Drake London, USC
USC’s Drake London is the only member of the consensus top five receivers where I’m not sure I really see it. That being said, I’m going to try. London is extremely tall for a receiver at 6’4 but a bit slight, only weighing 219 at the Combine. Naturally, his catch radius is through the roof, and it’s a big aspect of how he plays the game. London’s also played basketball at USC, and that skillset makes itself known on the football field. He’s smoother and faster than we give him credit for, especially with such long legs.
My problems with London come with his technique and slight frame. He can try all he wants, and try he does, but he’s simply not a great blocker right now. A 220-pound frame on a 6’4 receiver really worries me, no matter how skilled they are with body control. I have nightmares of London getting blown up over the middle on a contested catch and falling down in a heap simply because he’s got such a slight frame. He can’t help it, but that skinny build is my biggest problem with him, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to look past it until he puts some weight on.
Comparison: If he can put some weight on and truly start bullying defenders, London reminds me (and so, so many others) of a skinnier Mike Evans.
Jameson Williams, Alabama
Finally, we come to the dark horse of the top five receivers in Alabama speedster Jameson Williams. Although his speed is off the charts, Williams brings much more to the table than just leaving guys in the dust. Coming in at around 6’2 and 180 pounds, Williams is bigger than he looks on tape. He has much better hands than most track star receivers and his footwork is stellar. Williams’ initial burst and getaway speed combine for lightning fast routes that somehow manage to usually remain pretty crisp. Williams should be the clear-cut top receiver in this class, but his injury takes him out of that conversation, at least for me.
During Alabama’s national championship loss to Georgia, Williams tore his ACL on a breakaway route that should have been a touchdown. Non-contact injuries are always terrifying, but for an extremely fast receiver like Williams, they can be career-threatening. Williams seems to be progressing well, but he hasn’t been able to participate in NFL Combine drills. This is a case of a great receiver who does just about everything at an NFL level, but an injury might hamper him for most of his rookie season. If a doctor could guarantee that he would be the same player he originally was once he comes back, Williams would easily take my top receiver spot. But, such a severe injury gives me major pause on his draft stock.
Comparison: These highlights bring me back to a young Odell Beckham Jr. when he was with LSU and the New York Giants. But Williams’s speed is such a big part of his game, and if it never returns, I’m not sure who fits the bill for this comparison.