In the lead-up to the 2020 NFL Draft, Vikings.com is taking a position-by-position look at prospects who have garnered a range of attention from national outlets. The series will include rankings by national outlets, stats and background information for multiple prospects. We'll also include comments that experts shared during interviews.
EAGAN, Minn. — The 2020 NFL Draft is less than a month away, as the league's annual marquee event will be held April 23-25.
The Vikings are currently scheduled to have 12 picks in the draft, including a pair of first-round selections. Minnesota originally held the 25th overall pick, but now also has the 22nd selection after acquiring the pick from Buffalo in a trade for wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
Is wide receiver now a priority for the Vikings in the upcoming draft? Ron Johnson, an analyst for FOX 9 and KFAN 100.3-FM, believes so.
"I'd say they have to get one in the first or second round," Johnson said. "Nothing against the guys behind Adam Thielen, but we know Adam worked well with Stefon Diggs. When teams have two guys, it takes the burden off one and allows teams to not just double one guy. So, I think it has to be an early need.
"With 12 picks, I think the Vikings need to spend two or three picks on a receiver, just based off this class being so deep," Johnson said. "They're not going to get Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb or Henry Ruggs III, but other guys could fall to you with those two first-round picks."
Johnson, who starred at the University of Minnesota before playing for the Ravens, weighed in on several prospects at the position.
Vikings.com compiled the top wide receiver prospects in the draft after consulting positional rankings by NFL.com's Bucky Brooks, ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., analytics site Pro Football Focus and The Athletic's Dane Brugler. That table is below:
NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah currently has eight wide receivers in his overall Top 50: 9. Lamb, 10. Jeudy, 11. Ruggs III, 14. Jefferson, 27. Aiyuk, 28. Higgins, 36. Shenault, Jr., 44. Mims. Hamler at one point was No. 46 but was moved down.
Kiper has five wide receivers in his overall Top 25: 9. Jeudy, 11. Lamb, 13. Ruggs III 20. Higgins and 22. Jefferson. He originally had Reagor as his 10th-rannked WR but recently included Notre Dame's Chase Claypool to round out his list.
PFF included 16 wide receivers in its overall Top 100: 5. Lamb, 6. Jeudy, 15. Shenault, Jr., 20. Ruggs III, 23. Higgins, 28. Reagor, 31. Aiyuk, 37. Mims, 39. Pittman, Jr., 40. Jauan Jennings (Tennessee), 44. Johnson, 68. Jefferson, 80. K.J. Hill (Ohio State), 82. Hamler, 92. John Hightower (Boise State), 99. Van Jefferson (Florida). Jenning is PFF's 10th-ranked wide receiver.
Here's a look at the top wide receiver prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft, along with a few players Ron Johnson has his eye on in the coming weeks.
Rankings: No. 1 by Brooks, Kiper and PFF; No. 2 by Brugler
School: Alabama | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-1 | Wt. 193 pounds
2019 stats: 77 receptions for 1,163 yards (15.1 yards per catch) with 10 touchdowns in 13 games
Twice as nice: As a sophomore in 2018, Jeudy won the Biletnikoff Award, which is presented to the nation's top wide receiver. He became the second Alabama player to win the award, joining Amari Cooper in 2014. Jeudy had 68 receptions for 1,315 yards (19.3 yards per catch) with 14 touchdowns in 15 games in 2018.
School: Oklahoma | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-2 | Wt. 198 pounds
Rankings: No. 1 by Brugler; No. 2 by Brooks, Kiper and PFF
2019 stats: 62 receptions for 1,327 yards (21.4 yards per catch) with 14 touchdowns in 13 games; nine rushes for 20 yards and a score; 24 punt returns for 179 yards (7.46 yards per return).
Big-play potential: Lamb led the nation with 21.4 yards per catch, the best rate among players with at least 40 receptions in 2019. He also ranks first in school history with 24 career catches of at least 40 yards and with six career games of at least 160 receiving yards. Lamb had a pair of three-touchdown performances in 2019 as he helped lead the Sooners to the College Football Playoff He also earned First-Team All-American and First-Team All-Big 12 honors.
Henry Ruggs III
School: Alabama | Year: Jr. | Ht: 5-foot-11 | Wt. 188 pounds
Rankings: No. 3 by Brooks, Kiper and Brugler; No. 4 WR by PFF
2019 stats: 40 receptions for 746 yards (18.7 yards per catch) with seven touchdowns in 12 games; two rushes for 75 yards and a score; 12 kick returns for 286 yards (23.8 yards per return)
Speed to burn: Ruggs posted the fastest time among all players at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine with a time of 4.27 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Ruggs also showed off his explosiveness with a vertical jump of 42 inches, which tied for the second-best among all players in Indianapolis.
Laviska Shenault, Jr.
Rankings: No. 3 by PFF; No. 4 by Brugler; No. 5 WR by Brooks and Kiper
School: Colorado | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-1 | Wt. 227 pounds
2019 stats: 56 receptions for 764 yards (13.6 yards per catch) with four touchdowns in 11 games; 23 rushes for 161 yards and two scores; one kick return for 54 yards
High five: Shenault burst onto the national scene as a sophomore when he had 1,011 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns in just nine games, ranking fourth in the country with 112.3 receiving yards per game. He also had five rushing touchdowns, making him the only player in the nation to have at least five rushing and five receiving touchdowns.
Ron's Reaction: "He's big and strong. He can catch the ball fluidly, but he's a brute-force bully when he gets the ball in his hands. He likes contact, and almost turns into a running back at 230 pounds. He has a 6-1 frame when normally you see 230 on a guy who is 6-4 or 6-5. It's more muscle, and you can tell by the way he runs after the catch. He can control the middle of the field and is going to be willing to take a hit coming across the middle."
Rankings: No. 4 by Kiper; No. 5 by PFF and Brugler
School: Clemson | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-4 | Wt. 216 pounds
2019 stats: 59 receptions for 1,167 yards (19.8 yards per catch) with 13 touchdowns in 15 games; one rush for a 36-yard score
Elite company: Higgins is tied for the most receiving touchdowns in school history (27) with NFL wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins. Higgins hauled in a touchdown on 27 of his 135 career catches with the Tigers, good for a touchdown rate of exactly 20 percent.
Ron's Reaction: "He's 6-4 … but he doesn't play like he's 6-4. He can learn to play like he's 6-4, but for his size, he runs and moves like Davante Adams [who is 6-1]. He has that smooth route-running ability to be in the slot. He didn't see a lot of press [coverage], but I think he's going to have to learn to get off press-man, because in the NFL at 6-4, he's primarily going to be an outside guy."
Rankings: No. 4 by Brooks; No. 6 by Kiper and Brugler
School: Louisiana State | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-1 | Wt. 202 pounds
2019 stats: 111 receptions for 1,540 yards (13.9 yards per catch) with 18 touchdowns in 15 games
A terrific Tiger: Jefferson had one of the best receiving seasons in school history in 2019. He tied for the national lead with 111 catches, and finished second in the country overall with 18 touchdown receptions. He was third in FBS with 1,540 receiving yards.
Ron's Reaction: "His knock was that he wasn't explosive, but then he went to the combine and ran a 4.43 [in the 40-yard dash]. I think he has it. He just has to learn to play with it. He catches the ball with his hands, is smooth and runs patient routes. He doesn't have a second gear; he just kind of glides."
Rankings: No. 7 by PFF and Brugler; No. 9 by Kiper
School: Arizona State | Year: Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-0 | Wt. 205 pounds
2019 stats: 65 receptions for 1,192 yards (18.3 yards per catch) with eight touchdowns in 12 games; 14 kick returns for 446 yards (31.9 yards per return); 14 punt returns for 226 yards (16.1 yards per return) and a touchdown
Special teamer: Aiyuk transferred to Arizona State as a junior college player in the spring of 2018. He impressed as a receiver in his two seasons and also flashed plenty of return ability. He averaged 16.1 yards per punt return in 2019, which ranked third among all FBS players. Aiyuk was also fifth nationally in kick returns with an average of 31.9 yards per return.
Rankings: No. 6 by PFF; No. 8 by Brugler
School: Texas Christian | Year: Jr. | Ht: 5-foot-11 | Wt. 206 pounds
2019 stats: 43 receptions for 611 yards (14.2 yards per catch) with five touchdowns in 12 games; 14 rushes for 89 yards; 15 punt returns for 312 yards (20.8 yards per return) and two touchdown; five kick returns for 72 yards (14.4 yards per return)
Return specialist: Reagor hauled in 22 receiving touchdowns in his three years with the Horned Frogs, but he also made a name for himself as one of the most dangerous punt returners in the country. He tied for the national lead with a pair of punt returns scores, and also ranked second in the country (and set a TCU single-season record) by averaging 20.8 yards per punt return.
Rankings: No. 8 by Kiper; No. 9 by Brugler
School: Penn State | Year: Redshirt So. | Ht: 5-foot-9 | Wt. 178 pounds
2019 stats: 56 receptions for 904 yards (16.1 yards per catch) with eight touchdowns in 13 games; 13 rushes for 43 yards; 23 punt returns for 126 yards (5.5 yards per return); 24 kick returns for 513 yards (21.4 yards per return)
Sound in the slot: Hamler didn't run the 40-yard dash at the combine, but is known for his speed and quickness on the field. He profiles as a slot receiver in the NFL due to his smaller stature and has potential as a kick and punt returner.
Ron's Reaction: "Oddly enough, he's 5-9 but he was a third-down guy. He was the guy they trusted on third down and consistently made those catches. For me, he has the speed of Mecole Hardman [of the Chiefs] … but he also reminds me of a guy that people are going to remember in Minnesota, and that's Jarius Wright. Jarius wasn't a big guy, but he was a guy who caught everything and found the holes in zone defenses. Hamler runs really good routes and has the speed to get open. He can also do kick and punt returns. If Mike Hughes is your No. 1 corner, I don't know if you want him doing that. I think a guy like KJ Hamler could be a later guy who could come in and play."
Michael Pittman, Jr.
Rankings: No. 7 by Kiper; No. 9 by PFF; No. 10 by Brugler
School: Southern California | Year: Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-4 | Wt. 223 pounds
2019 stats: 101 receptions for 1,275 yards (12.6 yards per catch) with 11 touchdowns in 13 games
Family ties: Pittman's father, Michael, played 11 seasons in the NFL with Arizona, Tampa Bay and Denver, rushing for 5,600-plus yards and 25 touchdowns in 151 career games. His son was a standout at a blue-blood school who turned in a stellar senior season. Pittman, Jr., recorded more receiving yards and touchdown catches in his final season that his first three seasons combined.
Rankings: No. 8 by PFF
School: Baylor | Year: Redshirt Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-3 | Wt. 207 pounds
2019 stats: 66 receptions for 1,020 yards (15.5 yards per catch) with 12 touchdowns in 14 games
Senior Bowl standout: Mims was one of the top standouts at the 2020 Reese's Senior Bowl in January down in Mobile, Alabama. Multiple media outlets including The Athletic, CBS Sports and Pro Football Focus highlighted Mims as a player who helped his draft stock at the annual showcase game and practices.
School: Minnesota | Year: Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-1 | Wt. 206 pounds
2019 stats: 86 receptions for 1,318 yards (15.3 yards per catch) with 13 touchdowns in 13 games
A great Gopher: Johnson holds a boatload of Minnesota school records, including 3,305 career receiving yards, 16 career 100-yard receiving games, 33 career receiving touchdowns and 1,318 receiving yards in a single season. Tyler Johnson broke Ron Johnson's career touchdown record in the Outback Bowl on his second-to-last career catch with the Gophers.
Ron's Reaction: "Some of the stuff he tried in college won't work in the NFL, especially off the line of scrimmage. He doesn't have the speed to take that much time, so he's going to need to hone into his skills. I equate him to [Chargers wide receiver] Keenan Allen, who ran a 4.71 at his combine. I think Tyler Johnson can be like Keenan Allen … not a blazer, not a guy that's going to blow you away with his speed. But when you watch Keenan Allen, he gets behind the defense, and you're not going to catch him. Allen was drafted in the third round, and I could see Tyler going in a similar spot. He has been working out with Adam Thielen, so that will help him mentally."