For those of you that have followed me on the journey of WR talent in this year’s draft, we’re approaching the finish line! Welcome to The Sleeper Edition of wide receivers in the 2020 NFL draft. The following players are individuals who have the talent to make it at the next level but are flying under the radar or small school players looking to make a name for themselves on an NFL roster. It’s the two-minute warning folks. Let’s bring this series to a conclusion, and march down the field for the final score!
The 6’1, 201lb Redshirt Junior played his college ball in the SEC conference at Texas A&M. He was forced to redshirt his freshman season due to a torn ACL injury. Davis didn’t see consistent action on the field until 2018. He finished the year with 45 receptions for 585 yards and seven touchdowns. Davis showed an uptick in production this year with 616 yards receiving on 54 receptions. He opted to forego his senior season and enter the 2020 NFL draft.
Perhaps the best trait in Quartney Davis game is his footwork. It’s quite exceptional! He’s a polished route runner, and marvelous in the short areas of the field. Speaking of footwork, he does very well with change of direction in his route running, exhibiting good body control and balance throughout the route. Davis has demonstrated himself to be a versatile player in the Texas A&M offense. He can play the slot position, run a jet sweep, reverse, and even used in option plays. Quartney Davis will garner success at the next level if utilized in the slot where space is given at the line of scrimmage.
The first concern in my evaluation on Quartney Davis is the lack of top-level speed. He lacks a vertical game. While he doesn’t mind leaping for the ball at the highest catch point, he’s limited in that ability due to a small wingspan. The other notable inconsistency for Davis is the lack of ball skills. He tends to let the ball come to him. The final area of improvement is physicality. A physical corner can dominate him in press coverage. If Quartney Davis can work on upper body strength, he’ll become a good option in the short areas of offense for any NFL team.
Antonio Gandy-Golden played all four years of collegiate football at Liberty University. Liberty converted over to FBS 2 years ago. The changeover didn’t affect Antonio. He continued to terrorize defenses on his way to 3 consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. He finished 2019 with 79 receptions for 1,396 yards and 10 touchdowns. Those stats awarded him as a semi-finalist for the Fred Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding receiver. The name Antonio Gandy-Golden will forever resonate with Liberty University football. He broke school records in receptions, yards, and receiving TD’s.
One of the more obvious traits of AGG is his size. Standing at 6’4 and 223lbs, he can get to the high point of the catch and make some plays. Along with that comes a terrific catch radius. Watch his tape, and you’ll see Antonio make some spectacular catches! The hands he possesses are pretty special as well. Antonio has reeled in some nice one-handed catches. He has the size to dominate DB’s in the blocking game, but the question will remain whether he can be as physical as his body size.
The one concern regarding Antonio Gandy-Golden is speed. He ran a 4.6 40 yard dash at the combine. The 9 route was one of his most popular routes at Liberty, and quite frankly, he doesn’t have the long speed to create separation at the top of the route. If you look at the video above, you can see the lateral quickness is lacking as well. Antonio needs to improve his footwork off press release. When we evaluate talent from small schools, you want to see domination at their level of play. While Antonio dominated the stat sheet, scouts are wondering if his talents will transfer to the level of being a serviceable wide receiver in the NFL. He’ll land somewhere in the NFL but needs to commit to proving all the naysayers wrong.
If Lynn Bowden sneaks out of the 3rd round without any takers, I’d be surprised. However, If he’s sitting there on day 3 of the draft, you’ll find a creative coach open up the back of his playbook, rush to the phone, and call their GM asking to draft this versatile playmaker.
Lynn Bowden, a junior from the University of Kentucky, played all over the field during the 2019 season. He started the season as a wide receiver, but the team was running thin at QB, and he stepped in for the remaining eight games, leading the team to bowl eligibility. He finished the year with 30 receptions for 348 yards before the position switch. Bowden showed his versatility as he rushed for 1,468 yards and 13 TDs. He finished top 5 nationally in All-purpose yards earning him the Paul Hornung Award. Also, Bowden was awarded 1st team AP All-American as an all-purpose player.
The versatility of Lynn Bowden is exceptional. An offensive coordinator can use him all over the field. Bowden is a natural-born playmaker. He uses good footwork and lateral quickness to reach open space in short areas. Bowden can stop on a dime, change direction, and leave the defender picking up his ankles. He exhibits good hands and has decent ability after the catch.
The one clear concern in Lynn Bowden’s game is reps. It’s great being able to play many positions, but sometimes you become “The jack of all trades, master of none.” This is a clear concern with Bowden. The route running needs polish, and a consistent role is urgent to fine-tune the necessary tools in becoming a wide receiver in the NFL. The last concern with Bowden is ball security. He dropped the ball on the carpet seven times in 2019. Ball security = Playing time.
James Proche has been an absolute monster during his collegiate career at Southern Methodist University. He’ll leave college football behind among the top producing receivers in history. According to Sports Reference, Proche finished 16th all-time in career receptions (301), 23rd in receiving yards (3.979), and tied for 16th in receiving touchdowns (39). 2019 was his most producing season. He finished with 111 receptions (Tied for 1st in FBS with Justin Jefferson) for 1,225 yards and 15 touchdowns (4th in FBS). James Proche was an Air Raid phenomenon in Coach Sonny Dykes offense.
What can you say about James Proche? He has a knack for getting to the ball. Proche displays 2 of the most trustworthy hands in this draft class. Excellent hands! He’ll go into a contested area and come out with the ball in his hands. Proche establishes good body control throughout the route and displays the ability to track down the ball very well.
What is James Proche lacking? Speed. In all aspects of the game. There’s a lack of long speed. He displays only adequate burst off the line of scrimmage. Proche needs to improve upon coming in and out of his route breaks. Just overall explosiveness is lacking in his game on the field. He demonstrates only a limited catch radius. The run after the catch ability could be improved too. He only averaged 11 yards per reception in 2019.
This is the deepest wide receiver draft class in quite some time. Many teams will come away with talented wideouts over all rounds of this draft. Let’s hope that Howie Roseman can pluck out the right guys to give Carson Wentz dependability in the passing game for years to come. For those of you who have followed me through this journey of wide receivers in the 2020 draft, thank you very much. Last but not least, GO BIRDS!