2023 NFL Draft Watch List: Wide Receivers

Summer scouting season is underway and continues with the wide receiver class. Here’s Hussam Patels’ 2023 NFL Draft wide receiver watchlist.

Summer scouting season is underway and continues with the wide receiver class. Here is my 2023 NFL draft wide receivers watch list.

LSU wide receiver Kayshon Boutte tops Hussam Patel's 2023 NFL Draft watch list at the position.
Photo Credit: MG Miller, USA TODAY Sports

Top 5 2023 NFL draft wide receivers watch list

Kayshon Boutte

The top wide receiver of the 2023 class had a very productive freshman 2021 season and sadly dropped off a little bit due to injuries in 2022. Boutte is an extremely well-rounded receiver. He flashes the foot quickness and toughness to handle slot duties at the next level and lines up all over the field. Boutte is dangerous with the ball in his hands.

Speaking of, the Tigers product hands’ accepts the ball fluidly on most throws and is ready to make a play afterward. He makes catches in traffic, even going up over taller defenders with vertical and toughness.

Kayson Boutte is one of the most athletically gifted players in the 2023 class, who possess great speed, acceleration, and size, and combines these traits with decent hands and outstanding route running. 

The only reservation I have of Boutte is his medical issue. If he has a quality year in 2022, Boutte could easily become the top-rated receiver come the 2023 NFL Draft. Still, Boutte is the top prospect on the 2023 NFL draft wide receivers watch list.

Jaxson Smith-Njigba

At the age of 20, Jaxson Smith-Njigba has fine-tuned his route running and has a great understanding of how to dissect different zones and attack the leverage on defensive backs.

As a sophomore in 2021 he played in 13 games and had 95 catches for 1595 yards for an average of 16.8 yards per catch, with 9 TDs, and a QB rating when targeted of 141.8

The Buckeyes standout has the strongest hands any NFL wide receiver coach and quarterback would covet. He tracks the deep ball over either shoulder and brings in passes fluidly without breaking stride downfield

Expect 2022 to be even better than 2021, as Smith-Njigba will be gifted the number one receiving spot on the Buckeye’s offense. I have him slated as the number two prospect to watch on this 2023 NFL draft wide receivers watch list.

Jordan Addison

The third pass-catcher in this 2023 NFL draft wide receivers watch list is USC’s Jordan Addison. Addison had a very productive season last year winning the Biletnikoff trophy at Pittsburgh.

This off-season he transferred to USC and will play for offensive mastermind Lincoln Riley. Addison is looking to replicate his 2021 season with Caleb Williams as his quarterback.

The Trojan playmaker has amazing flexibility and can pretty much make any catch you ask him to.

The speed element of his game is evident, along with the ability to break the ankles of defenders in the open field. A slippery athlete, Addison is a headache to deal with when he has the football in his hands

Addison’s catch comfortability does not instill much confidence, as he does tend to bring passes into his frame rather than working with his hands away from his chest. The further outside of his frame he has to work, the less dependable his hands become.

He has a chance this year to become to establish himself as a top-ten pick if he continues to play at the level he displayed as a sophomore at Pittsburgh.

Parker Washington

Nittany Lions’ receiver Parker Washington had an 800 yard season sitting behind Jahan Dotson as the number two option. With a prime role coming this season, he’s looking to absolutely breakout and torch Big Ten defensive backs.

Washington saw the bulk of his snaps from the slot last year, and got a lot of free releases. I expect to see him on the outside a little more, and how he handles contact at the line of scrimmage will be crucial.

He is very good at tracking the ball in the air and, for his size, does a great job timing jumps to beat defenders for contested catches. So far in his career, he has brought in 11 out of 23 attempts on contested balls. A big reason as to why is due to his strong hands.

When Washington gets in the open field, he can take it the distance. He snags the ball well and is able to fully extend on off-target passes by extending his arms rather than with pure speed.

Marvin Mims

Marvin Mims has the versatility to line up at all three receiving positions (X, Flanker, and Slot), and is able to execute at all three levels of the field. 

A savvy, natural pass-catcher with reliable hands and very good focus. He routinely looks the ball into his hands and can maintain concentration to haul in circus catches way outside of his framework.

Despite being a smaller receiver, Mims competes well above his weight class and his competitive toughness shines as a blocker. Mims is one of the few receivers in this draft class who blocks well, which catapults him to the fifth spot in the 2023 NFL Draft wide receivers watch list.

In 2023, Mims could solidify himself as a first-round talent if Oklahoma builds on his route tree. He runs the routes in his package well, but a more diverse route tree will allow him to produce more and more quickly at the NFL level.

Honorable Mentions: 

Josh Downs-UNC, Dontay Demus-Maryland, Zay Flowers-BC, Quentin Johnson-TCU, Xavier Hutchinson-Iowa State.

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Falcons Dueling Mock Draft

What changed from last week? Find out and vote for your favorite Falcons mock draft!

Falcons Mock Draft

We are back today with another big edition of Falcons Dueling Mock Draft. With the win against the Dolphins, the Falcons now have the 17th overall pick in the draft. And now we are back with the Falcons ATB Crew’s dueling mock draft. Big thanks as always to nflmockdraftdatabase.com for the simulator we use.

Hunter’s Falcons Mock Draft (@hthompsonNFL)

Round 1 Pick 17: Kinglsey Enagbare, EDGE, SC

  • The 6’4″ 265lb EDGE is where I go with my most first pick of the day. The pass rusher has exploded at South Carolina over his career with 6 sacks in the shortened season and already has 4.5 this season. Box stats aren’t everything but Enagbare is a steal here and looks to be another great EDGE prospect in an absolutely loaded EDGE class. The toolsy EDGE dominants with his athleticism and long arms and would be a perfect addition to the Dean Pees defense. He needs to work on his run defense, so he isn’t perfect, but he does improve a lackluster pass rush.

Round 2 Pick 50: David Bell, WR, Purdue

  • Adding a nice WR talent here, we take David Bell. He’s a 6’2″ 205lbs WR from Purdue who can do it all. He is a physical receiver who wins with his blend of size and speed while dominating at the point of attack. Bell would give the Falcons a nice vertical threat to play opposite of Ridley and Pitts while they rebuild the offense to fit Arthur Smith’s dream and vision.

Round 2 Pick 58: Jalen Catalon, SAF, Arkansas

  • I will admittedly say I have not watched a ton of Catalon yet, but in the little I have watched I have liked. He is a very old school style safety who isn’t afraid to lay the hammer. He gets moved around the Arkansas defense as a versatile chess piece, with some action in the slot, in the box, and as a free safety. I’m a little concerned about his previous injury history. But his talent is hard to question. Adding Catalon would allow Dean Pees to roll out plenty of different looks for opposing offenses.

Round 3 Pick 81: Zion Tupuola-Fetui, EDGE, Washington

  • Yes I went EDGE again because our team needs help. Means isn’t it and Fowler is set to become a FA at the end of the season. Here we take my classic ZTF, after coming back from his achilles tear he was back with a sack the other night against Arizona. ZTF is a physically dominant EDGE who has a decent pass rush arsenal and dominates with his physical tools. Bit raw in some aspects, but if we have an EDGE group of Ogundeji, Enagbare, ZTF, and JTM going into next season, we will be looking good.

Round 4 Pick 120: Zach Charbonnet,, RB, UCLA

  • Zach Charbonnet has really emerged this season at UCLA. The Michigan transfer has come alive under the Chip Kelly and helped propel UCLA back into some form of the spotlight. The 6’1″ 220lb RB has put up 732yds and 7 TD’s on the ground while maintaining a 5.9 yards per carry. Charbonnet would be a great fit in Arthur Smith’s zone blocking offense and would be able to step right into the Mike Davis role and become the main back.

Adam’s Falcons Mock Draft (@Damski32)

Round 1 Pick 17: Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

  • Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is a sticky CB with good hips who can carry speed downfield. He understands man really well and shows constant ability to play through WR’s hands and even beat WR’s to the catch point on balls. I was extremely impressed with his tackling ability despite having a slender frame and from time to time ducking his head and putting his neck in danger, he shows really good physicality. One thing I LOVE from my CB’s is talking that talk on routes, meaning getting into WR’s faces and letting them know they’re getting locked up. Sauce shows confidence in bunches, and I love that about him. Pairing him with AJ Terrell would give ATL the most talent they’ve had at CB in quiet some time.

Round 2 Pick 50: Thayer Munford, OG, Ohio State

  • Thayer Munford is a LG from THE Ohio State Buckeyes and he’s in his first season as the starting LG, prior to he was the starting LT but the Buckeyes realized his future was at LG. This season Munford has given up very little and has been physically imposing in the run game, several times when the team needs yards they go up his alley. I know people will question this with Mayfield coming along, but imo you can always use bodies on the OL and we shouldn’t let Mayfield get complacent, I think Munford is the perfect scheme versatile player we need, who also can flex a little bit at OT if need be.

Round 2 Pick 58: Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA

  • Zach Charbonnet is an extremely talented RB out of UCLA, formally of Michigan. Standing at 6’1 225 he’s got a physical downhill style to him that’s reminiscent of what Arthur Smith likes in his back, guys who can just be physically imposing on defenders for all 4 quarters. He’s got great vision and good contact balance, when he’s in open field he shows that he can take is south/west to make defenders miss, or he can go right through you, he’s my kind of back, and I think the kind of back that Smith wants here in ATL.

Round 3 Pick 81: Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame

  • I constantly talk about having these big OLB’s that can destroy gaps and create lots of havoc in the pass and run game, Foskey is that kind of guy, and pairing him with Ogundeji (former Notre Dame DE himself) would be something I’d be in on. He’s a long, powerful rusher, that doesn’t have quiet as much pass rush sense as Ogundeji did coming out, but he rushes with a plan and understands that he has to have different pitches when rushing the passer, and for the most part he does. I love his size 6’5 260, he’ll have a lot of room to put on the weight he needs to and be a physically imposing OLB for us in the future.

Round 4 Pick 120: Sam Williams, EDGE, Ole Miss

  • Sam Williams is another one of these long, physically imposing OLB’s, I think, at least from what ATL has done last off-season you’ll see the trend of these kind of pass rushers come to ATL. Why double dip ? Well, pass rush comes in layers and having two shots at the target (upgrading the pass rush) in a talented pass rusher class is something I’m really about in this class. I think Williams is a great late round guy that presents big time upside with the power that he has. Against Alabama you see him numerous times just fold OT’s, and even at times he lines up inside standing up and uses his strength to push the pocket.

Stephen’s Falcons Mock Draft (@stevieraylee)

Ok, guys, I’m going out on a limb this week since I’ve finished a distant third in the voting for two weeks straight. It’s a risky proposition, but sometimes you have to give the people what they want. I’m not above shamelessly pandering to the fan base.

Round 1 Pick 17: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

  • Y’all will get sick of seeing Davis’ name in these mocks by the time we get to the draft. I’d imagine he’ll be my pick in the first in the overwhelming majority of these, but he is a perfect fit for what Atlanta needs. So many of the defensive breakdowns for the Falcons start with their inability to control the line of scrimmage. Davis’ ability to command double teams and wreak havoc inside will elevate the play of everyone around him.

Round 2 Pick 50: Derion Kendrick, CB, UGA

  • Kendrick won’t set records at the combine or blow people away with freakish athletic traits. However, he’s a heady, versatile cornerback that fits what Dean Pees wants to do perfectly. A solid man coverage who truly excels in zone coverage, where his background as a receiver makes him especially dangerous. There is room to grow, and that growth may have painful moments, but Kendrick has the tools to be an excellent CB2 to pair with AJ Terrell.

Round 2 Pick 58: Nolan Smith, EDGE, UGA

  • A former five-star recruit, Smith, has the length, flexibility, and athleticism to excel as a pass rusher in Atlanta. He’s having a less productive season than many expected, but I suspect he will turn heads when he makes it to the combine and solidify his positioning as a Day 2 edge rusher. Sub-240lb edge defenders generally get pigeonholed into this role, so Smith will need to add some mass. Still, the traits are all there. It’s just a matter of development.

Round 3 Pick 81: Jamaree Salyer, IOL, UGA

  • I am committed to this all-UGA draft, no question. This, however, puts me in a position where I have to discuss a prospect I don’t know particularly well. Salyer was a five-star recruit and, at 6’4, 325lbs should immediately upgrade the physicality of the Falcons offensive line. Salyer has played all over Georgia’s D-line, and that versatility would prove invaluable on an incredibly thin Falcons roster.

Round 4 Pick 120: Zamir White, RB, UGA

  • I’ll round out my attempt to win votes by unabashedly appealing to UGA fans by selecting Zamir White in the fourth round. White is a bit of a limited player. He isn’t particularly shifty or much of an asset in the passing game. However, he is an excellent north-south power runner and could easily fill Mike Davis’s role with the Falcons.

Summer Scouting: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Chris Olave surprised much of the football world when he decided to go back to school instead of declaring for the NFL Draft. Most view(ed) Olave as a first-round pick and even a potential top-20 selection. It’ll be interesting to see how his stock is affected electing to go back to school, especially with the loss of Justin Fields to the NFL and another very deep wide receiver class. We saw DeVonta Smith of the Alabama Crimson Tide (now on the Philadelphia Eagles) make a similar decision last season and he wound up winning the Heisman trophy and becoming a top-15 pick in the draft.

Possessing a similar skillset to Smith, Olave could see a similar type rise, yet it will be extremely difficult to have the same type of production Smith did especially with Garrett Wilson on the other side of the field (Smith had Waddle, but he missed most of the season with an injury). We’ve seen both sides of the card with players who elect to return to school, Smith went in the first round and the running back from Oklahoma State, Chuba Hubbard, ended up falling further than many expected he would if he entered the 2020 NFL Draft instead of returning to school. If Olave can stay healthy throughout his Senior season he should find himself selected somewhere in the first round of next year’s draft, the biggest question though, is when will that happen?

Pros:

  • Release Package
  • Setting up defenders in his route, deceptive.
  • Running w/ tempo in his route.
  • Smooth feet at the top of his routes.
  • Easy mover, agile.
  • Excellent hip sink, makes for easy transitions.
  • Ball skills, + hands and tracks the football well.
  • Straight line speed, solid acceleration.
  • Gets after it as a blocker.
  • Concentration at the catch point on deep balls.
  • Maintains speed through breaks.
  • Body Control on the sideline.

Cons:

  • Not very explosive in his lower half, lacks juice out of his breaks.
  • Lets DBs hang on him, needs to improve his handing fighting.
  • Doesn’t bring much juice after the catch, primarily a possession receiver.
  • Smaller frame.

2021 Season Statistics:

50 receptions, 729 receiving yards, 14.6 yards per reception, and 7 touchdowns in seven games.

Preliminary Grade:

7.38 – First Round Grade