Skip to main content

Chargers Official Site | Los Angeles Chargers -

5 Wide Receivers You Should Know for the 2023 Draft

AP Photo/Jay LaPrete
AP Photo/Jay LaPrete

Welcome to Part 4 of our 2023 draft preview series, which will be a position-by-position look at key prospects and where the Chargers roster stands ahead of the NFL Draft. This series will include a look at which prospects could be options for the Chargers later this month.

We chatted with draft analyst Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus to break down the wideouts in this draft class. Renner, one of the most well-respected draft analysts in the country, can be found on Twitter @PFFMike for his analysis.

Chargers status at WR

The Bolts have a solid receiving core at the top of the roster, as Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Joshua Palmer are all set to return in 2023.

Each of them can impact the game, too, something we saw in 2022 when each player helped carry the offense at different parts of the season. Of course, that was because the injury bug hit all three of those players, too.

On the whole, however, the Chargers have one of the deepest groups of wide outs in the league, but Renner believes adding more depth and speed could take this position room to even greater heights.

"I think it's a good trio if you're just stacking it up against the rest of the NFL," Renner said. "But they're definitely missing just speed. All of those guys were 4.5-plus [in the 40-yard dash] coming out type of wide receivers.

"They're all similar mold of physical route runners, catch radius, that sort of thing," Renner added. "They all would like play the same role on an offense. There's really no adversity in that receiving core at the moment."

The Chargers could also use some depth, as DeAndre Carter is now with the Raiders after being a reliable option a year ago. Jalen Guyton, who tore his ACL is Week 3, is still a free agent.

Is WR a position of need?

Again, it's not as if the Bolts are lacking talent and playmakers at this spot.

But with how pass-heavy the NFL has become, especially in the AFC, Renner believes that you can never have enough options in the passing game.

And while the Bolts have had a good but not great offense of late, Renner is ready to see the unit take its place among the elite offenses in the league.

The way to do that, he said, is by getting a wide receiver early in the draft.

"If you're trying to compete for a Super Bowl, you're trying to get to take it to the next level, I'd say it's pretty high," Renner said. "The return on in investment, bang for your buck, that position has to be of, anywhere they can address on the roster, it has to be [No.] 1 or 2."

Key draft questions

1. What would adding a dose of speed at WR do for Justin Herbert?

"Force the issue. If the guy is open down the football field, I think it'd be a welcome sight in that offense. A lot of the big plays, he has to throw guys open or trust that his guy is going to come down with it. More often than not, Herbert's a risk-averse guy. He's not putting the ball in harm's way, he's not putting the ball up for grabs. It's just not who he is. I think it just gives him more reason to pull the trigger down the football field when you need to give him reasons to. Obviously we've seen two years in now, he'll take any chance he gets to check it down and to not push the ball down the football field if there is something, if the layup or the easy throw is there."

2. Who's an impact player you like on Day 2?

"I love Tank Dell from Houston if you look at the dynamism, I think he's something that they don't have for sure. 4.4 guy, he's nasty with ball in his hands, you can throw screens to him and actually expect him to create something with it. I'm a big fan of him. Similar mold just looking for explosiveness, I think Tyler Scott from Cincinnati is a guy, something they don't have. Just high-end speed and athletic ability. I think he's a little bit of a project, but again, a player that has the tools to be a down field receiver."

3. Who is your No. 1 WR prospect this year and why?

"I'm going to have Jaxon Smith-Njigba as No. 1 wide receiver. It's been close though, Quentin Johnston is No. 2 behind him. I have them as the top two in their class fairly comfortably at the moment. I think JSN is as polished of a receiver you'll see. He may not be physically special, but the guy knows how to get open, knows how to run routes and that's going to translate. Quentin Johnston is just uniquely, physically gifted to play outside wide receiver. I think the explosiveness, the suddenness at his size, you can get away from NFL corners when you're that long and that explosive that you don't maybe have to run the full route tree, but on a certain route tree he's just going to be tough to stop."

4. How about a WR prospect with return ability on special teams?

"Dell [returned] 10 punts in his career and three of them he returned for touchdowns, but two were called back by penalty. He can return, so Dell I would highlight."

Expert rankings's Daniel Jeremiah currently has five wide receivers in his overall Top 50: 13. Jordan Addison, 19. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, 22. Zay Flowers, 30. Quentin Johnston and 40. Jalin Hyatt.

ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., has four wide receivers in his overall Top 25: 16. Flowers, 17. Smith-Njigba, 22. Addison and 24. Johnston.

Rankings for wide receivers by Jeremiah, his NFL Media counterpart Bucky Brooks, Kiper, analytics site Pro Football Focus and The Athletic's Dane Brugler are listed below.

Potential Chargers options

Note: Heights and weights are from each player's profile on (linked for each player's name).


School: Ohio State | Year: Junior | Ht: 6-foot-1 | Wt: 196 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler

2022 stats: 3 games; 5 receptions for 43 yards (8.6 avg.); 1.7 receptions per game; 14.3 yards per game

Quick fact: A hamstring injury limited his 2022 season, but in the 2022 Rose Bowl Game, Smith-Njigba set an FBS Bowl and Ohio State single-game record with 347 receiving yards.

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

School: USC | Year: Junior | Ht: 5-foot-11 | Wt: 173 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler

2022 stats: 11 games; 59 receptions for 875 yards (14.8 avg.) and 8 TDs; 5.4 receptions per game; 79.5 yards per game

Quick fact: The 2021 Fred Biletnikoff Award winner for college football's best receiver, Addison earned First-Team Pac-12 honors in his lone season at USC.

Renner's Report: "A real natural receiver. You see a fluid athlete. I do worry about his size. His frame, he's just really skinny ... to the point where I wonder if he's ever going to put it all together. And he's got really small hands for a wide receiver. He may just have drops. But he has a high-end understanding of the position and how to get open. He has a fairly high floor, even if I don't think he has that high of a ceiling."

AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez

School: TCU | Year: Junior | Ht: 6-foot-3 | Wt: 208 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler

2022 stats: 14 games; 60 receptions for 1069 yards (17.8 avg.) and 6 TDs; 4.3 receptions per game; 76.4 yards per game

Quick fact: Johnston had a stellar junior season and was named Offensive Most Valuable Player in the College Football Playoff Semifinal win over Michigan with six receptions for 163 yards. He ranked second among active players in the FBS in yards per reception over a career (19.0).

AP Photo/Mark Stockwell

School: Boston College | Year: Senior | Ht: 5-foot-9 | Wt: 182 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler

2022 stats: 12 games; 78 receptions for 1077 yards (13.8 avg.) and 12 TDs; 6.5 receptions per game; 89.8 yards per game

Quick fact: A two-time First-Team All-ACC wide receiver, Flowers had his best collegiate season in 2022 where he set Boston College's single-season record for receiving touchdowns (12) and tied the record for receptions in a season (78).

Renner's Report: "He's probably the most physically dynamic receiver in this class. A similar mold to that Jaylen Waddle was coming out. Now, Waddle is more athletic but that's kind of the guy you're dealing with. He's fast in a straight line, fast out of his breaks, just fast at whatever direction he wants to go. Just a sudden dude. Size is an issue and maybe he has a little issues with drops, but getting open is the hardest thing in the NFL to do and he does it on his tape consistently."

AP Photo/John Amis

School: Tennessee | Year: Junior | Ht: 6-foot-0 | Wt: 176 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler

2022 stats: 12 games; 67 receptions for 1267 yards (18.9 avg.) and 15 TDs; 5.6 receptions per game; 105.6 yards per game

Quick fact: Hyatt dominated college football in 2022 and became Tennessee's first Biletnikoff Award winner in school history, earning an unanimous All-American selection as well.

Renner's Report: "He's one of the most difficult evals because he just ran vertical in Tennessee's offense. He played a role that's non-existent [in the NFL]. He was awesome at that role but what else can he do? I love his hands and how he tracks the ball, and the speed and explosiveness is there. But I still he's just still an incomplete wide receiver at this point."

AP Photo/Chris Seward

School: North Carolina | Year: Junior | Ht: 5-foot-9 | Wt: 171 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
-- -- WR6 WR5 WR5

2022 stats: 11 games; 94 receptions for 1029 yards (10.9 avg.) and 11 TDs; 8.5 receptions per game; 93.5 yards per game

Quick fact: Downs had a decorated career at North Carolina with 2,483 yard receiving yards, good for fourth-highest in school history. His 22 career touchdown receptions are second-most.

AP Photo/Eric Gay

School: Houston | Year: Redshirt Senior | Ht: 5-foot-8 | Wt: 165 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
-- -- WR10 WR6 --

2022 stats: 13 games; 109 receptions for 1398 yards (12.8 avg.) and 17 TDs; 8.4 receptions per game; 107.5 yards per game

Quick fact: Since joining Houston in 2020, Dell led the team in receiving yards each season and was the national leader in that category with 1,398 yards in 2022.

AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

School: Tennessee | Year: Redshirt Senior | Ht: 6-foot-3 | Wt: 213 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
-- -- WR8 WR11 WR8

2022 stats: 6 games; 37 receptions for 417 yards (11.3 avg.) and 3 TDs; 6.2 receptions per game; 69.5 yards per game

Quick fact: A five-year player at Tennessee, Tillman finished his collegiate career with 24 catches of 20-plus yards,12 receptions of 30-plus yards and 10 receptions of 40-plus yards.

AP Photo/Justin Rex

School: SMU | Year: Senior | Ht: 6-foot-1 | Wt: 204 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
-- -- -- WR8 WR11

2022 stats: 12 games; 96 receptions for 1355 yards (14.1 avg.) and 10 TDs; 8 receptions per game; 112.9 yards per game

Quick fact: Rice saw action in each of four seasons at SMU, culminating with a monster 2022 season that saw him lead the FBS in receiving yards per game (112.9).

Renner's Report: "He looks like a WR1 at times. Great body control and he attacks the ball really well, but there's some nuance to his route running. But he's sleepy as a route runner and very inconsistent. You get a guy who's up and down a little bit. He's kind of like Josh Palmer coming out. He was a lot like Rashee Rice."

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

School: Michigan State | Year: Senior | Ht: 5-foot-11 | Wt: 187 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
-- -- WR7 WR15 WR10

2022 stats: 11 games; 55 receptions for 636 yards (11.6 avg.) and 5 TDs; 5.5 receptions per game; 57.8 yards per game

Quick fact: A dynamic player on offense, Reed also became a dangerous returner and finished with 581 punt return yards (14.9 avg.) and 841 kick return yards (20.0 avg.) in his career.

Bolt Up for 2023!

Secure your 2023 Season Ticket Memberships today! Click here to learn more.

From Our Partners