The 2023 NFL Draft is fast approaching with the first round kicking off on Thursday, April 27. Unlike the past few years, there isn’t a wide receiver that is projected to be taken in the top 10 this year. But don’t get it twisted, there are still plenty of strong pass-catching threats in this year’s class and a handful of them will have their names called on Day 1.
Below, we’ll go over the top receiver prospects in the upcoming draft and determine who should be the first one to come off the board.
Wide receivers in the first tier
According to the NFL Mock Draft Database, there are four wide receivers ranked in the top 32 of draft boards. That ostensibly makes them first-round prospects and we’ll use that to determine the first tier of this year’s receiver class.
At the top is Ohio State’s Jaxon-Smith Njigba, who is projected to go around No. 12 to the Houston Texans. Sharing a receiving room with Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson in 2021, JNS still managed to stand out by setting a Big Ten record with 1,606 receiving yards off 95 receptions and nine touchdowns that year. The 6’1”, 196-pound prospect out of Rockwell, TX, would miss a good chunk of the 2022 season with a hamstring injury, however, dropping his stock as a potential top-10 draft choice.
Sitting right behind JNS in the first tier of receiver prospects are Boston College’s Zay Flowers, TCU’s Quentin Johnson, and USC’s Jordan Addison, all of whom are projected to be taken in the mid-late first round. Flowers has risen up the board throughout draft season and the speedy 5’9” prospect has the potential to be the next Tyreek Hill-esque speed demon playing out of the slot. The 6’3” Johnston played a huge role in getting TCU to the College Football Playoff title game this past season and always has big catch potential. Meanwhile, Addison has a Biletnikoff Award on his college resume and is drawing some comparisons to Tyler Lockett heading into the draft.
Other wideouts that could potentially sneak into the first round is North Carolina’s Josh Downs and Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt.
Odds to be first wide receiver selected via DraftKings Sportsbook
Jaxson Smith-Njigba -350
Zay Flowers +550
Jordan Addison +750
Quentin Johnson +950
Jalin Hyatt +3000
Cedric Tillman +10000
Josh Downs +10000
Kayshon Boutte +1000
AT Perry +20000
Jonathan Mingo +20000
Who should go first?
Some NFL analysts have compared Smith-Njigba to Justin Jefferson and that’s always a good sign. He has extremely high upside and comes from an Ohio State program that regularly churns out elite wideouts. If teams can look past his injury problems from the 2022 season, he should be the consensus top receiver taken off the board in the 2023 NFL Draft.