National Signing Day: 2017 Freshmen Wide Receivers

With National Signing Day less than a week away, I wanted to highlight some of the top wide receiver recruits in the nation. These wide receivers will be eligible for most devy drafts this off-season so you should get to know them sooner than later. There are tons of talented recruits coming in, but I’ve listed my personal top five plus one sleeper below.

5.

Henry Ruggs III

Lee High School (Montgomery, Alabama)

College: Projected to Alabama

6’ 175 40: 4.38 Vert: 40.5

Ruggs has made a huge climb up recruiting boards as of late. He’s currently ranked no.11 on 247sports.com. Ruggs is a dual-sport athlete out of Lee High School in Montgomery, Alabama. He has been a basketball star throughout his high school career and you can see how quick and explosive he is watching his basketball highlights. Ruggs is extremely fast and runs with a certain smoothness that helps him remain patient while setting up his bubble screens as well as his kick returns. Once he sees a crease, he explodes through it. He looks to be a natural hands catcher and very reliable as a WR. He reminds me of John Ross with his ability to be an elite deep threat. This suits him well because Alabama’s new offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, recruited and coached John Ross at the University of Washington. Ruggs has shown that he’s very sudden when running digs and slants and he also has very good body control. Overall, he’s an extremely gifted athlete. He has a chance to contribute early on as a WR but he’ll likely see time as a return specialist during his freshmen year if not red-shirted.

4.

Tee Higgins

Oak Ridge (Oak Ridge, Tennessee)

College: Clemson

6’5” 191 40: 4.75 Vert: 34

Higgins is a consensus top 5 WR recruit and the no.18 player on ESPN 300. He’s gifted with tremendous length and size. Although Higgins is a little on the light side for being 6’5” he has still shown he can be very physical and tends to out-man opposing corners. Despite Higgins’ 4.75 40 time, he still has a very good release and his footwork for a bigger receiver is fairly smooth. One thing that really stands out about Higgins is his strong hands and long arms. His catch radius is huge and if a ball is even placed in his vicinity he’s able to go up and snatch it out of the air. Higgins is what I would consider a long strider and that plays into his slower 40 time, but he looks like he plays faster than his 40 would suggest. I really like Higgins’ upside and he has an understanding of how to run routes and set up defenders. He does lack explosion and muscle but I think he will be able to grow into his body and become a game changer in college. I’m not certain he will see playing time early in his college career because of the consistent talent Clemson has coming in at WR every year. Once he does see the field, though, he looks the part to be an absolute force.

3.

Joseph Lewis

Augustus F. Hawkins (Los Angeles, California)

College: Projected to USC

6’2” 207 40: 4.63 Vert: 34.1

Lewis ranks amongst the top WR recruits in the nation and looks to be a consensus 5-star player. He is another guy with a strong physical build. His ball skills and concentration really stand out. He’s shown against top competition that he can play with the best and consistently win. He has very strong hands and also looks to have natural catching ability. He needs to be better off the line of scrimmage in terms of hand usage but with his quick release and nice footwork, he should be able to beat opposing corners. I noticed Lewis is a very smooth route runner, and even though he doesn’t run many routes, he’s fluid in the ones he does run. I think with Juju Smith-Schuster and Darreus Rodgers leaving for the NFL it opens up a big opportunity for Lewis to come in and contribute early. There are a ton of other talented wide receivers on USC’s roster but Lewis gives them another Juju Smith-Schuster type player.

2.

Jerry Jeudy

Deerfield Beach (Deerfield Beach, Florida)

College: Alabama

6’1” 180 40: 4.55 Vert: 37.4

Jeudy is one of my favorite recruits in the nation. Both 247sports.com and ESPN 300 have him as their no.3 WR recruit. His route running might be the best in the nation as he’s very agile and has clean breaks with fluid motion and speed throughout his routes. Jeudy has shown how deadly his release can be by getting defenders completely turned around and creating immediate separation. His speed shows up on tape and most importantly his catching ability. He has very good burst and quickness to him which helps him create a ton of yards after the catch. He has a good vertical jump and strong hands which also help him make plays when there are defenders draped all over him. His tracking skills when the ball is in the air paired with his body control helps him consistently make the right adjustments to complete a catch. Jeudy is a guy I’m very high on and even though Alabama has talent across the board at his position, he looks like he can be Alabama’s next top NFL WR prospect.

1.

Donovan People-Jones

Cass Technical (Detroit, Michigan)

College: Michigan

6’2” 200 40: 4.42 Vert: 38.8

Peoples-Jones is the highest rated WR in the nation. He has a great combination of size and speed. He consistently gets behind defenses with his 4.4 speed. His build is already very promising and he will only get bigger and stronger. Peoples-Jones has shown he is a very physical WR and he uses his hands well at the line of scrimmage. He is able to set up routes well with his release, and his above average quickness helps him set up defenders one way then come back across with a quick jab and use of the hands. He has shown the ability to really extend and high point the ball. He has a certain football savvy and looks to be a very high IQ football player. His vision in the open field shows he can contribute after the catch and get the most out of a play.

I wouldn’t necessarily say Peoples-Jones has a ton of length to him but he definitely has enough and his vert will help him win contested catches. With the departures of Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh, Peoples-Jones will be looked at to contribute very early for the Wolverines.

Sleeper

Ty Jones

Provo High School (Provo, Utah)

College: Washington

6’4” 200 40: 4.62 Vert: 36.6

Jones is ranked as the no.33 WR on 247sports.com. He’s been trending upwards as a recruit at a very good pace over the last month. Scout.com has him ranked as the no.29 WR and a 4-star recruit. He’s a long WR with a nice set of hands. I’ve seen him make a ton of wow plays from rising up over a group of defenders snatching a ball to impressive one-handed grabs. He’s not very quick but he does possess a lot of speed for a lanky receiver. The post-corner route is his go to and he runs it very well. He uses his frame and strong hands to win across the middle. Jones makes his living behind the defense with his speed and leaping ability to grab everything that comes his way. He looks like a very talented player who can run a number of routes. He’s different from the typical Washington recruit over the past couple years in terms of size and physicality. His blend of body style and ability sets him apart from other UW receivers. I think he finds a role in their offense as a freshman.

National Signing Day is February 1st. Be sure to check back here at DFF for more NSD content. As always, you can find me on Twitter @pacificscouting. Join the conversation over at #NSD2017.

 

lawrence_chaney

North West born and raised. Sports are everything to me. Took up scouting a few years back and fell in Love with it. Try my best to use the knowledge I have to contribute to the Devy section for DFF.

View all lawrence_chaney's Posts

Leave a Comment

(required)

(required)

%d bloggers like this: