Later Round WR’s that Can Make an Early Impact
By Justin Partlow
While the focus on this WR class has been how loaded it is, the real impressive part is the how much depth there truly is. WR classes like this one don’t truly come around a ton, and if you are a team drafting this year, you need to be patient and smart with your selections. This may sound hyperbolic in some ways, but this draft will show in some ways what teams truly get it when it comes to drafting. With all of that being said, let’s take a look at four WR’s who can make an impact in various ways in year one as a later round pick.
Jalen Saunders WR Oklahoma
Size isn’t his forte, and sometimes you’d be hard pressed to realize he’s one of the players on the football team, but Saunders has an innate ability to make big plays when it is needed. A versatile weapon on offense and special teams, Saunders has proven the ability to play bigger than his height and weight will suggest. Saunders possesses very effective route running, and also impressive short area quickness, which lead to the feeling that if used properly, he could become a very good slot WR. Saunders has very reliable hands and makes tough catches look easy. Size is the biggest concern with Saunders, but teams will look to use him creatively to reduce the risk of any injury. Look for Saunders to make his impact early on as a special teams guy, but also work as a slot receiver.
Dri Archer OW Kent State
While not specifically listed as a WR and I list him more as an “Offensive weapon” Archer can very well make his impact as a WR in the NFL. Archer has track star speed, and has the knack for the highlight plays. Archer has a limited route tree, which does cause some concern, but at the same time you’d expect to use him for more than just his route running ability. Teams will use Archer as a mix between a decoy on plays, as well as someone to help make plays with his unreal speed. Archer looks to have reliable hands, and does a good job making catches. I expect Archer to really make his niche in the NFL as a special teams guy, and someone who plays some at WR and some at RB.
L’Damian Washington WR Mizzou
After looking at two of the smaller WR’s in this class, let’s look at one of the bigger ones right? L’Damian Washington is one of the more intriguing WR’s in this class because he passes the height/weight/speed tests, but he’s still a raw and unpolished player. Washington has good hands, but at the same time he does tend to have a nasty habit of body catching and it really shows up on film. If I’m taking Washington I’m looking to do it from a developmental perspective. Washington can be a red zone threat from day one, but I’m drafting him to refine the route running and work to ensure he cuts down on the body catches. If that can be done, then Washington can really have a chance to show himself as a possible #2, but at worst he’s an effective #4 receiver who is good in the red zone. The development of Washington over the next few years after the draft will be very curious to watch
Michael Campanaro WR Wake Forest
Coming into this year, I’ll be honest that I hadn’t really watched a ton of Campanaro, but had heard some good things. After sitting down and watching his film, Campanaro has a chance to develop into a slot receiver who can become a dynamic threat. Part of what excites me about Campanaro is his ability to get YAC (yards after the catch) even when he’s put into positions that aren’t always effective in getting it. Wake Forest didn’t have the best QB play, and Campanaro didn’t always receive his passes in optimal places to help him get YAC. What you saw on film was Campanaro make plays and do so with ease it almost looked like. I worry about his route running, and mainly due to how limited Wake Forest used him in route packages. I do expect Campanaro to make more of an impact in the NFL, and be a better overall player than he was in college.