshman quarterback this season, Jayden Daniels, who has made Aiyuk his go to guy.

Aiyuk has a ton of speed and creates separation with his quickness in his routes. Once he gets into the open field, he’s usually gone. His speed is a great factor as he is an angle breaker, meaning that defenders oftentimes misjudge his speed. That’s a whole lot more than what Harry offered NFL teams last season.

Chase Claypool, Notre Dame

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Earlier this season, in September, at Full Press Coverage, I wrote a feature on Chase Claypool and the potential he has to rise in this NFL Draft class. Honestly, in any other receiver class in the history of the NFL, Claypool would be a top ten guy. Because this class is so deep, he’s not.

Claypool is simply a big-bodied receiver who has enough speed to be a nuisance, can make catches through contact and offers a big fellow that’s tough to bring down in the open field. Don’t be surprised if Claypool is asked to move to tight end at some point. At 6’4″ and 230 pounds, he wouldn’t have to do too much to get there.

Devin Duvernay, Texas

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Devin Duvernay is an extraordinary talent that I also did a feature on Full Press Coverage back in September. He showed up in a big way in the Texas/LSU game this season and left a good impression on me.

Duvernay was a track star in high school, and reportedly ran a 4.38 forty yard dash coming out of high school. He can fly. Not only does he possess natural speed, but he is built like a running back, and this allows him to be deadly after the catch. The Texas offense uses him mostly as a slot guy, which is a good role for Devin. Don’t be surprised if Duvernay becomes a first option outside guy in the NFL, he’s a versatile weapon and can be used in a multitude of ways.

Bryan Edwards, South Carolina

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Bryan Edwards is another one of those guys where if this was any other receiver class in NFL Draft history, he would be a top ten guy. There is so much talent budding from this positional group it’s actually sad at how many of these receivers will be under drafted this season.

Edwards is another big-bodied receiver going to Mobile. The thing that makes Edwards a little bit different from some of the guys going is that he knows how to use his size as a weapon. Edwards has great length, and understands how to use his length to shield defenders from the ball and make extraordinary catches through contact. He will be a fun one to watch in Mobile.

Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty

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This is my favorite receiver in this class, personally. It’s hard to find the proper place to rank him in the class of guys because I do like him, but he is a very raw prospect. He’s one the biggest guys going to the Senior Bowl, listed at 6’4″ and 220 pounds.

Gandy-Golden has spent a lot of his time in college simply being more physical than the guy on the other side of the line of scrimmage. That’s not a knock on what Gandy-Golden can bring to the table, it’s an observation. Despite this handicap, Gandy-Golden has shown refined skills that he has developed that will translate to the NFL. He’s a fun prospect and I can’t wait to see him in person.

Collin Johnson, Texas

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Collin Johnson is the Texas receiver we expected to talk about all season as the dominant force that the NFL desires, the go to guy for the Longhorns. Unfortunately, injuries have held Johnson out of several games this season, and Devin Duvernay has taken a lot of the spotlight. However, Johnson is still relevant, the biggest receiver (6’6″ and 220 lbs) going to the Senior Bowl.

Johnson’s length is the biggest weapon to his game. He has the size to go over any cornerback in football. That’s not to say that he isn’t athletic, but his speed isn’t going to impress you. Johnson could use a few more pounds on his frame to really become dominant, and really stand out as a more physical receiver.

Most of us really expected Johnson to go pro last season, where he stood out as a top ten receiver in the class. Now, the injury has hurt him from having a dominant season, and the class this season is significantly deeper than last season. The decision seems to has hurt Johnson’s draft stock, but a good Senior Bowl performance can really get him back on track.

Kalija Lipscomb, Vanderbilt

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Kalija Lipscomb was the first receiver to accept his invite this season, and his invitation surprised many of us in the NFL Draft media. It’s not that Lipscomb isn’t a good receiver, it’s just that most don’t see him as a top 20 option in this class. But hey, what can we say? Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy has certainly proved all of us wrong before.

Lipscomb is a hands guy. He’s a good route runner who will consistently get to the point he needs to get to and come down with the catch. You will probably notice the dip in his production which is perfectly explainable: the Vanderbilt quarterback situation has significantly changed. Lipscomb has a good frame, 6’1″ and 200 pounds, but he needs to show that he can create separation better.

Denzel Mims, Baylor

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Denzel Mims is one hell of a prospect, and is truly top ten in his position group. At 6’3″ and 215 pounds, Mims has been the star in this receiver group since his sophomore season. The strides that he has taken from his junior to senior season’s as a prospect have been huge.

Mims brings a good frame to the outside, excellent hands and body control that allows him to contort himself into different catch angles. His entire body movement is designed to make the catch easier on his hands, and it’s absolutely fantastic. A great prospect with incredible upside.

Michael Pittman Jr, USC

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Michael Pittman Jr’s father was a fourth round pick, and played in the NFL as a running back for a decade. He performed for the Arizona Cardinals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Denver Broncos. Now, his son looks to enter the league, with a much bigger frame than his father had.

Pittman has stood out as one of the biggest risers in the wide receiver class this season, showing refined footwork and route running, excellent hands and NFL level body control as he has been a dominant force in the PAC-12 this entire season. It will be great to see him do work in Mobile.

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