Projecting where ten former Big Ten wide receivers might go in the 2022 NFL draft

Welcome to April. It’s officially NFL draft month and with every passing day, we get closer and closer to seeing some former college football stars get paid and possibly become stars. I wanted to take a deep dive into the majority of the familiar names from the Big Ten in the upcoming draft class.

Today I take a look at the former Big Ten wide receivers that could hear their names called during the 2022 NFL draft and try to project which round they may get taken in. This year there are many former Big Ten wide receivers in the class that have the skill and goods to make it at the next level.

So, let’s get to all the fun.

Garrett Wilson, Ohio State

Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Garrett Wilson (5) catches a touchdown pass during the first half of the NCAA football game against the Oregon Ducks at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Garrett Wilson was a four-star prospect from Texas who made an immediate impact as a true freshman and ended his career as one of the best receivers in Ohio State history. Wilson had a phenomenal 2021 season with 70 receptions for 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns and declared after his true junior season.

Wilson is an absolute terror after the catch and is one of the best at creating separation. Any team that drafts Wilson will get a ready-made day one contributor.

Projection: 1st Round

Jameson Williams, Ohio State/Alabama

Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Jameson Williams (1) catches a pass as Cincinnati Bearcats cornerback Coby Bryant (8) defends in the first quarter during the College Football Playoff semifinal game at the 86th Cotton Bowl Classic, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Credit: USA TODAY Sports Network

Another former four-star recruit, Jameson Williams spent two seasons in Columbus, snagging just 15 receptions in two years, including a COVID shortened 2020 where he started six games. Williams exploded at Alabama though and snagged 79 receptions for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns in his lone SEC season.

Williams is a big play machine and should be an automatic first-round selection, but we will see how NFL teams value him after a torn ACL in the national championship game.

Projection: 1st Round

Chris Olave, Ohio State

Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Chris Olave (2) scores a touchdown past Indiana Hoosiers defensive back Devon Matthews (1) during the NCAA football game at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind. on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. Ohio State won 54-7. Credit: USA TODAY Sports Network

Chris Olave arrived at Ohio State as a three-star recruit from California and after playing sparingly as a freshman, entered the starting line-up as a sophomore and never looked back. Olave finished last season with 65 receptions for 936 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Olave is an elite route-runner who can cut on a dime and doesn’t have any wasted movement. The former Buckeye can identify weaknesses in zone coverage and create separation easily. Olave will be a welcome addition to any offense.

Projection: 1st Round/2nd Round

Jahan Dotson, Penn State

Nov 27, 2021; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver Jahan Dotson (5) looks over to the sideline during the fourth quarter against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Jahan Dotson was a big play monster during his time at Penn State and a pillar of consistency with 21 touchdowns in his final 21 games for the Nittany Lions. The former four-star recruit saw time early in Happy Valley, playing in eight games as a true freshman. He exploded as a sophomore with 27 receptions for 488 yards and five touchdowns, which gave him a healthy average of 18.1 yards per reception.

As a junior, during the COVID shortened season, Dotson led the country in receptions of 40 yards or more with four and he also was the Big Ten leader in receiving yards with 884. He also made noise as a punt returner with a new school record of 24.6 yards per return. As a senior, Dotson snagged 91 receptions for 1,181 yards and 12 touchdowns, but most Buckeye fans will remember his outing that included 11 receptions for 127 yards and a rushing touchdown.

Dotson is a tad undersized at 5-foot, 11-inches, and 178-pounds, but the dude is electric with the ball in his hands and has the speed to be a devastating deep threat. Every NFL team is looking to add more play-makers and few are as versatile as Dotson.

Projection: 1st Round/2nd Round

David Bell, Purdue

Nov 27, 2021; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA; Purdue Boilermakers wide receiver David Bell (3) after he dives into the end zone for a touchdown during the second half against the Indiana Hoosiers at Ross-Ade Stadium. Boilermakers won 44-7. Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

David Bell first splashed as a true freshman when Rondale Moore went down with an injury and the Purdue offense didn’t skip a beat. Bell was a phenom for three seasons and had another impressive one in 2021 with 93 receptions for 1,286 yards and six touchdowns.

Bell is another Big Ten receiver who really thrives in the yards after catch (YAC) department and has the ideal size to box out smaller defenders at 6-foot, 1-inch, and 212-pounds. It should also be noted that Bell was extremely productive despite being the main focus of every defense he faced. He can be a star possession receiver in the right system.

Projection: 1st Round/2nd Round

Wan'Dale Robinson, Nebraska/Kentucky

Kentucky fans cheer on Kentucky wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson (1) during an NCAA college football game in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl against Iowa, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. Credit: USA TODAY Sports Network

Wan’Dale Robinson was a highly touted recruit who started his collegiate career at Nebraska as a receiver/running back hybrid, but after transferring to Kentucky, he spent all of his time at receiver. Robinson ended last season with 104 receptions for 1,334 yards and seven touchdowns.

Robinson decided to declare for the NFL and strike while the iron is hot in an effort to carry this momentum into next season. Few players are as explosive as Robinson and his pure speed leaves defenders in the dust. Robinson is also a physical, high-effort blocker, which is vital for receivers in the NFL.

Projection: 2nd Round/3rd Round

Bo Melton, Rutgers

Feb 2, 2022; Mobile, AL, USA; National squad wide receiver Bo Melton of Rutgers (18) runs the ball after a catch during National team practice for the 2022 Senior Bowl at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State fans may remember, Bo Melton as they were in his sweepstakes as a recruit. Melton was one of the top-rated players from the state of New Jersey and elected to stay home at Rutgers over Ohio State. He has been a starter since his sophomore season and really dominated as a junior when he led the team with 30 receptions for 427 yards and two touchdowns.

Melton had an even better season as a junior during the COVID shortened season with 47 receptions for 638 yards and nine touchdowns. Most Buckeye fans will remember Melton as a dynamic returner as he returned a punt for a touchdown against Ohio State in 2020. Melton came back as a super senior in 2021 and despite missing three games with a shoulder injury, still snagged 55 receptions for 618 yards and three touchdowns.

Melton is the kind of prospect that plays better than he tests and the same goes for his size. He is only listed at 5-foot, 11-inches, and 189-pounds, but he plays with unique physicality and he is built like a house. Melton also has the kind of frame that should allow him to gain 15 more pounds of muscle and not sacrifice any speed. The former Rutgers star is extremely nuanced off the line and runs a clean route.

Projection: 3rd Round/4th Round

Jalen Nailor, Michigan State

Jalen Nailor, WR, Michigan State
Syndication Detroit Free Press

Jalen Nailor is a former three-star recruit from Las Vegas, Nevada, and improved statistically each year with the Spartans. Last season as a fourth-year junior, Nailor recorded 37 receptions for 695 yards and six touchdowns, which is impressive considering he only played six games due to injuries.

Nailor is an elite deep threat that has both top-notch acceleration and blistering speed to make a defense pay. He was a big-play machine for Michigan State as defenses failed to contain him and he consistently took the top off. Nailor has a relatively high floor as a niche piece to an offense needing a deep threat.

Projection: 4th Round/5th Round

Ty Fryfogle, Indiana

Nov 27, 2021; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA; Indiana Hoosiers wide receiver Ty Fryfogle (3) misses a pass under coverage of multiple Purdue Boilermakers during the second half at Ross-Ade Stadium. Boilermakers won 44-7.Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Few receivers had more of a letdown season than Ty Fryfogle at Indiana. We all heard the early-round hype, but he was unable to match his dynamic 2020 season productivity.

With that said, Fryfogle still has some obvious NFL traits like his unique mixture of physicality and size at 6-foot, 1-inch, and 204 pounds, which allows him to bully defensive backs in 50/50 situations. We have all seen Fryfogle make the highlight real grab once or twice and there is no reason he can’t develop into a consistent rotational option.

Projection: 6th Round/7th Round

Daylen Baldwin, Michigan

Oct 9, 2021; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Michigan Wolverines wide receiver Daylen Baldwin (85) attempts to catch a pass for a touchdown against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium. Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Daylen Baldwin never developed a key role with Michigan, but he sure had an interesting path as he started his career at Morgan State before transferring to Jackson State and finally ending up at Michigan. Baldwin actually received an offer from Ohio State after placing his name in the portal, but choose Michigan over the Buckeyes.

It is no secret that the Michigan coaching staff has had an interesting off-season and Baldwin decided to declare early despite only snagging 17 receptions for 256 yards and two touchdowns in the seven games he played in his only season for the Wolverines.

Baldwin does have a few intriguing NFL-level traits including his eye-popping size at 6-foot, 2-inches, and 218-pounds to go with the upper echelon route-running. Baldwin also has an explosive release that allows him to create separation better than most.

Projection: 7th Round/Priority Free Agent

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