The 2020 WR Class is incredibly deep. First of all, there are nine different WRs who have realistic shots to be 1st Round NFL picks. And while it’s likely that only 5-6 of them will actually be drafted in Round 1, all nine are generally expected to be gone by the end of Round 2. (The nine WRs: CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, Justin Jefferson, Laviska Shenault, Jalen Reagor, Tee Higgins, Denzel Mims and Brandon Aiyuk).

Secondly, this WR class goes deeper than its glut of high end prospects. It’s also loaded with Day 2 and Day 3 WRs who have the upside to out-produce their higher drafted peers. Below I’ve highlighted the profiles of seven WRs in consideration for Day 2 of the NFL draft. In Part 2, I’ll highlight seven more WRs who are more likely to fall to Day 3.

The WRs below are ordered by their expected NFL draft position.

 

1. K.J. HAMLER, WR, PENN STATE
Expected Draft Position: 2nd – 3rd Round
Positive Indicators:

Age. K.J. Hamler is the youngest WR in the 2020 class, not turning 21 until July. WRs who begin their rookie seasons at age 21 have out produced WRs who enter the league at 22+ and have been the best values in dynasty.

Declared Early. WRs who forgo college eligibility to enter the NFL draft have strongly out-performed WRs who stay for their Senior season, even after accounting for age.

Career Market Share of Yards. Hamler’s 29% career market share (meaning, he accounted for 29% of Penn State’s receiving yards over his two year career) is a fantastic mark for a WR so young. Moreover, it means he had multiple high level seasons at the college level.

2019 Age-Adjusted Market Share of Yards. Using Jon Moore’s Phenom Index methodology, Hamler’s 31% market share of yards in 2019 at age 20.5 trails only CeeDee Lamb in the 2020 class. (Lamb had a 34% MSY at 20.7).

Red Flags:

Size. Hamler is just 5’9″ 178 lbs. Since 2005, only DeSean Jackson, Percy Harvin, T.Y. Hilton and John Brown have recorded a 200+ PPR season in their first three NFL Seasons at under 185 lbs. (Jackson and Brown are the only ones to do so under 180 lbs).

No athletic testing. Jackson, Harvin and Hilton all ran sub-4.4 40s at the combine. Tavon Austin, who nearly scored 200 PPR points in his 3rd year at 174 lbs, ran a 4.28. At 178 lbs, Hamler will need elite speed to produce in the NFL. We don’t know for sure that he has it.

Questionable Hands. Lance Zierlein has cited drops as a major concern for Hamler, and it’s a sentiment echoed elsewhere in the scouting community.

Outlook:

If paired with an effective deep passer, Hamler has the upside to emerge as the DeSean Jackson or T.Y. Hilton of the 2020 class. If his drops continue to be an issue he could struggle for playing time. One point in Hamler’s favor is that although he’s is very unlikely to be a 1st round pick, he’s widely expected to be selected on Day 2. The successful WRs in his weight range were Day 1 and 2 picks, so it’s a very good sign that he appears to be a strong favorite for a Day 2 selection.

 

2. CHASE CLAYPOOL, WR, NOTRE DAME
Expected Draft Position: 2nd – 3rd Round
Positive Indicators:

Size and Athleticism. No one in this class can match Chase Claypool‘s combination of size and speed. At 6’4″ 238 lbs, his 4.42 40 and 40.5 inch vertical are astonishing.

TD Upside. Based on his physical profile, Claypool projects as a red zone weapon in the NFL. So it’s highly encouraging that he racked up 13 TDs in 13 games in 2019.

2019 Age-Adjusted Market Share of Yards. Claypool was also a key contributor outside of the red zone, accounting for 32% of Notre Dame’s receiving yards in his final season at just 21 years old. While not an outstanding age-adjusted final MSY, it’s in the same range as more highly regarded prospects like Justin Jefferson and Jalen Reagor.

Chance of a switch to TE: While I don’t think this is particularly likely, there are some who think Claypool could be switched to Move TE, which would be a boost to his fantasy value.

Red Flags:

Declared as a Senior. Seniors WRs have been out produced by WRs who declare early. This is true overall and in every round of the NFL draft.

One year wonder. Claypool not only waited until after his Senior year to declare for the NFL draft, he waited until his Senior year to produce NFL draft worthy stats. Prior to 2019, his career high in Dominator Rating (the average of his Market Share of Receiving Yards and Market Share of TDs) was just 18%. Players who declare as Seniors after underwhelming as underclassmen have weak NFL track records, regardless of how athletic they are.

Outlook: 

Claypool’s path to fantasy stardom is scoring TDs. Therefore, I’d love to see him land on a potent offense that can get into scoring position without him, and let him go to work once there. He may disappoint if forced to operate in a lower scoring offense as a traditional WR.

 

3. MICHAEL PITTMAN, WR, USC
Expected Draft Position: 2nd – 3rd Round
Positive Indicators:

Size and Agility. Pittman is 6’4″ 223 lbs, which makes it a little insane that he delivered a 6.96 3-cone at the combine.

TD Upside. Over his final two seasons, Pittman accounted for 34% of USC’s receiving TDs.

Explosive Punt Returner. Pittman only returned 6 career punts but he returned one for a TD and totaled 156 return yards. This adds to the evidence provided by his 6.96 3-cone that, despite his size, he can be electric with the ball in his hands.

Red Flags:

Declared as a Senior.

Career Market Share of Yards. Pittman’s Career MSY is well below what we’d like to see for a 4-year college player, at 25%.

2019 Age-Adjusted Market Share of Yards. Likewise, Pittman’s final MSY of 29% is lower for a 22-year old than we typically see from successful prospects.

Outlook:

My interest in Pittman will be very dependent on his draft position and landing spot. Although he has elite agility for his size, he is not an elite athlete in terms of straight line speed or jumping ability, both of which have tended to be more important for WR prospects. And although he displayed play-making ability in a limited sample as a punt returner, he was not particularly explosive as an actual WR. Nor did he carve out a impressive role for himself in his offense, despite spending four years in that offense, and ending his career with a significant age advantage over his opponents. All that said, Pittman could end up being a Round 2 pick. Such high draft capital would provide evidence that we’re missing part of the puzzle when looking at his production profile, and would come with a strong probability of a fantasy relevant role in his offense.

 

4. DONOVAN PEOPLES-JONES, WR, MICHIGAN
Expected Draft Position: 3rd – 4th round Round
Positive Indicators:

Age. Peoples-Jones is the 5th youngest WR in the class and will play the entire 2020 season at 21 years old.

Declared Early.

Athleticism. Peoples-Jones’ 44.5 inch vertical is the third highest mark recorded at the combine since 1987Even super-freak Calvin Johnson (who didn’t jump at the combine) “only” jumped 42.5 inches at his pro day.

Size. Peoples-Jones doesn’t have Claypool’s size, but at 6’2″ 212 lbs, he does have the requisite size to operate as an Alpha WR in the NFL. He also has 10.1″ bear mitts, which tie him with Henry Ruggs for the largest hands in the class.

Punt Return TDs. Peoples-Jones didn’t do the agility drills at the combine. So it’s nice to see that he operated as his team’s primary punt returner, returning 87 punts at Michigan. His PR average of 8.3 yards isn’t great. But he displayed big time play-making ability with a 79 yard TD return in 2017 and a 60 yard TD return in 2018. He’s more explosive than agile, but his PR resume makes it more likely he possesses functional NFL agility.

Red Flags:

Lack of production. However you want to look at it–Breakout Age, Career Market Share, Age-Adjusted Market Share, raw production–Peoples-Jones was not productive in college. This is a major red flag, and makes the NFL’s evaluation of Peoples-Jones (ie. his NFL draft position) an absolutely critical part of his prospect evaluation.

Yards per Route Run & Yards per Target. Peoples-Jones’ 1.7 YPRR in 2020 bests only Jalen Reagor among WRs in consideration for Rounds 1-3. And his YPT bests only Reagor and Bryan Edwards. Reagor and Edwards were major parts of their college offenses despite their inefficiency however, indicating that the root cause of their inefficiency may not have been their own skill, but QB play or the overall quality of the offense. Peoples-Jones however, was not a major contributor in his offense. Combined with his low market share, his inefficiency on his routes run and targets paints the picture of a WR who is, at the very least extremely raw, and at worst, not good.

Outlook:

If NFL scouts vouch for Peoples-Jones with a Day 2 selection, he quickly becomes one of the most intriguing prospects in the entire draft class. While he’s yet to prove his WR ability through college production, he’s so young and athletic that if paired with high draft capital he presents an upside bet that is extremely hard to pass on. However, if Peoples-Jones falls to Day 3, it’s more likely he’s a prospect in the Chris Conley mold. In other words, an Athlete without difference-making WR skills.

 

5. TYLER JOHNSON, WR, MINNESOTA 
Expected Draft Position: 3rd – 5th Round
Positive Indicators:

Breakout Age. Tyler Johnson has the youngest breakout age in the 2020 class, posting a Dominator Rating of 62% (62% !!!) as a 19-year old true Sophomore.

Career Market Share of Yards. Johnson’s Career MSY of 38% is truly excellent, especially combined with his 19 year old breakout age. From 2005-2019, only 22 WRs in my data set have broken out before age 20 and achieved a Career MSY of 35% or higher. These 22 WRs have been highly successful, averaging 136 PPR points / season in their first three NFL seasons.

2019 Age-Adjusted Market Share of Yards. Johnson was great throughout his college career, and his final season stands out in the 2020 WR class as well. His 40% MSY at age 21.4 ranks as the third best age-adjusted season in the 2020 class behind CeeDee Lamb and K.J. Hamler.

Yards per Route Run. Johnson trailed only CeeDee Lamb and Tee Higgins in yards per route run in the 2020 class. Providing strong evidence that talent was the driving force behind his dominant share of Minnesota’s passing offense, not simply that the Gophers lacked better options.

TD Upside. Over his final three college seasons, Johnson accounted for 53% of Minnesota’s receiving TDs. Which, I mean… come on, that’s ridiculous. At 6’1″ 206 lbs, Johnson doesn’t profile as a classic red zone weapon, but he may have underrated upside as a shifty red zone threat operating out of the slot.

Red Flags:

Declared as a Senior.

Senior Bowl Snub / Shrine Bowl DNP. Johnson was not invited to the Senior Bowl, a surprise given his level of college production, and an indication of lower than expected standing within the scouting community. He then opted not to participate in the Shrine Bowl, so that he could focus on training for the combine.

AthleticismJohnson then opted to sit out the combine testing, presumably to play for a more favorable environment at his Pro Day. But his March 25th Pro Day was canceled due the the COVID-19 pandemic. So to sum up, scouts already had doubts based on Johnson’s college tape, and then he was completely absent throughout the pre-draft process. His NFL draft stock appears to have taken a big hit as result.

Outlook:

Tyler Johnson has been extremely productive since he burst onto the scene in 2017 with 47% of Minnesota’s receiving yards and 78% of their receiving TDs. The major knock on him has been and continues to be that NFL scouts don’t seem to consider him a high level prospect, and potentially not athletic enough to compete at the next level. This likely contributed to his decision to return to school in 2019, and is why he could fall to Day 3 of the draft. However, if Johnson is given a chance at the NFL level, his statistical profile provides evidence that he could be a highly productive NFL WR.

 

6. ANTONIO GANDY-GOLDEN, WR, LIBERTY
Expected Draft Position: 3rd – 5th round
Positive Indicators:

Breakout Age. Gandy-Golden is one of just five WRs in the class who broke out at age 19. However, it’s worth noting that his breakout (a 34% DR in 2017) occurred the year before Liberty moved up to the FBS level. In other words, he broke out against weaker competition. However, Gandy-Golden then recorded consecutive Dominator Ratings well above 30% in his following FBS seasons. So even throwing out his FCS breakout would give him a breakout age of 20-years old–still bullish.

Career Market Share of Yards. Gandy-Golden’ s Career MSY of 36.8% trails only Tyler Johnson in the 2020 class.

2019 Age-Adjusted Market Share of Yards. Gandy-Golden is young for a 4-year player, finishing his Senior season at 21.7. As a result, his final season MSY of 37% looks above average from an age-adjusted perspective.

Yards per Route Run. Gandy-Golden was a highly efficient college WR. His 2019 YPRR of 3.0 either bests or ties that of six WRs expected to be drafted by the end of Round 2. (Brandon Aiyuk, Laviska Shenault, Henry Ruggs, Justin Jefferson, Jalen Reagor and Denzel Mims). This efficiency is especially important considering that his level of play and the talent level of his teammates are potential red flags for Gandy-Golden. His strong efficiency makes it more likely that he wasn’t the focal point of the Liberty offense by default, but instead because he’s a highly talented WR.

TD upside. Gandy-Golden accounted for 39% of Liberty’s TDs over his final three seasons. At 6’4″ 223 lbs, TD scoring projects to be an important competent of his NFL game.

Red Flags:

Declared as a Senior.

Speed. Considering he weighs 223 lbs, Gandy-Golden’s 4.6 40 at the combine was impressive, actually. But it may nonetheless, hurt his draft stock if NFL teams peg him as a possession WR at the next level.

Outlook:

With a 3rd Round selection, Gandy-Golden profiles as a Kenny Golladay level prospect. Like Golladay, Gandy-Golden is a 4-year player whose level of college play creates some uncertainty in his projection. But also like Golladay, he was incredibly productive over multiple seasons and has a penchant for scoring TDs.

 

7. BRYAN EDWARDS, WR, SOUTH CAROLINA
Expected Draft Position: 3rd – 5th Round
Positive Indicators:

Age. Bryan Edwards will begin his rookie season at age 21.

Dominated as a Freshman. As an 18-year old true-Freshman in 2016, Edwards accounted for 23% of South Carolina’s receiving yards and 33% of their TDs. Though he wouldn’t officially breakout until 2019 with his first season above the 30% DR threshold, the fact that he posted a 28% DR in 12 games as a Freshman in the SEC is still incredibly impressive.

2019 Age-Adjusted Market Share of Yards. Edwards also finished his career strong with a 2019 MSY of 35% at 21.1 years old, recording the 6th best age-adjusted final season in the 2020 class.

Career Market Share of Yards. Edwards’ 27% career MSY is very strong for a WR who will begin his NFL career at 21.

Red Flags:

Declared as a Senior.

No Athletic Testing (Broken Foot).

Yards per Target. Edwards’ yards per target of 7.6 bests only Jalen Reagor among WRs in Day 2 consideration. However, the fact that he was a big part of his college offense in spite of this, could mean that his inefficiency was primarily a result of his surrounding talent.

Career Market Share of Yards. Edwards’Career MSY is not particularly strong for a 4-year player.

Outlook:

How you view Edwards’ prospect profile depends somewhat on how much stock you put in Early Declare as a significant predictor. When adjusted purely for his age, Edwards’ production profile is excellent. However, he falls short of the uber-production we usually see from Senior prospects who go on to be highly successful in the NFL. Opinions will differ as well on whether or not Edwards’ Freshman season constituted a breakout. If credited, his breakout age improves from an unremarkable 21.1 to a very bullish 18.1. Overall, Edwards shapes up as one of the most polarizing prospects in the 2020 class. It will be fascinating to see where he’s drafted.