football Edit

Pre-combine rankings: Wide receiver

Mike Williams
Mike Williams (AP Images)

With the Super Bowl over and spring football a little bit away for most programs, this is officially NFL Draft season. And with the NFL Combine set for the end of the month, it’s time to take a look at each position and how they rank heading into the big event and, in Rivals tradition, how they ranked out of high school.

Today we look at our top wide receivers.

RELATED: Top quarterbacks | Top running backs


The Skinny: Williams committed to Clemson over South Carolina weeks prior to his senior season. Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame and Tennessee were others involved. Williams had 98 catches for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

Interesting note: Williams fractured a vertebrae in his neck and missed the 2015 season.

Farrell’s take: Heading into this season, Williams was in a similar situation to Laquon Treadwell in that he was a super-talented receiver who had injury questions to overcome. While Treadwell landed in round one, he wasn’t the top receiver because of his 40 time. Williams is a bit longer and has better body control and should run a little better, and I expect him to come off the board first or second at wide receiver. He was a raw, skinny wideout with amazing upside out of high school in 2013. His size and catch radius has scouts very high on him, and he really came on near the end of the season.

The skinny: Davis committed in January, a few weeks before National Signing Day, to Western Michigan over Illinois State, his only other offer. Numerous Big Ten schools had been showing interest, but none offered. Davis had 97 catches for 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns last season.

Interesting note: According to the MMQB, Davis didn’t have a grade over a C coming out of high school, which explains the lack of interest from bigger schools.

Farrell’s take: Western Michigan and Illinois State were the only ones who wanted Davis, as many in the Big Ten failed to pull the trigger. He was a tall, rangy and raw prospect out of high school who might have been more heavily recruited had all his academics been in order. And now he physically looks like Terrell Owens. He could easily end up No. 1 on this list - just the fact that Williams dominated better competition is why I have him first.

The skinny: Ross visited Washington in December and he was serious about other programs including Oregon, Cal, Oregon State and UCLA. He picked the Huskies in January at the Semper Fi Bowl and stuck with his decision. Ross had 81 catches for 1,150 yards and 17 scores last season.

Interesting note: Ross played four games as a cornerback his freshman season.

Farrell’s take: A small but electric receiver out of high school, Ross was a high three-star and national top-70 wide receiver his senior season. We had questions about his size and catch radius. We thought he’d be a great fit with quaterback Troy Williams at Utah, his former 7-on-7 teammate, but instead he hooked up well with Jake Browning and emerged as the best slot receiver in this draft. Ross was always hard to cover in space, and his special teams play was always something to keep an eye on.

The skinny: Oregon, Notre Dame and UCLA were serious contenders in Smith’s recruitment, but there was always a sense USC would be tough to beat, especially as it got closer to National Signing Day. Smith-Schuster had 70 catches for 914 yards and 10 scores last season.

Interesting note: Known as John Smith in our recruiting database, he was also a safety prospect because he was so talented on both sides of the ball. He was so physical on defense we felt he’d end up on that side of the ball.

Farrell’s take: When Max Browne was the quarterback at USC, everyone was down on Smith-Schuster, but he came alive with Sam Darnold. So how will he do if the quarterback play on his team is average in the NFL? That’s going to be a question asked. Smith-Schuster could also be this year’s Laquon Treadwell, who needs to run well to prove he’s a first-rounder and he could be hurt by Treadwell’s lack of production last season. But to me, he’s quicker and more talented and overall more athletic.

The skinny: A three-star out of high school, Westbrook was a junior college transfer, where he earned his fourth star. Shortly after a visit to Oklahoma in November, Westbrook picked the Sooners over Texas Tech, West Virginia, Kansas State and others. Westbrook had 80 catches for 1,524 yards and 17 scores last season.

Interesting note: Westbrook was told in high school he would never play again after a hit ruptured his small intestine. He then overcame a leg injury and stepping away from football at one point at Blinn to succeed at Oklahoma.

Farrell’s take: Westbrook was a four-star coming out of Blinn, where he put up big numbers and showed he could play outside or inside. He was a perfect fit for a spread offense, and with the Big 12 being so wide open, it’s no surprise he had a good first year. But what he did this past season was off the charts. What he needs to prove, and what is working against him a bit, is the sub-par careers of first-rounders who put up major numbers in the Big 12 recently. But this kid could be special.