NFL Draft Notebook: Luther Burden III tops 2025 WR class; Xavier Restrepo Overlooked

With the 2025 NFL Draft on the horizon, the spotlight is on Missouri's Luther Burden III, but is he the only wide receiver worth watching? Discover the hidden gems, overrated prospects, and surprising names in this year's class.
Luther Burden III
Luther Burden III / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

The 2025 NFL Draft is set to showcase an impressive class of wide receivers, headlined by Missouri's standout, Luther Burden III. As we delve into this year's top prospects, it's evident that while some players like Burden are garnering well-deserved attention, others, such as Miami's Xavier Restrepo, are flying under the radar despite their exceptional talents.

In this week’s NFL Draft Notebook we take an in-depth look at the wide receiver class, talk about a star defensive back in the 2025 NFL Draft that could get some reps on the offensive side of the ball, and more.

Previewing the 2025 NFL Draft WR class

Top Player: Luther Burden III, Missouri

Going into the season Marvin Harrison Jr. was regarded as the top wide receiver going into the year and ended up being the first receiver taken in the 2024 NFL Draft. The same could happen this year with Luther Burden. The Missouri wide receiver has all the traits to be a franchise wide receiver at the next level including outstanding hands having only dropped two passes last year, the ability to pick up yards after the catch finishing fifth in the nation with 300 yards after contact in 2023, and impressive strength. It would be a surprise if Burden doesn’t end up being a top-ten pick next April.

Guy I would stand on the table for: Xavier Restrepo, Miami

A team looking for great value on day three of the draft will like Miami’s Xavier Restrepo. Restrepo has a game that will likely remind scouts of Wes Welker, in that they are both short but bulkier slot receivers, who consistently find a way to get open. Last season, Restrepo became just the sixth Hurricanes receiver ever to break the 1,000-yard mark in a season, and his 1,074 receiving yards from the slot were second among FBS receivers.

Overrated: Isaiah Bond, Texas

I am not buying the hype surrounding new Texas wide receiver Isaiah Bond, who transferred from Alabama. He struggles to compete physically at the line of scrimmage and the catch point, partly due to his small stature at 5-foot-11 and 182 pounds, and also because he lacks NFL-caliber strength. Additionally, his production last season was mediocre, with fewer than 25 receiving yards in five games. Therefore, I give him a fifth-round grade heading into the season, compared to the second-round grades other draft analysts are assigning him.

Sleeper: Junior Bergen, Montana

A small school wide receiver to watch in the 2025 NFL Draft is Montana’s Junior Bergan. What makes Bergan such an intriguing prospect is his elusiveness which consistently allows him to create yards after the catch. Another big positive with him is his ability to return kicks. He already has six kicks returned for touchdowns and in 2023 he placed 6th in the FCS by averaging 15.3 yards per punt return in 2023.

Biggest risk: Emeka Egbuka, Ohio State

Going into the 2023 season I had Ohio State wide receiver Emeka Egbuka rated as the second-best receiver in the 2024 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, he had a down season in 2023 seeing a drop in receptions, yards, yards per catch, and touchdowns. The main reason for this is that he battled injuries most of the season and missed three games due to an ankle injury. When healthy though Egbuka is a dynamic receiver with the speed to stretch a defense and the agility to be a threat after the catch. If he can stay healthy this season look for him to be a first-round pick in the 2025 NFL Draft.

Breakout player: Julian Fleming, Penn State

When one of your team’s writers writes that he enjoyed his colonoscope more than watching your team’s wide receivers, you know there is work to be done. That is the case at Penn State who finished 75th in passing yards last season, despite having an NFL-caliber quarterback in Drew Allar. Thankfully for the Nittany Lions help is on the way with the addition of former five-star recruit and Ohio State wide receiver Julian Fleming, and while Fleming never had more than 34 receptions in a season look for that production to increase in Happy Valley.

NFL Draft news and notes

What if: It was revealed last week that several teams had interest in wide receivers taken in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. The New England Patriots attempted to trade up with the Buffalo Bills to select Xavier Worthy, but the Bills ultimately traded that pick to Kansas City. Additionally, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh mentioned that the Ravens were hoping Ricky Pearsall would fall to their second-round pick, aiming to draft the former Florida wide receiver.

Oregon’s new wide receiver: Oregon added several offensive weapons in the transfer portal this year including quarterback Dillon Gabriel and wide receiver Evan Stewart. Of these two Stewart will likely be the highest-drafted player as he offers a great combination of speed and agility. The former track standout made numerous long catches during his two years at Texas A&M and should be one of the faster wide receivers in the 2025 NFL Draft. He also shows impressive agility and can either make defenders miss after the catch or adjust to the poorly thrown ball. The biggest concern with him is he has missed playing time each of the last three seasons, including only playing in three games during his senior year in high school.

Two-way player: There is talk around the Michigan program that cornerback Will Johnson might see limited reps this season as a wide receiver. While his primary position will still be cornerback, if he can also create some plays on offense it will likely increase his odds of winning the Heisman Trophy something we saw Charles Woodson do as he started on defense, offense, and special teams for the Wolverines. Another trait both of these Michigan cornerbacks may soon have in common is that both could be top-five picks in the NFL Draft. In 1998 Woodson went to the Raiders with the fourth overall pick, and Johnson is currently projected to be a top-five pick in the 2025 NFL Draft.

Not a great first impression: A player who didn’t make a terrific impression on his new head coach is Indiana wide receiver Donaven McCulley. The Hoosiers head coach mentioned he needed to see more effort from McCulley during spring ball, and even had him taking reps with the second team due to lack of effort. While this is not the news you want to hear about a possible 2025 NFL Draft pick, hopefully, it sends a message to him since he has NFL traits. These traits include having NFL size coming in at 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds. He also had good production last year having led the team in receptions by 21 catches, yards by 249, touchdowns by three.

NFL Draft stats of the week

294: The amount of receiving yards Stanford wide receiver Elic Ayomanor had vs Colorado last year. Going into the season Ayomanor has a day three grade on my board.

27: The number of first down receptions by Wisconsin wide receiver Will Pauling last season, leading the Big Ten and marking the highest total in the conference since 2009.