Is there a rookie wide receiver with not-so-great talent but in a good situation?
D.K. Metcalf landed in a perfect situation. The depth chart is barren, and thus Metcalf will get an opportunity to start immediately and be a featured target of one of the league's best quarterbacks. I think Metcalf could've been marginalized in quite a few landing spots, but Seattle will make the most of his assets (deep speed, strength) while obfuscating his liabilities (lack of lateral agility, hands, open-field vision).
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside fits that bill nicely after landing with the Eagles. He’s big, but his speed and acceleration are lacking to the point that he will be in more contested catch situations than you want to see, even for a bigger guy. Add in concerns about consistent catching of the football and you have a player that best case scenario probably will struggle to develop into a starter. That is not the kind of player you want to take shots at in your redraft fantasy drafts or use anything other than a late round pick on in your dynasty drafts.
I'm not knocking Hardman's talent - he's just early in his career arc compared to his peers, but he obviously landed in the best situation. This probably applies even moreso to Diontae Johnson, who is in the archetype that the Steelers have maximized over the last decade. I wasn't a big fan of J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, but Carson Wentz throws a lot of YOLO balls, which is JJAW's forte. Likewise, Andy Isabella isn't the most efficient or decisive route runner but in the air raid, that will be less important and his speed will be more important. He matches guys like Jakeem Grant and Keke Coutee that have been top producers in Kingsbury offenses.
Terry McLaurin is a solid all-around wide receiver with top intangibles but isn’t a great talent. It is unfortunate because he was drafted into a situation with serious opportunity. Washington doesn’t have anything close to an established WR1. The closest thing to it is probably Paul Richardson Jr, who has had trouble staying healthy and looked like more of a complementary piece throughout his career. In addition to the wide-open depth chart, McLaurin also gets the benefit of having a pre-existing connection with his quarterback. He and Dwayne Haskins had a nice rapport at Ohio State and the familiarity could make McLaurin an early security blanket for the rookie quarterback. The situation is great but it is unclear whether McLaurin will be able to take full advantage.
Everyone is talking about Seattle's wide open depth chart as a boon for D.K. Metcalf, but part of me wonders if Gary Jennings, the team's fourth-round pick out of West Virginia, could end up the better Seahawks rookie wide receiver.
Jennings is a 95th percentile SPARQ athlete who ranked fourth in the rookie wide receiver class in both catch rate and yards per target last season. He's got good enough hands to be a possession receiver and the size adjusted speed to mesh well with Russell Wilson on downfield throws.
It's a long shot, but with very little certain at wide receiver beyond Tyler Lockett in Seattle, Jennings is at least a name to watch during early practices. If we learned anything from the Chris Carson/Rashaad Penny situation last year, it's that draft capital does not equate to playing time for Pete Carroll and his staff. Metcalf, whose skill-set is somewhat redundant with David Moore's, is guaranteed nothing if Jennings outplays him this offseason.
I question Deebo Samuel's talent considering his relative lack of production in college and being boosted by the situation in San Francisco more than a profile of being a passing game impact and a game changer. Another would be Kelvin Harmon, who is boosted by the lack of initial competition to carve a role in Washington, but extreme draft tumble to Round 6 cannot be ignored (nor his lack of physical traits to excel beyond his peers).
I’m not going to pretend to know more than a professional NFL Scout and organization, but Diontae Johnson was predicted by a lot of analysts to be a much later draft pick than the early third round. The Steelers do get the benefit of the doubt given their fantastic record with wide receivers over the last decade so I will skip past him.
What is of interest to me is that four NFL teams each drafted two receivers in the first two rounds. Seattle with D.K. Metcalf and Gary Jennings, Arizona selected Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler, the 49ers took Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd, while the Ravens selected Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin. Do they not have faith that their first pick won’t get the job done? It is relevant to me that most of the other guys talk about a player from one of these four teams.
Hunter Renfrow isn't much to look at as a prospect - he's small-bodied (5'10" and 186, with hands under 8") and relatively slow for that size. But he's also an experienced slot guy, and Derek Carr is an underneath passer through and through. Antonio Brown should dominate targets - maybe even 30% or so - but Carr has shockingly little to work with at tight end with Jared Cook gone. If he remains a timid check-down passer, Renfrow could surprise with 50-60 rookie catches. They wouldn't be very high-impact, but could at least put him on the PPR map.