Rookie Wide Receivers Part 4 – NFL Steals

Right Rush Nation, I need to be deadly serious with y’all for a hot minute. This lockdown is taking a toll on me. I’m finding it tough. I know it’s important and I’m fully behind it but it isn’t good for my mental health. Step in the NFL and Fantasy Football to save the day!

I need to vent some grey matter and what better way than to dive into some more prospects. My favourite offensive role in the NFL, the Wide Receiver. I’ve already done my top Three tiers so here comes my Fourth. These fellows could be late 3rd/4th/5th round picks in your upcoming Rookie drafts and could make a splash on your roster. Ready, Set!

13 – Donovan Peoples-Jones – Michigan

Peoples jones was a top level, blue chip, 5 star recruit coming out of high school. Then he landed in Ann Arbor and it all blew up in a cloud of smoke. He, like many will be wondering what happened to the number One ranked Wide Receiver out of High School. There are many reasons that Peoples-Jones never actually turned into the top prospect he was meant to be.

Whether it was because of the absolutely dire Quarterback play that the Wolverines had to endure from Shea Patterson or whomever it was prior to him. It has never really worked out for Michigan with their man under centre. This affected Peoples-Jones hugely. It could also be because he wasn’t always utilised as a top receiver should be by Michigan. Peoples-Jones was, and still is, a top prospect. Do we forget the top Lawyers and Barristers who take a couple of gap years to go and find themselves in the world? No. Yet somehow we have forgotten Peoples-Jones. No longer.

Peoples-Jones is the kind of prospect that NFL coaches love to draft. He has traits of some of the best Wide Receivers currently in the big league. Some of his catches are next level if you watch his highlight reel. He is the type of Receiver who is Pro-ready and will be better when playing at the top level than he was in College. Having watched his tape and what he did in the series of All Or Nothing – Michigan, he is a legit talent. In my eyes, is a Slot Receiver that can win in all three levels of the field.

He wasn’t utilised properly by Michigan, that’s a fact. He found himself open so many times yet wasn’t targeted. It was almost as if he was deployed as a decoy. That or Patterson just wasn’t able to find him out there. He wasn’t provided with the targets or touches that someone of his skills should have been provided with. His skill set and abilities mean he has the tools to develop at the next level.

Tape Watch

I’ve already mentioned it, but Peoples-Jones is capable of playing from anywhere across the line and in all depths of the field. He just wasn’t given the chance. Peoples-Jones had 34 receptions for 438 yards and Six touchdowns in 2019. When you compare that reception number to that of other top talents like Lamb and Jefferson he is way behind. 2018 was better as he made 47 catches for 612 yards and Eight scores. Still a poor number of receptions for someone of his immense talent. Had he gone to another school we could have seen another player.

I would even say he could have been in the elite top tier. One thing to note on Peoples-Jones is his short area speed isn’t electric. Once into his stride his length lets him gobble up yards but he can be quite sticky getting up to full pace.

Peoples-Jones is a perfect size for today’s NFL. He stands 6 feet 2 inches and weighs a healthy 212 pounds. His build is also just what coaches are looking for. His athletic prowess is ridiculous. He jumps like a jack rabbit and has a huge wingspan, arm length and hand size. All of these make him a perfect contested catch winner and a jump ball specialist. He is in the 99th percentile for both his broad and vertical jumps. His 40-yard time was ok, not great and he ran a 4.48. It’s his slow starting which hampered him. However he put together a strong Combine performance which can only have helped his draft stock.

He can run almost any route which is One bonus from being deployed heavily in the slot. His awareness of where he is on the field is good and he knows when to get his feet down when catching near the sidelines. Peoples-Jones is a true warrior and has shown some impressive grit in his time playing for the Wolverines. He isn’t afraid of running into defenders to gain extra yardage and gives his all for the full 60 minutes. He has been a big part of the return game too and has Two stunning touchdown returns on his highlight reel.

Peoples-Jones could have, no should have been higher up my list. Hell, he should have made it to the Second tier on pedigree and skills alone. That however isn’t how I’ve scouted. I’ve watched the tape and unfortunately for Peoples-Jones there just isn’t enough of the good stuff. I do however think that he could be the steal of the draft and a name that we know for a very long time.


  • Elite Talent potential
  • Low Milage
  • Competent in all areas of the position 


  • Production has been poor in College
  • Can get stuck by press coverage
  • Starting burst can  be slow

14 – Gabriel Davis – UCF

Flying below my radar until this exercise was Central Florida’s top dawg Gabriel Davis. The thing I’ve found so interesting when digging into the lower players is just how many good players there are at smaller Colleges. Davis was good in not only 2019 but also 2018. Davis also had a very solid Combine performance which according to the whispers on the streets, pricked up the ears of many NFL Scouts. He had a big-time 2019 and he displayed big-time ability helping the Knights to a 10-3 record. Big time ability matched by big-time size is all I needed to hear!

Davis is a great size/strength/speed mismatch for the NFL. He stands 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 216 pounds at the combine. He ran a mediocre 4.54 40-yard dash. These measurables all add up to his best trait being his physicality. He is good at using his hands at the line of scrimmage after release. This means he can create angles into his routes, which help to account for his lack of separation when faced with top-level Cornerbacks. He uses his strength and hand skills to give himself a small but late boost to his mediocre separating abilities. He is fairly good at tracking the football again helped by his length. Can sometimes lose focus when catching and is evident by the number of drops on tape. These can be adjusted for I feel though.

Tape watch

Davis, as said, had a rollickingly good 2019. He finished the season with 72 receptions for 1,241 yards with 12 touchdowns. Up there with the best of this class numbers-wise. However, UCF’s schedule wasn’t the hardest, playing in the American Athletic East Division. UCF had a revolving door at the Quarterback position in 2019. They had Three Quarterbacks play under centre over the season. Davis’s numbers are pretty good considering there wasn’t huge consistency from whomever was throwing him the ball. 2018 was also decent numbers-wise as he grew into the offence. He finished 2018 with 53 receptions for 815 yards and 7 touchdowns. 2019 saw him make a big leap in receptions catching another 19 balls. His yards per reception also improved along with touchdowns. Good growth.

Timing is one of Davis’s best skills. He is very sneaky and deceiving with his moves which helps him to gain some separation. He isn’t a true downfield burner but has some decent second-level speed. This helps him chew up extra yards in the battle to move the chains. He runs mostly go routes which will help him in the NFL to become relevant.

His footwork helps him to move freely into his routes which are smooth. Not Juedy smooth by any stretch but still it enables him to get into his route fairly consistently. He needs to work on his route tree fairly quickly at the next level in order to get into the starting lineup of the team who drafts him. Has some Special team skills which will lend themselves to him being drafted because of his utility.


  • Ball tracking is good
  • Physical with hands at LOS
  • Good length and strength


  • Separation issues
  • Route tree is limited
  • Not hugely successful in contested catches

15 – K.J. Hamler – Penn State

Tie up those laces tight, we have another rocket. Hamler was a burner and a big-time weapon producing big plays for Penn State over the last few seasons. He has shown huge flashes of skill and has been likened to D Jax on many occasions. He has deep field speed for days and can score off any play if given the chance. Hamler plays predominantly out of the slot and can twist a defence inside out by gashing holes in the secondary. His game after the catch is terrifying and will allow other Wide Receivers on the team he gets drafted to dreamy single coverage situations by garnering the attention of the deep safety. One thing he needs to work on is the drops. Oh, the drops.

2019 saw K.J have lots of focus drops. These can be worked on and didn’t display themselves before in his career. A product of the infamous IMG Academy in Florida. The very one from Last Chance U. Whilst he has progressed from that, Hamler will need to forget how to drop when moving into the big league.

When looking into Hamler I read an interesting article about him using technology and GPS when preparing for practice in Happy Valley. This data that was collected during his 2019 season could provide vital for Hamler’s draft stock. K.J didn’t run at the Combine due to a hamstring injury. Like many NFL prospects found, his Pro-day was canned due to COVID-19 and this hurt his stock. Hamler suddenly found himself with nothing to show NFL scouts in the postseason. Enter his data. The whole time he played in 2019 he was wearing GPS and this data can be viewed by potential suitors.

Tape Watch

Sure someone can be described as a speedster by commentators. It ain’t till you flick the kettle on and sit down to watch the tape that you truly see speed. Holy smokes is Hamler fast. Not just vertically but horizontally too. The way he slides across the field is so slick. His usage on jet sweeps and screens means the defence is always on the back foot in case he is either used or not. This was very evident to see in the tape of him playing with now NFL Wide Receiver DaeSean Hamilton.

They carved up the field when playing together and with the talent that is Saquon Barkley. 2019 saw him reel in 56 receptions for 904 yards and eight touchdowns. 2018 was also fairly productive where he notched 42 catches for 754 yards and five touchdowns. It’s his big-play ability that really strikes when you watch him. That and the small frame that could quickly become beaten up at the next level when taking hits if asked to run into the middle of the field.

He is a slot king. A team needy of a pure slot talent and route runner will benefit from drafting Hamler. He’s small. Very small, smaller than me in fact. Hamler weighs in at 178 pounds and stands 5 feet 9 inches off the turf. That is where the comparisons end. He is lightning fast. Stated to have clocked a 4.27 in training before he tweaked his hamstring is ludicrously quick. He is like a knife through butter when it comes to separating from off coverage because of how smooth his cuts are.

If you can’t make contact and stop him at the line he’s going to gash you. He fakes multiple body parts in his changes of direction and leaves a wake of broken ankles behind him. Whether it’s an in or an out route, his change of direction and burst to get into the backfield is terrifying for Cornerbacks and Safeties alike who see him blaze by them.

He isn’t great at contested catches or breaking tackles both due to his small frame but does that matter if you can’t get a hand on him in the first place? He will need to improve his catching and route smoothness as he sometimes gets off track but that can be helped by coaching and better Quarterback play.


  • Elite level speed
  • Body control and movement
  • Separation and YAC are unfair


  • Small height and weight
  • Contested catches isn’t his thing
  • Small catch radius

16 – Michael Pittman Jr – USC

When I first saw Pittman Jr I immediately thought, possession Receiver in the league. He’s huge, not only is he a big guy he uses that size really well. His father was a Running Back in the NFL. Michael Pittman wrapped up an illustrious NFL career with 1,392 carries, 5,627 yards and 25 touchdowns. His father helped guide the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Super Bowl XXXVII. Fire the cannons Murf!

His dad has been instrumental in his progression and you can really tell in his game demeanor and the way he interviews. He is a true professional already which will portray well to NFL teams. He seems to have a very level and calm mental capacity which he will need at the next level. This is because he isn’t the fastest guy on the field. He needs to work on becoming a touch more explosive to get off the line faster. That being said he is extremely reliable when getting to the point of the catch.

He has shown consistent and reliable catch ability when patrolling either the perimeter or inside the hashes, so will be useful at the next level. His pitch smarts (if that’s even a thing) will be endearing to NFL coaches who are looking for a safety valve. His ball skills are what separates Pittman Jr from the other hulking Wide Receivers in this Class, baring my boy Claypool that is.

He has the size and body control to box out even the best Cornerback at the College level so should be able to translate that to the next level. His use of his frame and size means he can create space even in the intermediate areas of the field, which means he could project as a slot guy in the NFL. Coaches will dream day and night of his reliability as a dump off guy and chain mover. The only niggeling thing that will eat away at scouts and draftniks is his speed. Is he actually fast enough to cut it at the Elite level. He relieved some of these fears by running a solid 40-yard time at the combine.

Tape Watch

Pittman Jr came into the combine and weighed heavier than stated. He was taller than previously thought and ran a much better 40-time than projected, all bonuses. What I found odd about this is how he was taller and heavier than his USC page stated he was. Its known Colleges embellish their players stats on their homepages, this was different though. After all, who wants a small star right? He was actually bigger, faster and stronger than USC said.

This helped his draft stock hugely as speed was a huge concern. Now don’t get me wrong here. He still isn’t Ruggs fast, nor is he Hamler fast. However he did run a middle of the field 4.52 seconds 40-yard which for his size is serviceable. He also tipped the scales at 223 pounds and scrapped the ruler at 6 feet 4 inches tall. Let’s face it, this guy isn’t a small shifty Wide Receiver. As stated, he is a possession guy, think Courtland Sutton. Pittman Jr is that kind of Receiver.

His four years at The Trojans saw improvement in all the years. His 2016 was nothing to write home about playing mostly as a reserve and special teamer. Nope, not as a returner but as a tackler, making six tackles on the year. 2017 saw an uptick in numbers for Michael despite having an ankle injury. He finished with 23 receptions for 404 yards and Two touchdowns. Again in 2018 he improved although again missed two games with an injury.

He finished the year catching 41passes for 758 yards with Six touchdowns but his year actually ended with surgery to his shoulder. Once more he bounced back again however with his best season to date. He exploded in 2019 finishing with 101 receptions for 1,275 yards and 11 touchdowns. He definitely has the skills for the next level but can he find another gear and keep his speed up or will his body eventually give up the ghost. Only time will tell but he could well be a mid round steal for a team willing to take a chance on him.


  • Huge catch radius
  • Reliable hands and route running
  • Outstanding body control


  • Does he have top level speed?
  • Press Coverage can cause him issues
  • Injury history

Well those guys came up with more surprises than I thought they would. This Class is super deep. Even to the point where I can feel a tier five coming along, heck a tier six if this lockdown continues. Knowledge is power in your Rookie drafts, so the more names we all know he better. As always Rush Nation let me know how you think I did. These guys tickle your fantasy pickle? Let us know at @5yardrush your thoughts.

Until next week, Keep Rushing

-Stocks @5yardrush

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