The Senior Bowl consistently produces wide receivers who thrive at the next level. Last year, Puka Nacua, Tank Dell, Rashee Rice and Jayden Reed started their draft process in Mobile, Ala. This year's class has a lot of special prospects who will be able to put their talents on full display this week, and this piece highlights my five favorites.
5 Top Senior Bowl WRs
Xavier Legette, South Carolina
Xavier Legette has the potential to secure a spot in the latter part of the first-round discussion this weekend after a breakout season at South Carolina. He is an older prospect at 23, but he transitioned from a high school quarterback to a wide receiver; he remarkably finished eighth in the country in receiving yards last year.
Weighing 219 pounds, he shares a physique reminiscent of prominent wide receivers like AJ Brown or Deebo Samuel. What I'll closely watch for from Legette is how effectively he leverages his size in each play, particularly at the stem of his routes, demonstrating his ability to outmaneuver defenders horizontally.
Devontez Walker, North Carolina
Devontez Walker's contributions at North Carolina, despite only eight games, were immediately evident in his impact on Drake Maye and the passing offense. Predominantly operating out wide, Walker effortlessly glides past defenders, especially on vertical routes, which is evident in his impressive average depth of target at 18.2 yards this season.
To further assess Walker's versatility, I'm keen on seeing more reps where he excels in shorter routes and whether he can consistently win down the field against various press coverages.
Malachi Corley, Western Kentucky
Malachi Corley's average depth of target stands in stark contrast to Walker's, sitting at just 5.5 yards. Impressively, he amassed 1,000 receiving yards on screen passes during his tenure at Western Kentucky. Drawing comparisons to Samuel, Corley shares a similar size (5-foot-11, 215 pounds) and the capability to navigate through defenders effectively. This upcoming event will offer Corley ample opportunities to highlight his ability to run routes at an NFL level.
Ladd McConkey, Georgia
Despite dealing with numerous injuries during his tenure at Georgia, Ladd McConkey consistently demonstrated an exceptional ability to create separation on the field. I anticipate numerous highlights in the one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl. What stands out for him is his individual prowess and the opportunity to display his football IQ during team drills.
I'm interested to witness McConkey navigate against a zone coverage look, finding the soft spot for his quarterback to deliver the ball. I want to see him run a crosser and understand how to get depth behind the linebackers and just ahead of the safeties.
Javon Baker, UCF
Javon Baker, a transfer from Alabama, found his stride at UCF, making an immediate impact. His playing style resembles Walker's, characterized by success down the field, reflected in an impressive average depth of target at 17.2.
Baker's standout quality lies in his adeptness at winning contested catches, showcasing exceptional body control to contort himself to the ball. My focus lies on observing his release off the line of scrimmage and his proficiency in winning on a variety of routes.
As the Senior Bowl unfolds, many eyes will be on these talented wide receivers, each carrying a unique set of skills and a potential path to success in the NFL. Whether it's Legette showcasing his size advantage, Walker proving his versatility, Corley's screen pass prowess, McConkey's resilience against injuries or Baker's dynamic style, these prospects promise an exciting display of talent.
Ultimately, the Senior Bowl is more than a showcase; it's a stepping stone for these athletes on their journey to the next level. Their weekend performances will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression as scouts and teams evaluate the next wave of talent.