Creating the perfect SEC wide receiver for 2020
During the 2020 NFL Draft, the SEC had 3 receivers go in Round 1. Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III went No. 12 to the Las Vegas Raiders. At No. 15 overall, the Denver Broncos selected Jerry Jeudy, Ruggs’ teammate with the Crimson Tide. Then, at No. 22, the Minnesota Vikings drafted LSU WR Justin Jefferson.
Later in the draft, several other SEC receivers were selected as part of a historically deep receiver class. However, even with all that attrition, the SEC is still loaded at the position for 2020.
Indeed, LSU returns 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner Ja’Marr Chase, Alabama returns a dynamic duo and other teams have guys ready to step up and become stars.
So, which attributes from those talented pass catchers make up our perfect SEC receiver for 2020? Here’s who we went with:
Size: George Pickens, Georgia
Pickens is a 6-3, 190-pound freak of nature. He can use his size to make nice catches in the end zone, but he also has the speed to make plays in the open field:
All the time y’all wasted yesterday taking shots and downing George Pickens could have been better spent watching reruns of Georgia smashing and Kirbstomping your favorite team✌🏽#dawgnation #SEC pic.twitter.com/EJxQlGbH3x
— 🔑LEE Ring🐶 (@HBTFD1) May 4, 2020
#Dawgs Happy Birthday to UGA WR George Pickens!
— GATA Dawgs (@BassinDawg) March 4, 2020
He is also not bad as a blocker, as this Texas A&M defender learned:
Yes, he still needs to develop some consistency and fill out a bit, but there’s no denying his skills. He’s the perfect size for an NFL receiver and should take a big step forward this season. After all, he’s only entering his sophomore season.
Speed: Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
This is no contest. In videos from Alabama practices the past couple of years, Waddle was the only one who could keep it close with Henry Ruggs III. Ruggs just ran the fastest 40-yard dash time at the 2020 NFL Combine.
This highlight reel (particularly the first play) shows just how much speed Waddle has. It doesn’t matter how many defenders have an angle on him. When he turns on the burners, it’s over:
Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle pic.twitter.com/dLGBoGOKmU
— League Ready (@League_Ready100) April 28, 2020
He had a big game against Auburn working with QB Mac Jones, so if he and Jones can continue that chemistry in 2020, Waddle will be tough to stop.
Hands: Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
Ja’Marr Chase won the Biletnikoff Award in 2019 and rewrote the SEC single-season record book with 20 touchdown catches and 1,780 receiving yards. His ability to make all kinds of catches had a lot to do with that record-breaking 2019 campaign.
As you can see in the highlight video below, he can elevate and grab the ball at its highest point. He also doesn’t need to bring it into his body to complete the catch — his hands are that strong. He can make snags in traffic, too:
Ja’Marr Chase, WR, #LSU:
• Dominant Boundary X WR (++)
• “My Ball” mentality
• Unlimited RAC strength
• Elite hand-eye coordination (++)
• 6 points finisher (+)
• Fight and finish through press
• Unlimited competitive notches (++) pic.twitter.com/yIQyQ5JObe
— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) May 1, 2020
Against Florida, he made great touchdown grab against CJ Henderson, who was a first-round pick in the 2020 draft.
But we all know that a receiver uses his hands for a lot more than just catching the ball. Look at how Chase is able to get separation and beat press coverage with his quick hands:
Ja'Marr Chase possesses ninja-level hand fighting technique. It showed up against Clemson all game long.
A true master knows how to use his hands to:
✅Beat the press
✅Maintain leverage throughout the route
✅Create late separation to win at the catch point pic.twitter.com/JHKhAl1gBL
— JetPack Galileo (@JetPackGalileo) January 19, 2020
That’s the sort of stuff NFL scouts love to see. And, since the above video took place in the national title game against Clemson, it should translate well to the next level.
Versatility: Kadarius Toney, Florida
Toney missed a few games with an injury in 2019, but even when he was on the field, the Gators didn’t quite figure out how to unlock his potential. In 7 games, he only had 10 catches for 194 yards and 1 touchdown. His 12 carries went for only 59 yards.
Still, when he’s healthy and gets opportunities, he’s the most versatile weapon the Gators have had since Percy Harvin. Just look at this play against Miami in Week 0 of the 2019 season:
Kadarius Toney takes it 66 yards to the 🏡 pic.twitter.com/bmx5x7wLzE
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) August 24, 2019
Yeah, the Gators need to figure out how to get the ball into that guy’s hands more often in 2020. For now, though, we’ll steal his versatility and use it for our perfect SEC receiver.
Scoring ability: Seth Williams, Auburn
When Williams makes a catch inside the 20-yard line, he’s very tough to stop from getting into the end zone. Just look at his determination on this game-winning touchdown catch from Week 1 against Oregon last year:
I’d like to commend @cbfowler on this call of Bo Nix throwing the game-winning TD pass to Seth Williams. The excitement of his voice nailed the moment. Then he immediately let it breathe. The moment was even bigger by saying nothing. Exceptional.
— Pablo Escobarner (blue check) (@PabloEscobarner) September 1, 2019
Here, Williams keeps his feet when he makes a catch inside the 5-yard line and is sandwiched by 2 Florida defenders before waltzing into the end zone:
— Néstor Con Tilde (@NestorConTilde) October 5, 2019
Some of the best tight ends (especially those who played basketball like Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates) are known for using their bodies to box out defenders when they are going up to make catches in the end zone. Williams, who stands 6-3 and weighs 225 pounds, is showing signs of doing the same thing.
When he gets the ball near the end zone, he has the determination and the power to make sure nothing stops him before he scores 6 points.
Big-play ability: DeVonta Smith, Alabama
Smith had a huge 2019 season. He led the Crimson Tide in yards and touchdowns last year, recording 1,256 yards and 14 scores. He also averaged 18.5 yards per catch, just a tick behind Henry Ruggs III’s 18.7 yards-per-catch average.
Plays like this show just how explosive Smith can be:
Last clip. Even in the Ole Miss game when he WAS given decent coverage, it didn't matter. DeVonta Smith was taking no prisoners. This touchdown – which also happens show off his hands – is no exception. Is a generation performance ok to say? I think so. #NFLDraft #RollTide pic.twitter.com/HDeI0c0PX7
— Josh Engler (@EnglerNFL) April 28, 2020
Here he is catching Derek Stingley Jr. not paying attention. Look at this quick release off the line of scrimmage:
DeVonta Smith put up big numbers on Derek Stingley Jr. last year, but they're a little inflated by this long TD where Stingley just isn't paying attention.. it's not so much a win for Smith as it was just a dumb play by Stingley pic.twitter.com/qXLhEsSH0Z
— Ryan McCrystal (@Ryan_McCrystal) May 4, 2020
Here’s another nice play against Stingley, who is one of the best corners in the country entering 2020:
Here's a play were DeVonta Smith legitimately beats Stingley (although it's not exactly bad coverage) pic.twitter.com/EdsIdxiD2W
— Ryan McCrystal (@Ryan_McCrystal) May 4, 2020
If he has another strong year with Mac Jones and/or Bryce Young throwing him the ball, he should be a first-round pick in the 2021 draft.