Five to watch in college football 2022: Wide Receivers
The value of wide receivers in the NFL has exploded. As the big contracts are doled out, some teams are ponying up but many more are desperately seeking talented rookies on cheap deals. With usually a handful going in the first round every year there is plenty of scope for players to jump into early round contention.
Here are five names that will be worth keeping a close eye on in 2022.
5. Frank Ladson - Miami
Tyler Van Dyke is heralded as one of the top quarterbacks in the 2023 draft class. If he is to be a success then he will need help from his receiving corps. The room is relatively barren considering they lost the experienced Mike Harley and Charleston Rambo. Leading the line will likely be Frank Ladson. The four-star recruit never made the grade at Clemson so will hope to make strides for the Hurricanes.
Ladson has been dogged with injuries restricting him to only 31 receptions in three years for Clemson. He and Joe Ngata were tagged as the duo to follow in the footsteps of Deandre Hopkins and Tee Higgins but Ladson will need to make that jump back at home in Miami now. He certainly has the speed and size that would tempt NFL teams, if he becomes Van Dyke’s favourite option the draft stock will rise.
4. Mitchell Tinsley - Penn State
The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers were an offensive juggernaut in 2021. Led by quarterback Bailey Zappe they put up video game numbers. One of the main receiving beneficiaries was Mitchell Tinsley. The 6’1, 205lbs pass-catcher hauled in 1,402 receiving yards and 14 TDs. Now in his fifth season in college football, following time at JUCO, he gets to test himself against elite talent as he transfers to Penn State.
He will catch passes from Sean Clifford initially, which could be a worse position than last season for Tinsley. His age and the fact he hasn’t broken out sooner will be held against him but the Nittany Lions have a good record for producing NFL receivers. Like many, Tinsley has rolled the dice with his last few years of eligibility by transferring in an attempt to improve his standing with NFL teams. He will be well worth keeping an eye on.
3. Tyler Harrell - Alabama
A certified speedster transferring to one of the National Championship favourites, sound familiar? It was a route that worked for Jameson Williams and this year Tyler Harrell follows in his footsteps to become one of Bryce Young’s primary targets at Alabama. As you would expect from somebody with a 4.24 forty time, Harrell has the ability to blow open an opponent’s secondary.
Harrell was third in receiving for Louisville last year. Although it was his fourth year in the program, it was his first with any real production. He logged 523 yards on nearly half the receptions of teammates who also surpassed 500 yards. His yards per catch was an impressive 29.1, showing the deep threat he can be. He will need to add more nuance to his game and catch volume for the Crimson Tide but the NFL loves speed and ‘Bama receivers so Harrell is poised to make a big leap.
2. Marvin Mims - Oklahoma
Marvin Mims has been the most productive receiver for Oklahoma since he started as a freshman in 2020. His connection with Spencer Rattler in his first year on campus garnered plenty of buzz. While he still had success last year, his 705 receiving yards were an improvement, he got fewer targets and fewer touchdowns. Now he enters this season with another new QB in Dillon Gabriel and question marks as to whether he can kick on and be an early-round selection come draft day.
Mims operated primarily out of the slot last year and projects to do the same in 2022. The biggest concern will be size, at 5’11, 177lbs, as things stand Mims will have to make his way in the league on the inside. Whether he has the strength to do so is a question in need of answering. He has good body control and can adjust on the fly to make eye-catching grabs. He isn’t electric speed-wise but has enough juice to defeat corners. If the spark he displayed as a freshman returns then his stock will come good once more.
1. Isaiah Neyor - Texas
Size and speed are on display in abundance when watching Isaiah Neyor’s Wyoming tape. The big question for him will be if he can transfer that to the Power 5 level. Not only that but can he get enough targets in a talent-laden offense? The Longhorns have a multitude of receiving options in Xavier Worthy, Jordan Whittington and Jahleel Billingsley – as well as one of the strongest running back groups in the nation.
That said, Neyor impressed during spring training and looks set to carve out a starting role. He can fill one of the outside receiver spots and offers a legitimate deep threat. His impressive length and catch radius make him a difficult player to defend one-on-one. He had enough speed and athletic ability to be used on end-arounds but will that still be the case vs Big 12 opponents. If it is, Neyor is a majorly intriguing prospect.
formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at stripehype.com