2023 NFL Draft: Zay Flowers, Jaxon Smith-Njigba Earn Day 1 Grades in Latest WR Rankings

Nov 20, 2021; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles wide receiver Zay Flowers (4) celebrates his touchdown during the second half against the Florida State Seminoles at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 20, 2021; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles wide receiver Zay Flowers (4) celebrates his touchdown during the second half against the Florida State Seminoles at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports /
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Ravens select Jordan Addison, 2023 NFL Mock Draft
Oct 15, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) catches a pass against the Utah Utes in the second half at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports /

WR4: Jordan Addison (USC)

I have read rankings with Jordan Addison as the WR1. I don’t agree with this assessment, but if we go strictly off college tape, I see the vision. Addison won the 2021 Biletnikoff Award as the top receiver for Kenny Pickett. He then transferred to the opposite coast, assuming the top spot on the depth chart for USC.

Addison’s season with the Trojans failed to reach the heights of his previous season due to an unfortunate injury, but he still produced a respectable line on the year. He eliminated the drop concerns that haunted him during his Pitt days, going from 21 career drops to only two in 2022.

Although drops have been an issue on and off, Addison’s hands are a calling card for his NFL Draft resume. He boasts strong hands and shows teach-tape form when hauling in passes away from his body and further downfield. Addison’s body control and top-tier footwork help him come down in bounds.

Addison’s route running is far and away his best trait, though. He is polished off the line of scrimmage, which should help considering his lack of size and strength. Furthermore, Addison separates without breaking a sweat, showing crisp, effortless breaks out of his routes.

Not only does Addison get open vs. man coverage, but he also eats up zones like Pac-Man eats ghosts. His football IQ is as good as any in this article, and the on-field experience he brings is another leg up in the 2023 NFL Draft talks.

But there is a reason for Addison being No. 5 on my list instead of No. 1. His size and lack of playing strength. While others on this list lack ideal size, many of them at least play hard and with an edge. Addison gives 100% every game but never makes a physically dominant move.

Against Oregon State, Addison was essentially taken out of the game by press-man coverage. If Addison is to take snaps outside, he must get stronger without jeopardizing his already established release package. Because of this, he profiles as a slot-only receiver for me.

10 years ago, “slot-only” was an insult to receiving prospects. Nowadays, it no longer carries that label. However, when it comes to objective grading, Addison’s lack of versatility *is* a knock. Add in the fact he is such an outlier regarding size, and it makes for a far riskier bet than many lead you to believe.

Still, I trust the tape, and more importantly, I trust the prospect. His route running, ability after the catch, and overall refinement working downfield make him an easy day-two target. Addison will be an impact player in the league if his offensive coordinator plays to his strengths.

NFL Draft Grade: Early Day 2

WR3: Quentin Johnston (TCU)

Quentin Johnston checks the physical threshold that many NFL clubs look for. He is tall, stocky, and uses his long strides to eat up turf and blaze down the field. Johnston helped lead the Horned Frogs to a National Championship appearance in his final year on campus, even if his performance vs. Georgia was less than ideal.

Still, Johnston set the Big 12 ablaze in 2022. He eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the first time and matched a career-high with six touchdowns. Johnston overwhelmed defensive backs with his blend of size and speed, oftentimes leaving them in his dust or posterizing them downfield if they did keep up.

While it is less likely Johnston can regularly dominate this way in the NFL, these traits show it is possible. Even if not as consistent, Johnston’s big play potential, especially at his size, can be a cheat code for savvy play callers.

Johnston isn’t just an athlete either. His route tree is not as diverse as others in the class, but he shows enough to mix it up and keep defenders on their heels. Johnston could face trouble from strong, press-man cornerbacks in the NFL, as his release package has never been a strong suit.

Furthermore, another concern with Johnston is his drops. Rather than a lack of form, a chunk of Johnston’s drops were a direct result of a lapse in concentration. Nonetheless, for a receiver who breads his butter as a big play threat, these self-inflicted errors can land him in the dog house as a rookie.

Johnston is not without his risks. He must prove that the separation he got in college was because of him, not the scheme. Johnston also must eliminate the easy drops. If he can smooth these rough edges, he has all the traits to be the best wide receiver from the 2023 NFL Draft. In a class full of guys without “ideal” measurables, Johnston aces the test.

NFL Draft Grade: Early Day 2