Senior Bowl Recap: Wide Receivers

(Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Everyone is excited about the 2017 rookie running back class and rightfully so with such deep and very talented group headlined by Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook. While the hype is warranted I think the rookie wide receiver class should get just as much attention. Take into consideration that Seniors Mike Williams, Corey Davis and Dede Westbrook turned down official invites to the Senior Bowl this year. This was unfortunate but it opened the door for other wide receivers with less accolades and notoriety to earn a trip to Mobile to showcase their talents. After witnessing first hand three days of practices in Mobile I came away very impressed with the receivers that made the trip to the Senior Bowl. I could spend a lot of time writing about ones that flashed because there were many that did but here are the ones that turned the most heads in Mobile.

Cooper Kupp | WR | Eastern Washington University (North Team)

Cooper Kupp had a lot to prove in Mobile considering that he played at a smaller FCS school at Eastern Washington. Kupp proved that he could play with the big boys in limited action against FBS foes over the past three years. In six games versus Oregon and Washington State Kupp scored a combined six touchdowns. At 24 years old Kupp is an older prospect and some scouts will knock him for that and also refer to him as primarily a slot wide receiver. While Kupp did play 60% of his collegiate snaps in the slot last year, he proved in Mobile that he could run a full route tree. Make no mistake Kupp runs very crisp routes, separates well, and despite not being a burner by any means, possesses deceptive speed after the catch.

Cooper Kupp reminds me of a couple NFL wide receivers most notably Jordy Nelson and Eric Decker. He’s not as tall as Nelson and Decker but has a similar skill-set. He also struck me as a guy who is very competative and has a deep desire to work hard to improve at his weaknesses. Check out our latest Fakepigskin Angle of Pursuit podcast for a full Senior Bowl interview with Cooper Kupp.

Zay Jones | WR | East Carolina University (North Team)

Zay Jones came to Mobile with a chip on his shoulder and it showed in all the North team practices. Zay has an unbelievable catch radius and caught everything thrown his way. He’s got incredible hands and can climb the ladder versus smaller corners. Jones moves well with the ball in his hands and thrives on making big plays. It’s amazing how much body control he has which allows him to contort his body and make incredible catches. Check out this video clip from North Team practice courtesy of Matt Caraccio @Matty_OS.

Jones built on a strong week of practices by standing out on game day. Zay showcased his versatile skill-set by catching 6 balls for 68 yards including the would-be go-ahead touchdown from Nate Peterman with 1:51 remaining. He also had two touchdowns wiped off the board, one by a penalty and another on a bad call. Jones caught a highlight reel 43-yard touchdown that was negated by a holding penalty and another score in the back of the end zone that he was ruled out of bounds. Replays clearly showed that he had two feet down and possession of the football. When all the smoke cleared Zay Jones made some serious money Senior Bowl week while drastically increasing his draft stock. Jones can do it all and will be a star at the next level for some lucky team.

Texas A&M Josh Reynolds

(AP – Butch Dill)

Josh Reynolds | WR | Texas A&M University (South Team)

Josh Reynolds was another impressive wide receiver in Mobile. He really flashed on Tuesday in South team practice and then again on Thursday. Reynolds is a great example of a player who made the most of his opportunity in Mobile. He arguably practiced and played better in Mobile than anyone expected that he would. Reynolds is a big-bodied receiver who reminds me a lot of a young Vincent Jackson with his 6-foot-4, 193 pound frame. He specializes in stretching the field and finding the end zone as evidenced by his 12 receiving touchdowns in 2016. He finished the game with 6 catches for 96 yards and caught a money fade route thrown by Davis Webb for a 39-yard touchdown. Reynolds was one of the most impressive outside receivers in Mobile and arguably should have won the Senior Bowl MVP with his strong performance. Kudos to my Angle of Pursuit podcast co-host Kyle Robert for predicting that he would win the MVP. Make no mistake Reynolds is a big-time playmaker who will be a future star in the NFL.

Chad Williams | WR | Grambling State University (South Team)

I’ll be completely honest I had no idea who Chad Williams was when I stepped off the plane in Mobile. That didn’t last long as I found myself asking my good friend and colleague Jon Adams with Heavy.com who #84 was at the South teams first practice. Williams was catching everything and more impressive was his ability to catch with his hands. Speaking of hands Williams measured in with the largest hands in the Mobile wide receiver group with 9.68 inch mitts. He also wasn’t intimidated one bit and proof of that was when he got into a fight in the first day of practice. Needless to say Williams made a big impression and was one of the guys that made me go back to hotel room and watch more tape on Draftbreakdown.com. It’s also clear that he’s going to be a great outside, deep-threat for some lucky team. Williams has some sleeper appeal so keep an eye on him late in the draft.

Be sure to check out all of our latest Fakepigskin.com Angle of Pursuit podcasts for more analysis of the 2017 Senior Bowl. We have three shows covering the Senior Bowl and the latest includes player interviews. They are available on iTunes and Stitcher.

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