“He’s Jerry Jeudy with another gear. He’s DeVonta Smith with a little more strength to his game…To me, this is a slam dunk, superstar receiver.” – Simms on ranking Jameson Williams No. 1
“Do you like DK Metcalf? Do you like Chase Claypool? Do you like Mike Evans? Because that’s who Christian Watson is…You put him on Alabama or Ohio State, we’re all going this is a top 10 pick.” – Simms on North Dakota State’s Christian Watson
“He’s polished and NFL-ready. He’s just a faster Jordy Nelson.” – Simms on Cincinnati’s Alec Pierce
STAMFORD, Conn. – March 29, 2022 – NBC Sports’ Chris Simms unveiled his wide receiver draft rankings, discussing this year’s top WR prospects heading into the 2022 NFL Draft, on the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast, listing Alabama WR Jameson Williams No. 1.
In the episode, Simms ranks and breaks down Williams, North Dakota State’s Christian Watson, Cincinnati’s Alec Pierce, Arkansas’ Treylon Burks, and Southern California’s Drake London.
Simms, a third-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2003 NFL Draft who played eight NFL seasons, is joined by NBC Sports’ Paul Burmeister on the podcast. The two offer in-depth breakdowns, rankings, and NFL comparisons for this year’s top wide receiver prospects.
In the lead up to April’s NFL Draft, Simms will rank and break down every position group, provide a list of mid-late round sleeper prospects, and issue a final mock draft.
Simms’ Top Five WR prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft:
|1.||Jameson Williams, Alabama|
|2.||Christian Watson, North Dakota St.|
|3.||Alec Pierce, Cincinnati|
|4.||Treylon Burks, Arkansas|
|5.||Drake London, Southern California|
The following are highlights from Simms’ WR draft rankings:
No. 1: Jameson Williams, Alabama
“Jameson Williams to me is the most slam dunk, easiest evaluation so far. He’s Jerry Jeudy with another gear. He’s DeVonta Smith with a little more strength to his game. I look at Jameson Williams and just go, ‘You name it, he can do it.’ Arguably the best route runner in the draft, arguably the best yards after the catch in the draft…Plays way stronger than his size would indicate…He breaks tackles. Slants over the middle, runs through arm tackles, stiff arms people to the ground, turns it back on and runs for 40 yards. His start-stop ability…it’s off the charts good for double moves…It’s as good as anybody in the NFL…To me, this is a slam dunk, superstar receiver, but he has the ACL question and that puts a question mark on this thing.”
No. 2: Christian Watson, North Dakota State
“The most pleasant surprise of the draft for me…I have all the confidence in the world that you’re going to continue to hear his name more and more. Maybe not as high as No. 2, but I think you’re going to start to here, ‘Oh, he’s a first-round wide receiver.’ … I sit here and go, ‘Do you like DK Metcalf? Do you like Chase Claypool? Do you like Mike Evans?’ Because that’s who Christian Watson is to me…Him and (Jameson Williams) are the freakiest, most explosive people in the draft. It’s a low level of competition, I understand that. It’s hard [not] to look at and go this is not an NFL DB [he’s playing against], but the amount of time that’s covered and the amount of ground that’s covered, to me it popped off the screen as much as anybody in the draft except for (Williams), who I think it’s very equal to…He will run by people all day long…When you just look at the size, the skill, this kid’s a real specimen…He’s a top 20 pick in my opinion…You put him on Alabama or Ohio State, we’re all going this is a top 10 pick…Maybe the most physically gifted wide receiver in the draft.”
No 3: Alec Pierce, Cincinnati
“Nobody can run with Alec Pierce. He runs by everybody. His times and everything he did at the Combine were phenomenal. He’s in the conversation for the best route runner in the whole draft. His ability to get off the line of scrimmage with different releases and do it like a pro – whether it be the footwork, the hands, whatever – it’s as good as it gets. And then you couple that with the pure athleticism…there’s nobody that can line up with him. He would classify as the guy where I’d go, [he’s] like the DK Metcalf or the Chase Claypool…if (Cincinnati) threw the ball to him five more times a game, he would have had 100 yards in every game…The ability to run the routes, snag the ball out of the air…I just don’t see anything about him where you’d go, ‘What is there not to love about this kid?’ … It’s not his fault that he wasn’t on the team or the quarterback or the system that knew how to give him the ball the right way. He’s polished and NFL-ready. He’s just a faster Jordy Nelson.”
No. 4: Treylon Burks, Arkansas
“Laviska Shenault is a fair comparison. The size is real…We see some evidence of this guy being able to just run by people and go beat a guy on a go-route for a 40-yard touchdown…but am I wowed by the speed? Absolutely not. He’s a weapon…I’m not wowed by his ability to separate from DBs…I am wowed by what he can do with the ball in his hand, though. The way he can break tackles…I think he’s going to be played in the slot most of the time. He’s fearless, he’s got great hands, he snatches it out of the air…and he catches a lot of 50/50 balls and balls in traffic over the middle. He’s a weapon who you’re going to continue to grow with some of the receiving things. The guy that came to my mind is Jarvis Landry…Get the ball in his hands and he’ll do some things. Find ways for him to get in the system and he can make plays with you after the catch and block and do all those types of things, too. He’s going to be a weapon like Deebo (Samuel)…I certainly like the player.”
No. 5: Drake London, USC
“He’s one of the greatest 50/50 jump ball receivers I’ve ever seen in the history of my evaluation, period…It’s not 50/50, it’s kind of 90/10 with this guy. His size is truly an elite thing…He uses it to benefit his skillset and his play. His ability to play the ball in the air, his vertical leap is real, his ability to grab the ball and have people hanging on his arms and hold onto it…all of that is top-notch and I think very, very impressive. The route running is pretty special for a guy that size…He’s very twitchy and quick…[but] he doesn’t pull away from people after that. Separation does concern me…There is a lack of true straight-line explosiveness and power. He breaks no tackles. He pulls away from nobody. The speed concerns, but because of the size and the route running, he’s going to be able to play outside. He understands how to set DBs up, play with their mind a little bit, set up zone routes…I think he’s made for the NFL a little bit, his route running is exceptional, the size and the 50/50 balls are exceptional. He’s No. 5 on my list because of lack of true explosion. He plays bigger than 6’4…it’s a Calvin Johnson-ish look. It is a size league, and the guy’s got an elite skill with his size. He has a very high ceiling, and it’s a high floor.”