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2024 NFL Draft Hidden Gems: Wide Receiver

The NFL Draft is fast approaching, and while a lot of the mental energy of fans will go towards the very top prospects, not every NFL star comes from the first couple of rounds. If teams are looking to reinforce themselves later in the draft, here's where to look.


Drake Stoops - Oklahoma

The Sooners know how to cook 'em at this position, but Stoops is diametrically opposed to any of the previous OU prospects. He's very much on the smaller side, at 5'10", 189 lbs. His jumps aren't exceptionally high, and his most recent 40 time of 4.55 seconds is strongly in the middle of the pack if that. Why is he here, then?


The answer is simple - the guy makes plays. He has incredibly reliable hands, sound fundamentals and route-running sense, and a knack for producing in clutch moments. His route sense and ability to change direction increases his game speed and makes him incredibly difficult to keep up with. He takes directly after his father and legendary coach Bob Stoops in his ability to see the game and his overall football IQ. He has monotically increased his production, and this past year, took a massive leap and had 84 receptions for 962 yards and 10 TDs in just 13 games of action.



He has shown the ability to consistently be a workhorse of production, getting 5+ receptions in 8 games and double-digit receptions in 3. He's extremely skilled in the slot but is effective enough with deep balls that his downfield threat can't be underestimated, a level of versatility that will serve him well in the NFL.


NFL Comparison: Julian Edleman


Adonai Mitchell - Texas and UGA

In all of the hype around the rest of the class, including teammate Xavier Worthy, AD Mitchell has flown a tad under the radar in terms of draft stock. But the explosive 6'4" WR doesn't typically play the underneath role. The UGA transfer had an excellent final season with the Longhorns, having 55 catches for 845 yards and 11 TDs. While he played much more of a mid-range game with UGA, Mitchell took advantage of his height, wingspan, and explosiveness to play a much more downfield role in 2023.


Mitchell is a sound, versatile route-runner with reliable hands and considerable field. He's hard to track down both before and after the catch, and his height and wingspan allow him to make difficult catches, both in space and contested.




His ability to get back-shoulder throws rivals pretty much anybody in the draft class, and his experience in championship-level offensive systems and big moments will serve him well (he has played significant roles in 5 playoff games and 2 conference championship games). From a measurables perspective, he could produce from season 1, so it will come down to his ability to translate his game over to the NFL level.


NFL Comparison: Tee Higgins


Ricky Pearsall - Florida

Pearsall got somewhat hidden by the fact that Florida fell off toward the end of the season, but he was one of the only people holding that offense together. His dimensions are decent but not spectacular at 6'1" and 190 lbs, but his abilities as a receiver speak for itself. He had a great final season as a Gator, having 65 receptions for 965 yards and a total of 6 TDs, and the tape tells an even more compelling story.



He has excellent hands, which are fully on display in the previous clip, and he's an adept route runner with a good sense of the field - he's not only a good vertical runner, but he's also good at changing direction. This allows him to exhibit significant versatility, having one of the best distributions in the draft class in terms of the ratio of short/midrange/longer routes ran. In 2023, he led the team in receiving in 8 of their 12 games, went above 90 yards an impressive six times, and was explosive with every touch.


He's even able to flourish on gadget plays and will be able to fulfill a plug-and-play type role for whatever NFL team he ends up joining.

 

Read more NFL news from Stadium Rant here: NFL News


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