Bears

Hub Arkush’s 2022 NFL draft positional preview: Wide receiver

Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave carries a pass reception against Nebraska cornerback Quinton Newsome on Nov. 6, 2021 at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb.

For the second year in a row, wide receiver might just be the strongest position group in the draft.

While these kids rank a hair below last year’s class overall, they offer a lot more size . It’s also one of the fastest crops we’ve ever seen with seven sub-4.4 40-yard-dash guys on this board.

Best of all for the Bears, there is solid depth throughout the middle rounds.

DAY 1 PROSPECTS

1. Garrett Wilson, Ohio St. (5-11½, 183, junior)

Wilson is an outstanding athlete with a 36-inch vertical leap and clocked a 4.38 40-yard dash time at the combine. He was improving week to week at the end of last season and may have the most upside of this group, as his route running can get a lot better. But he already has the best hands of this bunch, and his acceleration and ability to separate are special.

2. Treylon Burks, Arkansas (6-2, 225, junior)

Burks’ combination of size, strength and speed are off the charts. He can play any of the X, Y or Z receiver spots. And although he didn’t do it at Arkansas, teams will be tempted to use him like Deebo Samuel and Cordarrelle Patterson were last year. If there is a red flag, it’s the 4.55 40 time he posted at the combine, but that won’t keep him from being a top 15 pick.

3. Drake London, USC (6-3 ¾, 219, junior)

Another off the charts athlete, London was good enough to play on the Trojans’ basketball team as well as starring at wide receiver. As a contested ball catcher, his size and hoops skills make him a mismatch for almost any defender. In spite of missing the end of the 2021 season with a broken ankle, he was voted Pac 12 Offensive Player of the Year.

4. Jameson Williams, Alabama (6-1½, 179, junior)

Williams plays like a bigger/longer Tyreek Hill and is a home-run threat every time the ball is in the air. Concerns, however, are in two years at Ohio State with Wilson and Olave as competition, Williams couldn’t command enough balls to stick out and transferred to Alabama to emerge, and he tore his ACL in the national title game, so a guaranteed medical will be impossible.

5. Chris Olave, Ohio St. (6-0¼, 187, senior)

Perhaps the most technically sound of the top five wideouts, Olave is as smooth as they come and always seems available when a big play is needed in clutch moments. He has plenty of speed and ran 4.39 at the combine, but he could be more physical and may need to add muscle in the weight room to excel at the next level.

6. Jahan Dotson, Penn. St. (5-10½, 178, senior)

Another kid who is not as big or strong as you’d like, but his combination of speed and fluidity make him a really tough cover with dangerous run-after-the-catch ability in the open field, which explains his solid punt-return abilities as well.

DAY 2 PROSPECTS

7. Christian Watson, N. Dakota St. (6-4, 208, redshirt senior)

If this young man played at an FBS school, he might have been the top wideout prospect in this class. High-character guy with incredible size-speed combo, very productive, level of competition is the only question mark.

8. George Pickens, Georgia (6-3¼, 195, junior)

Pickens has a big frame and great ball skills but needs to add some muscle/weight. He also tore his ACL in spring ball last year, although he did make it back late in the season.

9. Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama (6-1, 194, redshirt senior)

Tolbert is a late bloomer who played his best against the toughest competition. He makes it look easy come big-play time. Don’t be surprised if he turns out to be the steal of this draft.

10. Skyy Moore, Western Michigan (5-9½, 195, junior)

Prototypical slot receiver lacking any traits that blow you away, but Moore is productive and dependable.

11. John Metchie, Alabama (5-11¼, 187, junior)

He can line up anywhere but is best out of the slot. Although he should make a living in the NFL, he lacks elite speed and is another player coming off a December ACL tear.

12. Wan’Dale Robinson, Kentucky (5-8, 178, junior)

Robinson was an all-state running back in high school but moved to receiver at Nebraska, where he played his first two seasons before transferring to Kentucky. His NFL team likely will line him up all over the field, like Tarik Cohen does.

13. Khalil Shakir, Boise St. (5-11 ¾, 195, senior)

His coaches rave about his character, but scouts worry about his short arms at only 29 inches. If he can’t outrun you, he will outcompete you.

14. Calvin Austin III, Memphis (5-7 ½, 170, redshirt senior)

He’s tiny, but his heart is huge, and his 4.32 40 speed can be a special weapon.

DAY 3 PROSPECTS

15. Makai Polk, Mississippi St. – (6-3, 195, junior) – 4.59 40

16. David Bell, Purdue – (6-0¾, 212, junior) – 4.65 40

17. Alec Pierce, Cincinnati – (6-3, 211, senior) – 4.41 40

18. Kevin Austin Jr., Notre Dame – (6-2½, 200, junior) – 4.43 40

19. Danny Gray, SMU – (5-11 ¾, 186, senior) – 4.33 40

20. Tyquan Thornton, Baylor – (6-2¼, 181, senior) – 4.28 40

Previous entries in this series

Quarterback

Running back

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is the Senior Bears Analyst for Shaw Local News Network and ShawLocal.com.