There is a growing movement in the Dynasty community toward “devy” players. The term “devy” refers to developmental players carried on the dynasty league rosters. These devy players are usually college players but can even be high school athletes. During each week of the offseason and season, we will look at a different set of devy rankings.
We began the season looking at the top devy players, beginning with the Top 10 devy quarterbacks overall without regard of position or class. This week, we are looking at the top wide receivers. In general, we value the players entering the 2018 NFL Draft higher than future classes just due to the added risk associated with projecting into the future.
As we survey devy prospects, we will be looking at traits, abilities, and skill sets that will translate to the NFL. Since it is still early in the season, we expect these rankings to be fluid and there to be some fluctuation as the year progresses.
10. DeKaylin Metcalf (Mississippi) – Metcalf is a stellar athlete who is tall and very muscular. His father, Terrence, is a former NFL lineman so he has genetics on his side. Metcalf was named a U.S. Army and MaxPreps All-America selection. As a true Freshman in 2016, the youngster scored touchdowns in each of his first two college games before breaking his foot against Wofford and missed the last 10 games of the season. Metcalf was able to attain a medical redshirt. He has filled out his physique (6’4”, 225 pounds) but still has the speed to get open. Teaming with A.J. Brown and a good crop of receivers, quarterback Shea Patterson could have a big season. In the first three games of the season, the redshirt Freshman has 16 receptions for 246 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Rebels will need him to have a big game next week in order to have a chance at Alabama.
9. Bryan Edwards (South Carolina) – Edwards is a local kid from Conway, South Carolina, who opted to stay near home to play for the Gamecocks. South Carolina had recruited Edwards since he was 13 years of age. He had a solid Freshman season with 44 receptions for 590 yards and four touchdowns. Edwards has a great rapport with quarterback Jake Bentley, who emerged as the starter in 2016. In year two, the pair of youngsters should be able to continue their ascent in the SEC Conference. Add in Deebo Samuel, and the Gamecocks have one of the best young offenses in the SEC. Edwards had a highlight-reel reception Saturday in the come-from-behind victory against Louisiana Tech. He grabbed 6 passes for 122 yards in the contest.
8. Deon Cain (Clemson) – Cain could be the next in a long line of Clemson receivers to splash big in the NFL. Many people who follow and write about college recruiting had Cain as one of the top players in the entire 2015 recruiting class. He has the size and speed to make draft evaluators salivate. The biggest concern for Cain is his off-field decision-making. The off-field issue early in his Freshman campaign meant having to miss the National Championship game after the 2015 season. The former high school quarterback has been clocked at 4.44 40-yard dash. Cain is a physically impressive player (6'1”, 210 pounds), with great speed, and is quickly learning how to become a star at the receiver position. Lance Zierlein wrote about the future NFL star, “Cain was a prominent contributor on a Clemson offense that was loaded with weapons. Keep in mind that Cain was a high-school quarterback, and has had very limited time at the wide receiver position. As he continues to get more comfortable at the position and learns the nuances of route running, his stock should steadily rise as he has the size and speed that NFL teams covet.” We very much concur. On a squad last year with at least three NFL pass catchers, Cain could be the best pro. He benefits with both Mike Williams and Artavis Scott now in the NFL. The Tigers have a solid group of incoming Freshmen but the big receiver has a great chance to have a big year. Cain always had the physical ability and has vastly improved his route running in the past year.
7. James Washington (Oklahoma State) – Possessing just average size (6’,0”, 205 pounds) and decent speed, it is remarkable the manner in which Washington can get open deep and across the middle of the field. Some may contend the Senior’s success is due to the Cowboys spread offense, but Washington abused the vaunted Colorado secondary in last year’s bowl game. His long touchdown against TCU Saturday showed everyone that speed will not be an issue going forward. In addition, Washington is excellent tracking the ball in traffic and making the catch. Growing up in Stamford, TX (population 3,124), Washington was not highly recruited even though he was named to the All-Texas team. But, Washington already has passed the 3,000-yard mark in receiving yards and could come close to 4,000 by the time the season is over. After averaging almost 20 yards per reception in his first three seasons in Stillwater, Washington is averaging well over 27 yards per reception this season. Yes, that number is expected to come down to earth as conference play began this past Saturday. However, it shows that Washington is making big plays even though opposing defenses scheme to slow him down.
6. Auden Tate (Florida State) – Tate was expected to burst onto the national scene this season. He has size and able to make big plays after the catch. After not being heavily recruited, Tate played in six games as a Freshman. He emerged as a Sophomore, hauling in 25 receptions for 409 yards and six touchdowns, in just ten games. So, hopes were high entering 2017. We were worried about Tate’s emergence never happening after the injury to Deondre Francois in the opener against Alabama. Youngster James Blackman was starting to come on in the game Saturday, allowing Tate to have a monster game. But, Tate left the game with a shoulder injury after a long catch. As Tate exited the contest, he had 138 receiving yards of Blackman’s 192. Watching that game confirmed our belief that he is a future star. He has an NFL body (6’5”, 225 pounds) and has big-time potential. Tate plays in the mode of Alshon Jeffery.
5. Ammon Richards (Miami) – Richards committed to Miami after playing high school football in Wellington, Florida. He put up quality numbers as a true Freshman with Brad Kaaya throwing him passes. In the 2016 campaign, Richards caught 49 passes for 934 yards and three scores. The 19-yards per reception average was exceptional. Further, Richards, picked up at least 20 yards on 13 of those receptions and 38 of the 49 receptions went for a first down. It was a great year for the Freshman. He set a school Freshman record for receiving yards and was named Freshman All-American by most media outlets. Given the rich history of receivers from Miami, any youngster who can set records must be considered legitimate. Richards has a bright future.
4. Calvin Ridley (Alabama) – Ridley enjoyed an impressive Freshman season. The 6'0”, 180-pounder easily seized the WR1 duties for the Crimson Tide in 2015. His 2016 season was not as prolific due to the run-oriented offense with Jalen Hurts under center. After catching 89 passes for 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns as a Freshman in the Alabama offense, Ridley had an ok in 2016. The run-oriented offense continues in 2017. In the victory over Kentucky early in his Sophomore season, Ridley caught 11 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns. It was an impressive showing but Ridley caught six or fewer passes in the remainder of the 2016 games. We expect Ridley to continue to add bulk to his slight frame. He is a dangerous receiver down the field and with the ball in his hands. But, Ridley has impressed most with his ability to win contested passes. He has an incredible ability to high-point the ball in traffic and aggressively attack it. This is a trait which will translate well in the NFL. For those who track the age of the incoming rookies, Ridley is one year older than most of the other Junior receivers, and two years older than one or two top pass catchers in his draft class. He turned 22 years of age this past December 20 and will be 23 at the time of the NFL Draft. He still is a great prospect, nonetheless. There is dwindling optimism for Ridley having a great 2017 campaign as the Alabama offense will throw more after the running game was shut down in the National Championship game and the Crimson Tide offense was less than potent through the air. We will know more as the Crimson Tide play difficult SEC games where the running game is not working and the offense is forced to throw the ball.
3. N'keal Harry (Arizona State) – Harry is a big receiver (6’3”, 210 pounds) who has made a big impact early in his college career. In the loss to Utah last year, the true Freshman had his best game of the season, hauling in 8 passes for 114 yards. For the season, Harry caught 58 passes for 659 yards and 5 touchdowns. In high school, Harry grabbed 119 passes for 2,715 yards and 25 touchdowns. In the upset victory against Oregon Saturday, Harry reeled in 7 passes for 170 yards and a score. He had almost half of his team’s 347 passing yards. Rivals ranked Harry as the top wide receiver and the 18th best prospect in the country. His stellar pedigree and quality play as a Freshman vault Harry to near the top of our list of players available for the 2019 NFL Draft. He has an exciting future. With either Alabama cast-off Blake Barnett or Junior Manny Wilkins at quarterback, Harry could see his number rise significantly in 2017. The Arizona State offense could be potent this year.
2. Courtland Sutton (Southern Methodist) – Sutton was only a three-star player (Rivals) coming out of Brenham, TX, but he has far outplayed the ranking. As a redshirt Freshman, Sutton broke Emmanuel Sanders Freshman school record for receiving yards (862) and tied the record set by NFL veteran with nine touchdowns as a Freshman. This strong season earned Sutton a spot on the USA Today All-Freshman team. He is a mountain of a receiver, (6’4”, 215 pounds) and uses his size well. SMU utilizes the tall receiver in the red-zone, but he is much more than a one-dimensional threat. As if Sutton’s athleticism was not chronicled enough, he played basketball in 2015 for the Mustangs after the football season was finished. Sutton was eligible to turn professional after last season but opted to return to school. For the 2016 season, Sutton grabbed 76 receptions for 1,246 yards and 10 touchdowns on 76 receptions. This included an awesome two-game stretch (against East Carolina and South Florida) with 25 combined receptions for 418 yards and four scoring receptions. This means that the youngster grabbed one-third of his season-long receptions and yardage in just two games. Make of that what you will. Sutton is a very smart and articulate person who should transition to the NFL faster than most players.
1. Equanimeous St. Brown (Notre Dame) – St. Brown is a player who we have come around on as his route running and big plays are undeniable. After catching just one eight-yard pass as a Freshman, he exploded as a Sophomore. In 2016, St. Brown hauled in 58 passes for 961 yards and nine scores. The Fighting Irish offense was a mess but the youngster continued to shine. St. Brown caught at least three passes in every contest and topped 50 receiving yards in all but three games. Hopefully, quarterback Brandon Wimbush will improve. We think he is going to take another large step in his development this season and be a star.