Ah, spring is here. Or at least, it felt like that this past weekend in Pittsburgh, only for it to snow here this Thursday. I had to scrape my car windows on Friday morning in what felt like the ultimate betrayal.
Beyond the warmer weather, I most look forward to college football spring practices as March rolls around. This is truly the time of year where you can get the biggest leg up on your league mates by following local news sources closely for players breaking out in camp. We’ve been providing that news exclusively for members of the website over the past few weeks, but it’s time to start evaluating that info and providing analysis.
With spring practices in the books, I’m constantly tweaking my rankings to account for positive reports escaping camps across the country. In this article, I’m taking a look at some wide receivers that have made the most significant moves thus far. These may not be the players that have risen the most, per se, but they are the ones to which I’m paying the closest attention to.
Original Rank: 108
February ADP: 103
Updated Rank: 52
March ADP: 141
We start with Cooper, the former 4-star recruit and Ohio State Buckeye that transferred to Missouri this offseason. Cooper’s return is something of a homecoming — he played his high school football in St. Louis — which is an enormous boon for Mizzou. The Tigers do not typically snag recruits of Cooper’s pedigree, so the excitement coming from spring camp has been palpable.
Mizzou has completed both spring practice and their scrimmage, so we have a complete picture of Cooper’s place within the playmaker hierarchy. Right now, it sounds like he may be the guy in 2021. All reports suggest that Missouri wants to get the ball in his hands as often as possible. That means jet sweeps, screens, and other manufactured touches for Cooper, who can be electric in the open field.
In our initial rankings, I had Cooper as my WR108. This ranking felt fair, given his transfer and lack of playing time at Ohio State in 2020. Now that we have some actual news about Mizzou’s intended usage, Cooper has moved way up my rankings. I can’t explain the ADP fall beyond small sample sizes. For instance, he was only drafted in one of five drafts in February but has gone in all but one in March. I suspect you’ll have to draft him before the 10th if you want him on your squad.
Original Rank: NR
February ADP: NR
Updated Rank: 58
March ADP: 228
We move from one 4-star ATH who was glued to the sideline in 2020 to another. Like Cooper, Badger was also part of a stacked recruiting class. Unlike Cooper, Badger stayed at his initial destination, Arizona State, and is primed to reap the benefits in 2021.
Badger missed the 2020 season because of an academic eligibility issue. In another year, he may have fallen behind highly regarded classmates LV Bunkley-Shelton, Johnny Wilson, and Chad Johnson Jr. (yes, that Chad Johnson’s son), but the shortened COVID year was a blessing in disguise instead. With only four games under their belts, no members of that group could distance themselves and bury Badger on the depth chart.
Badger has responded this offseason by dazzling the coaching staff with his athletic ability. It sounds like Bunkley-Shelton is likely to lead the team in receptions. He’s a consistent player with smooth route running and strong hands — a quarterback’s best friend. Badger sounds like he may fill the Aiyuk role as an explosive playmaker. The Sun Devils coaching staff has stated that, like Cooper, they want to get the ball in his hands by any means necessary.
There are a lot of mouths to feed at Arizona State. Beyond the aforementioned depth at wide receiver, the Sun Devils boast substantial depth at running back (Rachaad White, Chip Trayanum, Daniyel Ngata) and top-tier collegiate tight end transfer Jalin Conyers. I’m not sure how prolific the offense will be in Phoenix this year, so expectations on the college production side of things should be tempered until we see otherwise. But if Badger flashes, he could see early draft capital like Aiyuk and N’Keal Harry have recently.
Original Rank: 76
February ADP: NR
Updated Rank: 56
March ADP: 147
Moore was the highest-ranked of these players in my initial rankings. I had Moore as a top 15 receiver in the 2020 recruiting class, and was excited to see him produce as the depth chart opened in front of him. In the end, Kayshon Boutte grabbed the majority of the available receiving market share, and Moore finished the season with 22 catches for 177 yards.
This offseason, LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron has gone out of his way to praise Moore repeatedly. The Tigers have been short at running back, with John Emery, Tyrion Davis-Price, and Josh Williams all missing time. Moore has stepped in and taken snaps out of the backfield in their absence. The LSU receivers were all tasked with making 10,000 receptions this offseason, and Moore is the current clubhouse leader with 6,000 (and counting). This versatility and dedication have moved Moore into a top receiver spot for LSU in 2021.
#LSU HC Orgeron: “Koy Moore has 6,600 catches before spring practice & the fewest drops. Had a great scrimmage, he played every WR position & RB”— Cory P. (@FF_Guitarist) April 2, 2021
Moore is a versatile 4⭐ prospect that got lost in the 2020 WR class but seems like he could play a dynamic role for LSU in ’21 #Devy pic.twitter.com/h4jGL7imUR
Moore is unlikely to ever be the go-to-guy in Baton Rouge, not with classmate Boutte on the roster. But LSU’s offense has shown it can produce more than one relevant wide receiver, both for college fantasy and Devy purposes. Moore will likely be gone by the 15th round following the spring buzz, but is well worth that pick.
Original Rank: 145
February ADP: NR
Updated Rank: 107
March ADP: NR
UNC’s Khafre Brown is the final early offseason riser, mostly because reports suggest that the Tar Heels are keeping things in the family this offseason. Brown is the brother of NFL draft hopeful Dyami Brown, but Khafre has a strong recruiting pedigree in his own right as the 31st rated wide receiver in the 2019 class.
North Carolina loses most of its offensive skill position production from 2020. At wide receiver, they lose roughly 50% of their yardage and 45% of their team receptions. The redshirt freshman has not contributed much to date in Chapel Hill, finishing the 2020 season with a 15/337/2 stat line. He’s missed a chunk of spring practice with an undisclosed injury, but it sounds like Mack Brown still plans to have Brown as the third starter at the position, alongside Beau Corrales and Josh Downs.
#DraftTwitter, get used to this name for 2022: rSoph. UNC WR #1 Khafre Brown.— Jared Feinberg (@JRodNFLDraft) March 23, 2021
Yes, that’s the younger brother of Dyami Brown. He led the Tar Heels in yards per reception with 22.5. 6-0, 190, per the UNC football website.
He should be one of Howell’s top targets in 2021. pic.twitter.com/vc2sadtZ3v
Brown is an explosive athlete for the position and should add an element to the offense that they’ll need in 2021. Don’t expect Khafre to be his brother, but that’s okay. I like buying guys in explosive offenses, and UNC’s projects that way for the remainder of Sam Howell’s time on campus. Khafre might be on benches because of the name recognition, but he’s cheap in start-ups and a throw-in for trades this offseason.
I’m genuinely excited to see all four of these receivers in action as we enter 2021. The emergence of these up-and-comers should allow you to skip the position early in drafts, if that is the strategy you wish to employ.
Please check out the rest of our updated rankings here at C2C, and be on the lookout for our our ADP, coming soon!