The NFL is littered with wide receivers who were 3 star prospects coming out of high school. Mike Evans, Davante Adams, Allen Robinson, D.J. Moore and Justin Jefferson just to name a few. Because of their recruiting ranking these players are last round dart throws in your C2C startups and probably just on a deep devy watch list. However, I encourage you to get familiar with these names as any one of them may be the next great 3 star NFL WR and you’ll have them at the ground level!

You will see many mentions of forty yard and hundred meter dash times in fantasy discussions. If you’ve read my previous work, my following statements here may seem inconsistent. On the one hand, my position on a prospect is not likely to change if the prospect produced at a high level at a Power 5 school but clocks his forty yard dash at 4.55 seconds rather than a 4.45. On the other hand, when scouting the high school ranks I think it is helpful to get a baseline for speed and athleticism to weed out players that simply don’t meet thresholds to be an elite athlete going forward.

Tier 1 – Immediate contributors 

NameSignedHtWtOffersMajor schools
Michael Jackson IIIUSC (EE)6′19528AzSt, UK, Min, OM, Ten, Tex

The other other MJ (not the pop icon nor the former NFL receiver) comes in as my top rated 3 star receiver for this class. He’s got excellent size right off the bat at a thick 195 pounds. I see a sudden, bursty athlete on tape with savvy route running. His high school track times do not imply elite speed but he pulls away from defenders and there are multiple impressive punt returns on his resume.

There are many instances of Jackson showing advanced special awareness in zone coverage and chewing up yards after curls and digs. He appears to be a heady receiver with refined skills entering college. I like his chances to produce over expectation as a three star.

Notable departures: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Tyler Vaughns Incumbents: Drake London, Bru McCoy

NameSignedHtWtOffersMajor schools
Kobe PaysourUNC (EE)6’1″17518UGA, UK, Mizzou, SCAR, Ten

UNC signed 2 receivers on this list as well as a highly rated 4 star. All 3 are early enrollees this spring and will help fill a large void left with Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome departing. This new trio will get at least one year with Sam Howell and likely transition to Drake Maye after that so the footballs will continue to fly in Chapel Hill.

I like Paysour’s smooth movements and ability to create space at multiple levels of the field. He shows off good hands, catching balls out in front of his body. He shows skills necessary to be a good route runner with crisp breaks on his tape. If everything goes well, he could take a similar role that Dazz Newsome just had which will be productive in the Tarheel offense.

Notable departure: Dyami Brown, Dazz Newsome Incumbents: Khafre Brown, Emery Simmons, Josh Downs

NameSignedHtWtOffersMajor schools
Bryce StephensArk6′17024 AzSt, ISU, Mich, Min, Ten, TAMU

I found this guy buried pretty far down the list on, ranked as the WR90 in this class. His tape was extremely impressive from the jump as it opens with Stephens catching a short pass, juking one guy then hitting a defender with a powerful stiff arm before taking off about 50 yards to paydirt.

He shows a “my ball” mentality paired with a hundred meter time under 11 seconds. I like his whole package and really these top 3 guys are in the same tier. With news of athlete Raheim Sanders moving to RB, I would not be surprised if Stephens is the top option behind Treylon Burks by the end of 2021.

 Notable departure: none Incumbent: Treylon Burks

Tier 2 – Dynamic but undersized

NameSignedHtWtOffersMajor schools
Sam ReynoldsSCAR (EE)5’8″1805WVU

Sam Reynolds is in his own tier for me. He is an absolute beast on the field, with his high school film showing stand out plays on offense and defense. To use a cliché, he is a “ballplayer” and consistently shows good instincts, burst and contact balance. The only knock that keeps him out of tier 1 is that he stands 5’8” which is hard to project at the NFL level.

Nevertheless, he is thick for his stature at 180 pounds with a strong lower half. South Carolina needs playmakers after losing Deebo Samuel, Bryan Edwards and Shi Smith over the last 3 draft classes. They have a history of putting guys in the league and Reynolds could be next in line for the Gamecocks. As an early enrollee, I think he will get chances in the slot as soon as his freshman year.  

Notable departure: Shi Smith Incumbent:  none

 Tier 3 – Raw with upside

NameSignedHtWtOffersMajor schools
J.J. JonesUNC (EE)6’3”19535Ark, UGA, Mich, OM, SCAR,

Ranked higher than classmate Kobe Paysour, Jones falls behind him on my list. I like his frame and smooth athleticism at that size. He can make nice cuts on his routes, with multiple out-and-up’s going to the house. He is a leaper, using all of his 6’3” length but shows body catching too often.

This is disappointing because he could be a force using his strong hands to go get balls instead of letting them come to him. I’d like to see him develop this part of his game and think if that happens he’ll be a red zone monster in short order.

Notable departure: Dyami Brown, Dazz Newsome Incumbents: Khafre Brown, Emery Simmons, Josh Down

NameSignedHtWtOffersMajor schools
Julian GrayNCST (EE)5’11”19312GT, SCAR, VT, WF

I was interested to check out Gray because I noticed his outstanding track speed with a hundred meter dash of 10.4 which translates to about a 4.3-4.4 forty. He also is headed to a team in need of some firepower on the outside. The Wolfpack don’t have any standout play makers in the receiving room but return most of the production from a year ago. His senior film did not showcase that speed I was hoping to see, but his junior tape certainly does.

I think he’s more of a straight line dynamo at this point in his development but can certainly learn more nuances as he matures. Despite the crowded house, he can add something new to the depth chart. Already listed on the team website at 193 pounds, I am very excited to see what he can do early on as a spring enrollee.

Notable departure: none Incumbent: Emeka Emezie, Thayer Thomas

NameSignedHtWtOffersMajor schools
J.J. HenryOle Miss5’10”16525Ark, FSU, UL, Tex, TAMU

When I came across a 165 pound receiver heading to Ole Miss I knew I had to watch. There seems to be no way Lane Kiffin would offer a prospect that was both small and slow. Henry did not disappoint! He shows incredible speed paired with solid hands.

He is sudden in and out of breaks and looks like he could be a slot replacement for Elijah Moore early on in his career. It is not unusual for players starting at this size to wind up closer to 185 pounds so I am not concerned about BMI just yet.  

Notable departures: Elijah Moore Incumbent: Jonathan Mingo

Tier 4: Projects with tools

NameSignedHtWtOffersMajor schools
Joshua BurrellFSU (EE)6’2”21226AzSt, Ark, UL, Ten, VT

Burrell is the second FSU wide receiver that I really like in this class. As a Gator, this is disturbing but Mike Norvell has landed some nice recruits. His size pops as a true freshman and Burrell has been clocked at an above average 11.2 hundred meter dash. As it stands, that would be roughly a sub-4.7 forty at 212 pounds which is excellent as a high school prospect.

As expected with his frame, he is a tough, physical receiver and uses his body to his advantage. He will be a red zone monster early on but could develop into an all-around alpha target. With an open depth chart and spring enrollment, Burrell will have ample opportunity to shine in year 1.

Notable departures: Tamorrion Terry Incumbent: none

NameSignedHtWtOffersMajor schools
Keon ColemanMSU6’4″20049Aub, UGA, OM, OK, Tex, TAMU

With the most offers on this list, Coleman should be the top dog. However, his tape lacked anything eye-popping other than his height at 6’4”. He is a long, leaping type receiver but didn’t look very sudden or display crisp route running ability. I have little doubt he could develop into a quality receiver and at his size, is an intriguing prospect.

Michigan State has a sneaky deep receiver room, so Coleman may not have the chance to break out in his freshman season. However, with his combination of size and smooth movements I can see a massive ceiling.

Notable departures: none Incumbent: Jayden Reed, Jalen Nailor, Ricky White

NameSignedHtWtOffersMajor schools
Davis MallingerWVU6’1″1768SCAR, UF

The final member of this top 10 was a late addition. I combed through virtually every 3 star receiver that signed to an FBS program hoping to find sub-11 second hundred meter dash times. Mallinger was a pleasant surprise. He offers a long frame which can be filled out and a solid 10.74 time.

On tape, he displayed more than just straight line speed, making multiple over-the-shoulder leaping catches, jab step jukes and the ability to rack up yards after the catch. He had 3 SEC offers but decided to head north to West Virginia, and given the state of that depth chart there is plenty of room for this early enrollee to shine in short order.

Notable departures: none Incumbent: Winston Wright

BONUS Super Sleeper!

NameSignedHtWtOffersMajor schools
Monaray BaldwinBaylor5’9”1601Baylor

It seemed reckless to include Baldwin in the top 10 but I wanted to make sure he got mentioned. This undersized speedster has been clocked at a 10.41 hundred meter dash which is a world class number. That translates to a sub-4.4 forty and his tape backs that up. Baylor was his only FBS offer and when they extended it, he did not even have a profile. Baldwin is the definition of a super sleeper.

I liked him not only for the long speed, but his tape showed legitimate hands with many receptions out in front of his body. I saw a unique ability for him to transition from catching to moving up field quickly in a seamless fashion. Additionally, he has multiple tools when the ball is in his hands including an array of jukes, hurdles and of course the blazing straight line speed.

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