There are no more bad receivers. That’s the reality we have with college prospects coming into the NFL. Individually they might not all work out, but as a whole, it’s unlikely we see a bad overall draft class for some time.

That’s exciting from a draft evaluation standpoint. What also makes this class so fun is there is not really a consensus No. 1 that clearly stands above the rest. Whatever you like in a wide receiver, you’re going to find it in this class.

Even with that, it’s important to know why the receivers do what they do and it can be difficult to properly contextualize how receivers perform in their offenses. While a lot of college football offenses borrow from each other, there is still a wide range of schemes and roles these receivers fall into and that doesn’t include the variance in quarterback play.

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As a way to try to isolate a receiver’s performance from his offense, I’ve used a metric I call Target Yards Added. The intention — as implied in the incredibly creative name — is to find what a receiver adds to his offense when he is targeted. We find that by simply taking the receiver’s yards per target and subtracting the quarterbacks’ yards per attempt when throwing to anyone else.

This is not some magic formula that unlocks the secrets of receiver potential, but it’s another layer of the evaluation and something that has been especially useful on the extremes. 

Here’s where the receivers in this class fall: 

2022 NFL Draft Wide Receivers, Target Yards Added
raw data provided by Sports Info Solutions

PlayerSchoolRoutesTargetsYPTQB other-YPATarget Yards Added
Christian WatsonNorth Dakota State1856212.927.585.34
Jameson WilliamsAlabama44712013.097.765.33
Jalen TolbertSouth Alabama43313510.935.885.05
Treylon BurksArkansas2829012.277.494.78
Danny GraySMU2757211.157.243.92
Alec PierceCincinnati3288510.276.883.39
Devon WilliamsOregon2185410.317.183.13
Dontario DrummondOle Miss3619710.607.692.91
Kevin Austin Jr.Notre Dame3708510.457.612.84
Romeo DoubsNevada46011110.047.442.59
Khalil ShakirBoise State3591199.396.912.48
Jahan DotsonPenn State4311428.326.062.26
Wan'Dale RobinsonKentucky3731439.387.172.21
Drake LondonUSC2961238.816.632.18
Tré TurnerVirginia Tech234768.886.742.14
Charleston RamboMiami4331199.857.762.09
David BellPurdue4471339.597.592.00
Tyquan ThorntonBaylor3591029.287.341.94
Braylon SandersOle Miss3095210.048.111.93
Calvin AustinMemphis3651249.237.621.62
Johnny Johnson IIIOregon136358.897.481.41
Justyn RossClemson214727.145.801.34
Skyy MooreWestern Michigan3601339.718.531.18
Velus JonesTennessee267829.858.711.14
Bo MeltonRutgers261966.485.401.08
George Pickens*Georgia237579.008.040.96
Erik EzukanmaTexas Tech273769.208.520.68
Reggie Roberson Jr.SMU324738.377.740.63
Makai PolkMississippi State6041407.476.920.55
Jalen NailorMichigan State239808.658.130.52
Javian HaleighCoastal Carolina29210211.0610.580.48
Garrett WilsonOhio State33210210.379.960.41
Josh JohnsonTulsa4301388.077.840.24
John MetchieAlabama4441308.788.91-0.13
Kyle PhilipsUCLA324957.788.30-0.52
Ty FryfogleIndiana3581074.755.63-0.88
Mike WoodsOklahoma214537.758.66-0.91
Chris OlaveOhio State3771029.1810.27-1.09
Slade BoldenAlabama338587.039.09-2.06

For some context, in this class, the average is about 1.6 Target Yards Added. That holds with the 2021 and 2020 classes. It’s a bit below the 2019 class (2.06). That should check out with the prospects in question for all of those classes.

Instead of taking this as a straight ranking, it’s more useful to put these receivers in buckets.

Finding The Standouts

It’s always nice when some of the highly regarded prospects come in well in this metric and the two that are included here are Treylon Burks and Jameson Williams.

Burks is the top wide receiver on the Sports Info Solutions Big Board, WR3 (and ninth overall) on Ryan McCrystal’s Big Board, and the WR5 from data on Grinding The Mocks.

A Deebo Samuel comp has routinely been thrown around for Burks because he’s moved all over the field. While a Samuel comp is certainly a compliment because of how good he is, it feels like the comp is thrown around with a bit of disrespect as if Burks needs to be schemed up in order to succeed as a wide receiver.

There is plenty in Burks’s game that allows him to win in traditional ways. His physicality and body control are more conducive to someone who can continually win outside than a receiver who needs to be schemed open underneath.



Burks also was among the leaders in yards per route run (3.9) and targets per route run (0.32).

Then there is Jameson Williams. Williams’s standing in this draft class would be clearer if he did not tear his ACL in the National Championship Game. He’d more commonly be the WR1, though even with the injury there are still teams that view him that way and NFL Network’s Peter Schrager had him as the first receiver off the board in his first mock draft.

Williams broke out in his lone season with Alabama after he transferred from Ohio State. There could be some concern that Williams could not get more playing time against two receivers who are also in this draft class, but watching what Williams can do should eliminate most of those.

It’s not significantly different from when Terry McLaurin was a special teamer with a 10% target share in his final season at Ohio State, playing behind Parris Campbell and K.J. Hill. We can also note in that season, McLaurin was significantly better on a per target basis (5.9 Target Yards Added) than Campbell (0.84) in the same class — Hill was at -0.78 in his final season the next year.

Williams has geometry-changing speed on the field, but he wasn’t solely a deep threat. 35% of his routes were deep last season, per SIS, which was only 27th in the class. Of course, that deep speed is his most tantalizing trait.


That speed is not exclusive for those downfield routes. He ranked fourth among all college football receivers in yards on targets 20 or more yards past the line of scrimmage, but he also ranked third in yards on intermediate targets (11-19 air yards). 

The Ohio State Receivers

Williams’s old teammates, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, are two of the more divisive players in the draft. They are both considered to be among the best in the class but how their skillsets are viewed varies on the observer.

Grinding The Mocks has Wilson as WR1 and Olave as WR4. SIS has Wilson as WR4 and Olave as WR7. McCrystal has Wilson as WR1 and Olave as WR2, both in the top six overall.

Target Yards Added doesn’t view either one of them all that favorably. Part of that does come from the offense, though it is not like having another top receiver automatically forces a prospect to lose value. In the 2019 draft class, both DK Metcalf (5.24) and A.J. Brown (2.29) came in as top prospects. The same for Jaylen Waddle (8.1) and DeVonta Smith (2.4) last season.

Part of the bigger problem, though is that Wilson and Olave weren’t just fighting each other — they were with a third top prospect who might be considered the WR1 in the class if he was eligible to leave college this year in Jaxson Smith-Njigba. Throwing in Smith-Njigba’s numbers here throws even more context around the production of the Ohio State receivers.

There have been good receivers who fall between 1.0 and 0 target yards added, though it’s not a large group of players. Deebo Samuel (0.77), Cortland Sutton (0.76), and Gabriel Davis (0.55) are recent examples. But those players also weren’t believed to be the top of the position in the draft. There are also some disappointments for highly drafted receivers, such as Jalen Reagor (0.53).

More concerning is the receiver who comes out negative and that’s unfortunately where Olave is. The offense certainly played a role because only Coastal Carolina’s Javion Haleigh had his team’s passers throw for more yards per attempt to other receivers (10.58) than Olave (10.27).

But part of it also comes from Olave’s style of play. It’s easy to watch Olave’s smoothness on the field and see why he’s so well regarded, but this is a place where his inability to create after the catch shows up. Olave forced a combined three missed and broken tackles throughout 2021 and his yards after the catch per reception ranked 37th in this draft class.

Given Olave’s speed and route-running, it’s a mystery why he couldn’t even accidentally break for a long play after the catch.

His ability to beat man coverage has also been inconsistent. Per SIS, he had a 47% positive play rate against man in 2019, a 71% positive play rate in 2020, and a 44% positive play rate in 2021.

Fewer receivers have produced with a negative Target Yards Added figure in their final collegiate season. Hunter Renfrow (-0.12) might be the best of the bunch — a group that includes 53 receivers since 2015.

The closest comparison for Olave’s situation might be Jerry Jeudy (-0.53). Jeudy was also dinged for playing with NFL-level receivers but was still among the first receivers picked in his draft class. Jeudy has been fine in the NFL, but two years in would be considered a disappointment for his draft position without a Year 3 breakout.

Late Round Options

This is the fun part — guys who killed in their college offenses and have some potential to flash as a late-round flier. Players that fall into this camp include McLaurin, Jauan Jennings, Byron Pringle, and Cedrick Wilson. There is not a high hit rate of star receivers — or overall — but it’s a place to search for workable traits that could serve a role, which is more than you can hope for most Day 3 receivers.

Jalen Tolbert of South Alabama is the exact type of player Target Yards Added can highlight. His 10.38 yards per target is impressive on its own, but then add in that South Alabama’s offense averaged just 5.88 yards per attempt when throwing to anyone other than Tolbert.

Tolbert has the ability to get down the field and he won at every level. He was 11th among all receivers in intermediate receiving yards and eighth in deep receiving yards. 

Boise State’s Khalil Shakir is smooth and physical. He did a ton of his work from the slot but his ability to find open space and take advantage of it gives him the potential to contribute. He was a plus in the short area, ranking 18th in yards on throws between 1-10 yards past the line of scrimmage. Despite not having overwhelming size, Shakir was tied for 12th in red zone targets (17) among all college football players in 2021.

Virginia Tech’s Tre Turner could also be one of those late-round deep threats. He was a player deprived of volume and quarterback quality but all of his rate metrics come out favorably among this class. At 6-foot-1, he’s a long strider who can win deep — though his route tree was limited. Still, he averaged 17.1 yards per reception in his final college season.

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