When teams are hot to upgrade at the receiver position in the NFL Draft, there’s one place they tend to look first. Speed kills, especially at the skill positions, so it only makes sense that premier pass catchers must possess a pulsating pace.
At the Scouting Combine, the 40-yard dash is the ultimate measuring stick, where college players try to showcase their ‘football speed’ while wearing no pads or helmets, and running in shorts. And while just how fleet of foot someone is doesn’t always equate to instant success, it’s a definite indicator of physical ability.
Several young hopefuls posted great times in Indianapolis, but it’s the ones who can combine their tempo with their talents to become a WR1.
So ‘have rocket… will travel‘ was the motto for many of these speedsters as they streaked through the scouting combine. A handful of them will make a huge impact on The League. Here’s a look at three potential Pro-Bowlers who could come in and burn NFL cornerbacks right away.
2023 NFL Draft: Three Receivers Who Could Blister the NFL
#1 – Quentin Johnston is the most highly-regarded prospect in the 2023 Draft
If you were to ask anyone who will be the wide receiver drafted first this year, most scouts will tell you that it’s Quentin Johnston. The 6’3″, 208-lbs TCU product is a prototype of what NFL teams are looking for in a top guy. He’s got elite size and he’ll be able to overpower a lot of smaller defensive backs at the next level.
The biggest knock on Johnston has been his hands. He was credited with eight dropped passes in 2022, which was the 14th-most in college football. That has to improve if he is going to emerge as the Pro Bowler that many envision him to eventually be.
Despite that, he’s still a top-ten pick based on the fact that you might be getting another long, red-zone threat, similar to Mike Evans in Tampa Bay or D.K. Metcalf of Seattle. At best, you’ve got a guy who will be among the league leaders in touchdowns perenially. At worst, you select a really scary-looking decoy.
#2 – Jaxon Smith-Njigba could be the next great Buckeyes receiver in the NFL
The Ohio State product posted a 4.48 second time in the 40-yard dash, but has elusive speed and played at an elite program. He caught his passes from a guy, C.J. Stroud, who could very well end up being the top overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Many observers are impressed with the 6′ 190-pound star, but he’s kind of an odd variable here. After missing almost all of last season due to a nagging hamstring injury, he entered the draft early with plenty of questions about his health.
Since speed is the theme of the day, there are also questions as to whether or not the 2021 Rose Bowl MVP can return to form. However, scouts are still intrigued by the 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns that he posted as a sophomore.
#3 – Jordan Addison could possibly be the best receiver in this year’s NFL Draft
With the aforementioned speed not even factored in, Jordan Addison is still the most NFL-ready pass catcher of the 2023 Draft. When you top off his amazing skills with the rocket fuel it took to post a 4.49 time, it only adds fuel to his fire.
While he isn’t huge (5’11”, 173 lbs.), the USC star has good enough size and can go up and get the ball. He posted a 34-inch vertical at the Scouting Combine.
Although he originally enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh, Addison entered the transfer protocol following the 2021 season after winning the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best receiver. When he moved into place at USC, he solidified his status as a top NFL Draft selection.
Obviously, Addison is going to be drafted high, so it will depend on where he lands in order to know what to expect from him in his rookie year. But he should be one of the first-year players who steps in and is a factor almost immediately.
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