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2023 Rookie Fantasy Wide Receiver Rankings: Part Two

11. Kayshon Boutte, LSU

Age: 21

Size: 5'11/195

Boutte was on an elite trajectory through one and a half seasons. He led LSU with 735 receiving yards as a freshman and had a 41 percent Dominator Rating through six games as a sophomore. He then went down with an ankle injury that ended his season and appeared to affect him into 2022, when he went for just 538 yards over a full season. He then bombed the combine with a 4.57 RAS. At this point in my rankings, everyone has a high likelihood of busting, so I want to be swinging for the fences by taking a player who was once on a path toward stardom.

12. Cedric Tillman, Tennessee

Age: 23

Size: 6'3/213

Tillman was the receiver playing on the outside while Hyatt was manning the slot. Tillman broke out in his fourth collegiate season with 1,081 yards and 12 scores in 2021. An ankle injury limited him to six games and 417 yards in his final season at Tennessee. Tillman was used primarily as a deep, boundary receiver as a Vol. He lined up outside on the right of the formation on 92 percent of his snaps over the past two years. Like most other Vols, Tillman ran primarily vertical routes or sat in open space at Tennessee. He enters the league with a late breakout age and just one full season of production under his belt. His skill set reminds me of Gabe Davis‘s in both the good and bad ways, but his production profile is worse than Gabe’s heading into the draft.

13. Tyler Scott, Cincinnati

Age: 21.5

Size: 5'10/177

Scott was a high school running back who didn’t take on a full-time role as a receiver until his second year at Cincinnati. He played second-fiddle to Alec Pierce but broke out in his third season with a 40 percent Dominator. Scott struggled against man coverage in college and committed plenty of drops, but his route-running is impressive for a player so new to his position. If he lands with a patient team, they could develop him into a versatile player who can win on deep routes or with the ball in his hands.

14. Nathaniel Dell, Houston

Age: 23.5

Size: 5'8/165

Nicknamed Tank, Dell spent two years below the FBS level before joining Houston. He quickly earned a role on the offense and went for 428 yards in 2020. He broke out as the engine of the Houston passing attack over the next two years, racking up 199 catches for 2,727 yards and 29 touchdowns. He averaged 2.57 yards per route run at Houston and left with consecutive seasons over a 35 percent Dominator. The drawback is his size. No receiver under 170 pounds has topped 1,000 receiving yards in the past 30 years. His production screams “starting slot receiver” but history has the deck stacked against him.

15. Michael Wilson, Stanford

Age: 23.2

Size: 6'2/213

Wilson has flashed potential in the past, posting 672 yards as a sophomore in 2019, but his production never reached that peak again. He posted strong Dominators in small samples over the next three seasons but ultimately appeared in 14 games from 2020 to 2022. He has the body of a No.1 receiver but struggled against press coverage. His 9.55 RAS wasn’t always apparent on tape either. Being an unfinished product after five years of college ball is concerning, but, if he can stay healthy, an NFL team will give him the chance to develop.

16. Jayden Reed, Michigan State

Age: 23

Size: 5'11/187

Reed posted an elite breakout season as a freshman at Western Michigan with a 33 percent Dominator. He then transferred to Michigan State and reached a 25 percent dominator in all three of his seasons as a Spartan. However, he was the team’s second receiver two times, including his senior season. Reed also has a background as a kick and punt returner, which should help him find a home in the NFL.

17. Parker Washington, Penn State

Age: 21.1

Size: 5'10/204

Washington is much bulkier than the rest of the slot receivers in this class but his height will still limit his usage at the next level. He put together three productive seasons at Penn State but never asserted himself as the clear WR1 despite the team losing Jahan Dotson for the 2022 season. He could fill in as a slot receiver with a shallow aDOT, but it’s hard to see Washington earning a large target share in the NFL.

18. Ronnie Bell, Michigan

Age: 23.2

Size: 6'/191

Bell broke out as a sophomore with a 48/758/1 receiving line. He paced the Wolverines in catches and yards while playing alongside Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones. However, it wasn’t a true breakout based on any Dominator Rating threshold that includes touchdowns, a quirk in his profile that persisted throughout his time at Michigan. He eventually crossed 20 percent as a fifth-year player in 2022 with a 62/889/4 line. Bell can play inside and outside, plus his early-career production is impressive. However, the inability to find the end zone could follow him to the NFL. He should eventually find a fantasy-relevant role in the league, but anything more than WR3 production seems unlikely.

19. Puka Nacua, BYU

Age: 22.9

Size: 6'2/201

Nacua played at Washington for two years without seeing the field much before transferring to BYU. He earned a more prominent role as a Cougar, registering a 24 percent Dominator Rating over his two seasons with BYU. He left college with an elite career YPRR of 3.45 but struggled at his pro day en route to a 5.17 RAS. His profile is a mixed bag, so draft capital could swing his ranking drastically.

20. Bryce Ford-Wheaton, West Virginia

Age: 23.1

Size: 6'4/221

Ford-Wheaton is a true combine warrior. He ran a 4.38 40-yard dash and crushed all of the drills outside of the three-cone, which he was still above average at. However, he never led West Virginia in receiving yards and has a lot of work to do according to film watchers. His athleticism could get his name called on Day Two of the draft which is why he cracks my top 20 with a middling production profile.

21. Rashee Rice, SMU

Age: 23

Size: 6'1/204

Rice posted a trio of solid seasons at SMU before breaking out with 1,355 yards and 10 scores as a senior. His YPRR rose every year but wasn’t noteworthy until it reached 3.05 in his fourth season. His Dominator Rating shows a similar arc. Rice’s final season was great, but it took him four years to gain an edge over Group of Five defenses. Rice can win jump balls, handle deep throws, and break tackles after the catch, but his ability to do that against NFL corners is suspect.

22. Trey Palmer, Nebraska

Age: 22

Size: 6'/192

By all accounts, Palmer is a project for an NFL team. He struggled with drops and has an underdeveloped route tree. Pro Football Focus also graded him as a below-average player versus man coverage. On the other hand, he’s a former five-star recruit who averaged 3.26 yards per route run at a Big 10 school. His 4.33 speed gives him a shot at finding a role in the NFL, but it’s a long shot, to say the least.

23. Charlie Jones, Purdue

Age: 24.5

Size: 5'11/175

Jones was unable to break out at Buffalo or Iowa but finally saw the light of day as a Boilermaker. He made the most of his opportunity with 1,361 yards at 2.7 yards per route run and 12 scores. However, he was unable to post a meaningful season until he had been in school for six years and will be 25 by the end of his first NFL campaign. He will likely top out as a special teams player.

24. Andrei Iosivas, Princeton

Age: 23.5

Size: 6'3/205

Iosivas announced himself to draft Twitter at the combine with a 9.96 RAS. He ran a 4.43 Forty and notched a 6.85 three-cone all while crushing the burst metrics. At Princeton, Iosivas got better every year, culminating in a 66/947/3 season in 2022. Iosivas’s route tree was limited but he was the focal point of his team’s passing attack. The jump in completion will be steep, but Iosivas has the size and athleticism of a future NFL producer.

25. Jalen Cropper, Fresno State

Age: 22

Size: 5'11/172

Cropper broke out at Fresno State with 520 yards in the COVID-shortened 2020 season. He had been quiet as a receiver the year before but did put together a 20/343/3 rushing line in his freshman campaign. He then posted a 160/1,894/16 line over the next two seasons before declaring for the draft. Cropper was moved around the formation, rushed for five scores, threw another two touchdowns, and returned a handful of kicks as a Bulldog. However, he’s undersized with pedestrian athletic measurables. There hasn’t been much buzz around him heading into the draft either.