One of the most important events on the National Football League calendar is the Senior Bowl. Held the week after the conference championship games, it is the true beginning of the NFL draft cycle.
Not only do scouts and analysts like us get to see over 100 draft prospects in one place competing against each other, but it’s also an opportunity for analysts and personnel alike to get together and have discussions about a number of topics.
As we look forward to this year’s Senior Bowl, managing editor Tyler Forness will be there in person to break everything down.
We will be breaking down each position group and what to look for throughout the week. Here is the wide receiver position.
North Carolina's Devontez Walker
Walker gives me vibes of D.K. Metcalf in that he’s really good at contested catches and stretching the field but I’m worried that he won’t develop the nuance in his game to be a true alpha at wide receiver. The one thing that’s really difficult to judge with Walker is how much of that is going to matter? It didn’t matter much with Metcalf but Walker isn’t quite the alpha that Metcalf is. He’s going to do well in a vertical offense but can he in one that is a part of the Shanahan tree? Needless to say, Walker has a chance to prove himself in Mobile.
Louisville's Jamari Thrash
Thrash is a talented prospect but there are some real questions surrounding him on multiple fronts but Thrash is electric with the ball in his hands. He will continue to be explosive in the open field but does he have the juice to be an elite difference-maker at the next level? That question will likely be around until he tests and he has a chance to prove it in Mobile.
Western Kentucky's Malachi Corley
Corley is a talented player that will be a YAC monster in a Shanahan inspired offense. He isn’t the same athlete that Deebo Samuel is, but you will want to use him the exact same way. Get him the ball with manufactured touches and in open space. Corley is the first member of the All-Forno team and could open some eyes in Mobile, especially since one-on-ones aren’t designed for him to shine.
Arizona's Jacob Cowing
I am a big fan of Cowing’s game. He can play football and will fit in with today’s modern NFL game. Due to his size profile, he won’t be for everyone, but the skills are there to be a weapon from the slot. Being at the Senior Bowl and showing out in the one-on-ones like Tank Dell did last season could propel him higher in the NFL draft.
Georgia's Ladd McConkey
McConkey is a really talented football player that was in an offense didn’t utilize him much in the passing game. If he would have played at an Ohio State or Washington, you would know a lot more about his prowess as a receiver.
Some may want him to play in the slot, but he spent just 29.6% of his snaps in the slot. He can be a versatile weapon for you in just about any offense. Don’t be surprised if McConkey comes out of Mobile as a big winner.
Florida's Ricky Pearsall
Pearsall feels like a safe player to take on day two or three at the position. He won’t wow you with his consistency or explosiveness but he has the flare to make the spectacular catch. His best fit is to be a complementary receiver that can be either in the slot or on the outside. With his significant growth from 2022 to 2023, Pearsall can make some waves in Mobile.
South Carolina's Xavier Legette
Once Antwane “Juice” Wells went down with injury, Legette took it upon himself to step up in a big way. In the first game of the season, Legette caught nine passes for 178 yards and became the top target for the Gamecocks. If you like a big receiver that builds up speed like a freight train, Legette is your guy.
Michigan's Roman Wilson
One of the only true speedsters in this group, Wilson emerged onto the scene in a big way this season by becoming J.J. McCarthy’s number one target in 2023. He is at his best with the ball in his hands on crossing routes taking things up the field and getting yards after the catch. If Wilson can do some damage after the catch, that could do a lot for his draft stock.
Tulane's Jha'Quan Jackson
If you want a slot receiver that can stretch things vertically, Jackson is your guy. He can get vertically and use both tempo and athletic prowess to attack defenders. One-on-ones are made for a guy like Jackson and he will have a change to make a big splash.
Georgia's Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint
When you play wide receiver at Georgia, you can get lost in the shuffle. Rosemy-Jacksaint is the latest to experience that. A bigger bodied player that played the X receiver for the Bulldogs, Rosemy-Jacksaint is primed to make a major impact in one-on-ones by Moss-ing cornerbacks.
Florida State's Johnny Wilson
You will not find a bigger receiver in this draft than Wilson and he plays like it. He is also one of the weirder prospects in this class. Wilson struggles with drops, but on 3-4 plays per game, he’s the best player on the field. Can you extract consistency out of him? His time in Mobile will tell you how possible that is.
UCF's Javon Baker
Baker is a really interesting prospect. After transferring from Alabama, Baker found a home at UCF and found a way to flourish despite his quarterback being John Rhys Plumlee. He has size and speed with YAC ability which are all traits that teams want in the NFL.
USC's Brenden Rice
The son of Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, Brenden is a capable receiver that isn’t quite what his dad was. Rice arguably has the most to gain among all of the receivers, as the USC offense was relatively dreadful this year outside of Caleb Williams doing crazy things.
Texas A&M's Ainias Smith
Smith is an interesting prospect. He is rather small in stature but has been explosive since arriving in College Station and the Aggies have used him as a vertical threat, in the slot and out of the backfield. Smith is also a dynamo in the return game, something that will help him once he sets foot on an NFL field. Will Smith be able to separate consistently? If he answers that question with a yes, Smith could find his way skyrocketing up draft boards.
Rice's Luke McCaffrey
Yes, Luke is the brother of San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey. It’s been an interesting journey for him, as he started as a quarterback at Nebraska. He flirted with the position for the Owls but settled in at wide receiver. He is explosive and displays really good nuance in route running for someone who hasn’t played the position very long. He is going to be a player to watch, especially with the NFL pedigree in his bloodline.
Texas' Jordan Whittington
Whittington is an intriguing player. A dynamo in Texas 6-man football, Whittington has played across the field for the Longhorns, mainly staying at the wide receiver position. He was outshined by his teammates but Whittington does display great body control and is good in space. With his size and profile, Whittington could make some noise with a great week.