The Lookout List: Wide Receiver
By Alex Chinery
With the 2020 NFL Draft in the books its time to shift focus towards the 2020 college football season. After a stellar receiver class was drafted in April there is a gap ready to be filled. Luckily for all college football fans there is an even better class of receiver ready to take on the mantle. A receiver hasn’t won the Heisman since 1991 – could this be the year that changes? Read on to find out the names of the top receivers in college football in 2020:
Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
The man who became known as Joe Burrow’s favourite target posted incredible numbers in 2019 – almost 1800 yards receiving and 20 touchdowns on the way to a National Championship win as part of the best college football team ever. The 2019 Biletnikoff award winner will hope to ride the momentum of last season as he attempts to build a relationship with LSU’s new signal caller Myles Brennan. An explosive pass catcher with incredible hands Chase is a big play machine. He will be a safety blanket for Brennan, who will look his way on third downs and in goal line situations. Chase figures to command a large share of the LSU offense this season; whether he can put up numbers that compare in any way to those of last season will massively depend on how well his new quarterback transitions to a starting role.
Key Game – vs Texas 12th September 2020
Chris Olave, Ohio State
An under the radar guy whose stock could explode in 2020, Olave was Justin Fields’ favourite big play threat in 2019. Averaging a gaudy 17.5 yards per reception as a sophomore Olave will have to step up and be a major player for the Buckeyes in 2020. Olave has good hands and runs a full route tree very well. With the influx of targets, great situation under center and potential for development, don’t be surprised if Olave puts up a monster season this fall and positions himself as the number one wide receiver in the 2020 class. A favourite for the Biletnikoff award expect Olave to be a key contributor on a national championship challenging team come January.
Key Game – @ Oregon 12th September
Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
Speed and lots of it. Waddle graduates from the number four receiver in the Alabama offense to one of the top options in 2020. Elite athleticism, speed and agility make Waddle one of the most intriguing offensive weapons in college football. His ridiculous ability to track the deep ball and win at the point of the catch, and a punt/kick return ability unrivalled in the college game; Waddle will produce at least one big play in every contest. Route tree development will be key for Waddle in 2020 – if he can add some routes where he wins over the middle of the field then Waddle would be the favourite for the Biletnikoff award given to the nation’s best receiver.
Key Game – vs USC 5th September
Rondale Moore, Purdue
Few that watched will forget the night that the most electric playmaker in college football announced himself onto the national stage as he starred in Purdue’s take down of Ohio State in 2018. Injuries to himself and his quarterback in 2019 halted some of the momentum, but if he is fully healthy Rondale Moore will be back with a huge bang this year. Whether he is getting hand offs in the back field, taking screen passes to the house or burning a defender off the line of scrimmage for a big gain, Moore is a one-play highlight reel. Size is a major weakness of Moore who won’t post the kind of catch radius or height measurables that make NFL front offices swoon. But the Purdue man’s ability to make a defender look silly with his elite change of direction is sure to win over fans. Moore might not have the best production of this elite class, but he’s the player that makes me say “Wow!” the most often.
Key Game – @ Michigan 24th October
Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State
Another receiver who is primed to vault himself onto the national stage in 2020, Wallace is a senior who almost went over 1000 yards receiving in 2019 despite only playing in 9 games. With a career average of over 17 yards per reception, and the potential to post 4,000+ yards as a college receiver, it’s incredible that Wallace isn’t garnering more attention ahead of the 2020 season. In an offense that contains one of the nation’s top runners in Chuba Hubbard, Wallace provides a solid set of hands for sophomore quarterback Spencer Sanders. The Cowboys are a dark horse in a competitive Big 12; they have all the pieces on offense and could cause defensive coordinators some serious headaches. Wallace would feature heavily on any scouting report and is going to be a key piece in this offense.
Key Game – vs Texas 27th November
DeVonta Smith, Alabama
In a sea of talented receivers, DeVonta Smith is the steady hand that has flown under the radar during his time with Alabama. Smith is an excellent route runner with the ability to break suddenly, with excellent fluidity in his hips. He’s a serious downfield threat with great speed, and excels at catching the long throw in stride. These skills were perfectly demonstrated by his walk off catch in the 2018 National Championship game. Despite his elite route running ability his lack of size will mean that his use over the middle of the field at the next level will be limited. Whilst Jaylen Waddle will be the headline name in the Alabama offense going in to the season, Smith has the ability to take over as the number one in this offense and prove to NFL decision makers that he can do it at the next level.
Key Game – vs Georgia, 19th September
Rashod Bateman, Minnesota
Bateman was another of this talented class to explode on to the scene as a future number one receiver in 2019. His 1200+ yard season was a huge driver of the revitalized Golden Gophers’ offense under PJ Fleck. Standing at 6-foot-2 Bateman has the size and speed to win on the outside at the next level. And with Tyler Johnson moving on to the NFL this last offseason he will need to show some of that number one receiver potential in 2020 if the Gophers are to live up to their now lofty expectations. Bateman’s excellent body control and hands should be enough to beat the extra attention he receives from defenses this year.
Key Game – @ Iowa 18th September
Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC
Part of a USC tandem that have the potential to dominate an open Pac-12 in 2020, Amon-Ra St. Brown is primed to take the crown as the best receiver in the Pac-12 and has a shot at being included in the group at the top of the position in the 2020 draft. The development of now sophomore quarterback Kedon Slovis will benefit St. Brown in this all-important junior season. Finally, USC has a reliable passer under center and St. Brown will be able to build on his 1,000-yard season last time out to capture the attention of a nation. A good route runner with solid hands and good size, St. Brown isn’t going to blow teams away with speed but rather win with physicality like some of the top receivers to come out of USC in recent seasons. A top-quality replacement for NFL bound Michael Pitman Jr, St. Brown should fill a similar role this coming season.
Key Game – vs Alabama 5th September
Tamorrion Terry, Florida State
The trajectory of the Florida State football program has been a downward one for some time now, however a 1,000+ yard season from breakout receiver Tamorrion Terry will go some way to warming the hearts of FSU fans. Terry is brilliant at tracking the ball in the air and makes getting the ball his priority once his eyes are on it. Ultra-competitive, Terry plays with a disregard for his own safety at times and attempts to make some spectacular catches. Terry does his best work on downfield and side-line routes and some diversity is needed if he is to become a top receiving weapon. Dealing with physical coverage at the line of scrimmage needs to improve to make sure that defenders can’t jam him up, but if he is able to beat them, he is lethal.
Key Game – vs Clemson 10th October
Tarik Black, Texas
The 6-foot-3 grad transfer from Michigan comes in to a Texas program desperate for talent after Devin Duvernay and Collin Johnson left for the NFL. And star freshman Bru McCoy didn’t even make it to campus before deciding to honor his original commitment to USC. Black comes in and looks set to be the main man in the receiver room alongside Brennan Eagles. As a potential big slot option, Black projects as a potential break out star in 2020. Sam Ehlinger likes to utilize big targets, especially if they work from the slot and underneath, and this suits a player of Black’s calibre and skillset. If Black can stay healthy and feature in this offense, then he has incredible upside as a receiver this season. After three seasons dogged by injury, awful quarterback play and a scheme from the 1980’s at Michigan it’ll be fun to see Black use his athletic prowess in a modern offense.
Key Game – @ LSU 12th September
the head of seven step drop, the touchdowns analytics page. alex is a Texas longhorns and green bay packers fan. he is one of the college chaps trio and produces the touchdown nfl podcast!