RotoWire Partners

Dynasty Rankings: Top-50 Pre-Combine Rookie WRs

Mario Puig

Mario is a Senior Writer at RotoWire who primarily writes and projects for the NFL and college football sections.

[Usual pre-Combine disclaimer.]

As with our QB and RB articles, each blurb will address the age and projected round of the players listed, as well as a player comparison for each prospect. So as to best forecast eventual fantasy value, the players are ranked according to their projected draft order.

My personal prospect rankings would look different and will get published after the Combine.


1. Laquon Treadwell, Mississippi* (6-2, 210)


Treadwell doesn't offer the rare WR1 upside of recent prospects like Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans, but I think he's as good of a prospect as Amari Cooper was a year ago. This is admittedly due more to aesthetic scouting than any age-adjusted production analysis.

Indeed, Treadwell's numbers at Mississippi were actually a bit disappointing – especially his true freshman year where he totaled just 688 yards and five touchdowns on 72 catches, an average of just 8.4 yards per catch. I'm inclined to attribute that to Mississippi's scheme, however, as the playcalling fairly obviously dictated a low average target depth for Treadwell that year, preferring to use Donte Moncrief and Vince Sanders on deeper routes.

Still, Treadwell did catch 72 passes as a true freshman in the same offense where Moncrief, a junior, caught 59. Had their roles been switched, it's easy to imagine Treadwell approaching the 15.9 yards per catch Moncrief posted that year. Treadwell looks both fast and smooth athletically, and I'm not at all buying the chatter that he might run in the 4.70 range. I'd guess 4.54, with a margin of error around .04.

Birth date: 6/14/1995 (21)
Comparison: Hakeem Nicks
Projected round: 1 (top 15)

2. Corey Coleman, Baylor* (5-11, 190)

Film scouts have some gripes with Coleman due to perceived rawness and a simplified route tree in the Baylor offense, but the rate at which he produced leads me to believe that Coleman has the innate skill and athleticism to make whatever developments might be necessary in his game.

This is not a case where the system explains the production. Coleman's per-target efficiency at Baylor was borderline impossible, and he appears very athletic. Indeed, Coleman shows rare explosiveness in all athletic categories.

If Coleman performs as well at the Combine as I expect, he should end up in the top-15 discussion. I think a disappointing Combine is the only way he falls out of the first round.

Birth date: 7/6/1994 (22)
Comparison: Laveranues Coles
Projected round: 1


3. Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh* (6-2, 200)


Boyd doesn't have enough speed or brute strength to appear obviously dominant at a glance, but his production gives reason to believe that there's more to him than what meets the eye.

When adjusted for age, Boyd was one of the most productive receivers of all time at Pittsburgh. As a true freshman he caught 85 passes for 1,174 yards and seven touchdowns on a team that threw for just 3,074 yards and 21 touchdowns – even though he had to compete with senior star receiver Devin Street for targets.

Even if he lacks the speed to take the top off a defense and lacks the size to easily box out corners in the red zone, Boyd's production says he'll find a way to still get similar results to those with better measurables than him. That's not to say Boyd isn't athletic, though – he was consistently elusive with the ball at Pittsburgh, and he safely projects as at least a standout WR2 in the NFL.

Birth date: 11/15/1994 (21)
Comparison: Miles Austin
Projected round: 1


4. Josh Doctson, TCU (6-3, 195)


Doctson was simply masterful at TCU, consistently showing both chain-moving ability and downfield explosiveness. Whenever TCU needed to make a play, Doctson would almost always come through in a way that seemed almost predetermined.

That rare demonstration of dominance makes Doctson a coveted prospect despite lacking the obvious pedigree of a WR1. He's a little older than you'd like to see, and with what generally looks like an unimpressive size + athleticism variable. He would ideally be a little faster or a little heavier than he is, as he was a bit lanky at his college build.

If Doctson doesn't run well at the Combine, it could indicate a risk that his downfield dominance might not translate to the NFL. Even if that's the case, however, I think Doctson shows enough rare ball skills and body control to stand out on intermediate routes, as well as the red zone.

Birth date: N/A
Comparison: T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Projected round: 1-2


5. Braxton Miller, Ohio State (6-2, 204)


I will likely have Miller closer to 10 in my personal rankings, but I think his Senior Bowl and Combine hype will make him a tempting first-round pick to a number of teams. It's largely understandable – Miller is a convincing competitor and an incredible athlete, one whose value as a receiver is easy to imagine so long as he displays even the most basic fundamentals of playing the position.

He's all potential, though. He didn't make much of an impact at receiver in 2015, his first at the position, catching 26 passes for 341 yards and three touchdowns while running for 260 yards and a touchdown on 42 carries.

Birth date: 11/30/1992 (23)
Comparison: Jerry Porter
Projected round: 1-2


6. Will Fuller, Notre Dame* (6-0, 184)


Many are sour on Fuller, viewing him as a speed-only receiver who lacks the hands necessary to make an NFL impact. I highly disagree. A popular comparison is Ted Ginn, but Fuller had as many touchdowns in 2014 alone (15) as Ginn had in three years at Ohio State, so. It's just wrong.

I think Fuller's per-target production shows that, even if his hands are substandard, his other traits are positive enough to dictate success. Aesthetic scouting might say Fuller's hands fall short of some abstract golden standard, but his production all but rules out the possibility of a Ginn-like career. Ginn was marginally productive, whereas Fuller was truly exceptional, catching 138 passes for 2,352 yards (17.0 YPC) and 29 touchdowns over his last 26 games.

Birth date: 4/16/1994 (22)
Comparison: Robert Brooks
Projected round: 1-2


7. Leonte Carroo, Rutgers (6-0, 217)


Carroo's character needs a second look after he was arrested in September on a simple assault domestic violence charge, though the charges were eventually dropped. If the smoke clears from that incident, there's reason to advocate him as a first-round pick.

Carroo was extremely productive on a Rutgers team that featured memorably bad quarterback play, showing rare explosiveness and per-target efficiency by scoring 29 touchdowns on just 122 receptions, posting 2,373 yards (19.5 YPC) in the process.

Well built and explosive, Carroo should be a monster between the 20s, and his above average weight for his height should make him a better red-zone target than most of his big-play threat counterparts. A strong Combine could push Carroo into the first, where my personal rankings will likely place him. He's really good.

Birth date: 1/24/1994 (22)
Comparison: Chris Chambers
Projected round: 1-2


8. Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma (5-11, 193)


Although Shepard is unlikely to push for the first round, he's still a remarkably likable prospect – he just doesn't have the size or speed to project as more than a second or third target in an NFL offense.

He's more of a WR2 than a WR3, though. Although he'll face the unfair challenge of convincing everyone he's not a product of an Oklahoma system that hasn't seen its wideouts translate to the NFL, Shepard's film and production alike imply he'll be a standout starter at the next level.

There's an abundance of evidence that Shepard has innate WR skills of a truly rare quality. He was incredibly productive at Oklahoma, totaling 232 catches for 3,469 yards (15.0 YPC) and 26 touchdowns in his 43 healthy career games. To average over 80 yards per game over a span of more than 40 games demonstrates extreme consistency and a generally prodigious nature – he went over the 600-yard mark in all four of his years at Oklahoma.

Birth date: N/A
Comparison: Golden Tate
Projected round: 2


9. Michael Thomas, Ohio State* (6-3, 210)


Everyone likes Thomas more than I do, but I still think most are over-projecting his draft slot a bit. If Treadwell supposedly runs a slow 40, I can't imagine Thomas faring better – I'm concerned he lacks the explosiveness necessary to stand out as a starter in the NFL, and he doesn't have rare size to make up for it.

Aside from my athleticism concern, Thomas otherwise checks out quite well, especially in terms of fundamentals. His well-built frame translates to a strong physical presence, allowing him to push past jams and comfortably catch the ball in traffic. He shows good short-area coordination and runs sharp routes as a result. There's no doubt his numbers would be bigger if he had played in a more aggressive passing attack.

But upside is something I fuss over in receiver prospects, and unless Thomas surprises at the Combine, I'm inclined to rank him well behind the likes of Treadwell, Coleman, Doctson, Fuller, Carroo and Shepard.

Birth date: N/A
Comparison: Frank Sanders
Projected round: 2


10. Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina* (5-11, 207)


The Randall Cobb comparison is a bit of a clichι, but it has obvious merits. Like Cobb, Cooper is a highly versatile playmaker who can contribute in the slot, backfield, and return game, and can even operate as a wildcat quarterback.

Cooper caught 135 passes for 2,109 yards and 17 touchdowns over the last two years (25 games), adding 311 yards and three rushing touchdowns over the same span. He's dangerous after the catch, and his lack of height shouldn't matter too much if his after-the-catch explosiveness translates to the NFL. A bad Combine could tank his stock, though, because it's crucial that his explosiveness not come into question, lest he earn a comparison to disappointing past South Carolina slot wideouts Ace Sanders and Bruce Ellington.

Birth date: 3/7/1995 (21)
Comparison: Randall Cobb
Projected round: 2-3


11. Rashard Higgins, Colorado State* (6-2, 188)


Higgins is a skinny small school wide receiver, and those two traits generally imply he's a long shot to go in the first two rounds of the draft. Higgins is an unusual case, however, because very few receivers in college football history can match his level of production, especially when adjusted for age.

Not to take anything away from Amari Cooper, but Higgins should have won the Biletnikoff in 2014 in what might have been the best true sophomore season of any college football receiver ever. He caught 96 passes for 1,750 yards and 17 touchdowns in 12 games that year. He concluded his college career (38 career games) with 239 passes for 3,649 yards and 31 touchdowns.

Between his light frame and low level of competition, however, Higgins will face a lot of warranted skepticism. A strong Combine showing would do a lot to help, either in the form of showing added weight or by running and jumping better than expected.

Birth date: 10/7/1994 (21)
Comparison: Marquess Wilson
Projected round: 2-3


12. Roger Lewis, Bowling Green* (6-1, 199)


Lewis played at a small school, but it has long been known that his talent level exceeded that of the typical MAC receiver. He initially was a solid four-star recruit who attracted attention from plenty of BCS-level schools before legal issues flared up. Lewis' career was thrown off track by a 2012 rape charge, which was eventually dropped but still set back his college career by one year. If his character otherwise checks out at this point, Lewis has a chance to profile as a standout starting NFL receiver.

Lewis was dominant in two years at Bowling Green, catching 158 passes for 2,637 yards and 23 touchdowns in 28 games. He did that even while dealing with a struggling backup quarterback in 2014, when prolific starter Matt Johnson missed the year with a hip injury.

Lewis was a demoralizing big-play threat in college, and if he tests adequately at the Combine he should project as a dangerous deep-route target in the NFL.

Birth date: 11/27/1993 (22)
Comparison: Bernard Berrian
Projected round: 3


13. Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia (6-1, 195)


Mitchell is a former elite recruit who switched between receiver and cornerback early on in his career before having his development disrupted further by a 2013 ACL tear. Knee troubles would persist through the 2014 season, though Mitchell finally got healthy enough to enjoy a successful 2015.

Despite dealing with awful quarterback play on a team that threw for just 2,406 yards and 14 touchdowns, Mitchell finished his 2015 season with 58 catches for 865 yards (14.9 YPC) and five touchdowns. If the athleticism that once made him a blue chip recruit remains intact, there's a good chance Mitchell will improve his stock with a strong Combine showing.

Birth date: 7/20/1992 (24)
Comparison: Stevie Johnson
Projected round: 3-4


14. Demarcus Ayers, Houston* (5-10, 190)


Ayers is a fiery, versatile player who mostly profiles as a slot wideout in the NFL but possesses an intriguing skill set within that distinction.

If quarterback Greg Ward was the engine of the 2015 Houston offense, Ayers was the wheels. Not only did he catch 98 passes for 1,222 yards and six touchdowns, he also ran for a touchdown, threw two touchdowns, and returned a punt for a touchdown.

Considering a significant number of his receptions were actually just shovel passes from the backfield, Ayers' average of 12.5 yards per catch is subtly impressive – it's a fine figure relative to the average depth of his targets. Ayers did his damage mostly after the catch, showing impressive vision and an active motor to urgently cut through traffic. He should interest teams looking for someone who can contribute as a slot receiver and returner.

Birth date: N/A
Comparison: Randall Cobb
Projected round: 3-4


15. De'Runnya Wilson, Mississippi State* (6-5, 215)


I'm lower on Wilson than most, and likely won't rank him this high in my personal rankings. He can win me over with a better-than-expected Combine showing, but for now I think Wilson is mostly a myth.

Marketed as a prospect similar to players like Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess, Wilson is considerably smaller and appears less athletic than both players. Wilson does have quick feet for someone of his size and shows good body control while making acrobatic catches, but he otherwise doesn't show much in the way of speed, explosiveness, or vertical leap.

A strong Combine showing would change my mind on Wilson, though. If his workout numbers check out well, it would imply that Wilson's underwhelming film might have been due to thinking too much rather than a lack of NFL-level athleticism.

Birth date: 9/14/1994 (21)
Comparison: Brandon Coleman
Projected round: 4


16. Kolby Listenbee, TCU (6-1, 183)


Listenbee is a track and field legend who showed promising returns in his four years as a TCU receiver. For whatever perceived rawness Listenbee might have, his truly elite speed makes him worth the project time.

Listenbee might be the fastest player in the NFL once he arrives, as his 10.12-second 100-meter dash implies a 40 time closer to 4.20 than 4.35. Even if he's one dimensional, that one dimension is one that can force the defense to alter its coverage schemes.

Birth date: N/A
Comparison: Johnny Knox
Projected round: 4-5


17. Keyarris Garrett, Tulsa (6-4, 220)


Garrett is one of the most overlooked wideouts in this draft, and a player you have to root for after overcoming a compound leg fracture in 2013. Garrett looks every bit of his listed height-weight, and he's arguably the best big wideout in this draft.

After initially showing promise as a team-leading true sophomore in 2012, when he caught 67 passes for 845 yards and nine touchdowns, the compound fracture struck in the second game of 2013. Garrett showed a little rust in 2014, his first season back, but by 2015 Garrett announced his full return by catching 96 passes for 1,588 yards and eight touchdowns.

So long as Garrett tests well at Combine and shows no lingering effects of his injury, I like his chances of being a so-called 'draft riser' as time passes.

Birth date: 9/26/1992 (23)
Comparison: Roy Williams
Projected round: 4-5


18. Kenny Lawler, California* (6-3, 195)


Lawler is a likable enough player, proving the top touchdown threat in a prolific group of California receivers, but I'm generally a bit skeptical.

Lawler shows standout ball skills and body control for a player of his catch radius, and at the least he should be able to make plays on the sidelines in the NFL. But I think there's otherwise an incongruity in his skill set and NFL projection.

Specifically, I'm bothered how he was ostensibly an in-traffic wideout despite possessing a skinny build. I think it invites a disconnect between the theory and the practice when you have a player whose skill set isn't congruent with his physical traits, and generally NFL receivers who make their living in traffic are closer to 220 pounds than 200.

A lot or all of my worry would be put to rest if Lawler showed up to the Combine at over 210 pounds while retaining adequate athletic testing numbers, though.

Birth date: 6/25/1994 (22)
Comparison: Dezmon Briscoe
Projected round: 4-5


19. Marquez North, Tennessee* (6-3, 224)


If Braxton Miller is all potential, North is all potential potential. And yet, he's a risk worth investigating closely.

North didn't do much in his three years at Tennessee due to persistent injury troubles, especially in a 2015 season where he was limited to six catches for 58 yards in seven games by a knee issue. If North's health issues are past him, he's a top candidate to make waves at the Combine.

Birth date: 4/21/1995 (21)
Comparison: Marlon Brown
Projected round: 4-5


20. Michael Thomas, Southern Mississippi (6-1, 186)


Based on the information currently available, I'd have to bet that this is the best Michael Thomas in the draft. But he wasn't invited to the Combine, so for now it looks like he has no chance of pushing for the first three rounds.

Although he has a thin frame, Thomas' play at Southern Miss didn't lack physicality. Indeed, some of Thomas' most memorable moments were ones where he made plays in traffic. Injuries interrupted his first three games of 2015, but from that point onward, Thomas was pure fire. In those 11 games Thomas caught 65 passes for 1,331 yards and 14 touchdowns, including nine catches for 190 yards and two touchdowns in Southern Miss' bowl game against a tough Washington defense.

Birth date: 8/16/1994 (22)
Comparison: Allen Hurns
Projected round: 4-5


21. Paul McRoberts, Southeast Missouri State (6-2, 202)


Birth date: 11/15/1992 (23)
Comparison: Justin McCareins
Projected round: 4-5


22. Bralon Addison, Oregon* (5-10, 190)


Birth date: N/A
Comparison: Bruce Ellington
Projected round: 4-5


23. Aaron Burbridge, Michigan State (6-0, 210)


Birth date: 12/23/1993 (22)
Comparison: Darrell Jackson
Projected round: 4-5


24. Chris Moore, Cincinnati (6-2, 190)


Birth date: 6/16/1993 (23)
Comparison: Kenny Stills
Projected round: 5


25. Jordan Payton, UCLA (6-1, 216)


Birth date: 9/1/1993 (23)
Comparison: Arnaz Battle
Projected round: 5


26. Daniel Braverman, Western Michigan* (5-10, 178)


Birth date: 9/28/1993 (22)
Comparison: Michael Campanaro
Projected round: 5

27. Keon Hatcher, Arkansas (6-2, 210)

Birth date: 9/11/1994 (21)
Comparison: David Gettis
Projected round: 5


28. Devin Lucien, Arizona State (6-2, 195)


Birth date: 6/26/1993 (23)
Comparison: Greg Salas
Projected round: 5-6


29. D.J. Foster, Arizona State (5-11, 195)


Birth date: N/A
Comparison: Freddie Milons
Projected round: 5-6


30. Nelson Spruce, Colorado (6-1, 205)


Birth date: 12/5/1992 (23)
Comparison: Danny Coale
Projected round: 6


31. Jalin Marshall, Ohio State* (5-11, 205)


Birth date: N/A
Comparison: Courtney Roby
Projected round: 6


32. Jordan Williams, Ball State (6-2, 224)


Birth date: 5/9/1994 (22)
Comparison: Adarius Bowman
Projected round: 6


33. Trevor Davis, California (6-2, 185)


Birth date: 7/4/1993 (23)
Comparison: Paul Richardson
Projected round: 6


34. Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech (5-7, 168)


Birth date: 10/30/1992 (23)
Comparison: Craig Yeast
Projected round: 6-7


35. Davonte Allen, Marshall (6-2, 200)


Birth date: 3/6/1993 (23)
Comparison: Brandon Lloyd
Projected round: 6-7


36. Ricardo Louis, Auburn (6-2, 215)


Birth date: 3/23/1994 (22)
Comparison: Brad Smith
Projected round: 6-7


37. Tajae Sharpe, Massachusetts (6-2, 189)


Birth date: 12/23/1994 (21)
Comparison: Freddie Barnes
Projected round: 6-7


38. Hunter Sharp, Utah State (6-0, 200)


Birth date: N/A
Comparison: Josh Boyce
Projected round: 6-7


39. D'haquille Williams, Auburn (6-2, 224)


Birth date: 5/13/1993 (23)
Comparison: Mike Williams (Syracuse)
Projected round: 6-7


40. T.J. Thorpe, Virginia (6-0, 210)


Birth date: 5/26/1993 (23)
Comparison: Kaelin Clay
Projected round: 7-UDFA


41. Jamal Robinson, Louisiana-Lafayette (6-3, 205)
42. Canaan Severin, Virginia (6-2, 205)
43. Devon Cajuste, Stanford (6-4, 227)
44. Alex Erickson, Wisconsin (6-0, 197)
45. Cayleb Jones, Arizona* (6-3, 215)
46. Jay Lee, Baylor (6-2, 215)
47. Geronimo Allison, Illinois (6-3, 197)
48. Quinshad Davis, North Carolina (6-3, 220)
49. Dom Williams, Washington State (6-2, 200)
50. Jaydon Mickens, Washington (5-10, 174)