NCAAF NFL

The SEC’s Best: Receivers

 

  1. Calvin Ridley (Alabama) Junior

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Calvin Ridley has been Alabama’s best receiver and one of the best in the country, ever since his freshmen year when he put up 1,045 yards and 7 touchdowns. As good as Ridley has been for the Crimson Tide, many believe he is merely scratching the surface of his potential. Jalen Hurts is a mobile quarterback who is still growing as a pocket passer. As a result, much of Alabama’s offense is predicated on the ground game through both Hurts and a running back stable of Damien Harris and Bo Scarborough. Despite the fact that the offense is not centered around the passing game, Ridley has still managed to place second in the SEC in receiving yards with 852 thus far. If you can believe it, he just passed Julio Jones to become third all-time in receiving yards in Alabama history. Both his frame and skillset are very different than Jones, but he has managed put up comparable numbers thanks to his speed and after the catch ability. His speed has allowed him to become a home run threat for the Tide since he often burns defenders at line. Yet the deep ball isn’t the only way he’s been known to hurt opposing defenses. Ridley is a nightmare in open field due to his combination of speed and elusiveness. Although he’ll to need fill out his frail frame a bit more to have success at the NFL level, Ridley currently projects as a first round pick in 2018. He could be a game breaker through the deep ball…

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Or through his after the catch ability…

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  1. Christian Kirk (Texas A&M) Junior

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Christian Kirk’s career path at Texas A&M has been very similar to Calvin Ridley’s at Alabama. Kirk too was a highly touted recruit who broke out in his freshmen year for over 1,000 yards and 7 touchdowns. But as was the case with Ridley, spotty quarterback play has at times devalued Kirk’s ability throughout his career at Texas A&M. He has spent much of the 2017 season with dual threat freshman, Kellen Mond, as his quarterback. However, the return of injured starter Nick Starkel bodes well for Christian Kirk. Kirk is an electrifying playmaker with the ball in his hands. So much so that Kevin Sumlin deploys him on both kickoff and punt returns. He has brought 1 of each back for touchdowns this season. Ever since his explosive freshmen season, Kirk has been regarded as one of the best all-purpose players in the country. This is, in large part, thanks to his shiftiness. His greatest attributes are undoubtedly his speed and elusiveness, but he is also recognized as an explosive jumper with good hands. Christian doesn’t possess ideal size for a number one receiver at the next level, at only 5’11. Yet his his dynamic playmaking ability has drawn comparisons to Odell Beckham and Brandin Cooks. Despite his lack of height, he is firmly entrenched as a first round wideout prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft. He is also reportedly an athletic freak who is expected to test extremely well in the combine. Christian Kirk will be an impact player in the NFL, either as a receiver…

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Or on return duty…

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  1. AJ Brown (Ole Miss) Sophomore

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The only receiver on my list who is not yet drat eligible, AJ brown may end up being the best of the bunch. Despite missing a game, Brown leads the SEC in both receiving yards (1,085) and and touchdowns (10). His 1,085 yards place him top 5 in the country. Moreover, he is only 68 yards away from Laquon Treadwell’s Ole Miss single season receiving yardage record. Many believe he is a far more well-rounded NFL prospect than Treadwell. At 6’1 and 225 pounds, Brown has a strong frame that will be an asset at the next level. In addition to being a big target, he also brings a lot of speed and playmaking ability for someone his size. Fans will love watching his ankle breaking jukes once he gets the ball in his hands. But what scouts will really love is his ability to use his body and adjust to the ball while it is in the air. In spite of a relatively average vertical, Brown has shown a talent for boxing out corners in order to secure 50/50 balls. When you add that to the fact that he is very sure handed, you have yourself a first round draft prospect in 2019.  Because he is dangerous in a number of different aspects, Ole Miss has been able to deploy him effectively in every facet of the receiving game. In a very talented receiving core, comprised of Damarkus Lodge, DK Metcalf, and Van Jefferson, AJ Brown has shined brighter than all of the rest. It’s no wonder that Alabama coach Nick Saban reportedly likened him to Julio Jones during the recruiting process. I, for one, am glad we will get another year of watching him tear up college defenses like this…

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Or this…

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      4.   DJ Chark (LSU) Senior 

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DJ Chark is another recevier who’s production has been limited by poor quarterback play, but his talent is undeniable. Prior to this season, he had also been buried on the depth chart behind Travin Dural and Malachi Dupre. However, as a junior he displayed glimpses of his big play ability with 466 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns. Since 2016, Coach Orgeron has been looking to get the ball in Chark’s hands anyway he can. He had two rushing touchdowns last year, and has often been used in punt return situations as well. In fact, he has returned 2 for touchdowns this season. Chark’s size (at 6’2) and blazing speed have mad him a constant big play threat in LSU’s offense. He has made his bones off the deep ball in the passing game, and relies heavily on his speed once he has the ball in his hands.  As LSU’s number one receiver, his numbers have taken a significant jump this season.  Chark is 4th the SEC in receiving yards with 725, and has added an additional 191 yards and 2 touchdowns as a returner. At this point, the sample size scouts have with DJ Chark is still relatively small. Nevertheless, he is prospect on the rise. Many believe Chark would be far more impressive with a legitimate quarterback throwing to him. Therefore he could be even better at the next level.  Currently, Chark projects as a 2nd-3rd round pick. Just watch how deadly he was in the return game against Auburn…

   

     

 5. J’mon Moore (Missouri) Senior

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The other senior on my list, J’mon Moore, is looking for his second consecutive 1,000+ receiving yard campaign. In his junior year, Moore led the SEC in regular season receiving yards. The tigers were not bowl eligible last year, and Moore was usurped atop the leaderboards by Texas A&M’s Josh Reynolds after the Aggies’ bowl game. 2017 has been more of the same for Moore, but a change of fortune for his team. Moore is Top 3 in the SEC  in receiving yards again with 857 (and 9 touchdowns), but Misouri is now postseason eligible with a 6-5 record; thanks in large part to quarterback Drew Lock’s connection with Moore and fellow receiver Emmanuel Hall.  At 6’3, and 205 lbs., J’mon Moore is of a different mold than the other receivers on this list.  He has a big body and long arms that make him more of a go up and get it type of receiver, than an after the catch specialist. That is not to say that Moore isn’t a threat with the ball in his hands  Throughout his career at Mizzou he has proved to be both quicker and more elusive than expected. Scouts will like measurables. However, he is not as surehanded as teams would like and is said to be more of a body catcher than a hands catcher. As a result, he has between a 3rd and 5th round grade from NFL scouts. Yet his consistent production in college’s best conference make him someone to keep an eye on at the next level. He’s probably the least familiar name on this list, so here are some highlights to help you get to know J’mon Moore…

Honorable Mentions:

Deebo Samuel (South Carolina) Injury*

Javon Wimms (Georgia)

Damarkus Lodge (Ole Miss)

Terry Godwin (Georgia)

Antonio Callaway (Florida) Suspension*

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