“He is an unbelievable route runner …To me, he’s a top-20 pick.” – Simms on ranking Flowers No. 1
“He reminds me of Jarvis Landry, to a greater version. This guy is about as high level of a route runner as you’re going to see in college.” – Simms on Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
“If you watch the film, you go, ‘There’s no doubt this is one of the best three or four receivers in this draft.’ There’s nothing he doesn’t do that’s top-notch.” – Simms on Stanford WR Michael Wilson
STAMFORD, Conn. – March 27, 2023 – NBC Sports’ Chris Simms discusses this year’s top wide receiver prospects heading into the 2023 NFL Draft and unveiled his WR draft rankings on the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast, listing Boston College’s Zay Flowers, No. 1. In the episode, Simms ranks and breaks down Flowers, Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba, TCU’s Quentin Johnston, Stanford’s Michael Wilson, and Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt.
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’ Ahmed Fareed on the podcast. The two offer in-depth breakdowns, rankings, and NFL comparisons for this year’s top wide receiver prospects.
Simms has had recent success in projecting college wide receivers – including naming Ja’Marr Chase and DeVonta Smith as his No. 1 and 2 WRs in 2021, respectively, and listing CeeDee Lamb and Justin Jefferson as his top two WRs in 2020.
In the lead up to April’s NFL Draft, Simms will rank and break down every position group, provide a list of sleeper prospects, and issue a final mock draft.
Simms’ Top Five WR prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft:
|1.||Zay Flowers, Boston College|
|2.||Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State|
|3.||Quentin Johnston, TCU|
|4.||Michael Wilson, Stanford|
|5.||Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee|
The following are highlights from Simms’ WR draft rankings:
No. 1: Zay Flowers, Boston College
“The position versatility – he can play inside or outside. Some of the best releases in the draft are from Zay Flowers. He is pedal to the metal every play, every cut, everything he does. The build, the style of running…I think he looks like Antonio Brown. He is an unbelievable route runner, along with the explosive athlete. You’re really getting a three-in-one here with speed burner on the outside, speed burner on the inside, and slot receiver inside. I wrote Jaylen Waddle, that’s a guy he reminds me of…(He) plays bigger than his measurables say. To me, he’s a top-20 pick.”
No. 2: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
“The speed is not blazing…but what’s off the charts good is the guy’s quickness and route running. His ability to come off the ball and be going 70% and almost jump in the air at the six-yard mark…it’s like Allen Iverson with an unbelievable crossover dribble. He’s got this unbelievable ability to change direction and then accelerate in a hurry. His ability after the catch…the first guy never tackles him…He reminds me of Jarvis Landry, to a greater version. This guy is about as high level of a route runner as you’re going to see in college.”
No. 3: Quentin Johnston, TCU
“Tee Higgins-ish with more explosive ability than Higgins had coming out. He can catch the six-yard shallow cross and run 80 yards for a touchdown. His ability to jump – it’s a 40.5 inch vertical – plus he’s 6’3” and his arms look like they’re ridiculously long. He’s Drake London-ish from last year, except he doesn’t have the route running but has more of the straight speed…He’s one of the most physically impressive wide receivers in recent memory. You don’t see a lot of the route variety…but he shows the ability to change direction with the ball in his hands. He has better feet, quickness, and suddenness than most people with his size.”
No. 4: Michael Wilson, Stanford
“This is where we’re going to go a little unconventional…But if you watch the film, you go, ‘There’s no doubt this is one of the best three or four receivers in this draft.’ There’s nothing he doesn’t do that’s top-notch…He ran a 4.58 at the Combine in the 40, (but) he plays way faster than that…The physical specimen is real, let alone the refined things you like to see in a receiver are real too. He can be another guy who could be inside or outside because he’s got the pure size and strength and speed to beat you outside but has the route running and it looks like the smarts to be that slot guy that catches your eye as well.”
No. 5: Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee
“If you like speed, then you like Jaylin Hyatt…This is a track start, straight-liner, DeSean Jackson-, Will Fuller-ish type of receiver. So, there’s going to be things about him that you love, there’s going to be some things about him that I’m not crazy about. He’s not a great route runner…I truly question whether he can do it, unlike the other guys where I try to piece things together. You can watch a bunch of catches and he never makes anybody miss, that’s not his game…If there’s a seam straight away, watch out…If he gets a free release or gets off the line of scrimmage the right way and you have a safety that doesn’t get back instantly, see ya. It’s going to be a 60-yard post for a touchdown. That’s where he’s special.”