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Top wide receiver prospects heading into 2018-19 bowl season

We take a closer look at some of the top ranked draft-eligible wide receiver prospects for the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft. WR | LB | OL | CB | S

NCAA Football: Oregon State at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 NFL Draft is nearly five months away, but with bowl season getting underway next week, it’s time for updated position rankings. We’ll be breaking down a host of positions of need for the 49ers to look at some of the top players available heading into bowl season.

Today’s focus is on the wide receivers. So far, the outlook shows us that there are not many blue-chip prospects at the top of the first round. However, that does not mean the position lacks talent. There are some real intriguing prospects who offer a variety of talent. This includes receivers who can run routes, take the top off a defense, and create yards after the reception.

It’s no secret that the San Francisco 49ers lack a true number one receiver. It may not be their biggest need overall (Pass Rusher), however it just might be their most glaring need on the offensive side of the ball. Pierre Garçon is in the twilight of his career. Marquise Goodwin can stretch the field, but doesn’t exactly have the desired traits of a true number one. While last year’s second round selection Dante Pettis is starting to come around, he seems to have the makings of an honest number two receiver who can be even more lethal and dangerous with a number one receiver lined up on the opposite side of him.

Below I have ranked the top draft-eligible wide receivers in the upcoming 2019 draft class. A couple of things to keep in mind. One, not all of these prospects have officially declared for the draft. Two, this list should be considered fluid, and can, and will most likely change as we get deeper into the draft process. With that said, let’s get right to it, and turn our attention to the top ranked receivers in the 2019 draft class.

1. A.J. Brown, WR, No. 1 – Ole Miss

Height: 6’1” | Weight: 225 lbs. | Projected 40 Time: 4.49
2018 Stats: 85 receptions, 1,320 yards, 6 touchdowns.

Just recently A.J. Brown declared for the 2019 NFL Draft. With little argument, Brown has been the undisputed WR1 in this upcoming draft class. A smooth route runner, with strong, reliable hands, Brown has a rare blend of speed and athleticism. On tape, Brown is dangerous in open space, and constantly earns yards after the reception. Brown plays with confidence, often winning battles in one-to-one matchups with defenders. Brown’s physicality and ball instincts make him one of the most reliable receivers entering this season. At this time, I see Brown as a day one prospect — and most likely landing in the top 20 of the first round.

Projection: Top 20 Selection

2. N’Keal Harry, WR, No. 1 – Arizona State

Height: 6’4” | Weight: 213 lbs. | Projected 40 Time: 4.57
2018 Stats: 73 receptions, 1,088 yards, 9 touchdowns.

Harry uses his speed and size, playing an aggressive style of football. He is successful in high-pointing the football. Has the ability to run short, intermediate, and deep routes. Has a wide wingspan, with a big-window appeal for quarterbacks. Often bails out his quarterback, making acrobatic catches. Harry is a mismatch against most defensive backs, and can physically overpower them in contested plays for the ball. Harry is a nightmare for defensive backs to contend with in one-to-one matchups. Often times, Harry will use his frame to outbox defenders. Great instincts and anticipation, tracking down the ball, especially on the intermediate and deep routes. Should he be able to improve his speed and ability to create separation, he will be knocking on the door of the first round. Still, there is a lot to like about Harry, who has great value on day two of the draft.

Projection: 1st Round Selection

3. Deebo Samuel, WR, No. 1 – South Carolina

Height: 6’0” | 210 lbs. | Projected 40 Time: 4.55
2018 Stats: 62 receptions, 882 yards, 11 touchdowns.

As far as pro ready goes, Samuel might be the best of them all. A smooth route runner, who turns on the jets and creates separation with ease against defenders. Samuel recently put on a show against the Clemson Tigers and one of the best overall defenses in the country. Samuel has declare for the 2019 NFL Draft, and has already announced his intentions of not playing in the Belk Bowl, and instead prepare for the draft and the NFL. Injuries have plagued Samuel in the past and his biggest hurdle will be his ability to stay healthy. However, when he is upright and one hundred percent, he is a nightmare for defensive coordinators to plan against. Samuel has reliable hands, along with great vision, with explosive capabilities to extend plays with yards after the reception. Barring any setbacks, Samuel will continue to see his arrow pointing up.

Projection: 2nd Round Selection

4. Parris Campbell, WR, No. 21.- Ohio State

Height: 6’0” | Weight: 208 lbs. | Projected 40 Time: 4.34
2018 Stats: 79 receptions, 992 yards, 11 touchdowns.

The wide receiver out of Ohio State is quite the explosive playmaker who can stretch the field. Campbell has burst and blistering speed off the line and is expected to be one of the fastest prospects in next year’s draft. Campbell has the ability to run at all three levels, running the short, intermediate, and deep routes. There is big-play ability with Campbell, with the potential for growth. I honestly don’t believe we have seen the full package with Campbell. Already this season Campbell has 19 receptions for 299 yards and 5 touchdowns. In four games he already has two more touchdowns than he had all of last year. At the moment I have Campbell as a day two selection. The arrow is pointing up and with a strong, consistent season, Campbell could be a fringe, first round prospect by next spring.

Projection: 2nd Round Selection

5. Marquise Brown, WR, No. 5 – Oklahoma

Height: 5’10” | Weight: 168 lbs. | Projected 40 Time: 4.33
2018 Stats: 75 receptions, 1318 yards, 10 touchdowns.

The dynamic speedster for the Oklahoma Sooners is always going to be a home run threat when he lines up on the field. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown can take the top off of a defense and run at all three levels on the field. Isn’t the tallest nor the most physical receiver in this upcoming draft class, but he certainly makes up for it with his speed and initial burst. Can knock defenders off balance, and is shifty and fluid through his hips. Can adjust on a dime and create separation between himself and defenders. We will have to monitor his ankle injury after Brown was carted off the field in the BIG 12 championship game against Texas.

Projection: 2nd-3rd Round Selection

6. Kelvin Harmon, WR, No. 3 – N.C. State

Height: 6’3” | Weight: 213 lbs. | Projected 40 Time: 4.57
2018 Stats: 81 receptions, 1186 yards, 8 touchdowns.

Harmon has a great combination of size and speed for the position. His height and strength gives him the ability to outbox defenders, especially in man to man coverage and one-to-one opportunities along the outside. A smooth runner who drives himself fluidity through his hips. Harmon has a developed route tree and puts himself in position to make plays. Has efficient breakaway speed, with the ability to stretch the field vertically. Often wins at the point of the catch, and will create yards after the reception. Has had some issues with inconsistent hands and has been a culprit of drops. He will need to continue to clean up and improve this area of his game. Thanks to a developed route tree, he has received the attention of scouts and evaluators. Harmon has declared for the 2019 NFL Draft.

Projection: 3rd Round Selection

7. Anthony Johnson, WR, No. 83 – Buffalo

Height: 6’2” | Weight: 207 lbs. | Projected 40 Time: 4.45
2018 Stats: 52 receptions, 944 yards, 11 touchdowns.

Johnson is a deep threat who has demonstrated his ability to take the top of a defense. His presence on the field forces safeties to be honest and in check. Don’t let the small school shy you away. Johnson had an explosive performance against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, a member of the BIG10. In that game Johnson had 11 receptions for 140 yards and a touchdown. He was and has been the focal point of Buffalo’s offense. Dare I might say, Johnson just might be the best deep threat in this upcoming receiving class. On tape, he has demonstrated the ability to catch the football over his shoulders and contest against defensive backs for jump balls in man to man coverage. Johnson has made growth and progress with intermediate and shorter routes. When catching those sorter passes, Johnson has demonstrated the ability to gain yards are the reception. Johnson has a great football story, first playing at two community colleges, before transferring to the University of Buffalo.

Projection: 3rd Round Selection

Which wide receiver prospects are YOU most excited for in the 2019 NFL Draft? Please share in the comments below!