Wide receiver prospects for Chargers to watch at 2023 Senior Bowl

The Senior Bowl game kicks off on Saturday, February 4th, after a full week of practice, evaluation, and interviews for nearly 100 of college football’s top senior players. To get prepared, Chargers Wire will preview each position group set to compete in Mobile, Alabama, continuing today with the wide receiver group.

Los Angeles will, presumably, be looking for speed at receiver this offseason after failing to consistently stretch the field all season despite Justin Herbert’s talents. But Tom Telesco and Brandon Staley have been clear: speed is nice, but any future Chargers receiver also needs to be able to win at every level of the field.

Puka Nacua, BYU

Christopher Creveling-USA TODAY Sports

Measurables: 6’2”, 205 lbs

Likely draft range: Late Day 3

After starting his career at Washington, Nacua transferred to BYU before the 2021 season to be closer to his family in Utah. Used primarily as a deep ball tracker down the sideline, Nacua excels in contested catch situations on the boundary thanks to his frame and incredible balance. Creating separation has always been an issue for him, and press coverage in the NFL will give him trouble. It’s the classic profile of a Day 3 jump-ball artist.

Tre Tucker, Cincinnati

Measurables: 5’9”, 185 lbs

Likely draft range: UDFA

A four-year contributor at Cincinnati, Tucker reportedly runs a 4.29 40-yard dash and squats 600 pounds, an eye-popping combination of speed and lower body strength that shows in his ability to run after the catch. Due to his size, Tucker will be a slot-only receiver, but his underneath route running is not yet up to the level of an NFL player. That leaves a role as a seam burner early on, but without much special teams value because of his stature, Tucker will need a good week in Mobile to be drafted.

Nathaniel "Tank" Dell, Houston

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Measurables: 5’10”, 165 lbs

Likely draft range: Early Day 3

The oxymoronically nicknamed Dell is one of the slightest players in the draft but also in recent history: only seven wide receivers have weighed in under the 165 pounds Dell is listed at. While he’s a dangerous open-field weapon and punt returner, there will be questions about how much Houston’s spread offense shielded “Tank” from more physical defenses. But if you want a speedster with the ability to run underneath, Dell has all of that. It’s just whether or not you’re comfortable with his size.

Xavier Hutchinson, Iowa State

Measurables: 6’3”, 205 lbs

Likely draft range: Day 2

If you’re looking for a receiver that fits more of the Chargers’ traditional profile, I’d look towards Hutchinson. While not a great athlete nor blessed with remarkable speed, Hutchinson primarily wins via savvy as a route runner and body positioning as the ball nears his frame. Despite his lack of elusiveness with the ball in his hands, he has sharp routes that create separation.

For more on Hutchinson, check out his report from our friends over at Vikings Wire.

Ronnie Bell, Michigan

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Measurables: 6’0”, 190 lbs

Likely draft range: Mid-Day 3

A two-time team captain, Bell returned from a torn ACL in 2021 to a modest 2022 season that’s worn some of the shine off of him as a prospect. Michigan used him primarily as a motion piece, but he rarely found similar success downfield because of an underdeveloped release package. If the Chargers decide to move on from DeAndre Carter, Bell could make for a natural replacement as a jet sweep and returner threat without much downfield push.

Jayden Reed, Michigan State

Measurables: 6’0”, 185 lbs

Likely draft range: Early Day 3

One of college football’s most prolific returners, it’s surprising to turn on Reed’s film and see a player without elite downfield speed. Instead, the former Spartan primarily wins with short-area quickness, making him yet another underneath weapon in Mobile. Reed has a body-catching problem, however, which generally restricts his impact to open space.

Jonathan Mingo, Mississippi

Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Measurables: 6’2”, 225 lbs

Likely draft range: Day 2

One of the few true outside receivers near the top of the draft, Mobile is a huge opportunity for Mingo to separate himself as the best X receiver this side of TCU’s Quentin Johnston. While his powerful frame lends itself well to running through underneath defenders, Mingo isn’t going to take the top off a defense downfield. In order to find the most success, using him as a screen and short-area player to get the ball into his hands immediately will likely be necessary.

Trey Palmer, Nebraska

Measurables: 6’1”, 190 lbs

Likely draft range: Early Day 3

A former LSU Tiger, Palmer has spent plenty of snaps on special teams both as a returner and a defender while stuck behind a litany of future pros in Louisiana. With his final season pending, Palmer took his talents to Nebraska, where he blossomed into one of the bigger breakout stories in college football. A plus athlete and big-play threat despite his limited route tree, Palmer will have an early home on an NFL team as a special teamer while the rest of his game fleshes out.

Andrei Iosivas, Princeton

Measurables: 6’3”, 200 lbs

Likely draft range: Day 2

You want a speedster that can win at every level of the field? Look no further than Iosivas, an All-American heptathlete whose track times translate to 4.2 speed at 200 pounds. But the former Ivy Leaguer also has a wide catch radius and the route running prowess to win in intermediate areas, along with the quick twitch to take a short pass to the house.

For more on Iosivas, check out our profile on him from earlier this season.

Charlie Jones, Purdue

Measurables: 6’0”, 188 lbs

Likely draft range: Early Day 3

After two seasons at Buffalo, Jones packed his bags for Iowa, where a malformed offensive system prevented him from reaching his full potential. To close his college career, Jones again hit the portal and landed at Purdue, where he emerged as a top target for the Boilermakers. An aggressive attacker of the ball in the air and reliable hands catcher, Jones lacks top-end speed but will find a role as a slot receiver for a team needing a boost to their quick passing attack.

Rashee Rice, SMU

Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Measurables: 6’2”, 203 lbs

Likely draft range: Day 2

Another speedster with the ability to win at every level of the field, the main concern with Rice is going to be his development as a route runner. Operating in the Air Raid at SMU, Rice wasn’t asked to run a diverse route tree, and his lack of ability to threaten comeback routes as he runs downfield hampers his ability to separate with natural speed. Beyond that, however, Rice is a physical, fast, and big receiver who should have plenty of suitors.

For more on Rice, check out his profile on Vikings Wire.

Jalen Wayne, South Alabama

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Measurables: 6’2”, 207 lbs

Likely draft range: Mid-Day 3

The nephew of Colts legend and WR coach Reggie Wayne, Jalen carved out a nice career for himself over six seasons down the road from the Senior Bowl at South Alabama. A versatile receiver with inside/outside experience, I worry about Wayne’s short and intermediate route running and his tendency to double-catch passes. That said, he has prototypical size and NFL genes, so he’ll have an opportunity to develop somewhere.

Elijah Higgins, Stanford

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Measurables: 6’3”, 234 lbs

Likely draft range: Mid-Day 3

An under-the-radar name thanks to the anemic nature of Stanford’s offense in 2022, Higgins is a mega-sized receiver who could end up moving to tight end because of his lack of quick twitch on the outside. He wins primarily over the middle, where his size proves to be too much for nickel corners. A physical blocker thanks to a muscular frame, it’ll be interesting to see how Higgins is deployed by the coaching staff in Mobile.

Michael Wilson, Stanford

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Measurables: 6’2”, 209 lbs

Likely draft range: UDFA

Much like Higgins, Wilson suffered from playing for a moribund Cardinal offense in 2022, but has perimeter blocking chops and steady hands that should land him some sort of role in the NFL. What dampens Wilson’s projection compared to Higgins is a similar struggle to create separation at a smaller size: while Higgins could always move to tight end to boost his mismatch potential, Wilson has no such luxury.

Derius Davis, TCU

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Measurables: 5’10”, 175 lbs

Likely draft range: Late Day 3

Davis will primarily be in Mobile as the premier return specialist prospect in the draft, considering he’s never topped more than 36 catches in a single season at TCU. With five punt return and one kickoff return touchdown to his name, he could be someone the Chargers look at if re-signing DeAndre Carter is not in the cards. As a receiver, Davis’s slight build will limit his role to plays on which he can get a free release.

Dontayvion Wicks, Virginia

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Measurables: 6’2”, 208 lbs

Likely draft range: Early Day 3

Wicks’ best season came in 2021, but a coaching and scheme overhaul entering 2022 brought his pro prospects down to earth. An in-air ballerina with strong hands, Wicks also has rare acceleration for a player of his size, making him an intriguing option as a field stretcher from the perimeter. Drops have been an issue for him, primarily when he lets the ball get into his chest. While not an elite run after catch threat, Wicks does have the requisite speed to keep defenses honest over the top.

Story originally appeared on Chargers Wire