The NFL offseason is heading toward the Draft in late April. The draft won’t be held outdoors at a Las Vegas casino, but it will go on. It’s not as though athletes will be in close physical proximity to each other. They will simply be notified by the teams which pick them. This is something which can go off as scheduled; the playing of actual games is what the coronavirus makes impossible (or at least, very unlikely) at this point in time. When the draft occurs in just over three weeks, which receivers will be taken, and in what order, in the first round? Here are the leading candidates for the first receiver taken in the 2020 draft:
The explosive receiver for the University of Oklahoma went through some injury problems, which could cause him to fall a few spots down the draft board. He also played in a pass-happy Big 12 Conference, whereas some of the other receivers on this list played in the more physically imposing SEC. Yet, Lamb was so lethally potent for the Sooners in his collegiate career that he might still be the first receiver taken. Keep in mind that when Lamb was injured and out of the lineup, Oklahoma’s passing game was a lot weaker. Lamb’s absence in certain games made it clear how valuable he was to his team. That is something scouts will notice. He is an electric playmaker who will be impossible to ignore at draft time.
The man with a really good chance of being the first receiver taken – arguably better than Lamb – is Jeudy. He is not the fastest receiver from the University of Alabama. That distinction goes to teammate Henry Ruggs. However, Jeudy is plenty fast and is widely considered a better route runner who does a superior job – compared to Ruggs – of getting open and creating space between himself and opposing cornerbacks. Jeudy helped make Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa look very good over the past two seasons. His technique and instincts are exceptionally sound, and he played tougher collegiate competition than Lamb did at Oklahoma. The pricing of these odds puts Lamb as the favorite, but Jeudy looks like the superior receiver when studied on film and when placed into a larger context.
The other elite Alabama receiver in this draft class ran a 4.28 40-yard dash, making him the only player at the 2020 NFL Combine to crack the 4.3-second barrier. However, in the process of running that exceptionally fast time, Ruggs did suffer an injury, so teams are going to be at least somewhat cautious about taking him very early in the draft. He probably will be taken in the first round, but it will be hard to expect him to go in the top 10, and probably even in the top 15. Injuries are generally worth a few draft spots, if not more, for players who suffer them during the combine. That will be too much of an obstacle for Ruggs to overcome.
The elite quality of Jerry Jeudy makes it virtually impossible to think any receiver outside this top three will go first. Jeudy and Lamb are both exceptionally talented, and evaluators can see that. Don’t go for a dark-horse option here.