The receiving class in the 2018 NFL Draft is going to be a fluid one. There was no one receiver to step up and claim the mantle of “Top Receiver In The Draft” after a season’s worth of games.
As the draft process lurches and churns along, the likely course is that each team will have their own favorite receiver, according to their own philosophy, scheme, and needs, and that will determine which wideout is off the board first on April 26th.
It probably won’t matter which receiver the New York Giants like the best -- need and value will likely determine that they will be drafting another position. However, given how their receiving corps performed after the injuries to Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Dwayne Harris, and Brandon Marshall, it might behoove them to pay attention to the receivers -- just in case.
Oklahoma State’s James Washington is in that conversation to be the first receiver taken, and his is an interesting case that flies against what the NFL generally considers to be a “Number One” wide receiver.
- Highly productive receiver. Caught 226 passes for 4472 yards (19.8 yards per catch) and 39 touchdowns in four years.
- Exceptionally long arms (33 ⅞ inches) and strong hands give him a big catch radius.
- Competitive receiver. Always looks to get yards after the catch and competes as a blocker on running or screen plays.
- Didn’t face press coverage often, but has a solid get-off to beat press.
- Thick, solid build lets him play like a running back with the ball in his hands.
- Excellent at adjusting to the ball in the air. Capable of bailing his quarterback out on throws deep and outside the numbers.
- Less than prototypical height.
- Played in a spread offense that often schemed him 1 on 1 match-ups.
- Needs polishing as a route runner. Both expanding his route tree and running sharper, more precise routes.
What they’re saying
“James Washington/WR/Oklahoma State: It might be disingenuous to call such a highly rated prospect a riser, but Washington was impossible to miss in Tuesday’s early practice. His hand usage early in routes was particular impressive and helped him create consistent separation. He was quick and twitchy, caught several contested passes in tight coverage and was aggressive attacking the ball in the air. Washington couldn’t have asked for a better start if he wants to go in the first 32 picks.”
- Tony Pauline (DraftAnalyst)
I’ve had Washington in the conversation for top wide receiver throughout the 2017 season.
His stock likely took a hit in the eyes of some when he measured at less than six-foot, and seeing “5-10,” even if he is only ⅛ of an inch under 5’11,” is scary. However, his nearly 34 inch arms definitely make up for that. For comparison, 5’10” Sterling Shepard has 30 ⅜ inch arms. Regardless of his height, Washington has a big catch radius and a true talent for adjusting to the ball down the field, and that is probably a big reason for Mason Rudolph’s unusual completion percentage on deep passes outside the numbers.
There are some who peg Washington’s ceiling as a “solid number 2” receiver, but if he can perfect his route running, he has the ability to grow to be a 1/1b receiver at the next level.
In all likelihood, the Giants will not be able to invest the capital to get Washington. But if for some reason he slips in the draft (say a bad 40 time), he would do a lot to shore up a receiving unit that looked bereft in the absence of Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard.