Earlier this week, we rolled out objective comps for the top-five running backs and top-five wide receivers in pre-draft rookie rankings. Since there are so many more relevant wide receivers in play to be drafted from this deep group, we’re going to do the same thing for the next five wideouts from that top-10 listing of pre-draft ranks

Circling back on the methodology we used in that opening post, we’re using Z-scores from wide receivers selected in the NFL draft over the previous 10 seasons stemming from percentiles in age, final season, and career production adjusted for age and physical profile adjusted for size to generate the top-five comparable prospects for these incoming rookies.

The goal here isn’t to directly say “this is what the player will become” and to throw out whatever subjective comparisons you have for player traits, but to provide further clarity on the objective archetype of player and where similar prospects were valued by the league.

Denzel Mims, Baylor

PlayerSchoolYearRY AgeBO AgeHtWtPhysicalFY Prod.CarProd.Draft
Denzel MimsBaylor202022.920.37520792.60%69.70%61.80%TBD
Austin PettisBoise State201123.320.37520990.50%61.20%72.00%78
Josh DoctsonTCU201624197420283.90%89.30%66.60%22
Jordan MatthewsVanderbilt201422.518.57521281.60%94.90%77.00%42
DeVante ParkerLouisville201522.919.97520980.40%94.50%77.40%14
Leonard HankersonMiami201123.320.37420975.60%87.50%48.00%79

*RY Age= Age in Rookie NFL Season
**BO Age= First season in which WR accounted for 20% Dominator Rating

No receiver has surged higher up in terms of draft buzz than Mims has this offseason. After generating support from his performance the week of the Senior Bowl, Mims then tore up the combine. As you can see above, his showing in Indianapolis placed him in the 92nd percentile in physical scores in the wide receiver model. 

What hurts Mims overall is that he’s a non-early declare prospect — which matters the most at the wide receiver position — with a positive, yet not extremely glowing production resume. Looking at other comparable non-early declare prospects, his number one objective hit is Austin Pettis, who was a third-round pick in the NFL draft. As far as objective hits go, there is a lot of clean overlap there. Pettis never panned out, but to be fair was on some horrible Ram offenses early in his career.

From a draft capital stance, Mims at least has a full list of players that were selected in the first three rounds or higher, which we assume will be happening in a few weeks. Three of the players here drew top-42 draft capital.

Subjectively when watching Mims, there’s also a lot of overlap in where wins and where players like Josh Doctson and DeVante Parker won entering the league. Mims’s tape is full of contested catches and grabs where he’s contorting his body in a myriad of positions. 

Jalen Reagor, TCU

PlayerSchoolYearRY AgeBO AgeHtWtPhysicalFY Prod.CarProd.Draft
Jalen ReagorTCU202022.119.17120652.40%28.80%63.80%TBD
Antonio CallawayFlorida201821.919.17020052.00%20.60%40.50%105
ArDarius StewartAlabama201723.722.77120452.60%39.80%26.90%79
Josh BoyceTCU201322.319.37120690.90%45.80%60.60%102
Pharoh CooperSouth Carolina201621.819.87120312.70%83.70%67.10%117
Christian KirkTexas A&M201822.119.17020125.80%66.70%87.50%47

Reagor generates an interesting list of comparisons since he was an above par athlete for his size with above baseline career production, but had a disastrous final season entering the league that stemmed from the team transitioning to freshman quarterback Max Duggan. 

Given his tweener-size and catawampus production, we get a number of players that have yet to yield and fantasy fruit at the next level. The list of payers here came along with middling draft capital, all being fourth round or higher selections, but just one getting selected in the top-50 in Christian Kirk, who is not as strong of an overlap to the previous players listed. Kirk and Pharoh Cooper have comparable career production, but had stronger final seasons and were much worse in terms of measured athleticism entering the league.

Given Reagor’s size, the comparables want to suggest he’s more of an interior archetype, but his closest match above in Antonio Callaway more resembles his downfield acumen. Callaway had a plethora of off-field transgressions that stunted his prospects entering the league and has halted his early NFL career, none of which Reagor has.

Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State

PlayerSchoolYearRY AgeBO AgeHtWtPhysicalFY Prod.CarProd.Draft
Brandon AiyukArizona State202022.921.97220561.80%74.40%63.20%TBD
Chad WilliamsGrambling201722.321.37220767.10%71.10%57.80%98
Tre'Quan SmithUCF201822.519.57421059.40%67.30%75.60%91
Josh DoctsonTCU201624197420283.90%89.30%66.60%22
Daurice FountainNorthern Illinois201823.120.17320671.10%65.50%31.20%159
Tre McBrideWilliam & Mary201523.120.17221087.50%52.40%56.60%245

Aiyuk is another non-early declare prospect, but has taken a much similar path than the one Mims took. Aiyuk was a JUCU transfer to Arizona State in 2018 and then was buried behind target-hog N’Keal Harry for his first season. Given the route he traveled to this point, Aiyuk never really had an opportunity to declare early. 

Weighted by one season of production carrying his career Division 1 output, the other non-early declare prospects that match him the closest have struggled next level. Nobody here has yet to account for a WR3 scoring season or better in terms of points per game. Even more troubling is just one player here (Doctson) was selected before the third round. Smaller school and competition aspects can be explained for Daurice Fountain and Tre McBride not being valued highly, but his two top closest hits in Chad Williams and Tre’Quan Smith were third-round selections.

The one trump card Aiyuk does have entering the league over this group is that he has a ton of production in the return game, averaging 31.9 yards per kickoff return and 16.1 yards per punt return this past season.

Laviska Shenault, Colorado

PlayerSchoolYearRY AgeBO AgeHtWtSpeedFY Prod.CarProd.Draft
Laviska ShenaultColorado202022.321.37322766.20%33.90%58.50%TBD
Greg LittleNorth Carolina201122.620.67522089.80%42.30%52.50%59
D.K. MetcalfMississippi201922.220.27522899.60%33.30%65.00%64
A.J. BrownMississippi201922.620.67222689.10%70.90%81.10%51
N'Keal HarryArizona State201922.219.27422883.00%81.40%84.40%32
Dez BryantOklahoma State201022.818.87422582.10%99.30%94.70%24

Shenault only ran the 40-yard dash at the combine (and was injured doing so), so I only included his speed score in place of a total physical score. Shenault is unique to this class in that he’s one of the rare prospects here that is a bigger body. He’s plenty thick compared to this pool of 200-pounders at the top. 

That size alone gives him a number of intriguing prospects to latch onto as comparables. As was the case with Reagor, Shenault suffered a dip in production over his final season that lags behind his overall career output. A scheme change and injuries caught up to him in that regard, but his top-three comparable prospects here all suffered similar final season drops in production in relation to their career production scores.

Ironically, we have three hits just from last year’s class. The one thing the league values is production and athleticism when it comes in a big package. All of the players here were second-round or higher draft selections.

Shenault’s top comparison in Greg Little is interesting. Shenault is a wideout who is better with the ball in his hands and even had 276 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the ground over his past two seasons in college. Little himself was initially a college running back at North Carolina that rushed for 805 yards and six scores and converted to wide receiver for his final season entering the NFL. Little struggled with actual wide receiver nuance at the next level that ultimately forced him from the league, but did have over 90 targets in each of his first three NFL seasons.

Tyler Johnson, Minnesota

PlayerSchoolYearRY AgeBO AgeHtWtFY Prod.CarProd.Draft
Tyler JohnsonMinnesota202022.419.47320688.70%84.50%TBD
Leonte CarrooRutgers201622.919.97221190.50%85.40%86
Quinton PattonLouisiana Tech201322.121.17320492.40%90.20%128
Greg SalasHawaii201122.121.17321091.20%83.00%112
Cecil ShortsMount Union201124.720.77320580.60%90.50%114
Anthony MillerMemphis201824.222.27120183.20%89.80%51

As was the case with J.K. Dobbins, Johnson didn’t work out in Indianapolis, giving us no physical profile to weigh against his peers outside of measuring in. 

Production-wise, Johnson had one of the most decorated collegiate careers. But that high-level production paired with never leaving early for the NFL draft is a red flag. Pulling up other non-early declare prospects with a lot of collegiate production, we get a rogues gallery of what could have been options. We also see that the investment into the players here matches the lack of buzz that Johnson has had throughout the process and why he likely returned for his final season in the first place. 

Everyone here was selected in the fourth round or higher, but only Cecil Shorts — who played at a small Division III school — managed to have a small slice of fantasy success so far. Both Shorts and Anthony Miller were much older prospects than Johnson was, who is entering the league at the same time Miller was breaking out at the collegiate level.