2022 NFL Draft: Scouting Combine Preview – Wide Receivers

Nov 27, 2021; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver Jahan Dotson (5) gives a thumbs up before a play during the second quarter against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 27, 2021; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver Jahan Dotson (5) gives a thumbs up before a play during the second quarter against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

Previewing the wide receiver position ahead of the scouting combine, one of the premier 2022 NFL Draft events.

The NFL Scouting Combine is a major event in the draft process, and it’s great to have it back for the 2022 NFL Draft. The workouts begin Thursday, as the quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends take the field in what should be highly anticipated.

Now, obviously, the combine isn’t the end-all-be-all in terms of evaluation, but it gives a baseline of drills for a position that everyone goes through. The athletic testing numbers are also not a guarantee for anything, but they are an important tool for trends and analysis.

Let’s dive in to the receiver position, a favorite of many, to preview what to expect with the numbers and on-field workouts, and who could elevate their 2022 NFL Draft stock with a strong performance.

Note: Drake London, Jameson Williams, John Metchie III, Justyn Ross won’t be participating.

Workout Warriors

So, which receiver prospects will show out during the workouts and testing? Well, it’s a good start to look to the top.

Garrett Wilson and Treylon Burks are two names who are synonymous with top prospects in the class, and both will have a chance to prove how good they are in front of the NFL world. Wilson’s 40 time may not jump out, but it will be interesting to see what he does in terms of the explosion drills (jumps) and the agility drills. He’s a well-rounded playmaker who should impress with the receiver drills as well. For Burks, it’s about the explosion and the 40. He should jump really well, and seeing the speed he generates for his size will be a spectacle.

Looking a bit down the line, expect Jahan Dotson to have a great day in terms of running and jumping, but his hands and how he thrives in drills will be the draw. Calvin Austin III should run really well and kill it down there.

An under-the-radar name to watch is Baylor’s Tyquan Thornton. He’s a lean prospect at 6’2″ and around 180 pounds. Expect the track background to help him with speed and explosion numbers that jump off the screen.

Not Worried, Watch The Tape

Testing isn’t everything, and it happens all the time. The most notable of the recent “poor testers” to dominate in the NFL is Cincinnati Bengals standout Tee Higgins. So who could it be this year?

The easy answer to this one is Purdue’s David Bell, who has been productive since the moment he stepped on campus in East Lafayette. He doesn’t have the eye-popping speed and agility other prospects do, and probably won’t wow at the combine. Oh well. He succeeds in every facet of the game, which is why he has fans advocating for him to be drafted in the early second round. He’s tough, wins at the catch point, has good body control, and can succeed at all three levels.

Most To Gain

When it comes to “most to gain”, it’s about the prospects that can have a big week, whether it be clearing medicals, interviewing well, or showing the skills and athleticism they possess on the field.

One of those guys this week is George Pickens, who didn’t play much at all in 2021 after showing the high-level tools and traits in 2020 for the Bulldogs. The catch radius, explosion, and leaping ability at the catch point make him an intriguing receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft, and many believe the WR1 potential is still there. If he runs well, jumps well, and proves to teams he’s maturing, look out.

Skyy Moore is another with plenty to gain. The Western Michigan standout put together a phenomenal season in 2021 with 1,283 yards and 10 touchdowns on 94 receptions. He’s a bit under the radar as well in the MAC, but has the release package, crisp route running skills, and toughness/awareness as a RAC threat to be a high level number two in the NFL. He can show off the natural hands and routes in drills Thursday.

Alec Pierce is another who can get on the right track for the 2022 NFL Draft at the combine. His Senior Bowl was pretty up and down, and he ended up leaving the event early. Now, Pierce can show he has impressive straight line speed and leaping ability and get back into the day two spotlight.

Who Are The Big Winners?

He was a big winner down at the Senior Bowl, and I expect that to continue Thursday with drills and testing with Christian Watson. The North Dakota State standout showed off the separation skills, flexibility, and creativity down in Mobile, and now he can prove he’s a darn good athlete too. The speed is apparent, but drop some good agility and explosion drills? Sheesh. Top 50 is well within reach.

There likely won’t be a bigger winner than Watson, and although guys like Dotson, Wilson, and Burks will do well, look for guys like Chris Olave and Khalil Shakir to turn some heads. Olave should put up an impressive number in the 40, run every route, and catch everything. Shakir could prove that he’s among the second group of receivers as well with a strong week. This group is going first for a reason. It will be fireworks all day long.