For the first time since 2005, three wide receivers were selected in the Top-10 choices of an NFL draft in 2017 — Corey Davis, Mike Williams and John Ross. But who will have the best rookie season? That’s the subject of this week’s Talk of Fame Network poll. Will it be one of those three? Or possibly a second-rounder (Zay Jones)? How about a fourth-rounder (Dede Westbrook)? It’s your call. Here are the options:
Corey Davis, Tennessee. A lightly-recruited two-star recruit out of high school, Davis blossomed in his four years at Western Michigan, becoming the only player in FBS history with 300 career catches, 5,000 yards and 50-plus touchdowns. His 5,285 receiving yards stand as a FBS record. That production certainly got the attention of the Titans, who claimed him with the fifth overall choice of the 2017 draft, the first wideout off the board. Davis became a consensus All-America in 2016 on the strength of his 97-catch, 1,500-yard, 19-TD season. His 19 touchdowns led NCAA receivers.
Zay Jones, Buffalo. A four-year starter, Jones left East Carolina as the all-time leading receiver in FBS history with 399 catches. He closed his career with a flurry, leading the FBS with a school-record 158 catches for 1,746 yards. A second-round pick of the Bills and 37th overall choice of the 2017 draft, Jones caught 22 passes in a game against South Carolina last season and also had 200-yard receiving games against Navy and Tulsa. His strength is his versatility, having lined up at all four receiver spots in the East Carolina offense. He leaves college for the NFL with a pass-catching streak of 47 consecutive games.
John Ross, Cincinnati. Ross ran himself into the Top 10 of the 2017 draft with a blazing 4.22 40 time at the NFL combine. The Bengals chose him there with the ninth overall pick. But there are hands to go with those legs. Ross caught 81 passes last season for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns at Washington. He also returned a school-record four career kickoffs for touchdowns, so his speed can also impact Cincinnati’s special teams. He caught 12 passes in a game against Arizona State and lit up Cal for 208 yards and three touchdowns on only six receptions. He also started some games at cornerback earlier in his college career.
Curtis Samuel, Carolina. A second-round draft pick by the Panthers, Samuel was the only player in college football last season with 700 yards rushing and 700 yards receiving at Ohio State. He caught a Big Ten-runnerup 65 passes for 822 yards and seven touchdowns and also rushed for 704 yards and seven more scores on his way to All-Big Ten acclaim. Samuel spent his first two seasons in Columbus as Ezekiel Elliott’s backup at tailback but started at wide receiver in 2016, then opted to skip his senior season to turn pro. He had a 75-yard touchdown reception against Nebraska and a 74-yard touchdown run against Penn State.
Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville. Westbrook won the Biletnikoff Award as the top receiver in college football at Oklahoma last season. The NFL obviously was not impressed. He lasted into the fourth round of the 2017 draft where the Jacksonville Jaguars made him the 15th wide receiver and 105th overall player chosen. A junior college transfer, Westbrook played two seasons at Oklahoma, catching 126 passes and 21 touchdowns. His 80-catch, 1,524-yard, 17-TD performance in 2016 earned him that Biletnikoff. He caught a school-record 232 yards in a game against Texas and also averaged 27.1 yards on kickoff and 16.2 yards on punt returns last season.
Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers. Returned from a fractured neck in 2015 to become a Top-10 NFL draft pick. The Chargers selected him seventh overall after his 98-catch, 1,361-yard, 11-touchdown season that helped Clemson win the national title. His best games was a 15-catch, 202-yard, one touchdown performance against Pitt, but his most important game was an eight-catch, 94-yard, one-TD showing against Alabama in the FBS title game. He’s a jumbo receiver at 6-3, 225 pounds whose physicality makes up for any speed (4.56 40) deficiency.