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The 2022 NFL draft’s wide receiver class is reminiscent of recent years
Ever get that feeling of deja vu?
As with any year, the months building up to the 2022 NFL draft have featured plenty of differing takes and opinions, both logical and outlandish.
One thing that most people have seemed to agree upon, though, is that this wide receiver class, while once again loaded with talent, doesn’t really have one single guy who stands way above the rest. The reality has been that whoever you ask, you’re likely to get a different answer for who the top-ranked receiver is.
Ja’Marr Chase of the Cincinnati Bengals – the fifth overall pick of the 2021 draft – has shown us just the type of impact a young, game-changing wide receiver can make in their first NFL season.
Does this class feature a Ja’Marr Chase? Probably not.
But does it feature multiple guys who could threaten for 1,000 yards receiving in their first year?
Something people seem to forget about now that we’ve seen Chase play a massive role on a Super Bowl-bound team is that he wasn’t considered far-and-away the top wide receiver of the 2021 class going in. In fact, a good amount of people had Jaylen Waddle and/or DeVonta Smith ranked ahead of him pre-draft.
And you know what? While neither of those other two came close to Chase’s record-setting rookie season, Waddle finished the year with just over 1,000 yards receiving himself, and Smith finished with a more-than-respectable 916 yards.
If you rewind back to 2020, the top of that loaded receiver class also featured three names at the top: Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb and Henry Ruggs III. And if you recall, there was also a fair amount of discrepancy as to who was number one.
The point of all this is to illustrate that with this year’s receiver class, we have reached a similar point — three prospects have settled at the top, and it’s a bit unclear who the consensus number one is.
Garrett Wilson, Treylon Burks and Drake London have all been featured at the top of 2022 NFL draft receiver rankings. The “correct” ranking really just depends on what your team needs.
There’s Wilson, who, similar to Jerry Jeudy, is an extremely crisp and refined route-runner. His biggest strength lies in his ability to create massive separation, but he’s fantastic in all areas and projects as a number one wide receiver.
There’s Burks, who also projects as a number one wide receiver, just a different kind. While not yet the most refined route-runner, Burks can rely on his freakish measurables for production. He’s 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, runs a reported sub-4.4, and has bigger hands than DeAndre Hopkins.
And then there’s London, who’s just enormous, catches everything, and is a good route-runner for his size. Some are turned off by his otherworldly contested-catch numbers, citing it as an indicator that he can’t separate. But the thing is, with London, it just doesn’t seem to matter. He’s 6-foot-5, 209 pounds and feasted on opposing corners when healthy this season. Even for the NFL, 6-foot-5 is a big man.
Isn’t it weird how history repeats itself? We’ve been treated to very talented wide receiver classes these past few drafts, and each one has seen three guys settle in at the top by the time draft season rolls around. In 2020, it was Jeudy, Lamb and Ruggs. In 2021, it was Chase, Waddle and Smith. Now, in 2022, it’s Wilson, Burks and London.
With Zach Wilson’s development so paramount to the future of this New York Jets team, and two top-ten picks at the ready, don’t be surprised if Joe Douglas decides to jump on one of these playmakers early.