Rookie WR Rankings: 2023 NFL Draft

Rookie WR Rankings: 2023 NFL Draft
Rookie WR Rankings: 2023 NFL Draft

The 2023 rookie wide receiver class is full of talent, but has it been overhyped? The dynasty community did overhype the 2023 class, in my opinion. In combination, they underhyped the 2022 class. That doesn’t make this a lousy class, and this class still might be better. The quarterback and tight-end positions are definitely better. The wide receiver group might not be as good. We will know how the NFL ranks these rookie WRs when we see how many go in the first few rounds.

In the 2022 draft class, 28 wide receivers heard their names called. In the first round, there were six wide receivers drafted in the first 18 picks. We saw 11 WRs drafted on day two of the 2022 NFL Draft. We will see if this class hit has 17 WRs picked in the first two rounds. Here are my top 20 Rookie WR rankings for the 2023 NFL Draft class. The order just might be different and not so top-heavy with six first-rounders.

Here are my Rookie WR Rankings for the 2023 NFL Draft!


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Rookie WR Rankings: 2023 NFL Draft

1. Jordan Addison, USC

Draft Age: 21
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 173 lbs

Jordan Addison played 422 of his 562 snaps outside. He doesn’t have the prototypical size of a boundary wide receiver, but he is one. Addison can move around the formation, he also played 102 snaps in the slot. Addison offers big play ability, he went 5/7 for 215 yards and a touchdown on throws 20+ yards in 2022.

I think Addison and JSN are both in their own tier at the top, but Addison is my top WR. His overall athletic profile and versatility to play all over the formation breaks the tie for me. Addison had the fourth best NFL combine performance grade per Next Gen Stats.

2. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State

Draft Age: 21
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 196 lbs

Jaxon Smith-Njigba (JSN) not playing in 2022 makes people forget how good he is. This guy can play. He stood out in a WR room with Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. I have no problems with anyone that has him at first in their Rookie WR Rankings. JSN has great size, great hands, and was extremely productive in college. JSN played 562 of his 686 snaps in 2021 from the slot. Even if JSN is slot WR, we have seen plenty of fantasy-relevant producers from the slot.

There is a long list of great players, such as Keenan Allen, Michael Thomas, Cooper Kupp, and others. JSN still has great upside and should be a PPR machine for fantasy football purposes. JSN had a strong NFL combine even without running a 40-yard dash. Next Gen Stats rated his NFL combine third out of all WRs.

3. Zay Flowers, Boston College

Draft Age: 22
Height: 5’9″
Weight: 182 lbs

Zay played all over the field in 2022, playing 246 snaps out of the slot and 462 from the outside. He was also the team’s main punt returner. A big story at the combine was how much weight Flowers added. He added about 13 pounds and carried that weight well. He ran a 4.42 40-yard dash, which showed he carried the weight well—all positive reviews from his workout and his interviews that week.

Daniel Jeremiah has moved him up five spots to his 24th overall player. Daniel Jeremiah has it Jordan Addison (9), JSN (23), and Zay Flowers (24). Flowers’ NFL combined ranked eighth per Next Gen Stats at the WR position.

4. Quentin Johnston, TCU

Draft Age: 21
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 208 lbs

Johnston looks the part, especially in comparison to this class. His size and speed combination definitely sets him apart. He is your typical outside WR, and at times he flashes dominance. There was some questionable tape that showed inconsistent play and drops.

Johnston, at times, is a body catcher, and that is a concern. He played 577 snaps out wide and 98 from the slot. He is your prototypical boundary WR. Johnston had a big part in TCU’s storybook season, and he could end up going Round 1. Johnston is a big-play WR that offers good speed to go with his big frame. Next Gen Stats ranked Johnston’s NFL combine performance as sixth in the class.

5. Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee

Draft Age: 21
Weight:176 lbs

Jalin Hyatt received the Bilitnikoff award last season for the nation’s best wide receiver. His breakout season was extremely impressive, but there are still some concerns. Hyatt had very little production in his first two seasons. He had 41 receptions, 502 yards, and four touchdowns during that time.

This season he had five touchdowns against Alabama alone. His 67 receptions, 1267 yards, and 15 touchdowns clearly stand out. Hyatt is a speed wide receiver that has played the majority of his career from the slot. Hyatt had a great NFL combine that ranked first per Next Gen Stats at the position.

6. Kayshon Boutte, LSU

Age: 21
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 195 lbs

Kayshon Boutte was in the conversation for WR1 this preseason. In 2021, Boute had 38 receptions for 509 yards and nine touchdowns in only six games. Boutte had a strong freshman season as well, with 45 receptions, 735 yards, and five touchdowns. This season could not have gone much worse for him, and his draft stock has plummeted. Boutte almost stayed for another season with how bad this season was for him.

He announced his return but shortly after declared for the draft. Boutte benefits from a weaker wide receiver class and must have gotten some feedback that was positive about his draft stock. Boutte has shown the ability to play both outside and from the slot. A team could end up getting a steal in round two. Boutte’s NFL combine performance was graded 23rd in the class by Next Gen Stats.

7. Josh Downs, UNC

Draft Age: 22
Height: 5’9″
Weight: 171

Josh Downs is another wide receiver that primarily played out of the slot. Downs had 589 snaps out of the slot and 136 out wide. His size is a concern, with both his height and weight being below average—a lot of comparisons to Wan’Dale Robinson, who was a second round pick last season.

Downs had an impressive 34.1% college target share which shows durability. He also has two years of top-end production that not everyone on this list has. In his last two seasons at UNC, Downs combined for 195 receptions, 2,364 yards, and 19 touchdowns in 24 games. He is in a lot of top five rookie WR rankings, and the current ADP has him at WR5. Down had a great combine that ranked second per Next Gen Stats at the position.

8. Cedric Tillman, Tennesee

Draft Age: 23
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 213 lbs

If you are shopping for big WRs in this year’s class, there is not a huge supply. Tillman is a big receiving option that also played outside for the majority of his career. His experience outside, as well as his athletic profile, are positives to his game that some don’t have. Tillman is not a burner, but he is fast enough with a speed score in the 79th percentile.

Tillman is a physical WR that makes tough catches and gets tough yards after the catch—his ability to high-point the ball and make contested catches stood out on tape as well. He should be a solid number two option and should hear his name called early on day two.

9. Marvin Mims, Oklahoma

Draft Age: 21
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 183 lbs

If you are looking for a big play guy, Mims is him. Mims averaged 20 yards per catch in 2022. Mims ran a 4.38 40, and his burst score was in the 91st percentile. After the NFL Combine, both Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks made sure to point him out for his on-the-field workout. Mims ran crisp routes and showed great fluidity to go with his speed.

This matches all of the scouting reports that talk about his quick twitch and change of direction to go with his overall speed. The Oklahoma offense was not the same without Lincoln Riley and Caleb Williams, but Mims still had the best season of his career. Mims combined ranked ninth in the WR class per Next Gen Stats.

10. Rashee Rice, SMU

Draft Age: 22
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 204 lbs

Rashee Rice is an ultra-productive prospect that offers good size and speed. The negatives on Rice are his inability to separate downfield. Rice dominated smaller corners in jump ball situations, but this will be more difficult in the NFL. The positives are how special he is after the catch. Rice turns into a running back when he gets the ball in his hands. SMU peppered Rice with targets, but 52% of his receptions were behind the line of scrimmage or under 10 yards. He turned those 62 receptions into 436 yards, 223 of which came after the catch.

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11. Rakim Jarrett, Maryland

Draft Age: 22
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 192 lbs

Rakim Jarrett is more projection than production. Jarrett was a five-star recruit that had offers from LSU, Alabama, Georgia, USC, and others. He definitely would have benefited from better quarterback play. The quarterback play and overall offense were tough to watch in Maryland. Jarrett’s production struggled, and his PFF grades were not great.

I look forward to seeing his reception perception to see how much is on him vs. on the quarterback. Jarrett’s combination of size and speed offers a lot to be hopeful for. Jarrett ran a 4.44 40 to go with his 6’0, 192 pound frame. Jarrett offers the flexibility to play outside or inside. If Jarrett gets round two draft capital, he will be moving up my rookie WR rankings.

12. Jayden Reed, Michigan State

Draft Age: 23
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 191 lbs

Jayden Reed broke out early and had high expectations after his freshman season at Western Michigan. Reed transferred to Michigan State and didn’t experience the same level of success in year one. Reed bounced back in 2021, he had his only 1,000-yard season. The offense was great in 2021, led by Ken Walker III, but they struggled to replace him this year.

Reed saw huge regression in both yards and touchdowns. Reed has been a popular name from both the football and fantasy football community as a sleeper. His combine wasn’t as impressive as it ranked 26th per the Next Gen Stats.

13. Xavier Hutchinson, Iowa State

Draft Age: 23
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 203 lbs

Hutchinson had 111 receptions in 2022 and dominated close to the line of scrimmage. His low ADOT is concerning, and most of his yards after the catch came on those short routes. He had nine receptions of 20+ yard throws and only 18 yards after the catch on those. He had 355 yards after the catch on his 65 receptions on throws nine yards or less.

14. Parker Washington, Penn State

Draft Age: 21
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 210 lbs

Parker Washington has a running back body style, almost like a Golden Tate. He reminds me a lot of Tate because of his aggressive running style with the ball in his hands. Washington was unable to work out at the NFL combine or his Pro Day. But he projects as a slot in the NFL. He played the majority of his snaps from the slot, 325 out of 555 snaps.

Washington also saw only ten targets of 20+ yards or more. He had 39 targets that were ten yards or less. He turned those 39 targets in 230 yards after the catch. Washington is a common sleeper in a lot of rookie WR rankings.

15. A.T. Perry, Wake Forrest

Draft Age: 23
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 198 lbs

Perry is an outside WR that offers good size at 6’3″ and 198 pounds. Perry ran a 4.47 and had a production sore that ranked fifth in the class per Next Gen Stats. His vertical and broad jump scores show good bursts to go with his overall speed. Helmet scouts will be nervous due to the Wake Forrest system and the lack of NFL production from it.

16. Puka Nacua, BYU

Draft Age: 22
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 201 lbs

Nacua offers toughness and versatility at the position. Last year he had as many rushing touchdowns (5) as he did receiving (5)—his ability to be used out of the backfield as a weapon shows his athleticism. You can see his skill set when he gets the ball in his hands in the open field.

He is elusive, tough to bring down, and a great runner after the catch. Nacua struggles to create separation off of the line at times and doesn’t have great quickness or long speed. He is better on underneath and intermediate routes where he can use his size closer to the line of scrimmage.

17. Charlie Jones, Purdue

Draft Age: 24
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 185 lbs

Jones was electric this year for Purdue and was glad to be away from that Iowa offense. We all wish we could have seen Jones at Purdue longer. He really made a name for himself at the NFL combine and the Senior Bowl. Jones had a great NFL Combine and is one of the NFL Draft’s biggest risers. He is not a deep threat and does profile for a slot role in the NFL. Jones can play, and he could be a deep fantasy play in your PPR formats if he gets early playing time.

18. Michael Wilson, Stanford

Draft Age: 23
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 213 lbs

Wilson is another big WR that can play outside. The Stanford Cardinals only had three wins this year, and their offense really struggled. An offense that has several players that will be going into this year’s draft. Wilson is one of them, and Chris Simms has him tied for his WR5 in the class. Wilson is rarely mentioned in fantasy Twitter or other rookie WR rankings in the dynasty community. His size is appealing, but the production and workouts are not.

19. Bryce Ford-Wheaton, West Virginia

Draft Age: 23
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 221 lbs

Bryce Ford-Wheaton (BFW) popped onto everyone’s radar with his 4.38 40 at his size. This rare combination of size and speed will have you rewatching his tape. The NFL combine usually confirms the tape, and in this case, it doesn’t really match. He doesn’t look that fast on the field, and the speed doesn’t seem to translate. We also don’t see a great change of direction or crisp routes from him. BFW is a raw prospect that will have to develop more as an overall wide receiver.

20. Nathaniel Dell, Houston

Draft Age: 23
Height: 5’8″
Weight: 165 lbs

Nathaniel “Tank” Dell is an interesting prospect as he is small, even in comparison to this small WR class. Dell had a strong combine that ranked seventh in the class. But Dell’s size is definitely a concern that is hard to hide. Dell comes in at 5’8″ and only 165 pounds. There have been some wide receivers that have success at this size, but not many. This is not an ideal size and could affect his draft capital. We have seen Tutu Atwell go really early, so there is hope for him. But that didn’t result in fantasy success, and history is not on Dell’s side here.


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