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Ascension grades

Wide Receivers (Class of 2023) 

70% film / 30% analytics 

Tier 1: 75.00 & over -- Gold Jacket potential

Expected fantasy points per game as a Rookie  -- 13.74ppg

 

Tier 2: 65.00 - 74.99 -- All-pro caliber

Expected fantasy points per game as a Rookie  -- 13.74ppg

 

Tier 3: 55.00 - 64.99 -- Pro-bowl caliber

Expected fantasy points per game as a Rookie  -- 9.08ppg

 

Tier 4: 49.98 - 54.99 -- High floor primary receiving option

Expected fantasy points per game as a Rookie  -- 8.40ppg

 

Tier 5: 44.96 - 49.97 -- High ceiling / High-risk prospect

Expected fantasy points per game as a Rookie  -- 5.67ppg

 

Tier 6: 39.50 - 44.95 -- Niche role player / Spot producer

Expected fantasy points per game as a Rookie  -- 3.70ppg

 

Tier 7: 39.49 & below -- Depth piece with low ceiling

Expected fantasy points per game as a Rookie  -- 3.06ppg

Tier 3: Pro-bowler 

 Jaxon Smith-Njigba | Ohio State

 

Film grade: 43.36

 

Analytic grade: 15.62

Ascension grade: 58.98

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-- One of the safest prospects in the 2023 draft cycle  - Day one producer from the slot with minimal risk if fully healthy.

 

-- 99th percentile transitional skillset. Likely not going to see a large number of snaps outside of the slot, just 17% of his collegiate snaps came out wide. 

 

-- 90th percentile post-catch score; his high field IQ is a biggest asset here. Not a 'burner' only 30th percentile top-end speed. 

 

-- Analytically, he produced a nearly 1,600-yard season at 19 years old, which puts him in the 95th percentile of all prospects in experience-adjusted production. 80th percentile historical producer. 

-- Has athletic limitations that will hinder him from being a Justin Jefferson type of producer, however, Keenan Allen is definitely in the range of outcomes. Allen has four 100-catch seasons on his resume and is one of the best chain movers in the league - JSN can be just that. 

Production outcomes

Ceiling outcome -- Keenan Allen

Floor outcome -- Jakobi Myers

Tier 3: Pro-bowler

Quentin Johnston | TCU 

Film grade: 40.74

 

Analytic grade: 17.62

Ascension grade: 58.36

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-- The ‘unicorn’ of this class. 6’4, 215lbs with impressive suddenness in-route and post-catch. 99th percentile post-catch athlete, who commands touches primarily on the first and third level.

-- He has the movement skills to excel as a route runner, however he wasn't given the opportunity at TCU to run a diverse enough tree to showcase that. Needs to develop tree depth at the next level. 

 

-- Troubling drop rate on 2nd level targets, more particularly the middle of the field. Unnatural catch positioning is a large part of this issue.

 

-- Not a pure hands catcher, which hurts his 50/50 ceiling if he can't learn to high-point with consistency.

 

-- Analytically, he checks a lot of boxes and has a 90th percentile yards per reception score. Impressive experience adjusted production as well - 80th percentile. 

-- Not as safe as JSN & Addison, but he has the highest ceiling in this cycle if a team puts resources into his development.

 

--  Stark ceiling-to-floor contrast. Wouldn't be shocked if he figures it out like Brown did midway through his Rookie season and now has four 1,000-yard seasons under his belt. However, Johnston needs an offensive coordinator who can exhibit patience with his skillset and scheme him easy looks early on.

Production outcomes

Ceiling outcome -- A.J. Brown

Floor outcome -- Chase Claypool

Tier 3: Pro-Bowler

Jordan Addison | USC

Film grade: 39.36

 

Analytic grade: 18.12

Ascension grade: 57.48

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-- Perfect modern-day secondary option in a passing attack. Darnell Mooney is a close comparable player currently in the league, both have the play speed and nuance in & out of breaks to threaten defenses continually.

-- Safe prospect with not a lot of glaring holes. His biggest gap is having no true dominant trait. "Good to very good" across the board on film. 

 

-- Analytically, he pops due to his massive Sophomore season when he won the Biletnikoff award.

 

-- A True Sophomore season with more than 1,600 yards of total offense and 17 touchdowns doesn't happen often - puts him right about the 95th percentile in experience-adjusted production. 

-- T.Y Hilton had 850 yards in each of his first seven seasons in the NFL while operating as a primary option, while I do think Addison is a better 2 than a 1, he offers the vertical skillset to near Hilton's production. 

Production outcomes

Ceiling outcome -- T.Y. Hilton

Floor outcome -- Darnell Mooney

Tier 3: Pro-Bowler

Zay Flowers | Boston College

Film grade: 41.24

 

Analytic grade: 14.62

Ascension grade: 55.86

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-- Second highest film grade in this class at the position and by far the most fun tape of any prospect in this cycle along with Jahmyr Gibbs. 

 

-- Sharp, dramatic, and instinctive in-space player with rare dexterity as a mover. Best pure ball carrier in this cycle at the position - 99th percentile post-catch skill set. 

 

-- Analytically, his college dominator props him up (90th percentile) 

-- Never had a truly dominant season collegiately like Addison, and JSN - a bit risker than those two, but you could argue his upside is just as high as Johnston's.

-- Flowers is truthfully one of the highest ceiling prospects in this year's cycle. Diggs didn't have his first 1,000 yard season until his 4th season in the league, patience may need to be taken with Flowers, but he does have that type of elite-tier ceiling. 

Production outcomes

Ceiling outcome -- Stefon Diggs

Floor outcome -- Curtis Samuel

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Tier 4: Primary receiving option

Josh Downs | UNC

Film grade: 37.36

Analytic grade: 17.62

Ascension grade: 54.98

-- When you watch Josh Downs the first thing you notice is the top-shelf in-air athlete that he is. Diving, leaping, and adjusting to flight paths with ease. Pair that with his mature approach to route running and you have yourself a Day One Starter from the slot. 

-- Not a burner, but varies tempo & pace well enough to cause defensive backs to respect him on the third level of a defense.

 

-- Profiles as a Sterling Shepard type of player who will see a vast majority of his snaps in the slot, but is a consistent safety net for his Quarterback. 

-- Analytically, he scored in the 70th percentile in every category graded except for yards per reception (20th percentile)

-- Not an elite NFL athlete, but developing into a reliable three-level contributor like Emmanuel Sanders is within the range of outcomes for Downs. During his first three years in Denver, Sanders had 130 + targets and 1,000 yards in each. 

Production outcome

Ceiling outcome -- Emmanuel Sanders

Floor outcome -- Sterling Shepard

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Tier 4: Primary receiving option

Kayshon Boutte | LSU

Film grade: 39.24

Analytic grade: 15.50

Ascension grade: 54.74

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-- Will he be the same player he was? That's the question. We have seen glimpses since he fractured his ankle, but he hasn't been playing with that same level of confidence and it showed in his lack of production post-surgery. 

 

-- Upper-tier post-catch athlete who profiles best as a "power slot" receiver - think Juju Smith-Schuster.

 

-- Analytically, his dominance in the SEC earns him a 99th percentile grade in experienced adjusted production. Not many did what he did as an eighteen-year-old. 

-- Riskier prospect for many reasons - won't be surprised if he is a Top Twelve receiver in the NFL or is out of the league in Five years. 

-- Even though the floor may be the basement, the ceiling is a mega-producer like Smith-Schuster was in 2018 when he had a line of 111-1,426-7. Boutte has that type of talent. 

 

Production outcomes

Ceiling outcome -- Early career Juju Smith-Schuster

Floor outcome -- Corey Coleman

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Tier 4: Primary receiving option

Nathaniel "Tank" Dell | Houston

Film grade: 38.86

Analytic grade: 13.00

Ascension grade: 52.36

-- Impossible cover for corners one on one. Top flight suddenness with a 99th percentile release variation & separation quickness score. 

 

-- Surprised by his understanding of space closure on MOF concepts, protects himself and sits well in zones. 

 

-- Size may limit his role, but wouldn’t be shocked if he ends up being a John Brown-type producer with his transitional skillset paired with how dangerous he is post-catch.

-- Big time weapon in the Red-zone. Nearly unguardable in the Low Red-zone, gives me shades of Hunter Renfrow here. 

 

-- Analytically, Dell has an 80th percentile College Dominator and has posted two rare target share seasons. 152 targets as a Senior - 139 as a Junior.

 

-- Was not just a gimmick player collegiately, even though that is my fear for him in the league with his stature. 

-- John Brown had two 1,000-yard seasons in his nine-year career and was a continually productive deep option for Arizona, Baltimore, and Buffalo. Dell offers more on the first & second levels, however, per-touch production may be similar. 

Production outcomes

Ceiling outcome -- John Brown 

Floor outcome -- Greg Dortch 

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Tier 4: Primary receiving option

Charlie Jones | Purdue

Film grade: 38.24

Analytic grade: 12.62

Ascension grade: 50.86

-- Best return man in this draft cycle with enough speed to be a high average returner. 

-- Instincts, and high-end field awareness are his calling card. 

 

-- Rare film profile with every metric above 50th percentile, succeeds on all-three levels, and offers a high-leverage option with his reliability. 

 

-- Analytically, he is hit or miss with a 90th percentile college dominator, but a 20th percentile yards per reception. 

-- Played 88% of his snaps out wide in 2022, and eclipsed 1,300 yards as a primary outside receiver. At the NFL level, see him more as a slot contributor or a movement Z. 

 

-- When he was at Iowa,  he saw a lot of designed touches. Jet motion and screens were a big part of his three-level' skillset. 

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-- Tyler Boyd rings a bell in terms of potential ceiling production. Boyd has three 100-target seasons & two seasons over 1,000 yards. 

Production outcomes

Ceiling outcome -- Tyler Boyd

Floor outcome -- Chris Moore

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Tier 5: High ceiling/High risk

Jonathan Mingo | Ole Miss

Film grade: 38.74

Analytic grade: 9.00

Ascension grade: 48.74

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-- "My ball" mentality with the play strength to overpower defensive backs at the catch point. 

 

-- Dextrous solutions in terms of timing flight paths. Makes circus catches look routine.

 

-- His physicality, both as a ball carrier and post-catch, show up frequently. 96th percentile play strength/physicality. 

 

-- Analytically, he falls a bit below average, with his best score being in 70th percentile for yards per reception. Not a mega producer - didn't clear 2,000 yards across 34 games. 

-- When you watch his route tree there isn't a lot of complexity. 9 patterns, slants and stop routes are his primary tree. Shows good snap out of his breaks for 220+lbs on stop patterns.

 

-- Think he can become a 1,000 yards producer with an outcome similar to Michael Gallup. Both guys are ball-winners, who can operate as a secondary option in an NFL offense. 

Production outcomes

Ceiling outcome -- Michael Gallup

Floor outcome -- Mohammed Sanu 

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Tier 5: High ceiling/High risk

Tyler Scott | Cincinnati

Film grade: 36.12

Analytic grade: 12.00

Ascension grade: 48.12

-- Near expert ball tracker with an exceptional feel for flight paths.

 

-- High-end boundary awareness and 95th-percentile play speed make him a premier level-three threat. 

 

-- Impressed by how he performed after the catch - better than anticipated movement skills & Field IQ. 

 

-- Analytically, he scores in the 80th percentile in yards per reception & college dominator, however, all of his other grades are below the 30th percentile. 

 

-- Scott played over 95% of his snaps in 22' on the boundary - would like to see more usage in the slot. 

 

-- Could be a similar producer to Nelson Agholor, who has had three of his eight seasons over 700 yards. Honestly, Scott is who we wanted John Ross III to be. Quick, good range, blinding play speed - Ross couldn't stay healthy in the league. If Scott can prove durable he can be what we wanted from the former 40-yard dash king. 

Production outcomes

Ceiling outcome -- Nelson Agholor 

Floor outcome -- Scotty Miller

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Tier 5: High risk/High upside

Cedric Tillman | Tennessee 

Film grade: 38.62

Analytic grade: 8.50

Ascension grade: 47.12

-- His physicality jumps off the page in-route, not overly sudden during transitional periods, but walls off defenders at the catch point. 

-- Difficult to contest him on boundary throws with his frame, length, and physicality. 

 

-- 96th percentile contested catch receiver with 90th percentile in-air athleticism. Modern Day X receiver with limitations beyond the boundary. 

 

-- Doesn’t pop analytically with all scores in the 60th percentile and below - best score is his receiving yards per team pass attempt, which was in the 60th percentile. 

 

-- Think he could end up as a Michael Pittman Jr. type of producer. Pittman Jr. has over 900 yards in two of his three seasons and has been a primary option for the Colts early on in his career. 

Production outcomes

Ceiling outcome -- Michael Pittman Jr. 

Floor outcome -- Josh Palmer

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Tier 5: High risk/High upside

Jayden Reed | Michigan State

Film grade: 32.24

Analytic grade: 14.62

Ascension grade: 46.86

-- Played a majority of his snaps outside during his last two years at Michigan State, while also posting impressive grades in the slot as a Freshman at Western Michigan and a Sophomore at Michigan State. Was a Freshman All-American before transferring. 

 

-- Likely limited to a level three role to begin career, adequate tracking skillset with great late acceleration towards the football.

 

-- Not a big contested catch receiver, likely won’t be a primary middle-of-field target. 

 

-- 90th percentile experience adjusted production with 797 yards & 8 touchdowns as a Freshman.

 

-- Surprisingly low yards per reception in the 20th percentile. 

 

-- Envisioning a Mecole Hardman-type impact as third-level receiver & return man. Hardman amassed 500 yards receiving in each of his first three season, and was on pace in his fourth if it wouldn’t have been derailed by injury.

 

Production outcomes

Ceiling outcome -- Michael Pittman Jr. 

Floor outcome -- Josh Palmer

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Tier 5: High risk/High upside

Puka Nacua | BYU 

Film grade: 34.48

Analytic grade: 12.12

Ascension grade: 46.60

-- Interesting usage. Over 350 yards rushing the past two seasons and a yards per reception above the 90th percentile. 

 

-- Three-level winner who is a combination of smooth & tough. Smart player with high field IQ. 

 

-- Excels after the catch, but also as an in-air athlete boasting a 95th percentile score for his ability to contort & adjust to differing flight paths

 

-- Never had a 1,000 total yard season - scored below the 25th percentile in experience-adjusted production, as well as historical production

 

-- Has a high ceiling due to his Robert Woods-like versatility as a blocker & as an extension of the run game. Woods had three seasons over 100 yards rushing; if Nacua can stick around in the league, he may be able to earn a similar role. 

Production outcomes

Ceiling outcome -- Robert Woods

Floor outcome -- Ben Skowronek

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Tier 5: High risk/High upside

Jalin Hyatt | Tennessee 

Film grade: 31.00

Analytic grade: 15.12

Ascension grade: 46.12

-- Can flat-out fly. Limited route tree, but gets to parallel on safeties in a blink - corners have to play off of him. 99th percentile play speed scores. 

 

-- The "threat" of Hyatt is more important than his current abilities. Stresses a defense just by presence alone. 

 

-- Analytically, his 90th percentile yards per reception & 80th percentile College Dominator prop him up here. 

-- Not a consistent producer until his Biletnikoff-winning season. Cedric Tillman was the number one in that offense, with Hyatt playing a secondary role. 

-- Mike Wallace had four seasons with over 100 targets and three seasons with over 1,000 yards. His 15.0 yards per reception is also an area that I see similar to Hyatt in the NFL. Not a consistently elite producer, but one that has an upside impact on the game. 

Production outcomes

Ceiling outcome -- Mike Wallace

Floor outcome -- Torrey Smith 

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Tier 5: High risk/High upside

Dontayvion Wicks | Virginia

Film grade: 31.00

Analytic grade: 15.12

Ascension grade: 46.12

-- Ball winner who makes difficult catches and absorbs contact in the middle of the field - great play strength & physicality (90th percentile)

 

-- In 2021’ 41% of his targets went for 15 + yards, which ranked 2nd in the Power 5.

 

-- Outside receiver, with limited depth of tree. Needs schemed looks early on to get comfortable in the league. 

 

-- Analytically, he sports an 80th percentile in yards per reception and profiles as a potential level three winner with his length & physicality. 

-- Wicks has the ceiling of a Cedrick Wilson type of player. Wilson's 45-catch 602-yard season in 2021 is what I can see Wicks's production resume looking like. 

Production outcomes

Ceiling outcome -- Cedrick Wilson Jr.  

Floor outcome -- Jauan Jennings

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Tier 5: High risk/High upside

Michael Wilson | Stanford 

Film grade: 36.24

Analytic grade: 9.00

Ascension grade: 45.24

-- Primary middle of field operator with an excellent combination of fluidity, quickness and force during releases. 

-- Showed dominance during Senior Bowl week, especially in one on ones. Turning heads with his route runner and capability to come down with contested looks. 

 

-- Large injury risk, played just 14 games during his Five-year collegiate career. Missed more games due to injury than games played.

 

-- Doesn't have the vertical speed to stretch defenses. Best as a solid tertiary contributor who can contribute as a run blocker, and act as a possession receiver. 

 

-- Analytically, he is below average with 10th percentile historical production. Only one season over 600 yards as a Cardinal - lack of games played is a factor in his inconsistency. 

-- Wilson has the production ceiling of an Allan Lazard-type player. Lazard has carved out a solid role in the league as a run blocker and secondary option as a receiver - just recently had 788 yards & 6 touchdowns for the Packers. 

Production outcomes

Ceiling outcome -- Allen Lazard

Floor outcome -- Chris Moore 

Tier 6: Spot producer

Rashee Rice | SMU

Film grade: 29.12

Analytic grade: 14.00

Ascension grade: 43.12

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-- Throwback X receiver with a knack for contested catches - grades out in the 97th percentile in this category to go along with 90th percentile in-air athleticism.

 

-- Not much else to his game athletically besides physicality & body control.

 

-- Had trouble breaking off stems & manipulating defenders to gain additional separation prior to the catch point.

 

-- Lacks the play speed to be a level-three threat.

 

-- Analytically, he graded out well on average with 40th to 75th percentile scores across the board.

-- Profiles as a solid Red-zone threat and complimentary outside option similar to Tre'Quan Smith. Smith has three of his five seasons so far with over 40 targets - solid third/fourth option for an NFL offense, similar to what Rice can be in the right system. 

 

Production outcomes

Ceiling outcome -- Tre'Quan Smith

Floor outcome -- Quentez Cephus

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Tier 6: Spot producer

Marvin Mims | Oklahoma

Film grade: 26.24

Analytic grade: 16.12

Ascension grade: 42.36

-- Productive deep threat despite only slightly above average speed for his role (level three beater)

 

-- Consistent tracker, great in contested situations despite small frame. 

 

-- 95th percentile in-air athlete who dominates from a timing perspective at the catch point. 

 

-- Doesn’t offer much post-catch, can struggle to pull away from defensive backs or break them down face up. 

 

-- Analytically, Mims scores in the 90th percentile in yards per reception and was in the 60th percentile in experience-adjusted production with a 600-yard + Freshman season in a Power 5 conference. 

 

-- From a production standpoint, I see similarities to K.J Osborn. Not a high-end producer, but a valuable real-life player with an important offensive role. Osborn had 650 yards each of the past two seasons in Minnesota.

 

Production outcomes

Ceiling outcome -- K.J. Osborn

Floor outcome -- James Washington

Tier 6: Spot producer

A.T. Perry | Wake Forest

Film grade: 28.74

 

Analytic grade: 12.50

Ascension grade: 41.24

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​-- Impressed by his movement skills and control at 6’3. Does a great job fighting through contact to make plays coming back to the football. 

 

-- 90th percentile catch concentration & in-air athleticism 

 

-- Physical after the catch, but won’t be dominant here in the NFL - effort-based skillset in open space. 

 

-- Analytically, he offers a 70th percentile yards per reception. Had two 1,000 + yard seasons to finish his Collegiate career. 

-- Pascal has never been a mega-producer, but with five touchdowns and just above 600 yards in his most productive season that is the type of profile Perry possesses within his range of outcomes.  

 

Production outcomes

Ceiling outcome -- Zach Pascal

Floor outcome  -- Ashton Dulin

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Tier 7: Tertiary option

Xavier Hutchinson | Iowa State

Film grade: 22.62

Analytic grade: 16.00

Ascension grade: 38.62

-- Good first-level receiver with athletic restrictions down the field. 

 

-- Not overly sudden, but offers good catch-point skill and consistent hands over the middle of the field. 

 

-- Analytically, he offers 80th percentile experienced adjusted production with his near 800-yard Freshman season. 

 

-- Reliable collegiate receiver, who may struggle to find a large NFL role. 

-- May struggle early in his NFL career with the current physical talents at outside corner. If he figures it out, he can be a reliable secondary/tertiary option  like Mack Hollins at around 600 yards. 

Production outcomes

Ceiling outcome -- Mack Hollins

Floor outcome -- Geronimo Allison

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