In the past five years, an average of 12 wide receivers have been taken in the first three rounds of the NFL draft.
This year, that number could double.
“I’ve got 27 wide receivers with top three-round grades in this draft,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said last month. “This is a really phenomenal group of wideouts.”
The rise in NFL-ready wide receivers coincides with the changing face of football at all levels.
The evolution of spread offenses in college have created a deeper pool of wide receivers for NFL teams to choose from. The explosion of seven-on-seven leagues in youth and high school football have fueled the college game. And kids have gravitated towards the position as they’ve tried to emulate Odell Beckham’s one-handed catches and Julio Jones’ grace.
It’s a circle that’s taken years to complete.
“You’ve probably heard every GM and coach talk about this wide receiver class, it’s a good one,” New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas said at the combine last month. “Just watching them go across the stage, there’s a lot of talented players and we see how much the pass game affects the National Football League. So we do feel good about this group. … There are some really good wide receivers in this class.”