With my quarterback rankings complete, we now shift to the wide receivers in this 2022 draft class.
These rankings are far more pertinent to us Chicago Bears fans than the quarterbacks were, and thankfully, it appears that the Bears should have a wealth of great options to choose from at pick 39. All 10 of these guys are very difficult to rank because I like them all.
Yes, there was a clear top guy in my eyes, but after that, #2-4 were all worthy of the #2 spot, and #8-10 still project to be solid receivers at the next level. Therefore, these rankings are extremely nit-picky, which only makes them that much more controversial.
With that said, let’s start at the top and dive right in.
1. Drake London, University of Southern California
Every draft, there is usually one player that I look at as a truly special talent. As of now, if you made me bet who that guy would be this year, I’d likely say USC wide receiver Drake London.
The obvious strength with London is his freakish physical traits. He is 6’5”, 210 lbs, and his body structure is one that lends me to believe he will thicken out significantly as he grows into a man. It is for this reason along with his unreal body control that he is far and away the best jump ball receiver in this class. Moreover, for a guy his size to move as well as he does is unheard of. He has good explosiveness off the line of scrimmage, and though he can’t quite turn on the afterburners, he still possesses straight-line speed and acceleration that reaches another gear with the ball in his hands.
The big concern is his lack of separation on film, but there are a few things to keep in mind with this. First off, USC’s offense was one of the most predictable offenses I saw on film. Tendencies were clear on a formational basis, hence why defensive backs could jump routes and make it look as though London couldn’t create separation. Secondly, London wasn’t all-in on football until this past season. He played both football and basketball at USC, which halved his football-specific training. Yes, he certainly needs more polish with route running, but he is enough of a natural route runner on film to where - with a more creative offense and far more time spent on training for football - I expect him to pick things up easily.
Overall, his versatility, raw talent, and physical attributes will be a perfect blend for the NFL. I project this young man as a superstar at the next level.
2. Garrett Wilson, Ohio State University
Though I don’t expect him to be as impactful as Drake London in the long-run, there is no questioning that Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson is the most NFL-ready prospect in this class.
He has good explosiveness off the line of scrimmage, and - despite his narrow frame - is more than capable of beating a jam with either speed or play strength. His ability to change speeds on a dime is exceptional, as is his body control. Pair that with his route running ability, which is clearly the best in the draft, and he projects as a star receiver at the next level.
That said, my qualm with Wilson is that there isn’t anything physically special that pops off the screen. His acceleration, elusiveness, and ability to change directions are all good, but they’re not game-changing. All of the truly special receivers in the NFL have one physical attribute that makes them an impossible cover. With Tyreek Hill, it’s speed. With A.J. Brown and Deebo Samuel, it’s size. With Ja’Marr Chase, it’s acceleration. Wilson doesn’t have any physical traits to that extent, hence why I can’t put him above London.
But that’s not to say I’m low on Wilson. He reminds of a less physically-imposing Cooper Kupp, and considering the fact that Kupp is the reigning Super Bowl MVP, that is a terrific comparison.
3. Christian Watson, North Dakota State University
Like London, NDSU receiver Christian Watson has special athleticism.
Obviously, his size at 6’5”, 208 lbs is sensational, but perhaps more impressive is his exceptional movement. He has good top-end speed with good acceleration and is able to detach his hips from his body to break out of routes with good fluidity. In the 50-50 game, he has point guard-like body control, hence why he is adept at big play receptions along the sidelines. Most importantly, though his route running requires a hair more refinement and polish, he is still good enough to where - with NFL-level coaching - he will be able to achieve these things so long as he is willing to work.
But the most impressive thing about Watson (and I rarely say this because I think they are very overrated) are his intangibles. His mentality is such that he actively seeks out contact on each and every play rather than try to avoid it. That is very rare, and has only been seen by the likes of Brandon Marshall, A.J. Brown, and D.K. Metcalf.
Will it take him a year or two to adjust to the speed and physicality of the NFL game? Yes. But in due time, he will be a star receiver in the NFL.
4. Treylon Burks, University of Arkansas
As a disclaimer, Wilson, Watson, and Burks are all really close. All three are undoubtedly awesome but could not be any more different. Where Wilson and Watson lie on the receiver side of the spectrum, Burks - like Deebo Samuel and A.J. Brown - can be characterized as a receiver in a running back’s body.
At a hulking 6’3”, 225 lbs, he will overpower quite literally any defensive back in the NFL, safeties included. That size also gives him the versatility to play at any position on the field. He can be a traditional X or Z, running back in one- or two-back sets, or even winged out at the line of scrimmage in U or Tiger personnel. As you might expect, this makes an offense exponentially more dangerous.
The athleticism, however, is why I’ve placed him below Wilson and Watson. His top-end speed, acceleration, and body control are all good, but he struggles turning. When I say he struggles, it’s glaringly bad. He can’t put his foot in the ground and make a “quick stick” to come out of a break or stop on a dime. Instead, he has to chatter his feet at the top to gradually slow his momentum. That is my big concern with Burks because NFL defensive backs with 4.3 speed and phenomenal acceleration will jump those types of routes in their sleep.
I like the player in totality. He will be a very dangerous weapon in the NFL, and he is undoubtedly a first-round talent, but his singular flaw lends me to believe he won’t hold much value as a full-time wide receiver.
5. Jameson Williams, University of Alabama
In a very close race for the #5 spot in these rankings comes Alabama receiver Jameson Williams.
In short, he is an outstanding football player. Williams has exceptional twitchiness, explosion off the line of scrimmage, and acceleration. But he is far more than a pure athlete. He is a very good route runner and has many different releases off the line of scrimmage, which will allow him to take on defensive backs of all shapes and sizes in the NFL. He also has very good body control, hence why he is frequently able to adjust back to the ball. Most noticeable of all, his speed is game-breaking.
In a lot of ways, he reminds me of his former Alabama teammate Jaylen Waddle. Both have excellent physical tools, are very skilled, and are capable of turning a 7-yard slant into an 80-yard touchdown, but they are weapons more so than a #1 receiver.
In college, Williams played very little outside of the slot due to his inability to detach his hips from his body. That’s critical on pro-style routes such as in-cuts, deep overs, and more.
I think Williams will be an exceptional weapon-type receiver, but I can’t put him above the top 4, all of whom display far more versatility.
6. Chris Olave, Ohio State University
Tied with Williams is Ohio State receiver Chris Olave. In fact, I would go as far as to say that both are practically the same player. I just gave Williams the very slight edge because he has a body structure that lends itself to adding more size and weight in the future.
Olave is both twitchy and fast but can beat you with more than just athleticism. He is a very good route runner and even has more versatility than Williams. There are multiple instances of Olave excelling from the X, Z, and slot positions to where I think he will exponentiate an offense’s options at the next level. Moreover, despite his small frame, he has excellent play strength, as he rarely gets bumped off of his route.
As I alluded to earlier, however, his size is still a bit of a limitation. I don’t look at his frame as one that will lend itself to putting on weight even as he grows into his “man body”. I understand that Devonta Smith showed us last year that size isn’t nearly as important as it used to be, but Olave - despite his excellent movement - isn’t in the same class of movement as Devonta Smith.
Once again, I really like the player, and if the Bears have a shot at him at pick 39, they should snatch him up in an instant. I just look at him as more of a weapon than a top receiver.
7. George Pickens, University of Georgia
Georgia receiver George Pickens was by far the toughest evaluation of all these guys, so if I am wrong about anybody in this class, it will likely be him.
His athletic tools pop off the screen. He has excellent size at 6’3”, 201 lbs and possesses phenomenal acceleration and top-end speed. The route running requires polish but isn’t bad enough to where it will completely deter him in the NFL.
The problem with Pickens is that despite his size, strength still appears to be an issue. Far too often, he gets jammed or rerouted at the line of scrimmage, and he can even be out-physicaled mid-play, throwing off the timing between him and the quarterback and causing passes to fall incomplete. The reason this is concerning is because it signals the problem lies in bone structure. Some guys are built such that their body allows them to excel at certain physical movements, and others are not. I hate to say it, but Pickens qualifies as the latter.
Again, he’s the guy that has a legitimate shot at proving me wrong, and I really want him to do so. From interviews I’ve seen, he seems like a great young man with the perfect mindset for success. It’s just that in providing a true evaluation, I am slightly leaning bearish.
8. John Metchie, University of Alabama
Similar to Williams and Olave, Metchie is a weapon rather than a #1 receiver.
He is a solid route runner that also possesses good acceleration and good speed. Size appears to be an issue, but his body structure looks to be one that will put on weight easily.
The reason I look at him as more of a gadget player is because of the lack of elusiveness despite his slim frame and the inability to detach from his hips. His hips usually telegraph where his route will take him, hence why he isn’t as tough of a cover as a true #1 receiver. Moreover, even with the ball in his hands, he can’t make something out of nothing the way you would expect from a guy as athletic as he is.
He certainly has the capability of reaching the class of Jameson Williams and Chris Olave. They are just a bit more refined, and their elite traits are slightly more elite.
9. Jahan Dotson, Pennsylvania State University
Penn State receiver Jahan Dotson’s film is eerily similar to current Bears receiver Darnell Mooney’s.
He has excellent twitchiness and good route running ability.
Where he falls slightly short of Mooney is that he needs to be schemed open rather than relied upon to beat a cornerback one-on-one. Size and strength do appear to be an issue. Far too often, he gets bumped off of his route, which - just like with Pickens - throws off the timing between quarterback and receiver.
There is still a lot that I like about him, though. He has the potential to be a good #2 receiver or even a #1a. I don’t think he’ll quite reach that ceiling, though, which is why he is at #9.
10. Skyy Moore, Western Michigan University
One of the hot risers as of recently appears to be Western Michigan receiver Skyy Moore. Contrary to this ranking, I actually really like Skyy Moore. It’s more so the depth of this draft class that puts him at #10 rather than his talent itself.
Moore has good explosion off the line of scrimmage, very quick feet, and good strength. His size is Tyreek Hill-esque in that it is a compact 5’10”, 195 lbs, which allows him to utilize those athletic traits to the fullest extent.
He certainly has the ability to stick his foot in the ground when making cuts, but he can’t explode out of them the way Williams, Olave, Pickens, or even Metchie can. Additionally, he doesn’t have that next-level gear those guys can reach after they stem. With the aforementioned four, they can break out of their route, accelerate in a step or two, and reach their true top-end speed. Moore lacks this ability, hence why it’s difficult for him to turn on the afterburners and create separation from his opponent. That isn’t fixable.
I still like Moore. I think he can be a solid jitterbug-type slot receiver in a good scheme.
In fact, he would be a good fit in Luke Getsy’s offense. He can be the designated speed sweep guy that sneaks out the backdoor to the flat on occasion or even works the underneath areas of the field.
I wouldn’t mind seeing him in a Bears uniform, but it would have to be around round 3 or later.